If you’re a TruMethods member, you’re probably aware of our company’s obsession with standards, predictable results and process. Fortunately, our mindset has rubbed off on many of our members. It’s what’s helping them with generating more MRR, building strategic relationships and delivering consistent service offerings to their clients.
Someone who’s been benefiting from the TruMethods framework is Jeremie J. Mailloux, vCIO at itWORKS! Inc., a West Barnstable, MA-based MSP, which launched more than 20 years ago. Before becoming a TruMethods member, itWORKS! had been struggling with managing and following through with processes, a challenge it knew it needed to overcome to move on to the next level.
I recently caught up with him to learn more about how the TruMethods process has changed the way his company operates, some of the challenges he’s currently facing and what he’s most excited about for Schnizzfest, which, as you probably know, is less than two weeks away.
A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.
Why did you become a TruMethods member?
The short version is that we struggled with what we knew was the right way (on our own and before TruMethods), but we didn’t have an internally developed process for realizing our vision. When it comes right down to it, the TruMethods way is intuitive, but sometimes, we just need someone to light a fire under us, which serves two purposes: one, to light the way forward, and the other, to make it so uncomfortable to stay put because we are sitting on a fire.
Gary and Bob also really know their stuff. I’m someone who prefers the engineering side of the business, so initially I could relate better to Bob. After going through the process for a while, I grew to understand that for me, as the person responsible to move the company forward, I needed to step way outside my comfort zone and start acting less like an engineer and more like a leader trying to execute on my (and now our) vision. Initially, those two were very positive influences on us.
Lastly, we have been working with EMyth for a long time. The name of the game is process in the world of EMyth. That said, there are so many processes to actually create. It was hugely helpful to have a bunch of them already written, so we could just “tweak” to suit our particular IT firm’s needs.
What did you begin doing differently after becoming a TruMethods member?
We held each other to a standard that we didn’t write. It’s easier, in my opinion, to break your own rules when under pressure than having assigned “homework” to do. Having to explain to our coach each month why we haven’t done something isn’t any fun at all, so we get it done. From a certain perspective that isn’t entirely fair, as we are motivated and driven (the whole team is), so I think even without the coach, we would have made it through the TruMethods process, but I don’t think it would have been as fast.
Of course, we formally defined the five delivery areas, but the big thing that we did was relax and actually follow the process. To have faith that someone might know more than we did (not that we weren’t already very skilled, but to allow our egos to come to grips with the fact that we don’t know everything).
What are some of the biggest challenges you're currently facing as an MSP?
Growing pains are considerable. We spent the first year working on the processes (on the business we had) and implementing the five delivery areas. It took 18 months, but we started to focus on sales about 12 months in. I swung and missed a few times over the years with salespeople, but in 2019, we hired a fantastic person who got to a point (early) where the ops manager told him to slow down, he wasn’t ready for that much new business. Things are smoother now, and I think we should have a fantastic 2020 as the salesperson is in his groove, and our team is in a better place to internalize new clients. Following the process has allowed us to overcome that significant problem.
The biggest one that helped was following the “not-all-MRR-is-good-MRR” process. We “fired” a few clients that were not paying our rate, were very time consuming, and were never going to come around to adopting our TAM and vCIO processes. On the sales side, getting the new person to understand that “not all MRR is good MRR” is really tough. For most people in sales, a “sale is a sale.” Here, if they aren’t large enough, don’t want to have a better result, or won’t work with our five delivery areas (mostly TAM and vCIO), they aren’t a good fit. Our new person took some convincing, but he knows now what a great client looks like and lets ones we would have to fire anyway go.
Schnizzfest is less than a month away. What are you most excited about?
I’m most excited about thinking about our business differently. Our TAM, CFO, and Centralized Services Engineer are also going, and I’m excited to have them meet other folks who are moving through the process and that are at different stages than we are (both ahead and behind). It should be motivating to see people we are behind (so we can see what progress looks like) and see people who are just starting (to reinforce how far we have already come).