The purpose of this podcast is to educate listeners about information technology and how it affects business success. We usually try to set aside the cheerleading for JMARK’s services and solutions. But in this unique episode, account executive Brad Prost joins us to talk about the conversations he has with business leaders and what that has taught him about the things most companies really want from an I.T. partner and what truly differentiates JMARK from other MSPs.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the JMARK Business Innovation Technology Experience.
Todd: Welcome everybody to the JMARK Business Innovation Technology Experience. Today we have the one and only Brad Prost with us. Brad has probably called just about everybody in the state of Missouri and probably most of Arkansas and working around the country, I suppose. Brad brings a lot of insight into conversations with prospects, the struggles that they have with technology and into why clients love JMARK and why they stay with us. We wanted to have a discussion with Brad and bring into play some of these things that we’ve learned from our clients on, why do they stay with us, what value do they get from the relationship because, of course, we’re always striving to level up that value and create a better experience for our clients.
To start off here, Brad, you’ve been a part of a lot of these discussions. What are some of the things that come to mind when you’re talking to prospects that a light bulb goes off in their head and they’re like, “Oh, I need that”?
Brad Prost: Well, there’s a number of things that lead to these decisions, but one thing that we see a transition of trust take place within our conversations. We approach these opportunities, not as a sales opportunity, but more of a consultative approach. When you do that, people tend to bring their guards down. You can see a transition of trust happen. We can speak to experiences, whether it’s security incidents or turnover, whatever it may be. We can relate to their situation, sympathize and empathize with them and speak into those situations in detail. Again, it helps that transfer of trust and ultimately helps us to win opportunities.
Todd: I think trust is, I don’t think it’s underrated, but possibly even a little bit misunderstood. With technology, you’re giving rights to the kingdom, so to speak, because to the technology provider, you hire. Everything lives on technology nowadays, all your data, all your information, your communications, the good and bad of the communications. We don’t have to bring up and [inaudible] of emails that have been leaked from politicians. It’s amazing that with a decision that is so critical to an organization that people will sometimes go with just the lowest cost bidder and you are handing over the keys to your kingdom, so to speak, to the technology that can either can literally destroy your business or make it succeed and be successful. I think that’s a really, really good point that goes into reducing risk and some of the other things.
Brad Prost: Your data in your technology is outside of your staff. It’s probably the most valuable asset that any business owns. It’s not something that you want to just hand over, like you said, the keys to the kingdom to just anybody. It is easy to go with the lowest cost provider out there just to try them out, but at the end of the day, the really cool thing is when you see business owners and decisionmakers within an organization that realize the value that IT brings to their business, the light bulb that you were talking about earlier, it’s when they realize that IT is no longer than necessary evil. It’s not an expense. It is truly something they need to invest in for their future of their business and their staff, the success of their staff.
Speaker 4: I was going to mention the other aspect of the trust equation, which you already mentioned, Brad, is that we go into these conversations and I say we I mean you, but the idea is to have complete honesty and transparency with these with whether it’s a prospect or whether it’s a client and be truthful about the challenges, be honest and open about what’s going to happen all the way along their journey, either as a prospect into a customer of JMARK or their journey over the next phase of whatever their business is with their technology. You can’t have trust without that honesty and without being truthful and being clear in all of these interactions.
Brad Prost: Yeah, trust is earned. It takes results to earn trust because myself and the rest of the team that goes on site for these meetings, we can talk all day long about how awesome JMARK is and talk about our culture and how great that is and everything that we can do for you, but if we don’t deliver, we will never keep a reputation that we have. Therefore, the successes are harder to come by. Very fortunate, I’ve been here 12 years and I’ve called on a ton of people. Just a number of experiences, but to be able to speak to and point to the results that we’ve had for over 30 years, over 20 years of doing managed IT services and the number of raving fans that we have that I can give as references, it’s invaluable. What better person to hear from other than myself on how awesome JMARK is than a client. I can talk to you all day long about how great we are, but when you talk to our clients and hear that we actually deliver on what we promise, it’s invaluable.
Speaker 5: Speaking of delivering promises, I know that Thomas talked about one of the reasons why people choose us is that we generate tangible outcomes. What does that mean and what is that conversation like whenever you are talking to a prospect?
