When Peer Pressure Is a Good Thing
Getting advice from peers to grow your business has become an institutionalized part of life in the SMB channel. Our expert panel offers more free counsel.
By Martin Sinderman
Growing your business and making some mistakes along the way? Welcome to the club. Others members of this club include our roundtable of top channel pros--many recognizable by first name only--who agreed to talk about the mistakes they made on their way to the top, and how they fixed them.
Alex Ziogas, President, AZ Business Solutions (AZBS) Inc., Chicago
I started my company as a one-man shop in 1993. By 1995, business was great, so I hired three technicians. I trained them in everything I had learned about fixing technical issues and sent them into the field--and within three months I had lost nearly all my clients.
Why? While these guys were great at fixing things, they had no experience in how consultants deal with clients--how to interact positively, how to manage expectations, and how to provide good service, which comprises basically everything outside of the fix itself. That's when I learned that just because someone is great at fixing computers doesn't mean they know how to be an effective service provider.
The challenge was creating a system to teach new hires the client-handling skills I had gained through my life and work experience. Over the course of several years, we have developed a 120-day "on-ramping" training program for new hires that introduces them to the ground rules of servicing clients and what it takes to win and keep business--and be rewarded by our company.
Amy Luby, CEO, MSP Services Network, Omaha, Neb.
One of the worst mistakes I've made in the past is letting emotions get in the way of dealing with an employee who needs to go.
It's easy to dump technology, but there's an emotional side that can come up when terminating an employee. You're dealing with a human being, and making such a decision is going to have at least some negative impact upon them, not to mention their families.
It's OK to have a soft heart, but you can't let that get in the way of doing the right thing for your business. After all, if your business doesn't survive, nobody will have a job.
The best way to avoid this situation is to be careful in hiring. You want to do everything possible to make sure you are getting qualified people with initiative and good attitudes. And in those instances where you find you've made a bad decision, act quickly. Keeping a person who isn't a good fit can cause any number of problems within your organization.