Scott Spiro, Founder & President of Computer Solutions Group, Inc. (CSG) is an award winning Continuum partner who has been with us since the beginning. While CSG has achieved about 250% growth in the last 36 months, Scott has had to overcome tremendous staffing challenges, often in response to that growth. In this episode of MSPtv, Scott shares his own experience with labor shortage, discussing how his employees were either unable or unwilling to grow with his company. How would you respond if you lost two employees on the same day?
In this episode, you'll learn how these staffing obstacles forced Scott to address something every MSP has trouble managing: the work/life balance. Learn why Scott instead turned to our smart-sourced help desk model to help his technicians work smarter, not harder. This and more in this week's episode of MSPtv!
Want more from Scott? He's a speaker at our second annual user conference, Navigate 2015 in Las Vegas!
Have any suggestions for an MSPtv episode? Want to give us your feedback? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think!
Scott Glidden: Hi and welcome to another episode of MSPTV. I'm Scott Glidden and with me today is Scott Spiro from Computer Solutions Group, or CSG, out of LA. How are you today?
Scott Spiro: I'm great. Glad to be here.
Scott Glidden: Good. Scott's been a partner of ours for quite some time. Why don't you tell us a little about yourself and CSG?
Scott Spiro: Sure. So, I started the company back in '96. We've had a few different iterations of the company over the few years. We're a manage service provider based out of LA, as you said. And yeah that's the basics.
Scott Glidden: Good. You and I were talking earlier today and I think that this is something that most MSPs, most business owners, entrepreneurs especially, struggle with, and that is how to grow your business but really maintaining a sense of work/life balance. It sounds good, but really hard to achieve. Tell me a little bit about the journey that you've taken in trying to achieve that for yourself and for CSG.
Scott Spiro: Like most of the viewers, I'm an entrepreneur. I started out just as myself and grow the company. Like most of us, I've had my share of setbacks along the way. Even last year was an especially tough year, but we didn't stop as far as growth is concerned. And with that comes challenges around work/life balance. I really had to step back and take a look at my situation and figure out how much time I wanted to spend at work and how much time needed to be spent at home. I've got two little ones at home. I'm married and my wife is hugely supportive of what I do. She comes from a farming family so there's not much more entrepreneurship that I can think of than farming. So she was hugely beneficial. But one day she said to me, she made a comment, "Hey, you're away quite a bit. Maybe you like being away more than you want to be home." She didn't say it in a really mean way, it was just meant to get me thinking.
So I think that as entrepreneurs, we have to be very cognizant of the amount of time we're spending on our work and at home. I had to develop some strategies to really manage my time better, to get the most out of my time, and still have time available for my family as well.
Scott Glidden: When you're looking at growth from the business side of things, what were some of the pain points that you were realizing, to meet that growth; to meet the new clients, the bigger clients that you were trying to bring on. And what were some of the solutions that you came to?
Scott Spiro: In addition to figuring out the strategies around the home/life mixture we just discussed, I ran into some challenges that I wasn't necessarily expecting with the growth. One of the big ones was around my staff and employees. You find that, at least in my case, I had employees that were good employees for the size that we were, but now that we had moved forward and there were more demands being placed upon them, that they were no longer the right fit. There were also employees that simply didn't believe in the vision. They didn't believe in what we were trying to achieve and didn't want to necessarily be part of that. So, there were a number of different things, but staffing became a big problem. I was losing staff.
In fact, I had two people that quit on me the same day which was particularly tough. And I remember just pulling the car over and thinking that I was going to hyperventilate at that point.
Scott Glidden: You had talked to me a little bit about this earlier. That was your internal service desk, help desk correct? That one of the employees was?
Scott Spiro: Yeah. Actually this is ironic because I was at the last Navigate conference. We had an employee that decided that he was no longer going to be part of our service desk. He made it pretty clear. I was here with my Director of Operations and we were thinking about this. I thought, "This is a really good time to start taking a look at the outsource service desk model, and see if we can't start replacing some of our staff members with that."
Scott Glidden: As an organization, and discussions you've had with your senior level employees, are you finding that those kinds of outsourced models, whether it's with Continuum's Help Desk, or maybe the NOC applications, or TechAdvantage, will allow you to look to achieve that better growth with maybe not necessarily adding employee overhead or getting into some of those scalable issues?
