From Better Your Best Finalist To WINNER, We Grew Revenues From $811K To $1.76M And Achieved A Net Profit Of $512,764!

Posted On June 1st, 2020
From Better Your Best Finalist To WINNER, We Grew Revenues From $811K To $1.76M And Achieved A Net Profit Of $512,764!

Charles Swihart,

Preactive IT

Servicing 981 Break-Fix Clients At 375 Pounds, I Was Ready To Drop Customers And Weight!

“Wow! He’s the Better Your Best winner…he just won an Aston Martin sports car. He must have it ALL figured out!”

Truth is, I’m no different than most of you. Believe me, I had to LEARN how to achieve this level of success. Less than five years ago, we were a computer repair shop that made house calls servicing 981 break-fix customers. Yes, as Sugar Land PC, our target market was anyone with a pulse and a computer.

Because every month our revenue started back over at ZERO, I was stressed beyond belief. I even had to borrow against our house back then just to make payroll. Not only was my business in bad shape, so was I. Crawling under desks at 375 pounds, I needed to change my business, my health, my LIFE.

Around that time, I remember being in the audience at Boot Camp. I wanted to be on that stage…I wanted to grow my business like so many in that room…but I wasn’t sure if this marketing stuff would even work for me.

Doubling Our Revenue, Increasing Profit By 5X And Dropping 136 Pounds!

Everyone has that pivotal moment when the trajectory of their business changes forever. Mine was November 4, 2015, at Robin Robins’ Roadshow in Dallas. It was there when Producers Club became an altar call: “Come on down and be healed – rid your soul of all that bad marketing.”

But I was afraid. Afraid of the cost, the work and mostly the possible failure. But I went all-in. I changed the name of my business to Preactive IT Solutions, transformed to a managed services model, started Pumpkin Planning my clients and began targeting engineering and construction firms.

It WORKED! From 2016 to 2019, we more than DOUBLED our revenue from $811K to $1.76 million! Even better, our profit grew 551%, breaking the half-million-dollar mark for the first time. (And this is REAL profit after paying myself a legitimate salary.) The last three years, our revenue has grown 23%, 40% and 26%, placing us on the Houston Business Journal’s “Fast 100 List.” After three incredible years and more than doubling our business, we are on track for a fourth amazing year of growth.

While setting my business up for success, I started focusing on myself. My lovely wife, Laurie, encouraged me to undergo gastric sleeve surgery to finally do something about my weight. It worked, and I dropped a total of 136 pounds – from 375 pounds at my heaviest to a far healthier 239 pounds!

“The Top Line Is For Vanity. The BOTTOM LINE Is For Sanity.”

I quickly realized that in competing in this year’s Better Your Best competition, I was the “little guy.” Compared to the four other contestants, Preactive IT Solutions had the fewest employees, the least clients and the smallest revenue. At a glance, it didn’t seem like I could even share the stage with these bigger companies.

But what’s the ultimate goal? It’s net profit! A healthy profit is how you run your business debt-free, pay off your home and still pull in a respectable salary. Our net profit for 2019 was $512,764, and we are on track for even greater profits in 2020, even in today’s “new normal.” We even added $30,866 in new MRR! And we didn’t get there by acquisition, but by continuously executing the campaigns Robin provides and focusing on becoming leaner and more efficient.

Why Do I Push Myself So Hard? My Whys.

Naturally, my kids are my whys: Caroline, Isabelle, Charlie and Nicholas. Providing for these precious kids takes a considerable income because they all have been diagnosed with a brain condition called Chiari malformation and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Plus, Charlie has special needs.

While our kids’ conditions are incurable, they are manageable. In the past 13 years, they have undergone over 100 brain and spinal surgeries! And every surgery, treatment and recovery means our kids must be over 1,000 miles away from home. Sometimes for weeks. Sometimes for months.

Our 18-year-old twins, Isabelle and Charlie, had no major medical events last year. Isabelle is ready to start college in the fall at Samford University in Alabama. After all she has been through, she wants to be a nurse practitioner. As for Charlie, we are setting ourselves up to take care of him for many years to come. Believe me, there are so many wonderful things about having a special kid.

Nicholas and Caroline had a pretty rough 2019. At age 16, Nicholas had six brain surgeries last year as well as a staph infection in his brain, which led to a dependence on doctor-prescribed opioids. We finally got him off the opioids, controlled his pain, and he resumed high school in December. Caroline, our oldest, had one medical issue after another in 2019, including surgery to correct a nerve problem, six feeding tubes, a titanium plate on her skull and fusion of her spine from a broken back. As a result, Laurie spent over six months away from us out of state to be by her side.

The secret to surviving all of this? Maintaining a focus on the positive and being grateful. Your own struggle may not be as serious as ours or it may be much tougher. No matter your struggle, use it as a motivation for progress and never let it become an excuse for mediocrity.