Brad Prost: Outcomes, there’s many different outcomes that we can speak to when we’re talking to clients, but response time is an outcome. It’s not uncommon for us to come into a situation where a client is dealing with issues where it takes days to get a problem resolved. In today’s world, you just can’t wait days. When we can prove to them that we respond within minutes and seconds and can have issues resolved within seconds or hours, well, it’s unbelievable when they actually see it and you hear it from the client because it truly does happen.
The impact it has on culture, the culture of an organization, I just spoke to a client recently who historically has been getting low ratings within their organization when it comes to tech innovation. They’ve been with us for a little over six months now. I had a follow-up call last week with her. She raved about how this is the first time ever, if not in a very long time, that their organization got rated high in tech innovation. She spoke to the culture impact that JMARK has had. Everybody can work. They can be efficient. When they do have problems, they get resolved right away. They’re not waiting two or three days to get something resolved which delays them on finishing a project, which could delay the project deliverable in total.
It’s just a massive improvement and not only that, but the customer service experience that we’re delivering to our clients. I’ve heard this over a number of businesses that we brought on board is the attention to detail that we have, the follow through, that we have the promises that we keep. If we miss on an SLA or miss on a promise, we’re right there to fix it. There’s generally three things that cause a failure. It’s either a people problem, a process problem or product problem. Our directors over all of our teams are fantastic at reaching out to our clients when there is an issue. They will identify what the problem is and course correct.
The results after that are unbelievable. We get tons of raving fans. Obviously having an issue IT, it sucks. It’s painful. Nobody’s happy about it, but when you have a positive experience in getting it resolved, that lends itself to a great partnership and lends itself to people wanting to stay with JMARK.
Todd: One thing this goes into, the guaranteed outcomes goes into what we were just talking about a minute ago too with trust and reducing risk. From the standpoint of we on marketing, we’ve looked all of our competitors and they say the same stuff. They say they take the worry out of technology. They say they have fast response times. They say they protect everybody. This is what we’ve been talking a lot about on the marketing side with different things we’ve done because it’s so frustrating that people hear everybody say, “Oh, yeah, we’re wonderful, we’re wonderful, were wonderful.”
That’s not what we’re trying to say here. It’s just that there’s a big difference between what one organization says and one organization does. This has to do with you mentioned response times. Most IT organizations have SLA s in their agreements and they’re sitting in a file drawer and on server somewhere and nobody ever looks at them. Most companies say they do what the industry calls a quarterly business review, but a lot of times, those don’t equate to strategic budget discussions that help move the company forward and protect the organization. All the companies say they do patch management, but patch management is done differently with every company and most of the companies we go into to do network assessments, patch management is horrible.
The monitoring, the automation, the training that our teams go through, the relationships that we have with our partners, all of these things, there is the average way of doing it which most IT companies do and then there’s the JMARK way of doing it. We have a dedicated team just over automation. We have a dedicated individuals just for managing the partner relationship. It’s so frustrating on the marketing side because we have to compete against people that say they do what we do and say they’ll do it for half the cost which is a whole another discussion.
We’re talking about these things with trust. It’s so important that organizations go in and take the time to really understand, don’t take somebody’s word for it because they’re cool to hang out with. Take somebody’s word through research and talking to their clients and looking at reviews and looking at the awards they won because a gut decision can be disastrous if it isn’t backed up by my data.
Brad Prost: You said a lot there. The one thing that stuck out to me is don’t take somebody’s word for it because they’re cool to hang out with. I’m not sure I agree with that, Todd, because I want people to take my word because I’m pretty cool. No, trust oftentimes does start with me because I’m a lot of times the first line of defense or triage and my job is to go out and evaluate business needs, the pains they’re dealing with and determine couple different things, A, do we have a solution that would fit potentially for that client, B, would the client be a good fit for JMARK and then third thing, would JMARK be a good fit for the client because we know we’re not a fit for every organization out there. We’re never going to try and fit a square peg in a round hole.
We walk away from a lot of business, but a couple things that you mentioned also in your little deal there about the teams that we have, the number of technicians we have, when you want to be the best, you have to hire the best. That is something that I can truly say I’m proud of with JMARK. We have some of the industry best engineers on staff at JMARK. Not only engineers but leadership, all the way from our board members who are recognized globally within the managed IT services world that give us direction that nobody in our region, maybe even the United States has access to. Then from the board down to our exec team that is phenomenal to work with, their vision in what they’re working on today, most managed IT service companies that are in our region haven’t even begun to think about.
