Throughout the U.S., consumer confidence is at a 16-year-high, the stock market has hit so many consecutive records it’s hardly news anymore, and people are spending (and employers are hiring) as the economy soars.
NetGain’s first quarter in 2017 looked a lot like the national economy. After we recognized some areas for improvement at the end of last year and adjusted accordingly, our Q1 saw historic gains that nicely align with our company vision.
When all employees assembled for our quarterly company update earlier this month, I was excited to share that we had achieved a record quarter in many metrics. We also discussed some specific changes we made in Q1 that will help us continue to reach goals throughout the year. We formally introduced several talented new members of the team, talked about next quarter goals, and celebrated the winners of several quarterly awards.
Perhaps most importantly, the staff meeting gave many of our leaders the opportunity to publicly commit themselves to the NetGain Way—the 10 core principles of our company values.
While growing last year, we still came short of a few goals in late 2016. We really challenged the company to make some adjustments to spur a breakthrough in 2017.
We introduced an incentive unlike any we’ve offered before: Throughout the year, we will strive to help more companies use I.T. as a competitive advantage than we’ve ever worked with previously. If we meet an aggressive (but certainly attainable) annual sales goal, the entire company plus a guest will go on a cruise to celebrate! I told everyone if we wanted to celebrate unlike anything before, we had to accomplish something we have never done. (Employee reward trips are an important part of NetGain’s corporate culture. Read more about these trips in a blog I recently posted.)
The results were amazing in Q1 and we did something we had never done previously. We closed a record amount of new business in the form of Technology OneSource. This program is our flagship offering and what we do best: manage companies’ I.T. for them. In addition to these exciting results, all measurements of sales were up over Q1 last year. I could hardly wait to tell everyone we reached 23 percent of the annual goal for the cruise incentive—it’s clearly achievable.
In addition to an overall stellar quarter, the month of March had its own records: highest service revenue in company history and largest initial Technology OneSource contract signed. Our vision of becoming a more focused service provider is becoming a reality every day.
Q1 company improvements
I love to recognize the successes we’ve made as a team. In the opening months of 2017, a full list of achievements would be impossible. A few highlights to mention are as follows:
- A second version of our proprietary tool to serve our managed service clients at the Remote System Engineering level began beta tests. This is designed to help find information quicker and provide faster service to clients, which everyone loves.
- We hired an outside advisor to evaluate our Network Operation Center software and suggest improvements to better serve clients.
- The operations team continued to reduce the average age of tickets for Technology OneSource clients.
- Rick Ward implemented a newer accounting system, giving us more detailed financial reports. Information is power in making business decisions, so this has been a tremendous success.
- The Technology OneSource engineering team began proactive onsite visits to meet with clients.
- We formalized an Executive Workshop to better present a business-focused review of I.T. to companies wanting to evaluate and improve the business-impacting performance of technology.
- Christa Hurst worked with NetGain’s accounting team to roll out a new quoting tool that she and the team felt could speed up our quoting processes.
- Reggie Gresham agreed to head an effort to revamp our internal Employee Advisory Council so we can continue to work towards our goal of being the “Workplace of a Lifetime.”
New to the NetGain team
After adding Robert Patterson as NetGain’s first vCIO late last year, this first quarter saw several additions to our business-focused lineup. We really concentrated on recruiting the right people to continue moving NetGain Technologies forward as an industry leader.
Jason Bowra is a great example. Jason became NetGain’s V.P. of Operations after a long search for a great leader. We knew during the interview process that he was the one when he demonstrated a clear understanding of NetGain’s one-page strategic plan and culture. This document presents our company’s vision, goals, unique value proposition, and brand promise. Importantly, Jason exemplifies our company values, as codified in the strategic plan as “the NetGain Way.” (See the press release announcing Jason Bowra as V.P. of Operations.)
We were also pleased to introduce James Walker, a former I.T. company owner, who joined us as Director of Technology OneSource in our Chattanooga office.
Additional hires in Q1 included a market research specialist, a business development expert, and five new remote support engineers. I continue to see one of my main roles as chief people and culture officer! Brendan and I are going to keep working hard to get the right people “on our bus and in the right seats” per Jim Collins’ Good to Great.
The NetGain Way
I mentioned above that employee incentive trips are a significant aspect of our culture. We want to be sure everyone at NetGain Technologies is focused on living out our values. At our companywide Q1 meeting, I asked the company’s top leaders to help me present The NetGain Way as a display of our commitment to the philosophy. One by one, they read out the core values to the entire company present:
- Fight every day for what’s right
- If you think you can or can’t you are probably right
- We always win TOGETHER
- Family first
- Only do things where we can be the very best
- Every client should be a Promoter
- Constant pursuit of a better way
- If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right
- Leave it better than you found it
- Be the workplace of a lifetime
During the meeting, I was able to share examples of NetGainers putting the NetGain Way into practice:
- “Fight every day for what’s right”: Adam Weiger initiated a difficult conversation with a client to correct some outdated contract terms
- “Family first” and “If you’re having fun you’re doing it right”: The marketing team in Lexington coordinated a surprise 60th surprise birthday party for finance E.V.P. Rick Ward
- “Be the workplace of a lifetime”: Brent Law and Morgan Chapman have done great work making sure new hires are set up for success during onboarding
- “If you’re having fun, you are doing it right” and “Constant Pursuit of a Better Way”: Zack Wildman led a team-building weekend offsite retreat
Every quarter, NetGain sets a series of quarterly priorities with specific goals. Achieving these priorities results in a companywide celebration. In Q2, the reward will be “a day at the park.” All employees will head to a local amusement park for a day during the work week.
These short and long-term goals are good for us and for our clients. We’re looking to grow but we really focus on goals that will improve client satisfaction, perfect our processes, and bring us closer to our mission. We don’t always meet every “stretch goal,” but we always make strong progress.
Honors and recognitions
If you talk to one of these team members, be sure to congratulate them! Quarterly awards for outstanding employee efforts went to:
- Sales-Professional Services: Dave Thomas
- Sales-Managed Services: Carl Crosby
- Finance and Administrative: Julie Rogers
- Marketing and Development: Morgan Chapman
- Technology OneSource Engineer: Jesse Kuykendall
- Remote Engineer: Josh Kates
- Professional Services: Dustin Nichols
- Operations: Alesia Absher
- Sales Support: Cassie Lucarelli
Right now, NetGain Technologies is providing quicker and more efficient services to more clients than ever before. Our most recent Net Promoter Score was 65, which places us near the top of the “Excellent” category and indicates our clients are happy with the partnerships they have with us.
We advise hundreds of companies on business decision-making, budget planning, and technology roadmapping. We enjoy interacting with other executives and helping them make I.T. work for their business. I hope you will follow me on LinkedIn and check out some of our recent thoughts:
- Business strategy: You’re a C-level leader. You are responsible for seeing the “big picture.” When you gather your most trusted advisors to strategize your company’s future, who is in the huddle with you? Read full post: Why would you have an I.T. strategy session—without your I.T. guy?—Robert Ney
- CEOs and millennials: “CEOs must embrace technology or they’ll watch their company fail.” Read full post: Do I.T. or Die: Why senior leaders must identify with Millennials and embrace technology
- CXOs, I., and baseball: Leading a business is a lot like stepping up to bat: Sometimes you can point to the stands and hit a homerun. Other times you get a curveball you weren’t prepared for. Read full post: A whole new ballgame: CXOs and I.T. (with a few baseball metaphors)—Robert Ney
- Network access policy: a C-level primer: A well-defined and carefully observed network access policy may seem to be a technical responsibility of your I.T. department—but it’s vital for CEOs, COOs, and CFOs to be aware of network accessibility. That’s true whether your company maintains a full-service, in-house I.T. department or you outsource to a managed I.T. services provider (MSP). Read the full post: Network access policy: a C-level primer—Mark Patterson
- Reward trips and corporate culture: Group trips always encourage interactions. I’ve seen it firsthand: People who may butt heads in the office start to connect in a new environment. Read full post: Reward trips and corporate culture: Why you should travel outside of work with your employees—Jason Jacobson
- I.T. department accountability: If you’re like 99 percent of the C-level leaders I’ve worked with, this statement will ring true: You find it challenging to measure the performance of your I.T. department. You’re not even sure what to measure, much less how to gauge their performance. Read full post: 8 documents your I.T. staff should be able to provide right now (but they probably can’t)—Robert Ney