As we continue to piece together our third-annual MSPmentor 100 survey results (Dec. 11 is our deadline for submissions), we're checking in with last year's MSPmentor 100 companies to see how their businesses are performing. For this blog entry, I spoke to Doug Ford, president of the San Diego-based The I.T Pros (ranked No. 96 in our 2008-2009 list). Here's a recap of our conversation.
Ford's high-level thoughts are in bold and his deeper responses are "in quotes."
Company's focus: "The I.T. Pros is focused on three primary profit centers; managed services, professional services, and cloud computing."
On business in 2009: "Gross sales revenue is flat.
But, flat is the new growth in 2009, right? "We are actually seeing a positive shift in our percentage of sales from being product heavy to being more aligned with our goal of 50% services and 50% product. So, although gross revenue is flat, our margins and profitability are healthier."
On Growth: "We currently have 22 employees, a number that has remained fairly constant for the past 12 months. But it is important to understand that, despite our consistency in headcount, we have added two new profit centers and successfully 'flipped' dozens of legacy onsite support customers to our remote managed service offering. We are now poised to grow our remote Managed Services team and plan to increase our NOC staff by 30-40% in 2010."
On New Services: "We launched our Cloud Computing offering in 2009. Customers can build their IT infrastructure in our cloud without buying a single piece of server or storage hardware! We have definitely subscribed to the hosted model as a viable solution to our customer’s business needs."
On Challenges: "It has been more difficult to close deals in 2009. Customers have become much more cost conscious and oftentimes make decisions based upon price and budget and price rather than value. As a result, our win ratio was lower this year because we don’t compete on price. We bring value. As a result we are moving upstream and closing larger opportunities at the high end of the 'S' and medium part of the 'M' in SMB. It’s easier to sell value in that space and our offering is more aligned with the needs of larger 'small' businesses and mid-size 'medium' businesses."
On 2010: "We are approaching our 2010 growth strategy a little differently than we did in the past. We have reached the $5M revenue mark and realize we aren’t going to hit the $10M and $20M mark through a direct sales model. We have already starting to develop strategic channel relationships with ISV’s and service providers that want to include managed services, help desk, and NOC services to their portfolios. Most of our service offerings are white labeled and ready to be branded making it much easier to develop a strategic channel sales model. We are building a 24 hour help desk and have accredited our Network Operations Center through the MSPAlliance. We plan to leverage our 24 hour NOC to win larger help desk and monitoring opportunities both direct and through the channel."
Parting ShotsThanks for your thoughts, Doug. We'll be checking in with more MSPmentor 100 companies in the days ahead to see what shifts they saw in 2009.
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