How Todd’s “Grab It Like You Own It” Mentality Led To A 31% Increase In Revenue And 1,100% Increase In Profitability

Todd ClarkGenius of the Month

Way back before I had become CEO and founder of DenaliTEK Incorporated, before I even knew what an MSP was, I learned on a fishing boat that you need to “grab it like you own it.” This philosophy has enabled me to build a very successful MSP that saw 31% top-line growth last year, a 38% increase in MRR, and an incredible 1,100% increase in profits.

I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and started working on my uncle’s fishing boat at age 11. My uncle, an ex-army sergeant, was tough on his crew, and one day when I was young and floundering, he turned to me and said, “You need to grab it like you own it.”

Todd Clark

My uncle was talking about yanking on a line that I was kind of grabbing with only two fingers because I was afraid to get my hands wet. From that day forward, I excelled as a deckhand. It changed my attitude.

After working on the boat for 12 years, I loved being a fisherman but realized that wasn’t a great future for me and used the money I had saved to put myself through college, where I studied computer science. In 2008, after working for other companies for more than a decade, I went to my wife and said, “Hey, we should start our own business,” and DenaliTEK Incorporated was born.

We Didn’t Own A Business, We Owned A Pair Of Jobs

Starting out, we were excited. We could make our own hours. We could earn tons of money. And we had this dream of retiring at 55.

Twenty-one years later, the reality of what we had done was far from what we’d dreamed. We’d had few vacations. We were working around the clock. We were dealing with constant employee issues. We constantly had the stress of running a business. And worst of all, that retirement date had come and gone. We’d spent 21 of the most productive years of our lives with little to show for it. We realized we had just created a pair of jobs.

Hearing Robin Say, “Your Profit Sucks,” Spurred Me To Raise My Prices!

In 2016 I went to Boot Camp, got the Toolkit and joined Producers Club. One day I was talking to Robin, and Robin told me exactly what I needed to hear, as only Robin can do. She said, “Your profit sucks.” And she was right.

So, I decided to take Robin’s advice. I needed to raise my prices, and so I had this thing called the Client Evaluator that allows me to track my clients by profitability. And then I got some great examples of e-mails Robin had used to raise her prices, and I made them my own.

And it worked out really well. At the beginning of Q1 in 2023, the all-in seat price was $136.33. By the time I was done with these ladders and raising prices, we brought that up to $153.11. Now, this is a 12.3% increase, and that goes straight to the bottom line. There’s no overhead.

$100,000 Was Immediately Back In My Pocket When I Stopped Abdicating Sales

As we were getting rocking and rolling, I took a close look at sales and account management and realized that the reason it wasn’t working well was because I had just abdicated the whole thing. I had hired someone and said, “Here you go.”

The person I had in the role was telling me that he couldn’t get all of our clients to hold quarterly business reviews. And we weren’t seeing the project revenue we knew we should be seeing. We weren’t seeing that we were a trusted advisor. So, I decided to “grab it like I owned it” and I made the bold move to free up his future and take on the role myself.

I knew I didn’t have enough time to do this along with all the operations, so I promoted our overachieving administrative manager, Andrea Brannon, and made her our operations manager. That freed up my time, and it was awesome because, day one, she started doing a better job than I had!

Over the last year and a half, while handling it myself, I’ve been developing the process. I’ve been developing the training program, I’ve been developing the playbook. Now, when I end up being a sales manager, I can nail it.

I’ve even got a process down for hiring sales development reps and having them on the phone in just about two weeks, using a specific ad, recruitment funnel and screening process.

33 QBRs In A Single Quarter

When I took over sales, we had 33 managed services clients. I used the MAP QBR campaign, and that alone got most of them to schedule. For me, it was an awesome campaign. With those that didn’t schedule or had to reschedule, I was relentless, I wasn’t going to let it go. I was going to prove I could do 100%. And I got them ALL scheduled. And I personally held 33 QBRs in Q1, and I was busy, really busy.

I try to pick a theme for my QBRs every quarter and deliver as much value as I can. And that helps them come back. When you do the right thing by your clients, the money follows. I don’t always try to sell at every meeting. If I go two or three QBRs without selling them something, and I’ve strengthened that relationship, when it comes time to do a project or invest in security and risk reduction, they’re much more receptive to that. It also helps with referrals.

The Wins Keep Coming…To The Tune Of $15,000 A Month!

I found that, per capita, Alaska had more cybercrime than any other state in the nation. And so I actually created a nonprofit organization called Cyber Secure Alaska. And the vision of Cyber Secure Alaska is for Alaska to have the most cyber secure business community in America. And we started off with a board of five, and this thing grew so much interest and momentum that last year we had to change to a board of nine, with regional representation.

And what was so cool about this was that now, all of a sudden, I have this team that sets speaking engagements for me anywhere from Juneau, our state capital, to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. They have a Monday forum, and this is a really hard-to-get speaking engagement. So, I couldn’t have done it without this. In the audience was one of my prospects, and I closed that deal for $15,000 a month for 60 seats. A quarter million dollars’ worth of project revenue right out of the gate.

2023 Was A Breakout Year…But We’re Not Stopping There!

In 2023, we grew our top-line revenues by $536,000, a solid 31% year-over-year growth. Better yet, we increased our MRR, our monthly recurring revenue, by $39,000, or 38%. In 2022, we did just $25,000 in profit; last year we grew that number by 11 times, a $279,000 increase!

And the best part is the next year. Well into 2024, this year, we are already set to exceed $583,000 net profits for a solid 21.7%.

Now, you remember when I said we didn’t have time for vacations for 21 years… This year, for the first time, we’re going out of state on a vacation. Want to guess where we’re going? Hawaii? Florida? No, actually – Iceland!

Remember when I said that we had no plans for retirement, just a dream. Well, things have turned around in a big way. We have an excellent plan for where we’re going now. And, in fact, for the first time ever, we’re actually entertaining having a vacation home. And this would be near our oldest daughter, our son-in-law and our grandson, Levi. And what I can tell you is that without everything that we did, grabbing it like we own it, this just wouldn’t have been possible.

So, what is it that you need to grab like you own it? What business process is it? Is it increasing your prices? Is it fixing your list? Is it fixing your sales process? Whatever it is, I want you to think about what it is you need to prioritize and grab it like you own it.

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