They’re still playing catch up to where JMARK is. We are the leader in the industry. I’m proud to say that. It’s not an arrogance. I hope you don’t take it that way, but we truly are. We are developing and doing things today that our competitors will in a year or two be trying to catch up to. Going back to the comment about being the most expensive or the least expensive, we’re never going to be the cheapest. I will be honest from saying that, as a business leader or business owner, you don’t want to hire the cheapest out there. You will pay for it in the long run. It is never a good thing.
You probably don’t want to hire the most expensive either necessarily, but it costs money to do all those things you mentioned Todd from having the right resources, the right expertise, the artificial intelligence we’re developing in putting into our work, it is not cheap to do it, but every single business out there needs it. I don’t care what size you are, what industry you’re in, you can’t do anything without technology today. If you don’t take it serious today, tomorrow is going to be rough.
Speaker 4: I think one of the things you talked about there, Brad is making sure that we get things right for people and all of the things that happen with our leadership, the board of directors, all of these things, these processes, these things that are happening behind the scenes and all of this constant work that we are doing to deliver the best services. One of the words that I don’t even know at this point who said it because it was a few minutes back, but mentioned processes. That is what goes into us being able to deliver these guaranteed outcomes. People are so passionate about processes of JMARK. I laugh about it sometimes because I’ve known Todd for what, 20 or more years. Todd has always been a processes person.
For so long before working together with him at JMARK, I always just dismissed those things as, “Wow, that’s Todd being Todd,” but come here and you see the processes at work and you see the thought that goes into, “Okay, how do we deliver these services in the most efficient way? Those response times that are in the SLAs, how do we make those happen? What do we need to do? What do we need to do to make sure that it happens again and again every time somebody calls in the same way?” Whether it’s automation, the response times, a bunch of the other things Todd mentioned, there’s so much work that goes into the processes behind that in order to make sure that we are delivering and taking care of customers and clients in the way that they deserve.
Brad Prost: Again, been with JMARK for 12 years, when I started, I think we had 28 or so employees. I will never forget how painful it was when we were trying to implement processes as if we were a 50-person company. I remember everybody said, “When you hit 50 employees, things change so much.” We were all frustrated because we had all these processes in place and had to follow them. Well, once we hit 50, 60 employees, it was like, “Holy cow, if we didn’t have those processes in place, we would have never made it.” Then we hit 100 employees. Now we’re working towards 150 employees. It is a night and day difference when an organization has the processes to deliver outcomes that we guarantee versus somebody who just says they do these things and then they try to deliver, night and day difference.
Todd: I think that’s going back to the purpose of this discussion. That’s one of the big reasons why people hire us is that there is so much redundancy, there is so much expertise at JMARK. There’s so much thought that’s been put into the customer experience, the service delivery, that maturity that comes with processes over time, the maturity that comes with the expertise are all things that go into helping our clients to have a better experience. The other thing that you mentioned when you talked about processes that comes to mind is incident response. Incident response is a dirty little secret word that everybody in industry thinks they know what it is. Everybody in the industry says they do it, but their incident response is methodical. It is very process oriented. If you don’t do incident response right, there are great, great risks to both your organization and the client’s organization.
Brad Prost: Well, Todd-
Todd: That’s one [crosstalk].
Brad Prost: Todd, real quick, we can all speak to it this year, how blessed we are that we have the incident response planned out. From 2015 or ’16, we had a pandemic plan in our disaster recovery strategies and we were able to fall back on that. We didn’t miss a beat. We’ve actually had great success this year. We’ve been very blessed. Unfortunately, for some other organizations around town that weren’t necessarily prepared for a pandemic and business owners and leaders uncovered that, “Holy cow, we were never set up for something like this. This can’t happen again.” Our phone’s been ringing. People are realizing what it means to have good solid IT.
You can’t send your employees home to work from home with no security policy in place. They can’t be working from their home computers and kids devices trying to take care of their clients. You’re dealing with, again, the second most valuable asset that your company owns and you’re putting it out there at risk just trying to wing it. We have had numerous calls to help organizations work in this new environment, the new normal, I would say,
Todd: I agree. To put some quantification to that statement, we talked about this a few other times, but when JMARK went remote, it was essentially, “Hey, everybody, go remote.” It was like nothing. It wasn’t a big deal. The Monday after we went remote is when the order, and I think it was like on a Friday, the order happened in Missouri. On Monday, we had over 300 calls just related to working remotely. It wasn’t a, “Wow.” It was like, “Oh, by the way, we took 300 calls yesterday for remote work.” Most organizations would be drowning if they suddenly received 300 calls on setting up VPNs and everything else that goes with remote work, but on top of the just the regular typical tickets that came in that day, just adding on another 300 and that’s because of our incident response, because of our processes, because of our maturity that we’re able to pivot at such a velocity to make sure our clients are protected and taken care of.