Scott Spiro: Absolutely. I think every business is different. So you have to look at your company and see if it's the right fit for your business. For me, being that I'm looking to manage my home life time situation, and I care about my employees and I want them to be able to go home and be able to spend time with their families as well. Being that we'd growing so quickly, it seemed like a logical solution to try. Utilizing the outsourced NOC and service desk had been good for us.
Scott Glidden: Excellent. You had mentioned to me earlier that CSG has achieved around 250% growth in the last 36 months. Do you attribute it to your ability to meet scale with new and larger clients, has it helped you to grow that?
Scott Spiro: Absolutely. It's being able to work with larger companies; being able to better manage the service deliveries for those companies; being able to partner with other IT companies has been very important.
Scott Glidden: You had also mentioned, you were talking about work/life balance. There's also, from what you were describing, a bit of a client balance. Every time you go to meet with a prospect or potential client, you're also trying to determine, "Is this the right client for me?" How do you go about that? That's a tough thing, I think, that most of us have; when I have a sale opportunity in front of me and I'm actually thinking, "Maybe this is not the right fit," to say no to a business. But as you said, it's very integral in your plan to move forward.
Scott Spiro: It is. I think one of the most difficult things that we can deal with growing our businesses and as entrepreneurs is saying no to new business. It's tough, it's really tough. You have to shift your mindset at some point during the growth of your business to say no to the prospective clients that aren't the right fit for you. Because ultimately, they'll simply hurt your ability to service the clients that do fit the profile.
So yes, we certainly take a look at each incoming company and determine whether or not they're a good fit for us, and vice versa.
Scott Glidden: Yeah, it has to be. You had mentioned this earlier, your ability to discover what that potential client's priorities are, whether it's customer service, or whether it's a technology side of things, is very important to discovering whether or not you can satisfy them and keep them as a long-term client.
Scott Spiro: Correct.
Scott Glidden: Sales and marketing is always a challenge for, I think, MSPs in particular. Those of us that come from a technology side of the world aren't always as comfortable with that. You were discussing earlier a little bit about the different ways of going about it, whether it's with mailers or Google AdWords or networking. What works for you, and why?
Scott Spiro: I think that everybody has a gift of some type as far as how they work with other people. So, I think that when you're starting out, especially if you're a smaller company, maybe you're one person, or you're two people or three people, it's best and easiest to go with what you're good at.
For me, that was really networking with other people and other businesses; going out there and meeting people and talking with them. I always enjoyed that and I was good at that. That was a tool that I used early on, along with knocking door-to-door and just canvasing. I think that not everyone is going to be fully comfortable with doing that, however. Or good at that. In that sort of situation, you would look at something else. That could be telemarketing. That could be you know campaigning. That could be pay-per-click. That could be organic search. There are a lot of different ways to do it. I think that the important thing is to just have a number of different things that you're doing at the same time.
Scott Glidden: And give them time to sort of bear fruit, too.
Scott Spiro: They are not going to happen overnight. So you just have to be aware of that. They take time and you have to be in it for the long haul. And don't get frustrated when it doesn't work, because it probably won't the first few times.
Scott Glidden: As we close out here, any sort of last minute advice along these lines to potential or fellow MSBs out there?
Scott Spiro: Well, I want to jump back over to the point about making sure you're working with the right clients. I spent a lot of time and a lot of energy trying to force certain companies to be the right company for us. It takes a lot of energy and it brings you down. It brings down your staff as well. It's better to refer them off to another partner, that's maybe a better fit. I think that's a good thing. And understand what's important to your client. This is something that I usually talk about; understanding what their priorities are. Focus on their priorities. They may not be your priorities.
Scott Glidden: That's a good way to leave it there. Now, you'll be joining us for Navigate 2015 in Las Vegas this September, correct?
Scott Spiro: I will. I had a great time at 2014. I thought it was an awesome event. I'll be speaking at the 2015 Navigate Conference. I'm super-excited about that.
Scott Glidden: Absolutely, so are we, very much so to have you on board. It'll be a lot of fun.
Scott Spiro: It's going to be great.
Scott Glidden: Well, thanks for joining us. We really appreciate it. We'll have you back some time soon, and we'll see you then. Thanks folks for joining us. We look forward to seeing you on another episode of MSPTV.
What does it take to run a successful help desk like Scott?