Initially, the company provided on-site support services, sending technicians into the field to fix problems. But as time went by, technologies were developed that allowed Netfor technicians to fix problems using remote control technology.
From there, the company grew into a full-service help desk that takes calls from approximately 30,000 end users around the country. And as Netfor has continued to come out with new technologies, it has grown in size and popularity. Revenue for 2003 was $1.6 million, growing to $2.5 million in 2004.
Smart Business talked to Medley about Netfor’s fast growth and rapidly changing technology.
What obstacles did you have to overcome as Netfor grew?
Cash. We’ve never borrowed any money. Early on, I was able to leverage credit cards. We’ve really shied away from going to investors it’s a wholly owned company.
We haven’t gone after venture capital, and we haven’t borrowed money from banks. We’ve grown on our own profits. We could probably have 80 employees instead of 34 if we would have sold out to somebody.
To what do you attribute your company’s fast growth?
In the late ’90s, a lot of companies tended to be product-focused, selling only certain products, like Microsoft. We made a commitment around 1998 to become more client-centric. That basically meant we started taking the interest of the client and what they wanted into account, rather than what we thought they wanted.
It was really about listening. We parlayed that into developing products around what a lot of clients wanted. We developed a customer satisfaction tool to track the satisfaction of our clients.
We also developed a piece of software that is Web-based, that allows enterprises like our clients, as well as our own technicians, to track all of the issues through a single interface. Everyone can work on issues as needed and can assign them from one person to another.
Then the managers and owners of the companies can report on all these issues. They can find out where the problems are in the enterprise and check which technicians are fixing the most problems and which are fixing the least.
How do you plan to continue your company’s growth?
We continue to develop and implement the latest technology for our clients so that they can utilize everything on the cutting-edge that’s available to them when it comes to support and installation of their computers. We’ve partnered with Cognos, which is a business intelligence software company, so that we can elevate the quality of the reports that we give our clients.
One of the vertical markets that we work in is K through 12. A lot of the employees that we bring on here are high school graduates rather than college graduates.
We started working with the Department of Education in Indiana to help write the curriculum so that kids coming out of high school are better educated and have more hands-on experience when it comes to technology. Then they are more employable when they come to companies like mine.
How do you train new employees?
We go through the basic certification process. But, for the most part, because we are customer-focused, we go through a process with our new clients where we go on-site with them to their enterprises and learn their technologies. Not specifically how to fix one piece of hardware, but how they use it.
That way, when they call into our service desk, we know what they are using it for, and then we can better service them.
We also have a great knowledge base where we capture information about a particular issue so that it can be used the next time that issue pops up.
How do you differentiate your company from the competition?
We are unique and really don’t know anyone else like us out there. We both own the software that we use and provide the resources or the people to actually do the service.
Most software companies sell to help desk companies who own the people. Most help desk companies don’t write their own software. They buy it from someone else.
We’re unique in that we write our software. Our customers see a lot of value in that and a lot of customization opportunities. If they need a certain button there or certain feature there, they know they can get it with us, whereas if they are using a different piece of software, we all know how easy it is to call up Microsoft and ask them to change their software to make it easier to use.
What are your growth goals for the future?
We feel like 57 percent is a good number, so we’re trying to maintain 50 percent to 60 percent growth. Recently, we started testing the waters out in other states. One of our growth goals is to grow our partners program into other states. That is something that I am working intently on.
Those are our two focuses right now, as well as continuing the development of our own technology.
HOW TO REACH: Netfor, (877) 638-3674 or http://www.netfor.com