April’s SSI, the annual Integration Issue, features my cover story on Securadyne Systems with my in-depth interview of CEO Carey Boethel. I spent quite a bit of time talking with Boethel, who has guided Securadyne from zero to $70 million in revenues in less than three years’ time, and wanted to allow the conversation to be extended in this forum. Here, he discusses customer service and recruiting employees.
What would you say are some of the biggest challenges getting things rolling and off the ground so far, and what, if anything unexpected have you encountered?
Carey Boethel: I think that one of our biggest challenges has been our pace of growth. In some respects, growth is very difficult. When we started the company there was really just one employer, being me, and we had no revenues. That was in September of 2011. We closed 2013 with just over 300 employee and just under $70 million in annual revenues. Going from A to B entailed four key acquisitions and some pretty significant double-digit growth. We grew our business organically last year, just over 30%. I think the biggest challenge for us has been managing that growth and making sure that as we grow we don’t sacrifice any of the most important attributes of our service delivery. I think for the most part we’ve been successful at that, but it is always a challenge.
Getting more granular with it, what would you say is the most difficult aspect of your job and how do you manage or deal with that?
Boethel: I think that when you talk about managing growth and the difficulty that comes along with that, it really centers on being able to service your customers well. One of the most difficult things that we do is finding and recruiting talented people. People who can come in and help improve our service delivery and manage growth. I spent a fair amount of my time not only looking for those people, but also once we’ve found them working with them, coaching and mentoring them, developing talent. We spend most of our time not behind the desk but out with our people enabling them, and helping them. I think it’s always a struggle to find an adequate amount of time to do that. There’s never enough time. There’s always more work that can be done in that regard. I think more than anything else, that’s one of the difficult things about my role.
” We grew our business organically last year, just over 30%. I think the biggest challenge for us has been managing that growth and making sure that as we grow we don’t sacrifice any of the most important attributes of our service delivery. I think for the most part we’ve been successful at that, but it is always a challenge.” — Carey Boethel
How many people are part of the business, and how do they break down according to job role?
Boethel: We have about 300 employees today. I would say that about 10% would be sales and another 10% sales support, including sale engineering. Then you’ve got probably 10% between executive management, finance, and accounting teams. You’ve got about 10% in what I’ll characterize as IT and professional services. And the remainder of that, roughly 50% of the organization would be our field technical personnel, project managers, technicians, and applications engineers.
When you talk about customer care being critical, how do you follow up on that and make sure it’s actually happening?
Boeothel: We do it informally and formally. Of course, we always have an ongoing dialog with our customers about how we’re doing for them. We’re always asking for feedback as to how we can improve our service delivery. We also poll our customers formally and systematically, looking for customer satisfaction feedback. We don’t today, but one day will migrate to a Net Promoter Score type of scoring system, where we have empirical data about the things we do well and things that need improvement. I think that it starts with the principles in the company. I’m actively involved as are our other leaders in monitoring our quality of service. We’re very much out on the frontline talking to customers about what we can be doing better and how we can improve our service delivery. Then that obviously echoes at all levels within our organization. It’s something that is fairly pervasive.
Where it comes to delivering services customers are interested in but also make sense for your business, how are you fleshing out what works best?
Boethel: I think that we have the voice of the customer. We’re constantly listening to our customers talk about their evolving needs. Most of the time if there’s a new service offering by Securadyne it’s in response to a need we’ve identified within our existing customer base. First and foremost, we have to keep our finger on the pulse of that. Then we’re pretty passionate about the right way to sell service. We believe there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. The right way is to position it as an integral part of the solution. It’s not an afterthought. When we’re talking to customers and prospects about the investment that they’re contemplating when it comes to security systems, we’re doing so in the context of having to service and maintain those systems. Some of it evolves but a lot of it is just the basic core service and maintenance of the investment that’s made. Then you’ve got new and innovative things that are happening with managed services, and we’re certainly doing that, and focusing on growing that facet of our business as well. But you can’t neglect the core, basic service and maintenance of the investment.
When you recruit people, especially on the technical side today, are you mainly finding you’re getting people or selecting people that are more of an IT background, or more of a physical security background, or a combination of the two?
Boethel: I think we continue to recruit from a variety of different sources. I don’t think it favors one or the other, one or the other being traditional security or IT. We’re recruiting people from healthcare and we’re recruiting people from manufacturing and logistics. And so it’s much more about fit, desire, and attitude, and a willingness to be a part of what we’re doing, and work hard that it is the skills. We’ve got a pretty good platform for teaching the skills that we need. We really hire much more on aptitude and attitude than specific technical skills. Having said that, and to answer your question directly, I would say that it’s both. If you’re talking about applications engineers or senior technicians or certainly sales engineering, there’s a high probability that we’re recruiting from IT. Perhaps if you’re talking about field technicians to a large degree, we’re probably recruiting from a low-voltage trade, either cyber-security, or both. But it really varies on position and it’s pretty diverse.