Speaker 4: I think a lot of work went into making that be able to happen, a lot of work over the past years and stuff in order to be at that point when we needed it. I think it’s important because we’ve done that work and we can bring that to our clients. There are our people at JMARK working on the next thing that’s going to be, the next processes, the next transitions that are going to happen for our clients. We haven’t reached this point and we’re not, “Okay, we’re good.” We’re constantly working and refining these processes and discovering what the next big thing is, so that we are ready so that when we roll these things out to clients and when we need to help them make their own transitions to the next level of their business or the next level of their technology, we have things in place to be able to do that. We’ve already learned it. We’re not learning by doing. We’ve already ready to do that for them.
Brad Prost: A couple of industries that we specialize in that were impacted big time banking and healthcare. We have industry expertise. We have teams dedicated to those industries. That is proven beneficial for JMARK. Several companies, several banks that we’re dealing with just a jack of all trades IT company that didn’t necessarily have the expertise and the SOC 2 certifications and the best practices within a heavily regulated environment, they failed the bank. What they learned, the bank has learned, is they were doing nothing, they were good people, not to say they weren’t good people and had some good engineers, but because they didn’t have that expertise, the bank was constantly trying to pull that IT company along, help them to get up to best practice and said, “Hey, here’s what you need to be looking at. Well, I’ll transition to JMARK.”
They’re blown away because now we’re on board and we’re teaching them, we’re pulling them along in technology and said, “Hey, you still have a ways to go. Here’s what we need to do. Let’s put a plan together. Let’s put a budget together. Let’s get you here,” and we can respond to auditors and show them a drawn out plan with timeframes and dates and what the details are of those plans. It just made a tremendous difference in confidence in an IT company in our partnership because we do work hand in hand. It is a really hand-in-glove partnership with any of our organizations, not just banks or healthcare, but this year, those two organizations were hit hard with having to send people home. They were freaked out on, “Holy cow. How can we do this securely?”
Well, we already had it in place and just basically hit a couple buttons and they were able to do it. It was pretty sweet to see that process work out.
Speaker 4: How much time does it save them when we are taking care of those things rather than them having to help their IT company along with, like what you were saying? That freaked them out. We talked about this idea. People who listen to this podcast regularly will recognize this word, we’ve talked about this idea of velocity and of speeding up the velocity of the business. That’s exactly how you do it by removing things from their plate and doing them for them and so that they are freed up to focus on the things that really move their business forward.
Todd: I think on that point of velocity, there’s this other thing of throttling. I think most people know what this is, but they don’t maybe recognize it in the sense of, there are so many things in business where there’s just this up and down. There’s this server goes down or a flash flood or a pandemic or whatever it is, just somebody quits all of a sudden or there’s some other thing. These things, there’s big ebbs and flows in business. It could be as simple as just getting a sale into the organization. There’s this big push towards delivering and projects or whatever, depends what the company does, but there’s this unreliability in technology that creates an unnatural throttling that that drives people up the wall because during these peak times of craziness and dizziness or change, technology sometimes can’t keep up if it’s not taken care of properly, if it’s not configured properly.
That’s where you have this throttling and you have loss of productivity and you have loss of morale and frustration because of this constant ebb and flow. That’s the thing with JMARK that we provide is we lift things up. We get things configured to a way in which they can adapt. We get ahead of the problems by having these strategic discussions on a quarterly basis, on an annual basis to make sure we’re ahead of these conversations and that we prepare the organization for whatever is coming ahead. In the same breath, we’re completely honest and we will tell them if they’re going down a path that is going to cause them harm. We work with them to help move them on a path forward. Doing that gets over the throttling, creates a normalization of productivity and that increases velocity.
Brad Prost: A perfect example healthcare organization we work with, we were competing with the incumbent and talking about managed IT services, talking about cloud solutions and the current IT provider that they were with had, I think it was a $90,000 or $100,000 hardware solution proposed to them. The CFO of the organization just knew deep down it wasn’t right, but he wasn’t getting the answers from the IT provider. Jeremy and I walked in and told them, “Don’t do it. Don’t do it. You need to move this application to the cloud. You need to do this in the cloud.”
