Sklar Technology Partners - April 2021

APRIL 2021

7462 Old Hickory Drive, Mechanicsville, VA 23111

www.sklartechnology.com

804-730-2628

THE SECRET TO BETTER CUSTOMER SUPPORT Revamp Your Support System to Save Money and Retain Clients

“knowledgeable,” “friendly,” and “fixing the problem the first time” were the top three items on their lists. If we had a tiered support system, we would be kissing No. 1 and No. 3 goodbye.

A few weeks ago, I sat down with a new Sklar Technology Partners client to talk through her service package. Partway through the meeting, she asked, “Randy, will I have a technician assigned to my account, or do you have a tiered support system?” She wasn’t the first to ask me that question. I hear it fairly regularly from new clients, and it’s a reasonable thing to be curious about. But the answer I give often surprises people: “No, we don’t offer dedicated support representatives or tiered support, and trust me — you don’t want either of them.”

The more tiers you have, the less money you make .

As a business owner, there are a lot of reasons to ditch the tiered support system. One is that when you have a Tier 1, that means you’ve hired a lot of people with only cursory knowledge of your product or service. And that’s a huge waste of money! You can reduce your costs and make your customers happier if you skip the lower tiers and only hire knowledgeable customer support staff. This “collaborative support model” is a more

It’s true! I don’t assign a technician to every single account, and our company doesn’t offer tiered support. Both options are bad for business. A look inside a failing model. In this customer service model, every client who calls in with a problem has to climb a chain of customer service representatives to get it fixed. This is a common practice even though everyone who calls into a company hates to hear the phrase, “I’m going to transfer you up to Tier 2/Tier 3.” The first tier of support can only fix the most basic problems, making them useless for most customers. Sometimes the customer’s call has to be passed all the way up to a manager before they find someone who knows how to help them. When a company claims to have customer support available 24/7, they often have this system. Someone “assigned to your account” is code for a Tier 1 person available to you at any time. Welcome to frustration station. You can probably already see why the tiered support structure is bad for customers. It’s frustrating and a waste of time! Having to relay your problem over and over again makes you want to throw your phone across the room. It also takes longer on average for every question to be answered. When we asked our clients what was most important to them in customer service,

profitable business structure.

Collaboration is the best medicine. There are five big reasons to choose a collaborative support model.

1. It’s easier for your employees to share knowledge. When one employee goes on vacation or leaves the company, the others can quickly pick up the slack and step in. 2. Your clients’ problems will be solved faster. 3. Your company will be more profitable because you’ll have fewer employees and happier clients, which means higher retention rates. 4. Your employees won’t burn out. When employees can only answer a select number of questions, this gets monotonous and causes them to burn out. 5. Your company culture will improve. In a tiered system, Tier 2 might look down on Tier 1, causing rifts in the company.

Here at Sklar Technology Partners, our customer support model is the secret to our success. If yours is holding you back, it’s time to make a change.

–Randy Sklar Security. Availability. Support. .................................................................................... 804-730-2628 • 1 A REFERRAL IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY. WHEN A CLIENT REFERS FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES TO US, IT REPRESENTS AN APPRECIATION OF A JOB WELL DONE. IF YOUR FRIENDS OR ASSOCIATES COULD BENEFIT FROM OUR SERVICES, I’D BE HONORED TO HAVE YOUR REFERRAL!

How to Get From ‘Zero to One’ Create and Nurture Original Business Ideas

WANT TO START A BACKYARD GARDEN? Randy’s Top Tips for Planting Season

Last March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the whole country had the same two thoughts:

“What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”

That’s entrepreneur and author Peter Thiel’s favorite interview question. To Thiel, a person’s answer to that question provides insight into whether they’ll be able to find success as an entrepreneur. Ideally, if you can answer with something like “Most people believe in X, but the truth is the opposite of X,” then you’re well on your way from zero to one and creating an original business idea. That’s what Thiel explores in his book “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.”

