What have been the keys to success for the business?
We have found that our method of management, specifically open book management based on The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack, has been one of the primary keys to our success. The reason is this method of management promotes a culture where every employee has a stake in and benefits from the overall profitability of our business resulting in increased engagement and an overall willingness to contribute to the success of the organization. Under open book management, all teams within ThrottleNet are assigned Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) monthly, specific to providing exceptional customer service, which must be met to ensure all team members receive the full breadth of profit sharing available to them. We meet monthly to review the overall performance of the company as well as to review the KPI’s for that period. For each KPI met, that team contributes to the profit sharing available to the entire organization. In addition – and to keep it fun – if 5 out of 6 of our departments meet their KPI’s, a team member is drawn from a hat and gets to spin the “Big Wheel of Cash and Prizes”. These prizes are anything from a free vacation day to items valued at $400 or more. Finally and most importantly, since we do not require term agreements for the majority of our services and since our clients are free to leave at any time, this ensures they are happy while helping every employee in the company see how their daily work can contribute to the overall success of the entire organization.
What is your best advice for other business owners to find success in business?
Stay out of debt! Debt almost fatally drowned our company 10 years ago resulting in a “zero-debt” policy ever since. We, like most other small- to medium-sized businesses, understand how tempting it is to borrow to get what you want right now. Afterall, we live in a society of instant gratification and low interest rates – so it only makes sense – however, we’ve found that it’s a more prudent strategy to save while also making it a company goal to purchase what you want only when you can afford it. If you must borrow, do so only for a critical business need and make it a goal to pay off the debt as quickly as your company can tolerate; that is unless you received an extremely favorable rate whereby the interest will not cripple your cash flow. We know this is an unpopular opinion (especially, if you’re a bank) with many companies gambling and winning in the debt for growth game, but for every one that wins, many do not. Just remember, you will reach your goals with patience and discipline if you plan wisely.
What is the smartest thing your company did in the past year?
We hired a business coach that works in our industry and has a proven track record of success. A talented and well-informed coach who ran a business in your industry can be a tremendous help to any business that may have many parts of the business working correctly while struggling in others. We have found that an outside perspective can be a humbling experience since they will show you blind spots you cannot see and areas where your company has been performing less than optimally. Conversely, they will also show you areas where you are outperforming many of your competitors as well as providing insight on how to maintain that success.
How do you differentiate your business from others in your industry?
We differentiate ourselves by providing profit sharing via our open book management philosophy since this segues well into our month to month agreements and client retention. In addition, we invest heavily in our engineers to ensure they are always up to date on new technologies and different methods to accomplish our client’s goals and objectives.