SherWeb Cloud PBX Brings Indiana Partner Back from the Abyss
Complete Technology Solutions
Travis Street was still in college when he started offering home-based IT services in his Muncie, IN neighborhood. It didn’t take long for him to figure out he could make a living from his small business. Three years later, he hired his first employee and in 2003, Complete Technology Solutions (CTS) was born.
CTS is a consulting firm that offers managed IT services including network cabling, a help desk, voice and video, email protection and offsite backup. Travis has 75 customers in Indiana, with 5 to 200 employees. He currently employs 5 people.
“Managed services are the major selling point for our company.” Travis Street, founder of Complete Technology Solutions
Customers Started Asking for Voice over IP Ten Years Ago
Street is very aware of his customers’ needs and has always been an early adopter of new technologies. So when the first Voice over IP and SIP applications were released, he developed an interest for Private Branch Exchange solutions. Convinced he could get his share of a market that was dominated by major telecom providers, he took the leap. Along with the wiring, network design and configuration, CTS also provided local phone system equipment.
“We started offering local PBX a few years ago. We’ve put in place Voice over IP with technologies from Avaya and Toshiba.”
Although these vendors deliver reliable phone system hardware, not all of Street’s customers were able to afford such PBX solutions. Also, there were upfront costs for ordering and shipping the equipment, which CTS and its customers had to cover. Street would only get the full payment after the project was delivered, which meant it could take weeks to get a return on his investment. This was due to delays in shipping hardware, setting it up and configuring all phone services.
“We sold local PBX to companies with 20 to 50 users.”
Poor Experience with a Renowned Hosted PBX Provider
Because he wanted to satisfy more customers who were adopting SIP services, Street started looking for less costly solutions. That’s how he built a list of potential hosted PBX providers.
“With the availability of high broadband everywhere, I wanted to get into it as well. We want to be a solution provider. I looked online to find companies that would help me easily resell cloud PBX.”
He picked a renowned vendor and signed up as a reseller. However, after reading the fine print of the terms and conditions, he soon realized he had made a mistake. He found himself lost in the abyss.
“I made a wrong choice. I had to pay a minimum $250 monthly commitment for a year. If I sold $250 of services, it was kind of a wash. They’d also charge $150 monthly to do the taxes for the services and phones I sold. So, I had to pay their accounting firm for them to tell me how much I owe so I could charge my client. I would need to bring in $800 monthly revenue just to break even!.”
A lack of technical support was another issue. Street thought he would have easy access to technical assistance, but it didn’t happen. Instead, he had to learn how to program the phones and the auto attendants by himself.
“They have an extensive education program on how to use their product. That’s the drawback. We had to physically and virtually configure everything ourselves. They’d give us zero support in that. They’d give us access to a portal and said: ‘This is how to set it up. You do the programming. We’re not responsible for programming.’ ”
The pay CTS received just wasn’t worth the effort it was putting into each project. The company had barely cut its service delivery time and wasn’t getting much from its relationship with the provider.
“It was very time consuming. Especially when you have customers who don’t always know what they want. They call you and say, ‘Why don’t you change this option?’ and all of a sudden, you have a lot of time to spend configuring these things.”
When CTS Approached SherWeb, It Was Not for Cloud PBX
80% of the products and services CTS provides are Microsoft technologies. The company has been doing a lot of SharePoint development and local SQL Server deployments. Street has also taken advantage of the hype and success of Office 365.
Like many other MSPs, Street was baffled because he had to spend a lot of time reconciling monthly billing information for each Office 365 client. Even after the CSP program was introduced, he was still struggling. He was looking for a solution when he heard that SherWeb provided a centralized portal for Office 365 resellers. He joined the Partner Program.
“We’ve been reselling Office 365 for 4 to 5 years. One of my biggest challenges was managing the accounts separately. I couldn’t keep track of the licenses. I met SherWeb last year, I got one pane of glass to manage all accounts.”
A few months later, SherWeb launched its Cloud PBX solution. When Street heard about it, he provisioned the solution for his company.
After testing the product, he started offering it to his customers. CTS is now making 11% of its SherWeb billed revenue from Cloud PBX. This includes the Office 365 seats he already has, plus Azure and Hosted Exchange.
“My first Cloud PBX client was myself back in February. Cloud PBX is very easy to sell and deploy. We’ve rolled it out for a client’s automotive service center this week and we’ve helped him cut his bill in half. I’ve been able to slash one of my other client’s bill from $358 to $98 for 4 lines!”
Street is making more new customers and can’t wait to transfer clients from his previous provider to SherWeb Cloud PBX. To avoid penalties with that provider, he has to wait for each contract to expire, another condition he regrets committing to. The good news is, his clients won’t have to change their phone numbers, as SherWeb allows number portability from any provider in the U.S. or Canada.
CTS Is Now Providing a Better Service and Making Higher Margins
There are more good features that come with SherWeb Cloud PBX. Not only is it easy to sell, but partners are free to develop and bill other services around it. Street said CTS makes more money working on Voice over IP projects end to end.
“The nice thing about Cloud PBX is it’s a gateway to other services as well. Your product is a great starter to get additional revenue from clients. I did the assessment of their network and it was not ready for Cloud PBX. So, this was a great opportunity for me to sell more services. I’m replacing all the hardware, the access points and installing new wiring. So, I was able to make around $1,000 in services just by selling Cloud PBX.”
SherWeb Cloud PBX allows CTS to provide its clients with a complete internet phone system that responds to all business needs. Because Cloud PBX comes with more than 40 features, every client is guaranteed a maximum return on investment, thanks to options like: Audio Conferencing, Auto Receptionist (IVR), Voicemail to Email, Hunt Groups, Call Forwarding and Fax to Email.
All PBX and end-user configurations can be done from a secure web dashboard. The phone service is billed monthly and includes unlimited continental minutes. SherWeb Cloud PBX is built with redundancy and can be used from any internet-connected device, which covers businesses for all mobility and disaster scenarios.
Company’s Future Is Bright with SherWeb
Ask Travis Street to compare SherWeb with his previous hosted PBX provider and there is little doubt where his loyalties lie.
“With you guys, I make money off the bat! The more sales I do, the more margins I get with you. What I love about SherWeb is that your engineers are awesome, I can just send an email and say, ‘Here’s the configuration we need’ and they’re getting the changes done. Seriously, your engineers are quick. I love that because it makes me feel like an all-star to my clients too.”
Street is also enthusiastic about SherWeb’s partner program. CTS has been able to save on time-consuming billing and account management activities. This gives the company more bandwidth to follow up on prospects and make new deals.
“I’ve saved at least 10 hours a month. I use the Cumulus portal very frequently, especially when I need to do billing. I got an Azure project recently, and it was easy for me to see the amount of data used, so I was able to accurately bill my customer. Cumulus is also my tool to know who my clients are, and when to reach out to them. I can see how many accounts they have. I don’t have that pain to go look and directly access each account on Microsoft’s portal so I can do my Office 365 billing properly. It’s all there in Cumulus. I also love the sales resources, the knowledge base, and the migration service.”
Street sees a great opportunity in his partnership with SherWeb. There’s no doubt CTS is on its way to achieve more success and grow. SherWeb Cloud PBX is an evolving product that will soon allow more integration with popular cloud platforms.
Want to Learn More About SherWeb Cloud PBX? Visit our website: https://www.sherweb.com/voip