1. It’s time to learn how to make sourdough bread. 2. Let’s start a garden!

Randy and his family jumped on the bandwagon. Seed packets, miniature shovels, and potting soil were selling out all over the country, but they managed to get their hands on the equipment they needed to build a raised garden bed in the backyard. They had vegetables to eat by summer, but they learned a thing or two along the way. If you want to start your own backyard garden this spring, here are Randy’s top tips. Plant in a raised bed . Planting seedlings in a raised bed instead of directly in the ground has a lot of perks. Fewer weeds will grow in the bed, the drainage will be better, your plants will stay warmer, and you won’t accidentally step on your carrots. Raised beds are easy to build, too. You can find a complete guide on Lowes.com. If you don’t want to spend money on lumber, you can make a raised bed out of just about anything. Randy’s neighbor used old furniture! (There’s a great MasterClass on this by “Gangster Gardener” Ron Finley. He’ll show you how to turn a drawer into a planter.) Buy seedlings instead of germinating seeds yourself . As Randy and his family discovered, germinating plants from seed is a slow, finicky process. If you don’t mind the extra cost, he suggests buying seedlings or plant starts instead. You’ll save a lot of time and hassle. Plus, if you buy from a nursery or local farmers market, you get the added benefit of knowledgeable salespeople. Invest in wire mesh . Almost as soon as Randy’s plants popped up, bits started to go missing! Rabbits were the culprits. To keep them away, he wrapped his garden bed with a short wire fence. You can use chicken wire or mesh to keep your vegetables safe. Don’t be ashamed to use YouTube. It’s 2021, and in the age of Alexa, there’s nothing wrong with asking YouTube to solve your problems. While they were putting together their bed and figuring out how to keep vegetables alive, Randy and his family relied on YouTube videos for help. You can learn a lot from channels like Kelly’s Kitchen Garden, Garden Ninja, and The Gardening Channel with James Prigioni.

“Zero to One” is all about coming up with and nurturing unique ideas, which are the foundation of game-changing businesses. As a co-founder and investor in a number of companies that have changed the business landscape, Thiel has some authority on this subject. He co-founded Cofinity (which later became PayPal) and invested in startups like Facebook, SpaceX, Lyft, and Airbnb whose ideas were so novel at the start that they were perceived as risky by many. Throughout the book, Thiel shares his wealth of knowledge garnered from a long, successful career of recognizing and acting on original ideas. According to him, and anyone else who has ever tried creating something wholly unique, developing an original idea is no easy task. The difficulty of originality even led Mark Twain to once say “There is no such thing as a new idea. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope.” But in “Zero to One,” Thiel proves that coming up with original ideas is possible, and he provides readers with helpful tips and lessons for how to get there. One such lesson: Stop trying to be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg because “if you’re copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.” Thiel uses his favorite interview question to try to identify original thinkers. These are the people who take their businesses from zero to one because they looked at past successes and thought, “I can do it differently, and I can do it better.” If you want to be in that group, then reading Thiel’s advice in “Zero to One” is a great place to start.

2 • www.sklartechnology.com .................................................................................... Security. Availability. Support.

READING VS. INCULCATING How Getting Obsessed Can Benefit Your Business

According to Entrepreneur, having an obsession also gives you courage. It makes you a master of time and scheduling and encourages thought and innovation. It also makes it easier to say “no,” helps you make conscious decisions, pushes you to find mentors, and encourages hard work. When you have an obsession, you don’t need talent. Can you ‘make’ yourself get obsessed? Most of the time obsession crash-lands in your lap. But you can encourage an obsession with your goals by rooting them in emotion, constantly reminding yourself of them, and pushing yourself to learn more. As international sales expert Grant Cardone once wrote, “Think of obsession like a fire. You want to build it so big that people feel compelled to sit around it in admiration. With a fire, you have to keep adding wood to sustain the intensity and the glow — you must obsess over keeping the fire going or it will burn out and turn to ashes. Your dreams are that fire.”

You find the book interesting,

The word “obsessed” has a lot of negative connotations. But is an obsession always a bad

then fascinating. It becomes embedded in your DNA. Not only do you dog-ear the

thing? We’d argue that it isn’t — and Entrepreneur magazine agrees. In fact, in 2018 they published an article called “8 Reasons Why Obsessive People Are More Likely to Be Successful.”

pages, but you also try to implement its concepts in real life.