He was blown away because we were honest. Instead of going out and trying to sell him $100,000 solution and making a bunch of gross profit off of that solution, we told him, “Don’t do it.” In turn, it reduced our managed IT services cost there was less hardware for us to manage, put them in a better environment, increase their velocity, dramatically change the culture there within their nursing staff. It was unreal how much more efficient they could be when charting and doing the things they need to do every day, not having to stay late. The doctors didn’t have to work late to chart or document whatever they needed to do, but it was because of the honesty that win us that deal. When we told him, “No, don’t do it,” he was blown away because he was getting the complete opposite from our competitor.
Speaker 5: You mentioned culture and I know Todd mentioned morale, it made me think of something that we haven’t talked about yet, which I just want to give like a little shout out to our tech guys because something that I hear a lot of the way that they talk to me like they don’t talk to me-
Todd: And gals.
Speaker 5: Say what?
Todd: And gals.
Speaker 5: And gals, I’m sorry. That’s terrible. I hear this all the time. They don’t talk to me like I’m stupid. They talk to me in a way I can understand. I think that’s huge because you don’t always get that with tech guys and gals.
Todd: It’s a good point. It goes into something that we’re calling our three uniques. The first one is people first, technology second. We’ve talked about people first, technology second for a number of years, but the idea of solving people’s problems and enabling and empowering people to create success in an organization ultimately helps the organization succeed. One way that we do that is by focusing on people. If we were just focusing on technology, we could make systems ultra secure. We could make systems ultra stable, but it would frustrate the heck out of anybody that uses them.
There’s this balance that we have to create. By focusing on the needs of our customers, that’s what we do. We have our own internal IT team at JMARK that takes care of our computers. We eat our own dog food, so to speak. There are times when we have to change our passwords every three months. I’ll wait till the very last day and then I end up being on PTO and then it’s a weekend and then I can’t get into my computer on Monday morning. They don’t scold me like, “You had two weeks to do this. Why didn’t you do it?” It’s a great experience. It’s just they’re there to help. They’re there to assist. They’re not there to point fingers. That’s the kind of company you want when it comes to service. I was wondering.
Brad Prost: People first, technology second is our motto. People run businesses. It’s no secret and technology is just a tool to help them run their business and become efficient and support their clients. That’s a big deal. Keeping that top of mind for JMARK from the top down is number one for us. That’s what allows us to create the outcomes and deliver the results that we deliver to our clients. When you have a passionate group of folks that all believe in the same thing, it’s amazing what you can do.
Speaker 4: It’s funny, in the past, I tended to be cynical about those company mottoes, value statements stuff because companies make these statements. They write them down, this really beautiful thing. Maybe they frame it and put it on the wall somewhere and then it just gathers dust. Again in the past, I was cynical about those kinds of things, but I came to JMARK. I’ve been here almost three years. I can legitimately say with 100% sincerity and honesty, that’s not the case at JMARK. We talk about our values. We talk about people first in every company meeting. In every team meeting, these values get brought up and we are always making sure like you said, Brad, it’s from the top down, making sure that we are aligned and we’re thinking about these things, that the service teams are thinking about, “I’m not fixing Christina’s computer. I’m enabling Christina to do her work and bring value to the company that she’s working for.”
It is always top of mind. It’s entirely changed my way of thinking about how important these things can be when the entire company really does adhere to them.
Brad Prost: Everybody that’s involved with their clients always thinks about the impact of the employees of the organization, no matter what it is, any solution that we come up with, “How is it going to impact the employees work day? How is it going to impact their performance?” Cloud solutions are great. They don’t work for everybody. They don’t work for every application. There’s so many factors to consider there. The number one factor that we consider, “How is it going to impact the employees that uses application the most? Because if it’s clunky, it’s slow, quirky, it’s going to drive them nuts and they’re going to hate their job. Next thing you know, they can be a great employee. They’re going to jump ship and go to a competitor.”
We have seen it happen in multiple industries, calling on prospects that finally realized after they’ve lost some good employees, they need to upgrade and do something different with technology and technology management because it was a shoestring budget. It was an expense. It was the necessary evil. They lost some valuable assets and staff and they grew up really quick. Unfortunate, it was a painful experience.
