How This “Small-Fry” MSP Owner Increased Revenue By $1.6 Million, Net Profit By 1,300% And Became Our 2019 Better Your Best WINNER!

Posted On April 1st, 2019
Sitma Fowler

Sitima Fowler,
Capstone IT

Moving To America With Only $100 To Our Name, The Odds Were Stacked Against Me

Until age 11, India was my home. Because my father wanted to create a better life for my family, we came to America in 1979. My parents and my brother arrived with only $100, hoping to fulfill our dreams.

However, our lives began as a nightmare. We knew nobody. We had no money. And we had no clothes. When you’re an introvert and wear the same exact outfit every single day, kids make fun of you.

One of my fondest memories as a teenager was going to McDonald’s. A rare treat indeed. Our entire family of four would share a single small bag of fries. Then I looked over to the man sitting next to me. All by himself, he was eating a LARGE box of fries. That moment was burned into my brain. It became my French Fry Mindset. I realized right then that there is a big, abundant world out there, and I was determined to be a part of it.

But I Started Out As A “Small Fry”

It was 2003 when my husband, Mike, started Capstone IT. While the business was young, my six-figure income as an engineer for General Motors was supporting the family. But I’ve always had an entrepreneurial side, so in 2006 I took the plunge and quit my job!

Here I was with a master’s degree in engineering and I owned six US patents, yet I didn’t know the first thing about how to sell or market a business. The first few years were depressing as we couldn’t get the phones to ring at all.

In 2003, we made just $156,455 in revenue selling low-margin hardware and services to ANYONE with a pulse. In 2009, we worked like crazy to bring in $1,626,370 in revenue. WE MADE IT! Right? Wrong! With profits at about $70,000, there was nothing left over at the end of the day.

But I still held tight to my French Fry Mindset and started “Thinking Bigger”!

Another Mindset Shift That Ignited Our Revenue Rocket

Just a few weeks ago, I had the most amazing onstage experience at Robin’s Boot Camp. But my first Boot Camp was in 2009, where I had a whole different perspective. I was looking up at all of those successful MSPs and asking myself, “How the heck are all these people getting all of these incredible RESULTS?” At the same time, I was also asking myself: “Why aren’t WE seeing any of that success?”

So I went up to Robin and expressed to her, “I’m an introverted engineer, Robin. I don’t know anything about sales and marketing. It’s so out of my comfort zone.”

And I’ll never forget what she told me: “I can teach you the sales process. I can teach you the marketing. But you must FIRST change your mindset.

Prior to this Boot Camp, we had no idea about managed services. Then she showed us how to sell the value of managed services that our clients would appreciate and would allow us to grow via monthly recurring revenue. MRR became our new best friend. In just nine years, we have grown our managed services MRR from $5,000 a month to $311,000 a month!

Five “Think Bigger” Tips That Led To A 1,300% Increase In Net Profit!

This is where we came from: 2003 net profit = $19,173. Poverty level.

This is where we were before Robin: 2009 net profit = $70,411. Still far less than my previous engineering jobs.

Implementing Robin’s sales and marketing systems: 2013 net profit = $542,369!

Finally, in 2018 we had a net profit of $1,024,990 – that’s a 1,300% increase from 2009 to 2018!

Over $1 MILLION in net profit! If that little girl sharing those small fries with her family could see me now! Yes, I’d say I have earned the right to buy those large fries today.

But the real question is: How did we get there? Here are the five tips that were the biggest contributors to helping us create a “profit-first mindset.”

Tip #1: Managed Services Only – We stopped selling all of that low-margin crap and moved entirely to fixed-fee managed services. Better clients, better pay.

Tip #2: Business Tracking Tools – We invested in tools like ConnectWise, Kaseya and BrightGauge that let you know if your business is on track or not.

Tip #3: Marketing, Marketing, Marketing – We focused so much on marketing to both prospects AND clients. Pro Tip: Your clients may be your best source for additional revenue.

Like Robin says, “You don’t have to do everything perfect, just do lots of fast and furious marketing.” We are far from perfect, but we execute like crazy!

Tip #4: Join An Accountability Peer Group – I love my Producers Club Accountability Group. They hold me accountable, share best practices, give me knowledgeable advice and accelerate learning and execution.

Tip #5: Take Massive Action – No matter how many speakers you listen to or how many tips you receive, NOTHING happens until you take action and implement.

My Top 3 Marketing Campaigns In 2018

If you are anything like me when I was at Boot Camp in 2009, you want to know which campaigns were most successful. I’m holding nothing back. Here were our winners for 2018 (in reverse order, of course, for more drama)…

THIRD Best Marketing Campaign: Our Website! We get a TON of leads from our Pronto-developed website. And in 2018, we closed 38% of those leads!

SECOND Best Marketing Campaign: Partner Referrals! Our dedicated partners – such as our bank, ISP and copier company – are always sending us leads. In 2018, we closed 40% of them!

