Scaling Up Magazine Scaling Up Magazine April 2018 - Page 20


Coaches ’ Corner :

WHEN PHIL Lieber , then president of P & L Technology , began working with me as a coach in December 2015 , his Omaha-based IT support firm was bringing in $ 6.8 million in revenue and turning a profit . It had grown to 46 employees since he opened it in 2004 . That success had helped the company make the Inc . 5000 six years in a row .
However , the company was having challenges with execution . Resolving customer calls was taking too long . Even as it added employees , its team couldn ' t keep up .
That was slowing the firm ’ s growth . Customers who waited too long for their technology problems to be resolved were not likely to become the raving fans who would recommend it to other customers . “ We were bordering on having some client defections ,” recalls Lieber .
However , that situation did not continue for long . By the time Lieber sold P & L to a larger technology firm in July of 2016 , he was able to command a multiple of 8x earnings before interest , taxes , depreciation and amortization ( EBITDA ).
What turned things around so quickly was an intense focus on execution . Lieber had been using the Scaling Up system for growing a company — then known as the Rockefeller Habits — since the company opened , but he had reached the point where he needed new ideas on how to apply it even more effectively .
To do that , we went back to the company ’ s strategy . Working within the One Page Strategic Plan , we set an annual goal focused on accountability : Do What
You Say You Are Going to Do . Phil and his leadership team determined the critical number to measure the achievement of this objective would be average resolution time for each ticket .
To make sure P & L Technology maintained customer satisfaction while resolving calls more quickly , it relied on the NPS Score , a measure of how likely customers are to recommend your company to people they know . And to avoid burning out employees , P & L used the eNPS score , which tracks how likely team members are to recommend your company to friends as an employment opportunity .
Turning things around while meeting these requirements required a strong commitment . When we started out , the number of calls that the company was too backlogged to return that week was more than 500 .
To get everyone on the same page , the company simplified the key performance indicators ( KPIs ) for each employee . It set one KPI that everyone understood : if a customer contacted them , they had to communicate with that customer that day — and any day the ticket was still open . Employees were expected to keep working until that goal was accomplished each day . As Phil put it , “ If you get 500 tickets a day that come into our call center and 10 percent of them don ’ t get addressed , that ’ s still 50 tickets that are a problem .”
To establish accountability , each call center rep ’ s results in meeting this communication goal were posted on a big screen on the wall and shared in a daily huddle . This renewed emphasis on tracking meant that employees had nowhere to hide if they were not following up . “ This forced them to get the right tickets to the right people to get them closed ,” explained Lieber .
The new approach was very effective . By the end of the first quarter , Lieber and his team reduced the unanswered tickets to fewer than 100 ; by the end of the second quarter , they ’ d reduced it to fewer than 50 a day .
Relationships with customers improved , too . “ Our customer satisfaction levels were extremely high ,” says Lieber .
Although employees were working harder , many reported they would recommend P & L Technology to their friends , and the firm ’ s eNPS score put it in the top scoring category for all employers nationwide . That was remarkable for a firm in the call center industry , where turnover is very high .
As a result of the company ’ s new efforts , the call center ’ s gross margins rose from 43 percent to 57 percent . Meanwhile , with happier customers , the company was able to raise its prices . The result was that P & L Technology became very attractive to a larger technology firm and sold in July of 2016 .
Lieber is now focused on another business he is passionate about , P & L Capital , which helps businesses finance their technology . As you might imagine , he ’ s using the Scaling Up system there , too . As he ’ s discovered , learning more about how to apply the system can really pay off — very quickly .
Doug Wick is a Gazelles International Certified Coach and founder of the coaching firm Positioning Systems . You can contact him at dwick @ positioningsystems . com . Doug received the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award .