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Meet Chris Dunning – Pandemic Resilience with the Cloud

Today we have selected Chris Dunning to take his interviewHe is the CEO of TechQuarters.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

We are presently on track for substantial growth in all areas of the business. It has been a successful time for us. However, It has not been without its bumps this year. We have seen two months out of the last 12 that were below par, but we were exceeding targets for the others.
We have grown our headcount globally and changed our working practices with WFH, which has meant weekly all-company teleconference calls – huddles twice a day for each team. Agility is the key to success in these times and we have teams that adapt quickly with positivity and enthusiasm.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

In the early 90’s I was a Marketing manager in the engineering sector. This gave me experience in marketing database technology and consultancy. I got the bug for Microsoft as a technical consultant on their database and infrastructure technology, followed by the operational management of support teams. Subsequently, I managed large outsourcing deals and then set up a small business section within an MSP from scratch and grew it to 500 clients.
I decided to leave and set up my own business. I started with a sales and marketing agency, then a property investment arm but clearly knew my destiny lied in the creation of a new style managed IT, service provider. With the advent of the Cloud, it was the perfect time to create TechQuarters.
I set this up from my second bedroom by myself, 11 years ago. Today we have circa 50 employees, 500 clients, and are a global system integrator of Microsoft Cloud solutions, providing outsourced IT support contractual services and IP around Cloud training.

How does your company innovate?

Whilst we have a structured approach with innovation being discussed monthly at our Operational Management meetings, they do say necessity is the mother of invention, so with Covid, we have developed 7 variants of IT support services and more recently added a proactive support service with a rewards program around the client purchase levels of Microsoft Cloud solutions, so enabling client retention on contracts. The business is sales-led and driven by the CEO.

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

We are coping incredibly well as we moved to WFH and kitted out all staff with the necessary technology to enable it. It has meant all sales have been performed using Microsoft Teams, all Account Management meetings are performed remotely. We have leveraged the Microsoft Cloud to enable a more productive workforce and changed our operational meeting and social structure. We are coming out of the lockdown and ensuring our teams meet up for social events to re-bond and share exciting stories.
We have seen spurts of accelerated hardware purchasing from our clients and digital transformation projects equating to a 20% growth in net new customers over normally increased targets per annum.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

We shut our offices down at the right time and recruited more people remotely. Simple lessons like making sure people have a solid internet connection and powerful enough laptops to work from have been valuable lessons for future recruits.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

We have signed up for Click-up for task management across the business. We use Microsoft 365 for user productivity. Our support system is web-based and was already in place, that being the Fresh desk. In terms of management skills we have embarked on more Sandler Sales methodology and coaching sessions, amounting to 2 per week. We have a rolling customer service training program conducted by the CEO. We perform daily huddles for 15 minutes, weekly company pow wow’s, and monthly social get-togethers, whether remote or otherwise when allowed.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Evolution and agility is our mantra. We have to be able to react with speed when the game requires it. This is everything from new services to new recruitment methods to gain the best talent. Keeping a positive and happy atmosphere within the business is essential. Ensuring managers have moved from strong KPI attitude management to empathy has been a big change for us to motivate and keep morale up. Competitors would be Infinity Group, Utilize, Cloud Direct, Transparity, and Cooper Parry.

Your Final Thoughts

The future is bright for IT during and post-pandemic, due to the necessity for businesses to adopt, change and digitally transform with Microsoft Cloud Solutions. As long as you can help your customers move quickly and be proactive with your advice, whilst delivering a strong empathetic approach to customer service, you cannot fail.

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