I asked for a lunch meeting with Ed, the CEO of one of our high tech customers, so I could check in with him and discover his personal as well as professional experience with our support for his business. Ed’s firm is growing quickly as they have great products and smart people. While KME has been working with them for some time providing basic IT support, they only recently became a managed IT partner.
I wanted to gauge our day to day performance and more importantly, my end goal was to follow through on our promise during the sales process that we’d learn even more about his firm and become more valuable to his company.
We sat down, ordered some food and I started with a few basics. How are we doing? What could be different?, etc. Ed replied were doing a good job, he had asked his staff for feedback on KME and it was positive, but then he said “Please take this the right way, but I view your firm as a technical janitor.”
I sat there for a few seconds with I’m sure a somewhat blank look, so Ed graciously offered a quick apology, saying he didn’t mean to insult me or my company. I replied I didn’t take it that way and I really wanted him to continue without any fear of insulting me. “Trust me, I’ve been called worse” and we both laughed.
“Technical janitors…” I said back and he replied with a simple “Yes”. Ed described how he worked with IT firms in the past and they did the basics well, but he would end up replacing them as he outgrew what they could offer. He was always sorry to fire them, but he simply needed more than they offered as his business matured.
Ed used a good janitorial service to keep his premises clean, but he never expected business advice from them. KME was a good “technical janitor” and that was enough for now, he’d replace us in the future as his needs grew. That’s how it worked in Ed’s world.
I told Ed that was part of the reason I wanted the meeting. KME had experienced this in the past and we took action to grow our firm in a few directions in order to better serve our clients. I explained our constant goal of maturing as an IT services firm and I reviewed the other services we could offer like helping select an ERP system, our strong background in business continuity, IT business process, etc. Ed asked some great questions about where we were headed and I shared our plans for the future, struggles with growth and successes, etc. He was glad to hear more about our offerings as well as the technical ability and business background of our staff. It became apparent we had similar challenges.
We ended our lunch with an action list for the first quarter of 2014, a commitment to continue the process and to do a review every 90 days. Ed and I both understood our firms are growing not just in size, but in scope and we would each benefit from a real partnership.
Are we good technical janitors? You bet, but that’s just the starting point for KME and I’m glad to tell that story to our clients.
If you think your business needs some janitorial (*technical*) services, please drop a note and we’d be happy to see if we can clean up your shop.