Two Better-Your-Best Years’ Worth Of Winning Marketing Strategies And Campaigns

Robin always says to stick with what works and that you will get bored of campaigns long before your prospects and clients do. Because I had great success with the Godfather and Aspirin campaigns when I was a Better Your Best finalist last year, we continued to run these effective campaigns.

Even if you’re sending the same campaign a couple times a year, as long as it’s still bringing in leads, appointments and closed sales, DON’T ABANDON IT!

The Godfather Campaign: $12,850 In MRR In 2018; $5,100 In MRR In 2019

I know one of the #1 sins is making modifications to Robin’s proven campaigns. But we thought it was important to customize the Godfather letter to address issues specific to our vertical. In 2018, this was our first properly executed mail campaign, sent to 158 prospects and followed up with three phone calls. It resulted in 14 total leads, seven meetings and a new sizable client worth $12,850 in new MRR! In 2019, we sent this campaign to a list of 300 local engineering and construction firm prospects and closed a new client worth $5,100 in MRR and a total contract value of $509,000!

Scoring Our Biggest Ever Contract With One Tiny Aspirin Packet

We decided to double up on our exposure by sending the Aspirin Campaign to the same list of engineering and construction firms that received our Godfather letter. It worked! From that list of 300 firms, we generated two leads and one meeting that led to our largest contract ever of $16,375 in new MRR and a total contract value of $600,000!

Our Robinized Website: $20,230 In MRR In 2018; $8,251 In MRR In 2019

While many MSP websites target ALL prospects, we had Pronto build our Robinized website to exclusively target the common pain points in our engineering and construction vertical. In 2018, our new focused and targeted website generated 28 leads, seven meetings and four signed contracts for $20,230 in MRR, for a total contract value of $794,000! In 2019, our website generated 43 leads, six sat meetings, five proposals and three contracts signed for $8,251 in new MRR, for $317,000 in total contract value.

Converting Our Client Base To Managed Services

Remember, I used to have 981 mostly break-fix clients. In 2018, we fired or converted most all of them to managed services. To convert the few remaining break-fix clients, we simply had contract conversations with them as they called in for service. This generated four meetings and two contracts worth $3,850 in MRR, for a total contract value of $161,700.

Keeping Preactive IT Solutions Top Of Mind With Newsletters

Like clockwork, we send our Done-For-You Printed Newsletter to our farm list and existing clients every single month. While we cannot directly attribute any new contracts to these mailings, the newsletter keeps our name in front of that list.

A Sales, Marketing And Lead Generation Process That Lands Appointments And Contracts

Robin continuously advises MSPs to create processes and marketing systems that are perpetually running. Throughout these past two years, we have relied on a number of proven processes to improve just about every aspect of our business, including service, marketing and sales. Here are our most successful strategies:

  •  A Sales Process That Closes 64% – Our sales process includes running a Dark Web Scan and performing a Network Audit and Custom Technology Action Plan for prospects. Before sales meetings, we always hand-deliver a Shock-And-Awe box, which includes our Done-For-You Book, MSP Comparison Chart, Client Bill of Rights, Niche Client Testimonials and swag with our logo. After meeting with the prospect, we send a handwritten thank-you note.
  • Pumpkin-Planning Our Client Base – We’ve continued to rely on the Pumpkin Plan strategies to further clean our customer base of non-pumpkins as their contracts expire. By removing a few small clients and adding larger clients who are more efficient to service, we brought our average client up from $2,490 MRR in 2018 to $3,036 in 2019!
  • Improving Our Follow-Up – “The money is in the follow-up.” By using turboDial, we can speed up the dialing, reach more prospects and even drop prerecorded voice mail messages. With Infusionsoft, we are better able to leave notes and track campaigns.
  • Maximizing Our Profits Through Education – I’ve been working with Greg Crabtree, accountant and author of Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits! and recent speaker at this year’s IT Sales And Marketing Boot Camp. Through his teachings, we now better understand our P&L and the relationships between revenue, direct labor, management labor, client profitability, employee profitability and net profits. Now we are doing an even better job of managing our business and staying profitable as we grow.

“Life Isn’t About Finding Yourself. Life Is About Creating Yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

Even though I wasn’t born into success and have been dealt a difficult hand in life, I worked hard to learn how to be successful and began implementing like crazy. That’s how I got to be a two-time Better Your Best finalist and how I was the most profitable company in this year’s Better Your Best competition. That’s how I get to head home in that gorgeous Aston Martin that can’t hold all of my kids! And that’s how I’ll get to spend the next year as Technology Marketing Toolkit’s Spokesperson, sharing my knowledge, experiences and all the challenges I have been through with others who are trying to succeed.