Todd: It’s so true. All of the things we’ve been talking about from experience to reducing risk and guaranteed outcomes and people first, technology second, they leads straight to why our second unique is so important and that is being consistently awesome. It’s not about being awesome once, it’s about being consistently awesome. It is freaking hard to be consistently awesome with any person or individual, but that’s the beauty of JMARK is that we have the resources, the processes, the people that can make sure that our services are consistently awesome and that always leveling up and surprising our clients.
Brad Prost: What was our latest customer satisfaction score? Out of five stars, we were a 4.8 something or 4.9 over the last quarter which is impressive. It’s unheard of in our industry.
Todd: Yeah, that’s actually funny too because we actually measure our CSATs differently than most companies do. Most companies will take their CSAT scores and maybe get rid of the top and get rid of the bottom and come up with an average or maybe they’ll take everything. Well, for us, if something is not a five, there is a process in the company where there are phone calls made. There are meetings that are had. There are a lot of things that happen if we do not get a five which is the highest on a CSAT rating. I’ve worked with many other companies and it just goes into an Excel document and sits there. It’s talked about in the meeting, but with us, there is actually automated processes and then people processes to act on that and determine whether we need to fix a people problem, fix a product problem or whatever it is we need to do. That is amazing to me because it’s not about the ebbs and flows, “We had a bad day.” It’s about every single ticket being the best possible.
Brad Prost: Well, it all comes down to trust and reputation. That’s how we build our reputation. That’s how JMARK has earned our reputation which gives us the right to earn trust from our clients as well. A couple of things we don’t talk about a lot outside of the typical IT support and what we do for our clients, additional solutions that we offer from a telecommunications standpoint. We have a team dedicated to telecommunications and voice and data lines. They are experts in this industry. We represent about 20 or so different carriers across the country and can bring solutions to the table for you to include hosted phones. That’s a valuable add on for us.
Then things like workplace by Facebook, huge opportunity for us to partner with Facebook. How many managed IT service companies are partners with Facebook right now out there? What kind of culture impact does workplace have on a business? Those are things that we can help drive culture, improve employee experience within our clients organizations, helps them to hire better staff. It’s a huge value add that we offer for all our clients.
Speaker 5: I think another thing that I don’t think we talked about as much and a reason why people hire us is our ability to reduce their risk which is obviously absolutely huge now more than ever and will only become more and more important. Not everyone can do it as well as we can.
Todd: Being that I am the one that has headed up our SOC over the last couple years, it’s allowed me an incredible vision.
Speaker 4: Todd, perfectly define what SOC is for people listening who might not know.
Todd: SOC is a compliance standard that organizations can go through to be verified by a third party that you meet certain security standards. It is not easy to do. It has gotten more difficult and more difficult over the years that we’ve been on it. It’s becoming almost a right to play. There’s banks that we work with. A lot of times they won’t work with IT companies that aren’t SOC compliant. It’s becoming more prevalent in manufacturing and in anybody that works with the government. On this area of risk, we’ve talked about this and we could talk about this all day.
Since the start of COVID, the number of cases or security threats have gone up astronomically. It is daily that I get hit with some phishing attempt in my inbox, usually multiple times a day. I get a valid phishing attempt in my inbox and it’s almost always coming from a prospect that we are marketing to. The resources that we put behind security, people don’t realize how much it actually is. We’re talking millions of dollars thrown into securing our organization tools, training, processes, controls that many people have to follow. That doesn’t even take into account the massive expertise. What happens with your documentation?
An IT company generally has all of your documentation written out, “What is your IP addresses? What are your passwords? How are those secured?” Every single partner that we bring into JMARK has to go through a thorough vetting. Right now, we’re going through a partner set review that we’ve gone through 13 partners and we have failed every single one of them or potential partners because they didn’t meet our security guidelines. I’ve seen so many IT companies who say they are secure, say they do secure stuff. We saw this two weeks ago. A local company got infected and the infection went out to every single one of their clients.
Brad Prost: The Ransomware.
Todd: [inaudible]. Yeah, it’s bad.
Brad Prost: It’s a big deal. As a prospect looking to hire managed services company, you need to ask about the managed IT service company’s processes in securing their own network, not just how they’re going to secure your network and then talk about cyber liability insurance policies they should be helping you with and making sure you have all your T’s crossed, I’s dotted and protected in the event of an attack of some sort. Todd’s right. We did have a local competitor in this. I truly believe it’s an organization that isn’t a typical managed IT service provider, but they’re trying to get into that space. They provide a different technology service. They’re trying to add managed IT services into their client base.