BEST Marketing Campaign: Sitima’s Celebrity Status! At Boot Camp, Nick Nanton told us that if you become a “mini-celebrity,” your sales and marketing will take off. He was right! From our speaking engagements, awards, press releases, RochesterRockstars.com interviews, board positions, radio shows and more, we closed 81% of our leads!

The Level Of Execution You Need To WIN Robin’s Better Your Best Contest

My team at Capstone IT implemented 192 marketing campaigns in 2018. Whew! From those campaigns, we got 118 leads and $58,051 in NEW MRR. We grew our top-line revenue by 34% in 2018. How? By aggressively prospecting with a variety of marketing campaigns utilizing different mediums and by selling more to existing clients through regular technology reviews.

Robin has taught us an even better metric by which to measure the success of each campaign. Track which lead sources are producing the most win rates (# of closes/# of leads generated by the campaign). The following campaigns had strong win-to-lead ratios.

“Refer Your Engineer” Campaign Worth $12K In MRR

In Q2 of 2018, we ran a mailer and e-mail blast campaign targeting our own clients called “Refer Your Engineer.” We slapped their lead engineer’s face right on each mailer and drove them to a customized landing page. We enticed them to “vote” for their own engineer with a referral to a business that could use Capstone’s services. The engineer with the most votes won $200 for a fancy dinner, as did the new referred client! We won a Golden Cone for this campaign and got 12 leads and over $12K a month in MRR.

Keynote Speech To 1,000+ Local Businesses

Years ago, I could never have imagined speaking in front of an audience of 100, let alone 1,000+. But I did it! I was honored to deliver the keynote address to a crowd of over 1,000 local business owners who were finalists for a Top Workplace Award.

At one of Robin’s events, Dr. Nido Qubein compared Hershey Kisses to Godiva Chocolates. He said, “Both are good, but only one resides in the extraordinary.” By incorporating this analogy into my speech and by gaining exposure to great speakers at Robin’s events, I’ve become an in-demand speaker in my area. This event was a significant reason we had an 81% close rate with my Sitima Celebrity Campaigns!

E-mail Blasts Providing Over $2K In MRR

In 2018, we delivered several e-mail blasts that were a combination of IT security tips, event invitations and blog teasers. Although we saw a 40% decline in leads from e-mail blasts this year, they still generated 10 quality leads and $2,400 in MRR.

$200 Club Referral Program Brought In $14K In MRR

Our $200 Club Referral Program was rebranded in 2017 and still works wonders today. The logo and offer were shared on Capstone mouse pads, posters, e-mail signatures and more. We gained 16 leads and $14,000 in MRR.

Building $20,000+ In MRR By Building Relationships

By making concerted efforts to join committees and boards, we invest time that might otherwise be spent on traditional sales and marketing. By investing the time, we gain trust and friendship from decision makers who consider Capstone first when they’re ready to buy. These campaigns brought us 17 leads and over $20,000 in MRR.

34 Leads And $8,500 MRR From Our Website

Our website leads are a combination of organic SEO traffic, direct traffic and about 10,000 other activities that help prospects find us online. Our website design team, blog writers and SEO report generator, Pronto, combine to provide what has been our #1 lead generator for years.

Anyone who receives our mailers, e-mail blasts, event invitations, rubber ducks and other branded marketing are driven to our website. There they find value-rich content from our blogs and eBooks as well as a taste of the Capstone culture. In 2018, our website brought in 34 leads and $8,500 MRR.

Becoming Slightly Famous Throughout 2018

Before prospects will consider your IT business, they have to KNOW you. Just as Dave Dee proved in his “One-To-Many Selling” presentation at Boot Camp, speeches and presentations offer a quick way to leave a powerful impression in MANY people’s minds. In 2018, we focused on delivering multiple keynote presentations to business owners. In every speech, I focused on delivering quality content that put me and Capstone top of mind. We believe it had a significant impact on overall leads.

Other campaigns that helped build “Sitima’s Celebrity Status” in our local markets were RochesterRockstars.com and TreasureCoastTop100.com. Since the video series where we interview local business owners worked so well on RochesterRockstars.com, we are now duplicating this winning formula on TreasureCoastTop100.com in Florida.

Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

Here at Capstone, we try just about anything and everything when it comes to marketing. Our other marketing activities for 2018 included Newsletters, Aspirin Mailers, Stupid Or Irresponsible Mailers, webinars, in-house seminars, event sponsorships, chamber e-mail blasts, joint ventures, speaking engagements, trade shows offering free dark-web scans and network security offers, lumpy mailers, Shock-And-Awe boxes (online), social media posts and more!

So What’s Your French Fry Story?

Until the day I saw that man eating those large-sized McDonald’s fries, I couldn’t see the limitations of my current circumstances. Today, all I see is that large box of fries! And in everything I do in my business, my family and my life, I always THINK BIGGER! The size you grow your business to has nothing to do with your physical size, your sex or the state your business is in. What determines how big your business gets is how big your thinking allows it to be! Maybe that’s how I won that car at Boot Camp. Maybe that’s how I’m honored to be the 2019 Spokesperson and Ambassador To The Industry.