Integrity is Worth More than Money

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In today’s post, Paul Azad, the founder of ServiceTree talks about integrity.

Integrity is something that sticks around for a long time.

This is a subject that we don’t often talk about in an MSP. It’s actually not a topic we normally talk about in business in general. And it’s not a topic we normally talk about in our personal life. And it’s really, really important, and we think about it. It’s why we do what we do, why we listen to who we listen to, and why we believe what we believe in. And it’s really simple, it’s integrity.
With what’s happening at the moment, this is right in the middle of COVID, in 2020, standing that become very evident, and I’m not going to talk about it from the political element, I’m just gonna talk about it from one simple element. What is very evident is what people believe and what they don’t. And the why we don’t want to believe what we’re hearing about, it comes to only one thing, and that is integrity.

When I think of what I’m hearing on the news, why I believe one, as opposed to another, is because of the integrity of that brand, the integrity of that new source, the integrity of what I’m reading, the blogger, the writer, the media company, its integrity. Some people call it fake news, and that’s definitely a way of describing it. But even outside of the news, even outside of media, integrity is really, really critical. And when I think about it, I definitely can say it’s been something that within my MSP what I do, the fundamental of what I do is integrity. To me, integrity is worth more than money. How does that work? I’ve said that to people in real life and they’re asking me if I really think that. I said to them, of course! Because money comes and goes, integrity is something that sticks around for a long time.

When I think about people that I don’t believe in, I don’t believe what they say, it’s because I don’t believe in what they say, because I don’t believe they got integrity, their actions speak louder than words. It’s something that I speak to our kids about all the time, your integrity is more important than what you do. Integrity is more important than winning a race and is more important in business than money. Because integrity is something that will take a long time, in some cases, a lifetime to rebuild. And it’s something that we need to be able to demonstrate very openly, very clearly to our customers.

In my MSP integrity is more important to me than money, in ServiceTree as well. In my MSP I’ve walked away from customers, I walked away from opportunities, if I didn’t believe in the integrity of the relationship, the integrity of what the customer wanted, or what they were doing with their business. So to me, I’m not a supporter of something that is, and It’s not from a political point of view, for me, it’s actually a moral point of view, and money actually comes easier when you’ve got integrity.; for my customers of my MSP, I can talk about that easier.

The importance of having a conversation with your customer.

Because I’ve had my MSP for 20 years, most of my customers, a high majority of our customers don’t actually ask about pricing or why. They know that we will do everything we can to always look at the right product and the right price for them. Having more business who’s expanding quite nicely, quite successfully, even through COVID. And we had a meeting about six weeks ago, and they do the expansion. Every time they expand the amount of work and hardware and labor from our services is between 80 and $90,000. So it’s a decent amount. And one of the directors of the business said – We’d love to be able to drop that price down. Can we look at saving money on that? –  And I said – Well, if you commit to doing what we’re doing for the next 12 months, then I will commit to looking at how else we can even go one step further, and to do what we need to do. And it wasn’t like a contract or thing, it was like a handshake agreement. I believe him. The director and the general manager definitely have integrity. So, let’s do it!

Over the next sort of three, four weeks, we looked at some areas I knew that I could look at saving their money. I went to some of the vendors that we bought buy stuff from and was able to get pricing locked in at a lower rate, even though there was no contractual minimum purchasing amount. My integrity with the distributor of this product is there because I said – This is what’s going to happen. – I said – Listen, this customer committed to the next 10 expansions for the next 12 months to go through this and this and this, which I’ll purchase every single work from you. – That’s all it took. The distributor said – Sure, no problems, there was nothing I need to design. – And they were able to reduce pricing by a few percentage points, actually, more than just a few percentage points. We went through and looked at other things, at some of the products we were using, and found more cost-effective options. For multiple reasons, the history for the last six months, and how they were using some of those items was different from what they originally thought. So we were able to say – Listen, these items were a bit of an overkill, let’s go down for a lower grade product, which achieves the same requirements, it’s still a business grade product, it still has a business grade warranty, and all that kind of stuff. The great thing was that we were able to drop about 14% of their cost. Now, they’re gonna spend about 900k and $100,000 over the next 12 months on that. So we’ve just saved them $140,000.

The importance of integrity.

They were hoping for nine, they were hoping for up to 10% saving, and I literally could have saved 15% for them kept the difference in our pocket, and said – Listen, we’ve saved you the 10%. We’re all good and dandy. – But actually, what I practice, what I preach, I was able to get them to save about 15%, close to 15%, and I pass all the savings on to them. And that’s what really shows through the integrity. I could have made an extra $45,000 net profit over the next 12 months. Nice $45,000, I don’t know many businesses that would have not said yes, please that 45,000. But for me, the integrity is more important.