It’s not easy just to jump into this game. When you don’t do it right, things like this happen. I’m not sure exactly how this particular company got infected, but we’ve seen it many a times folks that are not true managed IT service providers that truly focus on this industry and it’s not just an add-on to a service that they already offer. These are the red flags out there for us. We’ve seen it all across the country, not just here in Springfield, but it’s happening all across the country because we are a big target. It’s no secret. We have hundreds of clients that we have access to and the bad guys know it, but it’s the organizations that don’t understand security, data security, network security that are most at risk.
They are not spending millions of dollars like Todd mentioned we’re doing, the research and development and the practices we’re putting in place, second to none. It’s insane what we’re going through in order to protect JMARK, but more importantly protect our clients.
Speaker 4: I think just the fact we have entire teams dedicated to these things. You mentioned earlier, Brad, the value that it brings to have teams dedicated to industries, who understand the industries. In the same respect, we have that with our services, teams that understand you mentioned telecom. We’re talking right now about security and automation, proactive things that happen. All of these teams, their focus allows them the fact that our security team, they can be laser focused on that and other people are worrying about the other aspects of IT is a huge difference because that’s a 24/7 job in and of itself, just keeping up with something like security.
Todd: The other thing that you said, Brad, that I agree with, you talked about companies that don’t do many services at their chord and then they try to get into managed services are a big red flag, that’s 100% true. Managed services got to be one of the most complex. There are days I go to bed like, “Why did I choose this industry? It’s so complex.” It is one of the most complex businesses to run because there are so many dangers and so many things that can go wrong. It’s not just companies who are trying to get managed services, but it’s also managed services companies that are arrogant about their success.
They brought in some good clients. They’re making some money. They think that they have the right stuff, so to speak, to secure all of their clients and to secure themselves. Then some little hacker in Ukraine comes along the scene, and bam, they’re out of business and struggling. We talked about this over and over. It’s so frustrating to see. It’s not frustrating from the standpoint of a loss to us. It’s frustrating from a standpoint because it’s fearful almost seeing somebody make a decision because of price, knowing what they’re going into. We’ve had prospects that have been in the sales funnel for a long time that have gone to another competitor because of price. Then they’ve seen it. This is happening right now actually where they’ve seen, “Oh, yeah, JMARK is the gold standard that everybody else has measured to buy essentially.”
Brad Prost: We are dealing with it. I had a prospect yesterday asked me specifically how … This sticker prospect was not impacted by the Ransomware. They’re having other challenges with an IT provider that has dealt with a lot of turnover. They’ve lost all trust and confidence in this organization, but he knew of this other company, and he said, “How is that impacting your business?” I told him, I said, “Honestly, our phones are ringing pretty regularly people ask him for help and I hate it. It sucks because you want to help, but we’re turning business away.” He said, “Why are you turning those clients away, but you want to bring me on board?” This all goes down to the processes we haven’t played.
If we go out and try to introduce a bunch of chaos into our environment, it takes high-level engineers. It takes a ton of time to do it. There’s no good process for it. It wreaks havoc across our entire organization. It is not good to do it. You have to have a plan. You have to have a strategy. You have to have the right processes in place in order to grow successfully. This particular client or potential client, he really got it. I said, “In your environment, you’re not an emergency situation. You’re wanting to make a change. This is something we can plan out, schedule out, do the right way, follow our processes that we know work. They just work when you follow it.”
When you don’t follow it, it lends itself to negative start to a partnership. Nobody wants that. It’s just when you’re bringing chaos like that, as much as we want to help everybody, it’s not great for JMARK and our current clients. The experience we provide and we guarantee, there’s a method to the madness and you just can’t introduce chaos like what was going on right now into that.
Todd: That’s beautifully said. I was in a meeting a couple weeks ago when this all happened. The request or an idea was thrown out about creating a campaign or slick about JMARK coming in and being able to save the day. My response was, “Well, we don’t go in and save the day always because we have processes in place.” Like you said, we have these ways of doing things and we want to be able to say or help somebody and save them from a bad IT provider, btu we’re not going to do it at our own risk. It doesn’t mean to say there aren’t times we do it. There are times we do it, but there are very specific criteria that has to be followed. That goes into the processes. It goes into the partnerships we have. It’s just a beautiful thing to experience.
