Dan Croft doesn’t train his employees as much as he should at Mission Critical Wireless LLC. It’s a fact he freely admits, but he just doesn’t have the time to do it.
“If somebody tells me I don’t train them enough, I say, ‘I agree with you, I don’t train you enough,’” says Croft, the 100-employee company’s founder, president and CEO. “I will tell a prospective employee, ‘Do not accept a position with us, even if we offer it to you, if you are not absolutely passionate about wireless, because I cannot pay you enough and train you enough to know what you need to know. You have to take an incredible amount of self-initiative.’”
Croft operates in an industry that is changing by the second. Mission Critical helps clients find the right wireless mobility solution for its needs. Five years ago, the most common answer centered on a BlackBerry. Now, he and his clients have a whole range of products to choose from, and those clients expect Croft to help them make the right choice.
“We have to be ahead of the curve in terms of our knowledge and experience with mobility technology,” Croft says. “That means you can never sit still.”
So Croft’s challenge is to find people who have technical expertise as well as the ability to relate to people and help clients get to the root of their needs.
“I can’t hire somebody off the street and put them to work the next day,” Croft says. “We’ve developed our own battery of technical competency tests that we use as predictors of their capacity to get down the learning curve. But we will also probe them during the interview process just looking for signs that in their life, they were always curious and looking to gain knowledge beyond what the basics of the job required.”
When he interviews prospective employees, Croft tries to see if they have what it takes to thrive in a business that is constantly changing.
“I’ll ask a prospect, ‘Give me an example of something you learned outside the company that you brought into the company,’ as opposed to, ‘Did the company train you properly?’” ne says. “Tell me about the most difficult client you’ve had to deal with and give me an example of how you dealt with them when they were very upset and unhappy. I’m not necessarily looking for whether what they did was the proper thing to do.
“What I’m looking for is were they able to think outside the box? Were they able to really determine the source of dissatisfaction and come up with creative ways to address the root cause of why a customer or client was unhappy? See how they respond under duress. When you are in the services business, I guarantee every single client is going to have something they are concerned with.”
The key to having a work force that does what you need them to do is your ability to articulate your expectations before you make the hire.
“If you don’t instill in the individual that, ultimately, they own the responsibility to be as knowledgeable about what we do and the product space that we participate in, if they don’t own that responsibility and take it seriously, they will never be successful,” Croft says.
It’s a cliché for many companies, but for Croft, the importance placed on achieving great customer service seems to make sense.
“I only have my service,” Croft says. “If I don’t do this well, if I don’t service you well, I’m out of business. That’s all I have. There is no other measure of my success.”
How to reach: Mission Critical Wireless LLC, (866) 629-7070 or www.missioncriticalwireless.com
Don’t be the hero
Dan Croft doesn’t want to be the smartest guy in the room in the eyes of his clients. His goal is to make the people who lead the businesses his company serves look good in the eyes of their employees.
“One of our challenges is always that our clients view us not as, ‘Well, we’re going to use them because we’re not capable of doing this,’” says Croft, founder, president and CEO at Mission Critical Wireless LLC. “If that’s the basis of the relationship, there’s always going to be some friction that you really don’t want to deal with.
“We work very hard at letting them know that when they engage with us, they’re picking up their own staff. It’s their staff. We work for them.”
Croft is proud of the expertise his 100-employee wireless mobility company provides, but he doesn’t hold it over his clients.
“Our goal is to make our clients — and typically our client is an IT manager or a director or a CIO — our goal is to make them heroes and to make them look great,” Croft says.