The conversation that we have with this customer and others it’s never about – Can you do it cheaper? It’s always – Is it the right product? Would you do it? Yeah, I would be buying it myself if I was you. And it was funny, because when I did do that, he first came back and said – Paul, just confirming, you’re happy with these items, because that’s a decent saving on that – Yes, I wouldn’t be suggesting your sell if I wouldn’t buy it myself, I wouldn’t be suggesting you sell it because we have to support it. And the last thing I want you to do is buy something that’s going to become a problem for you. And therefore a problem for me and damage my reputation and damage my integrity.

Integrity, intelligence, and humility.

It was very nice to do that. It’s very humbling to know that we were able to do it.
Maybe of some, the people would say – Well, why don’t you do that to start with? – Well, it’s really simple.

  • Number one: there was no commitment from them that they were going to buy another 10 expansions with us.
  • Number two: we didn’t even know it was going to be 10. We thought it was gonna be one or two or three. To find they’re going to be 10, was a decent reason to want to help them. They came to the party as well, they’ve committed to 10 with us, which was great.

It was a win-win. They won by coming to us, we win because we’ve got confirmed insights where the business from them to expansions, and the distributors also won knowing that they’re gonna go through us to go through them. So it’s always great to get to that point.

Governing that integrity, and intelligence is your humility. How you’re able to deliver what you do, your messaging, the way you do it, how you do it, and why you do it. Humility is really important, It definitely comes into play with integrity, and being transparent. And I was transparent with that customer that I’m mentioning because I said – If you’re gonna commit, then I’ll commit and I’ll ensure that everybody in the chain commits to deliver that.

Don’t spend your money on things you don’t need.

We had another customer that signed up a few weeks ago, and he was from a reference, from word of mouth from another one of our customers. And it was interesting because he came to me and said – My boss is friends with this person who’s the chairman or CEO of an organization – That’s a customer of ours. – Can you quote us on this and so forth? That’s cool. Did our work and we do what we were going to do. He obviously didn’t know us, other than referred to by somebody that his boss knew of. And over the phone, I said – No, you don’t need to do this. You don’t need to do that. Don’t spend your money here. Don’t spend your money there. And listen, we don’t need to do that. His response was – Wow, this is really cool, you’re not trying to spend my money. – I said – No, I’d rather you keep your money in your pocket. Because I’d like rather you spend it when I need you to spend on something that we need to you spend money, than to burn your money on stuff that you don’t need.

About four weeks into this, I called him and he laughed and said – Whenever you call, I’ve got your name or dash x x x person’s friend – I won’t say who the person is. Then he said – I’m gonna change it to your full name. – That was funny, I said – I’m not actually friends with this person – He’s one of our customers and has been for quite a few years. But I wouldn’t call him a friend (no disrespect to him). And I don’t think he’d think of me as a friend. He’s one of our customers, and when I’m on-site, and I speak to him, we’re very friendly.

The importance of integrity in business and in life.

But it was really interesting that the guy said – Really? I thought you were his friend, he talked to you like he was your friend.- My response was – Listen, man, he’s a really nice guy. I’ve known him for about eight or nine years since he’s been our customer. But I’ll be honest, he isn’t, I wouldn’t call him a friend. I’ve never seen him outside of work. I wouldn’t call him on a weekend. Great guy, but we have other interests, and we got talking about it. And the thing that was really interesting was that they actually made that whole business decision to go with us because they thought we were friends. And therefore the reference was really powerful.

Then he said – It’s interesting, because the first one or two times I spoke to you, Paul, you’re very clear at you’re doing what you do is best for us. – And you’re right. That’s really nice to know. And that was really what it came back down to the integrity, my integrity of what I achieve, the integrity of what I sell in my MSP to our customers, what I expect from my staff. What I expect from a total picture of what I believe in, is integrity. And I was very transparent about it from the beginning, I told him what we wouldn’t do and why we wouldn’t do it. He was looking for an hourly MSP, and I said – Listen, I’m not going to do that. And this is the reason why I don’t want to go through this and this and this, and this will be really painful for you and me. – I was very transparent. It was humility, what I was saying. And the great thing was the integrity was there. And you know, he’s only been a customer of ours for about six weeks now. But it’s definitely, definitely very true. To the point, he actually gave us as a reference to another customer within about three weeks, which was totally awesome.

It all comes back down to integrity.

It all comes back down to integrity. It all comes down to your transparency, humility of what you’re delivering, and why delivering it. Make sure what you say and what you do is exactly the same. Make sure that there is a very, very clean line between what you say and what you do. Your actions speak louder than your words and what you say and what you do need to match. Because when they don’t, you don’t have integrity. When you don’t have integrity, people are going to question you. And times like now we’re going through COVID It’s integrity that keeps those relationships that you’ve got going. And it’s the glue, it’s the gel that keeps a relationship very strong. Even when the times get tough.

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