Speaker 5: That comes down to our maturity and the fact that we have been around for so long. We know what we’re doing and we’re in a place to be able to say, I wish I could help you, but I’m sorry we can’t. If someone is willing to just come in and take every single fire and emergency and every single client, that’s honestly a huge red flag right off the gate.
Brad Prost: Yes, you’re right and being on the sales side of JMARK, it is very hard to turn business away, but deep down, again, going back to us all being on the same page, I know the impact it would have on the teams. I know the impact it would have on JMARK as a company and most importantly our current client base. When you risk that, you risk reputation and reputation is everything in this industry. Once you lose your reputation, you’re in trouble. You won’t get it back and that’s-
Speaker 4: [crosstalk] what Todd said mentioned a few minutes ago, as the second of our three uniques, consistently awesome service. We are not going to sacrifice that consistently awesome service to our clients that we already have in order to run around putting out fires elsewhere.
Todd: Well said. The other thing that was touched upon, you said Brad about being a trusted partner or [inaudible] anyways, all these things go into that. The one thing that made me that reminded me a minute ago because we’ve talked about this in another time about partners, I don’t think a lot of companies take stock of the people that your partners are partnering with because right now, it’s always been the case, but there’s more of a spotlight on it, the vendors we work with, the manufacturers, the Cisco, Hewlett-Packard. These kind of companies, they have to have their security things in order too. A lot of companies, I’m a part of a whole bunch of like Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups with other IT business owners and business executives and I always see them talking about new products and new services that they’re implementing. They’re always these small little partners in the industry vendors. They don’t have security controls. They don’t have SOC.
We actually interviewed one partner recently that had this great integration with our system. We asked them about their security controls. They said, “We’re just two guys and we take security seriously.” We’re like, “Bye. I can’t get out here soon enough.” They wanted to touch all of our systems essentially, all of the data. Being a trusted partner means that your partners are taking the time and the effort to vet the partners that could potentially affect you as well. When there are products and services being implemented from vendors and when your data is being floated around, when your data is being connected to via the managed services platforms, there are great risks. You have to know that your partner in IT has taken the time to make sure that all of their partners are secure and that your data is not going to be compromised.
Speaker 4: [inaudible] just like even if you’re telling me that story, Todd, and just putting that idea out here, the connections between everybody’s data, I can just feel like that like floating over to Eric, our security supervisor, and him just getting nervous. He’s like, “Some bad juju is being spoken about right now.”
Todd: That’s why I know all this stuff. I talked with Eric all the time.
Brad Prost: Yeah. That is a red flag and another red flag to look out for if your IT company or if you’re talking to IT partners and they’ll take on anything and everything, it’s a red flag, meaning every brand new firewall, every brand new server, if they don’t care what brands you have, that should be a red flag. You really need to vet their expertise within these specific technologies you have deployed in your environment. There’s a lot of times we have to walk away from organizations because they don’t have the right technology. They don’t value technology. They don’t see the need to invest in it. When it comes to an IT company like JMARK, we invest in expertise within certain brands.
If I can train all of my staff to be experts within certain brands, that just helps, what do you call it? Deepen our bench basically. I don’t have just one Cisco expert. I’ve got a team of 20 or 30 Cisco experts when it comes to firewalls and you don’t have to rely on just one person within an organism to be an expert on your specific technology. If you can buy into the technology stack that your IT company provides and offers, it’ll pay for itself time and time again throughout the course of your partnership.
Todd: Awesome. I think this has been a great discussion. It’s refreshing to be able to step back and look inside a little bit, so to speak, and talk about some of the things that make JAMRK a great company. There’s more. I have a feeling we could go on and talking for several hours. There’s just so much to the level of expertise, maturity, security, risk reduction, processes, people and just everything that makes JMARK an awesome company and makes JMARK an awesome company to do business with and provides awesome service. As always, reach out to us at jmark.com. Brad would love to have a strategy session with you and see if there’s a fit. Fill out a form, give us a call and we will connect and make great things happen.
Brad Prost: Thank you.
Speaker 1: Thank you for attending this podcast. We hope it has been informative and helped convey that at JMARK we are people first and technology second. To learn more and discover additional content relevant to your business, please visit us online at jmark.com or at LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You may also call us at 844-44-JMARK. Thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing you again.