“I’m not a real doctor, but I play one on the Internet.”
That’s Chris Smith, owner and president at The Tech Doctors Inc., a Wheaton, Ill.-based MSP. The Tech Doctors serves the “S” in SMB market and has done so for the past 13 years. Its specialty: helping small businesses with their investments into the Microsoft product technology stack—email, office productivity and cloud innovation, especially.
In just about every major U.S. city, there is at least one MSP or VAR organization that goes to market as a “technology doctor” of some sort. There are “The Tech Doctors” of South Florida, TechMD of South Coast Metro, Calif., “The-Tech Doctor” of New Braunfels, Texas, and my favorite, “Americas IT Doctors,” from Atlanta. These companies, of course, are not to be confused with the PC Doctors Inc. of North Eastern, Pa., or the PC Doctors of Marshfield, Wis., or the PC Doctor of Pittsburgh.
Why do so many companies go to market in this way? For many, it’s more than branding; it’s also core to their business philosophy. Instead of clients, some IT services providers treat their customers as though they were patients—looking out for their entire technological well being, in other words, instead of one aspect of their digital health.
Take Smith. After leaving Microsoft in 2001, Smith knew he wanted to help customers get more value from their tech investments. He picked the name “The Tech Doctors” on a bit of a whim, but it turned out to suit his company’s business philosophy. Smith isn’t interested in maximizing the profitability of every client, nor selling one-off services to pad his sales. Instead, he tries to maintain healthy relationships with customers year-after-year.
Today, 60 percent of his business comes from recurring business contracts. While it is growing as a percent of overall revenue, Smith still sells plenty of on-premise solutions. For many of his customers, $400 per month for basic cloud email, backup, and storage is simply too much when a one-time investment into a $2,000 server makes more sense. (Imagine how more affordable healthcare would be if more care providers treated their patients this way?)
Chris Smith, president, The Tech Doctors
Now consider TechMD, which specializes in cloud integration and migration, help-desk and on-site support, network and data protection, and virtual CIO services. Its basic promise to its customers: by focusing on your business, staff and budget, TechMD can help reduce computer and systems problems by up to 40 percent. The simple promise is working in Orange County, where the company operates. Founded in 2003 by two high-school friends after college, TechMD employs more than 40 systems analysts, engineers, software developers, administrators and more. In December 2016, it expanded its business with the acquisition of StoneHill Technical Solutions.
Like The Tech Doctors, TechMD thinks holistically about its role in the industry and beyond.
“We invest in our clients, our employees and our business in a way that leads to personal growth, professional growth, and growth for our community,” the company says.
Then there’s one of the nation’s youngest “doctors,” Nicholas Black, founder and CEO of Americas IT Doctors of Atlanta. I first met Nick at a tech event in Tampa, Fla., and was charmed by his youthful energy and humbleness. A year later, we shared a car ride from Oakland to Napa Valley, Calif., en route to yet another tech event. It was during that 90 minute drive when Nick shared his ambitions and business philosophy. Though he’s aiming high, Nick still remembers his company’s origins, which date back to February 2012. That’s when the young college junior literally began knocking on doors to see if anyone who answered needed IT support. Because more than a few did, Nick gave up his job as an IT technician for the City of Sandy Springs, Ga., and dove into Americas IT Drs full time.
Nicholas Black, CEO, Americas IT Drs
He’s not looked back since. In addition to break/fix services, Americas IT Drs has expended into security, backup and disaster recovery, telecommunications and more. And yes the memory of making housecalls stays with him.
“I obviously cannot convince people that I have the most experience (yet),” Nick once told me, “but I can win business by demonstrating that I care more than others.”
Am betting you can too.