ComputerCare on upswing in Palmerston North

ComputerCare on upswing in Palmerston North

Palmerston North-based ComputerCare has built on its lengthy history with a steep growth curve in the past three years.

Established 20 years ago, it was bought by Wayne Masters in 2001 and has doubled its staff from 13 to 26 in the past three years.

Business development manager John Stroud, who joined the company three years ago, attributes the rapid expansion to Masters’ direction and a high level of service to its core clientele in the commercial sector.

“When Wayne took over he revolutionised the business,” says Stroud. “The reason is our guaranteed response time. If you have a service level agreement, our response time to a server or a whole company not working is 30 minutes, 24/7, something our competitors find difficult to do reliably,” he claims.

“We have more technicians per client than anyone else in town,” he claims. “We make sure we have the right service people before we get the business.”

Stroud says ComputerCare recruits experienced staff and pays them well to ensure they stay with the company.

He says another point of difference to its competitors is its job management software programme, developed in house.

“It integrates with Outlook and has stock and quoting systems and job tracking. We can see what the company is doing for productivity. It’s all trackable on an hour-by-hour basis,” he says.

“The other thing that makes us different is our relationships. It’s an unquantifiable thing. We give our clients a primary and secondary technician so there is always someone there as a backup. [The team structure for technicians] ... takes weight off the technical manager and helps with training. