Empowering Businesses by Simplifying Technology – Tom Douglas of JMARK Business Solutions

Tom Douglas, CEO of JMARK Business Solutions

Tom Douglas, the CEO of JMARK Business Solutions, grew his company’s revenue from $10.6 million in 2014 to $17.8 million in 2017, a 68% increase, and to around $19 million in 2018.  

JMARK Business Solutions provides IT services & support that helps organizations create success through properly implemented technology.  

In this interview with Eversprint‘s Malcolm Lui, Tom shares how he and his team accelerated their high value sales by:  

  • Building a culture of honesty, passion, teamwork, excellence, accountability and fun.  
  • Simplifying technology so that their clients can focus on growing their business.  
  • Helping clients succeed by removing the IT barriers that hinder their growth.  

Computer generated transcript - JMARK Business Solutions Interview (transcribed by Sonix)

Download the "Computer generated transcript - JMARK Business Solutions Interview" audio file directly from here. It was automatically transcribed by Sonix.ai below:

Malcolm Lui: Welcome to the High Value Sales Show of Eversprint.com. I'm Malcolm Lui, the Managing Member of Eversprint, and today we're speaking with Tom Douglas, the CEO of JMARK Business Solutions, a provider of IT services & support that helps organizations create success through properly implemented technology. Welcome to the call Thomas.

Tom Douglas: Now thank you very much. It's nice to be in the call Malcolm.

Malcolm Lui: Tom, you grew your company's revenue from $10.6 million in 2014 to $17.8 million in 2017, a 68% increase, and in 2018 you hit around $19 million. Before we talk about how you grew your company so fast, can you briefly share what your company does beyond my quick intro, and how your company differs from the competition?

Tom Douglas: Absolutely. We are a managed services company which means a lot of things. So a lot of different individuals or organizations in our world. It means that we are a managed I.T. service provider so we replace or assume responsibility of an I.T. environment and for a business who either doesn't need a full time I.T. staff or or has an incomplete I.T. staff environment. So in other words if if they get tired of managing geeks or they they have trouble maintaining the talent within their organization having trouble understanding all of the complexities of what it means to properly run I.T. in a business environment we step in and assume responsibility for that management on a day to day basis. So we're proactively monitoring the servers the workstations the firewall the security. We optimize the condition of the pieces so that so that everybody's computer has maximum uptime in performance. And then we we create a five year strategy for the technology to ensure that there's budget alignment that there's alignment and where the business is going in the future and that that facilitates a win win environment for both of us because we know what what we're implementing and supporting in the end for the client because there's no surprises in their world and we can properly protect their data which is you know has become one of the major intellectual property components of any organization. It's you know years ago years ago the the high asset values of an organization was within brick and mortar and physical assets and today many of those assets have become digital and so protecting that data both in the security environment and in a backup disaster recovery business continuity environment becomes just critical for success. And one of the things that we say is a behind every CEO is a good I.T. environment. And our our goal is to come in and make sure that I.T. runs well

Malcolm Lui: Yeah when I was working on investment banking the I.T. department was a crucial department because everything revolves around it. But anyway I find it's a difficult job to do as well because rarely do people is a great job. I mean things are working well when

Tom Douglas: Right

Malcolm Lui: Things don't work well. Boyd does this stuff hit the fan at that point and

Tom Douglas: Down

Malcolm Lui: I keep

Tom Douglas: That

Malcolm Lui: Hearing it.

Tom Douglas: That is a fact. Yeah we. We do our best to make sure that we don't get those calls. But you know hardware fails and software fails there's that's that's part of the world that we live in. And so our job is to to respond to those situations and to make sure that people know what's going on. And then we get a quick resolution to the issues when they come up

Malcolm Lui: Right now how does your company differ from the other I.T. services providers out there.

Tom Douglas: Well fun. There's there's a few different areas that we focus that are different than our competitors. I would say the number one area is one of our mantras is people first technology second. You know at the end of the day to run any successful organization you have to have great people. And for most organizations that's also the biggest expense item for their organization. And so we want to keep people as productive as possible we want to optimize their work environment and keep them going and to do that you have to be conscious and sensitive to the fact that that there's different personalities there's different requirements and different expectations for individuals to facilitate that success. So our job is to go in and actually understand the personality the people side of the business how they want to operate how they want to collaborate how they come together as an organization and then facilitate the technology around the people rather than taking technology throwing it in a in a big bucket if you will and then forcing people to do more around it or to learn how to operate as a slave to the technology. That's the backwards way of doing things. And so by always putting people first in front of the technology it's helped to really empower us to grow and be successful and have such a high client retention ratio.

Malcolm Lui: So when you say putting people first think about putting the clients people first so are you. Or does that apply equally to your own team.

Tom Douglas: Equally due to our own team we wouldn't be here without the people in our organization. And so we we lift our employees up we where have one of the strongest cultures in any organization that operates like we do. We believe really strongly in our core values and we we hire and even occasionally have to fire based on core values. And so we create a sense of teamwork and alignment in our organization of what success is both for the individuals in our company and our clients. And so cumulatively that that group of people becomes Are our primary focus. You know our our goal is to fall in love with people not products and technology and by doing that it creates a win win environment for everyone involved and it's a lot of fun because our our team becomes really close friends with our clients and we hear about grandkids and we hear about vacations and and special trips that people go on because we become integrated as a part of our client's business and that's that's critical to success because we don't want anyone to be one intimidated by technology or afraid to ask a question or for the experience of getting help to be a poor one. That experience needs to be very positive. So it's driving the engagement driving productivity and making sure that people can be successful.

Malcolm Lui: So my next question is what were the three biggest drivers of your success. You grew your business over the past four years and ten point six million and you almost doubled it to around 19 million in 2018. Sounds like your people are the biggest driver would you concur.

Tom Douglas: Oh yeah. No no doubt about it. We're we're blessed beyond any any imagination or anticipation of what the future would have been for us. And it's all around those people. It's good people coming to the table doing great work

Malcolm Lui: Right. And what would you say were drivers number two in number three

Tom Douglas: Hi I think market opportunity the complexity of technology has been become more than a traditional I.T. department or a one or two people or a group of even 10 or 15 people oftentimes can can keep up with and manage in our organization we have the opportunity to bring together subject matter experts from every area of technology with over 80 engineers in our company that gives us that flexibility to say OK we need a we need an SMB subject matter expert for antivirus management and backup management and server management. And so we can bring all of those resources to the table to create an optimum optimized environment. So we're taking the complexity of technology in where we're bearing the burden of the complexity so that we can simplify it for our clients. And so I think that that that's probably number two for us is is recognizing that need into just a really ambitious goal to serve others and make sure that their businesses are empowered. Ultimately we have to as an organization recognize that we exist because of our client's success and so if we focus on that success and utilize the technology to do that then it puts us into that that that win win environment that we spoke of and so I think that that third component would be the passion for our client success

Malcolm Lui: Okay. Can you elaborate a bit more on the passion for your clients success how is that defined. How does your team help with that

Tom Douglas: Well with any luck with any business you know the best way for our business to grow is if our clients grow and we recognized early on that we have the I mean it's really a gift to be able to help people with their technology and achieve the things that they want to be able to do in their business and we want to remove the burden of technology as being a barrier for their growth. And so by putting comprehensive technology strategies and plans together for years into the future it helps our clients to 1 control costs which is always important but more important than that is to have a strategy to use technology to be a market differentiator for our clients. So how does technology in their business actually drive unique unique selling proposition or a unique product capability or unique support environment so that our clients can be more successful when we remove any barriers to success at least in the technology side of the house. It really empowers our clients to grow and to be a better organization overall and so that's that's our goal and the passion around that is serving people. Ultimately the personality types that we hire into our organization the methodologies that we bring in the processes that we train all of those things are around having this passion for serving other people and making a difference. And we're fortunate to be able to support our clients who generate over a billion dollars in revenue across the base much more than that nowadays. And so so being having a goal of being a servant leader in that arena and helping others to be successful and seeing their businesses thrive because of what we've had the chance to help them do is a real gift and we get a lot of personal enjoyment from that and so instilling that passion inside the business helps helps everyone come together and have a clear vision of what it means to drive forward and be successful.

Malcolm Lui: Right. Okay. Now you talk a little bit you mentioned but using technology to be a driver of the client's business can you maybe give an examples of that beyond simply just making sure everyone has has the office suite available on their P.C. that's up to date

Tom Douglas: Yeah absolutely well it's about. There's there's several different ways it's about making sure that the right applications are available you know most productivity in a business is driven not from Microsoft Office or those those are ancillary and supporting activities but it's a line of business applications that are unique to each business that could be a CRM or an ERP software. But whatever it is a practice management solution that that technology needs to be available on the platform that's appropriate for the client delivered in into a mobile device delivered into their APC delivered into a terminal services or Citrix environment whatever is appropriate to make sure that they can maximize their productivity so that they can serve their clientele in the most effective way. And then and then obviously making sure that their data tells the right stories. So you know whether that's their KPI management or business intelligence or whatever is appropriate to drive productivity inside their business and we can help them to facilitate an infrastructure that delivers those kind of outcomes and so our goal is to do that and then create unique things like in banks where we've helped the teller environment move from the traditional you know sitting behind the desk or sitting behind a standing desk where you're helping people from a P.C. where they can walk around with a tablet and they can sit down and have coffee and they can show the screen and they can do some of those unique capabilities and add a banking environment to change the experience and make people more engaged as a client base of theirs so that their clients experiences also improve. And so so is unique that kind of knowledge points within each industry that help us to be successful

Malcolm Lui: So are your services more of the kind. Yeah I've tried it. I'm going to get the terminology wrong here so correct me when I do. Is it more of a back office sort of function. Or are you also helping companies that provide their own service through information technology. Like for example if a company you want to build an e-commerce platform that's something that you would do as well or you more

Tom Douglas: No.

Malcolm Lui: On the side of helping their employees have the tools to be productive

Tom Douglas: Yeah. More on the on the ladder of helping me into the employees with the right tools. We have partners that we bring in when there's specific projects like an e-commerce project or you know if they want to take their CRM and migrated to an online platform or whatever it may be. You know we we bring the right partner. So our job is to facilitate that Safe infrastructure on the back end. Simplified as much as possible and then monitor and manage it on a on a literally second by second basis. We have thousands of devices around the country that check in with us every 30 seconds and tell us about the health of their environment. And so if there's a P.C. that has a virus or it's got a corrupt file or there's there's a server that's performing poorly or whatever it is. Those those alerts come into our environment and then we monitor them and respond to those those monitors in such a way so that we can jump in and then hopefully fix things before they have an impact on the user.

Malcolm Lui: Ok. Got it. Now you talked before about and I really like the phrase here simplifying technology for the clients right so that they don't need to worry so much about this technology and I think more so on working on the business give you some examples of how you've been able to simplify the technology for your clients

Tom Douglas: Yeah absolutely. So you know in an enterprise or a small to medium sized business it doesn't really matter. There's there's a whole bunch of geeky things that happen on the back end in order to make an application work. And so the databases the application servers themselves sometimes Web services all of these things and in that in in when they're there engaging with a piece of software to drive their business forward it can be very very overwhelming. And we bring the subject matter experts to the table to have those conversations with our clients vendors and the software vendors to make sure that we build the infrastructure they don't need to worry about it. We just design the back end and we can either deploy it from a cloud deployment in our environment or we can do it from the client's premises and whatever makes the most sense and then do that and then and then we worry. We worry about more does it mean to architect it right back it up create the appropriate business continuity strategy all of those things and then work through the budget challenges and just lay it out in kind of a simple format so that they can see what the impact of their decisions are. If they want servers that are in a high availability environment yeah that that all sounds good on the surface but there's a budget challenge often times associated with that. So. So if you want a hot site as an example it's going to more than double the cost of of the investment. And so we take all of the complexities of that simplify it down to a couple of simple choices so that they can see it on paper and draw the diagrams so that they can see the workflow in the environment and then they can make a decision based on business facts rather than based on a bunch of technology jargon that they don't even need to understand let alone one invest in to have to learn rather than focusing on their core business.

Malcolm Lui: Right now. How did the business owner the decision makers at your clients how did they assess that what you're proposing makes sense for them. Techno logic technology wise I mean yes for them to understand technology is you know I could take 10 years right to fully understand it so they can't really do that.

Tom Douglas: Sure.

Malcolm Lui: But you know how do they become comfortable with the decision of saying yeah that sounds like the way to go even though they really don't know the technology

Tom Douglas: Right.

Malcolm Lui: As well as

Tom Douglas: Well it it's it's a matter of building trust. You know we're we we sell hardware but that's not what motivates us in business. It's about developing that relationship with the client and having that that in place for a long time and then hopefully for for years and years and years and in if we were to take advantage of a client or if we were to do something inappropriate in that then that betrays that trust in that long term relationship. And so it's of no value for us to do those kind of things. Our focus has to be on making sure that we're bringing a trustworthy and honorable proposal to the table. And you have to earn that. So you go to market sometimes and you compare it against online pricing or you compare it against the competitors environment. You talk about the differences in in plain English and not in geek speak so that people can understand okay if you make this choice and that choice then it's going to add up to this dollar value and here's what you're gonna get as a product and we can stand behind that and guarantee it. And as we work through those challenges eventually we we just like you do when you bring on a CIO into a building or into an organization or you hire a new V.P. of finance over time you develop a trust and a confidence in that environment. We recognize that we have to earn that trust every day by doing what we say and then telling them what we did. And by demonstrating that consistently year over year than that our clients come to trust the decisions and the recommendations that we make with them to make sure that that it's in their best interest and by creating that trust over time then it empowers them to feel like I don't have to worry about 90 I called you mark they solve the problems for me and and I can focus on what it means to be a successful CEO

Malcolm Lui: Right. Exactly. Now when you say simplify you know when you work with a client you come. You work with them on their five year plan. You develop a platform to grow with them to achieve the five year plan. How simple do you make it when you have your proposal for them. Is it all one page is it that simple. Or is it still a

Tom Douglas: Yes.

Malcolm Lui: Hundred each documents

Tom Douglas: Yeah we we obviously have the detail behind it but we literally break it down into a quarter by quarter of a plan. So here's the here's the investments that need to be made for the next quarter whether that's lifecycle or upgrades or growth expansions or whatever it may be. And we literally break it down to you know the line items for workstations for applications for servers and things like that quarter over quarter and it's literally a eleven by no just standard 9 1/2 by 11 page and in landscape that shows exactly how much they spend each quarter or need to spend each quarter and if they say for whatever reason Hey that that's that's pushing our budget. We can't do it no problem. We go back to the drawing board we figure out what we need to adjust if we need to extend lifecycle if we need to put a project off whatever that may be. And then ultimately we agree on a whole year's worth of technology planning. We have a five year plan but we agree on it on a budget cycle for the client and every quarter we assess and update and evaluate where we came in budget versus actual to ensure that we're delivering the best outcome

Malcolm Lui: So you literally can just present loving by 17 piece of paper with the plan for them you're able to simplify it that the great awesome

Tom Douglas: Yeah absolutely. Yeah. And we take thousands of data points together and we pull it into that simple one page document for the client to make good business choices from

Malcolm Lui: And it's a mixture of text and images and tables of numbers

Tom Douglas: Drafts. Yeah absolutely.

Malcolm Lui: Awesome and fantastic. Lately I've been going toward that route too right. I mean I do proposals for clients and make thinking well maybe I should try to make it you know can I put it down on one page you said giving them a 20 page thing instead. So awesome. And the very first driver you talked about the people and oftentimes I hear that quite quite common quite often in the interviews I've done right. You know people often you know one of the three drivers that they mentioned as to what's been behind the growth. Do you share what your processes processes for finding and retaining the right and the best people

Tom Douglas: Yeah sure. Well first it starts around our core values and so really defining those inside of our organization and not just define them but live them we actually have gone so far we have a J Mark coin where we've mentored our core values on the backside of them. So everybody can see them and then we encourage people to recognize success around those core values or challenges around them. So the the core values are honesty passion teamwork excellence accountability and fun. And so if you have a situation where somebody has missed a deadline or know we're headed deadline and then a really good job whatever it may be you can take any of those coins will always make more and give them to someone and say Hey man you really show great accountability. And it was a tough timeline you got it done. I appreciate that. Or hey man you did a great job in teamwork and so is the principle behind it is that by given the coins and doing that peer to peer recognition it reinforces what it means to live the core values within the organization and as a part of doing that it creates a an environment where we're creating accountability towards those core values on a peer to peer level rather than from a manager you know subordinate style level which which we don't like. I mean nobody likes to have a tough conversation with a manager nor does the manager. But if you can create that account accountability sideways you don't have to have as many of those tough conversations and it empowers people to to improve their peers recognize their peers you know recognize great work that people do within the business and that empowerment just just thrives on itself.

Tom Douglas: And so when one person gets recognized they want to recognize someone else and in that pink colleagues throughout the organization. So starting with living those core values and so on in the hiring process we're talking about those and we're asking people to show examples of accountability are examples of teamwork and what does that mean to you to be excellent. And so we go through that process and then if we find that we bring someone in and we've made a mistake somehow or they have and and they've come in and they're not exemplifying those core values we can go back to a movie and say Hey man you know we we sat down and we had a conversation around our core values. We know that you're weak in this accountability area and we give people an opportunity to step up and learn from that. We coach him through it and if they still aren't the right person for the organization then then sometimes we separate. But by doing that it protects the rest of the team from having to work with someone who doesn't have the same set of beliefs in the future of the business that everyone else does. And so it's really hard to do but you have to you have to get rid of the bad eggs in order to make sure that you protect the healthy people in the company.

Malcolm Lui: Yep now for from an interview in perspective say I was interviewing for your company and then you asked me examples of your core values honesty passion accountability teamwork fun. Yeah those are common questions that people can prep for. I have answers ready to go in general. Many companies ask them those things so how do you ascertain that what they say is truly what they are. During the

Tom Douglas: Well you know our interview processes is not easy. We try not to make it hard but we don't make it easy either because we we do it full of online form that people sell out and you know just kind of get some ancillary information there and then then the senior person in our H.R. team does a cultural interview and they go through that process and that's if they they pass through that then they go on and they they meet with a hiring manager potentially with an entire team. And so so there's a series of interviews to make sure that you're getting consistent answers in the behaviors are consistent and when you it's never the first answer that tells you whether or not someone's a fit. It's always the third or fourth answer or the question that drives you to get to the truth here. Give me an example give me another example. Well you know in that example tell me more about it. And so by drilling down to multiple levels you can find out if somebody is just you know BSN you or if they're really sharing a good example of those core values and so you know it's taken us a long time we failed many many times in that process but have gotten fairly adept at it over time and making sure that we continue to probe until we get clarity on the truth.

Malcolm Lui: Right. Yep definitely peeling back the layers of the onion right.

Tom Douglas: Yeah

Malcolm Lui: Okay

Tom Douglas: Yeah.

Malcolm Lui: Now look ahead a bit 2019. What do you see as your biggest opportunities and the biggest challenges to achieve those opportunities.

Tom Douglas: Well finding good people is always a challenge for us. You know we because we are in a field that is in high demand that Matt creates his own set of challenges and then when you run through the core values filter that that weeds out several others and so that that's always going to be a challenge for us in our business not even in the next few years I would say forever. That's going to continue to be something that we have to work on to combat it both on the opportunity side and because we we need to do it. You know we build people that are inexperienced from within and so starts with an apprenticeship program and then they start at the junior level in the company and we build those up and had a lot of success taking people from an internship style environment that all the way up to be managers in our company. So I think building people from within and having a passion for people success helps to drive that we give people who wouldn't normally have the opportunity to either get in the field or become a business professional. We'd like to give those opportunities to folks and let them come out and be successful and so I think that that that's both the threat and the opportunity for us in the future. I think you know the biggest opportunities are the that in the industry. Technology continues to be more complex you know with all the security requirements and some of the new regulations coming out and all the challenges around that. You know if we as an organization can continue to step in and simplify and make it more focus for a business to to be successful more possible for a business to be successful because we bear that burden for them then I think that there's a there's a growing opportunity for us to continue to grow and thrive the way that we have in the past.

Malcolm Lui: Okay we haven't had any much discussion about how you grew your client base from a marketing and sales perspective. Can you shed some light on the challenges that you see there and in what you're doing to overcome them.

Tom Douglas: Yeah. So we were we were an early organization to the managed services space in our region. We we adopted the principle of kind of a flat fee billing and outsourced I.T. and proactive I.T. management. We adopted those really early and so it gave us kind of a running start in the market. But once we achieved a certain market penetration it was certainly very challenging for us to continue to grow at the same rates. And so we've we've invested a great deal in our marketing efforts and our sales team's efforts and one great people. That's that's always the key to success there. Great partnerships. Making sure that we do what we say and we maintain a high ratio of the on the retention side of our clients and our employees. But in terms of just going out to market and getting it done the end of the day it's hard work. It's cold calling it's going to different trade shows it's getting out in the community is making sure people are aware of what we do that we're top of mind and that our reputation is what I would describe as the premium my provider in the region. So you know when people have a problem and they they're fighting or they're not happy with their current I.T. support for whatever reason we want our organization to be the first thought that comes to people and so it's both the brand awareness through the community through the relationships and just the hard work and making the contacts that exist. And you know I would love to say that there's some magic sauce but at the end of the day it's it's just raw hard work. I think that gets done

Malcolm Lui: Right now do you find that current systems and processes you have in place right now on the marketing and sales strengths are are sufficient in hitting your goals and objectives are there some or some rocks in the way that you need to break apart and get out of the way to hit your targets

Tom Douglas: Yeah I definitely do. We've got to we've invested a great deal and shifted a lot of our investment from what I would describe as kind of a traditional sales force into more of a marketing approach. So the email marketing and social media marketing and some of those things and in the team that we've been fortunate but together does a fantastic job for us. And so the big rocks that we've got to continue to breakthrough is how do we how do we make sure that we're in the right places at the right time from a branding and recognition perspective so that we are aligned with the pain that that a prospect might have. So whether it's bad support experience you know instability in I.T. security problems business continuity problems whatever those are we need to be top of mind at all times for anyone who may have those problems that our markets in the future. And so I think the biggest challenges is having enough capacity in our business to create the content and the awareness and all of those areas so that when people have those challenges that were the first place to call. We've made incredible progress over the last 18 months in that arena. But but you know you can never do enough to make sure that you're in that top of mind position. And so we're constantly evolving and working and adapting our marketing strategies in order to continue to grow that that top of mind awareness

Malcolm Lui: Right. And this kind of Segway is a little bit into a later question I have for you but top of mind awareness is really important for sure. I think you agree with me. Getting top of my awareness for everyone isn't really the motor must be a focus an ideal client that you're looking to target to build that top of mind awareness

Tom Douglas: That's

Malcolm Lui: Can you

Tom Douglas: A

Malcolm Lui: Care who your ideal clients are and how you're targeting them how you're marketing to them

Tom Douglas: Yeah. Yeah sure. So the ideal clients are small to medium sized businesses. So 250 employees and down is who we target most of. But we have clients that have two thousand employees we have clients that have 10 employees but the kind of the core target is in that narrow range of kind of 20 25 up to about 250 clients and earns hourly employees within their business and computer users is how we define them in some environments like manufacturing we'll see that they have twice as many employees as they do computer users. We're focused on that computer computer user segment. And we do focus in some verticals or regulated fields banking health care of any kind of financial services law firms CPA firms. We do do manufacturing. We do education. We kind of stay away from the retail space. So we're not focused on businesses that have a point of sale system and are working until 10:00 at night in a restaurant. That's that's not our target client profile but outside of that we support many many other styles of businesses in the past we have worked with air ambulance companies and emergency response systems and things like that. And so there's there's lots of opportunities in technology for us but our core clients are ones that have a office environment or pseudo office environment and are driving a line of business application and ERP management system or practice management system and relying on that to to move the business forward

Malcolm Lui: And how how is their team targeting them with your message so that they can build the top line awareness with them.

Tom Douglas: Yeah there's every industry vertical is a little bit unique when it comes to that. You know in the as an example of the banking industry which is probably our fastest growing vertical right now. So it's going to a lot of the banking trade shows and in our markets and in helping you know providing presentation and presentations and content around what it means to run a properly managed environment a secure environment. Talking about the challenges understanding what it means to be a community bank understanding what it means to be a financial services organization. So so a lot of the tradeshow focus drives are awareness in some of those verticals. Others it's its online presence it's people who are doing the research online. You know I think the the latest statistic that I read was that 80 percent of people are engaged in a sales process on the website before they ever engage with a professional sales team. And so your online awareness has to be very strong. So it's the social media aspects and in targeting social media ads towards verticals and individuals who are in certain positions so the CEO the CFO CEO in a law firm or in a CPA firm or whatever it may be business professional that that would be in a position to make those decisions or areas of responsibility. So really focused in on what it means to target those individuals on their terms so that when that pain arises where we're top of mind

Malcolm Lui: Right now I took a look at your Web site and I didn't really see a see that your company is currently running a paper click ads. Is that something that you've experimented with and found it wasn't working so great free

Tom Douglas: We have experimented with it and we do a little bit but but not a ton. We're doing more of it on the social media side than we have on the traditional search side. We do we do some. But again it doesn't seem to be a consistent way to get the kind of results that you want. We find that that by developing content ebooks and in the blogs and the White Papers that help people to be successful so that they're using that as reference material. So what does it mean to be a CEO of a bank and have a good I.T. environment. And so we've got we've got content that helps people to put their head around that then understand it and that's the same way. And so it's creating the value before they even engage us in a sales process that we have found to be more effective

Malcolm Lui: Right now. How are they. How are the CEOs of the banks finding your white papers and your blogs. I mean just is the Internet's an infinite library. Right. How are they finding

Tom Douglas: Right.

Malcolm Lui: Your your content

Tom Douglas: Well search is a big part of it. But you know email management is another piece. You know we're sending it out to targeted lists of people that we've gathered from either trade shows or our purchase lists or whatever it may be and so we're bringing that back to the table and say OK here here's a list of CEOs of banks that might be interested in this content. So well we'll shoot an email or mail them something directly. So get some traction for us. Not a great deal but a little. So we're we're just doing things to try to create value to snag their attention so that they can they can see what we're producing and if we can get them following us on social media we produce a tremendous amount of content and make it available through links on the social media by form

Malcolm Lui: Now by social media you're referring to LinkedIn or their other platforms that you're finding the decision makers are hanging out on

Tom Douglas: Linkedin Twitter a little more on Instagram of late. We still do Facebook. It's a strong platform for us as well in targeting you know the business professional and then doing some of those kind of things but the old ball platforms kind of coming together and working together certainly linked Dennis strong as well.

Malcolm Lui: Instagram. You said you're making this kind of surprise I didn't think people with I.T. interests would be following your content on Instagram so much. How does that

Tom Douglas: Yeah

Malcolm Lui: Work.

Tom Douglas: It's new and we're not doing a ton there. But you know we're starting to see you know as the generation shifts you know the decision makers are younger than they used to be and in many of them are engaged more on Instagram than they are on Facebook. And so we're going to where the clients are if they're a you know an influencer or a business decision maker and you know they're following their friends or kids or whatever it may be on Instagram you know we want to be there too. So it does require a diverse Strategy

Malcolm Lui: Right. Right. Interesting. After a check out your Instagram content to see how it looks.

Tom Douglas: Group.

Malcolm Lui: You showing pictures of a server getting before you go watch.

Tom Douglas: You know ironically our biggest posts are the ones that we're we're bragging or sharing something about the culture and the fun that we have inside the business or

Malcolm Lui: Right

Tom Douglas: An individual. You know we're talking about what it means to be a virtual CIO or how we create a technology play it or whatever it may be it's those just people interaction that really drive the engagement.

Malcolm Lui: All right. Okay.

Tom Douglas: We put some fun videos up there to

Malcolm Lui: Yeah. I think that is key. And making it fun. Which is also one of your core values. So

Tom Douglas: That's

Malcolm Lui: Now

Tom Douglas: A

Malcolm Lui: We ask questions for you. Um say you were to have a billboard of your own. Talking about Jean-Marc what would be your billboard message. And keep in mind that people typically get the billboard along a freeway. They only have six seconds to see your message. So what would be your billboard message.

Tom Douglas: Now that's tough. Billboard message. I guess it would have to be around simplify I.T. drive profit. You know I mean that that effectively is our goal is to have any business grows it needs to drive efficiencies in the business so that they become more profitable as they grow more efficient as they grow. And our strategy is to make it so that I.T. consumes less of an I.T. budget by percentage as they grow over time. And there's a specific strategy to facilitate that. And so simplify to drive profits simplify it drive efficiencies you know user engagement you know we've talked a lot about people. I I I would suggest that one of the number one challenges in the world that we're going to deal with for the business community over the next several years is human capital management. You know attracting and maintaining the talent that you've got and there's a direct correlation between success and I.T. and the happiness factor that people have within a business. And so if we can simplify it and make it a great experience then that it helps with that retention of our clients which which obviously drives efficiency and profitability and so it would be focused on that

Malcolm Lui: Yes definitely. Anytime you come across I.T. of any sort in any encounter that's frustrating. It creates unhappiness right. Whether it be internally within your company or even just going to a A.T.M. at a bank and not being able to use it because the buttons aren't working right. No one is happy

Tom Douglas: Right.

Malcolm Lui: That happens to

Tom Douglas: Yeah. Don't don't worry be happy. We've got Jeff

Malcolm Lui: Yeah. Want to get one don't worry be happy having a bob bob marley music playing in the background. So

Tom Douglas: Diego.

Malcolm Lui: In terms of your ideal clients can you recap it again and also mention the best way for them to reach you.

Tom Douglas: Yeah absolutely. So professional organizations organizations that are focused on on I.T. as a as an enabler inside their business. Between about 20 users to around 250 users obviously we take on clients that are just a little bit outside of that box as well. But but organizations that want to use I.T. to drive success within their business and understand that that comes with an investment and we invest for the future and that's how we look at I.T. and it facilitates that success. So financial services health care organizations professional services business manufacturing education you name it we drive into that world and we make sure that we can we can help others to be successful. We also do a lot of work in the hospitality industry. And so we focus on hotel management companies and help them to manage I.T. within the hotel properties. And so that's a area of focus for us. We have a whole team dedicated to support individuals that do that

Malcolm Lui: All right. And the best way for these companies to contact your team

Tom Douglas: Yeah so either from the website or you can just send us an email and support Jim Markham and we'll make sure that it gets routed to the right person

Malcolm Lui: Awesome and I know that the J Mark might be interpreted in different ways that you'd like to spell out your domain name

Tom Douglas: Yeah absolutely it's J. Him A arc dot com. Thanks

Malcolm Lui: Awesome.

Tom Douglas: For that.

Malcolm Lui: No trouble in. What's the story behind your name. How did J. Mark come in to be

Tom Douglas: Yeah it's fun. Sorry. So the guy who actually founded the company was a gentleman by the name of James Montgomery and he was a junior and so he used to sign his name J.M. J R and his friends came to call that the J Mark. So when he created the business he he turned his his trademark name or initials J J are into the the business name of J Mark. And so we've maintained that over the years I was I was fortunate to work with with James for several years and and then purchased the business from him in 1997. And so we we rebranded and relaunched the company shortly thereafter and we had at the time downsized it to about six people and now have grown it to well over 100.

Malcolm Lui: It's a good name it's memorable and it's nice having a five letter domain name it's not so easy to get those.

Tom Douglas: That's fact.

Malcolm Lui: Thanks so much for joining us today Tom and sharing how you accelerated your company's high value sales

Tom Douglas: You bet. Thank you very much. Appreciate the opportunity.

Malcolm Lui: We've been speaking with Tom Douglas, the CEO of JMARK Business Solutions, about his company's rapid growth. For interviews with other fast growing, high value sales companies, or to learn how we can accelerate your firm's high value sales through automation, visit Eversprint.com.

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