Why do obsessives succeed? An obsession harnesses your focus and energy. That’s why Randy often calls his ADD his “superpower.”When you’re obsessed with a business idea

How does obsession work? Merriam-Webster defines obsession as “a persistent disturbing

or a strategy, you can zero in on it and ignore distractions. This gives you clarity of thought you can’t get any other way and helps you succeed more quickly. Think of Mark Zuckerberg obsessively coding in his dorm room — could he have created Facebook as quickly any other way?

preoccupation,” but in a business sense, you can think of it as the deepest level of fascination with a topic. There are multiple levels: You can read a book, study it, memorize it, or inculcate it. The first level is the most basic. It doesn’t require understanding. The final level is obsession.

Spring Vegetable and Chicken Pasta Bake

Inspired by TheSeasonedMom.com

Ingredients •

• • • • •

1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped and divided 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped and divided

1 cup cooked chicken, diced

• • • • •

1 14-oz can artichokes, drained and quartered

2 tsp minced garlic

1 cup fresh asparagus pieces

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup carrots, grated

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 1/2 cups uncooked penne pasta

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

Directions 1. Preheat oven to 425 F and grease an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. 2. In the prepared dish, stir together cooked chicken, artichokes, asparagus, carrots, uncooked pasta, chicken broth, half the chives, half the parsley, garlic, salt, and 2 tbsp Parmesan. 3. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 35 minutes. 4. Uncover and stir. At this point, check the pasta to make sure it is al dente. If it’s undercooked, cover the dish and return to the oven until pasta is tender. 5. Remove from oven and garnish with remaining Parmesan, chives, and parsley.

Security. Availability. Support .................................................................................... 804-730-2628 • 3

7462 Old Hickory Drive Mechanicsville, VA 23111 www.sklartechnology.com 804-730-2628

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Inside This Issue

1 2

The Secret to Better Customer Support

‘Zero to One’: A Book Review

4 Tips for Starting a Backyard Garden

3

How Getting Obsessed Can Benefit Your Business

Spring Vegetable and Chicken Pasta Bake

4

Get in Shape for Your Next Backpacking Trip

Get in Shape for Your Next Backpacking Trip

3 ESSENTIAL AREAS TO FOCUS ON

system into shape as it is to strengthen your muscles. Dedicate three days each week — alternating with your strength training days — to building your cardio health with activities like trail running, biking, swimming, or other aerobic exercises.

Backpacking in the mountains puts a fun twist on the standard campout. By packing all your gear miles from the nearest roads, you can leave the whole world behind and just exist in nature. That said, backpacking can also put a lot of strain on your body — unless you properly prepare for it. Peak backpacking season isn’t too far away, but it could take a couple of months to physically prepare for your next big trip. So, now is the perfect time to start working toward some of the following fitness goals: Increase Muscle Strength and Endurance Your leg and core muscles, as well as your shoulders and lower back (to a lesser extent), will do most of the heavy lifting when you’re hauling a 30–50-pound pack up a trail. With that in mind, you should devote two nonconsecutive days each week to strengthening these muscle groups. A few good exercises to increase leg strength are jump squats, single-leg deadlifts, step-ups, and hip rolls. A simple way people can increase core strength is by doing planks. Improve Your Cardio Health Backpacking includes a lot of walking while carrying heavy weight at a high altitude, which means it’s just as important to get your cardiovascular

Improve Your Balance Backpacking trails are rough, and you’ll need good balance to navigate obstacles and

step over boulders, creeks, and large roots. The good news is that increased strength and balance go hand in hand. Building up the muscles in your legs and core will help improve your balance, as will taking walks or runs on uneven trails or terrain. These are just a few quick tips to help you get in shape this backpacking season. For more in-depth instructions, check out CleverHiker.com, Backpacker.com, or search “How to Train for Hiking” on REI.com. Happy hiking!

4 • www.sklartechnology.com .................................................................................... Security. Availability. Support.

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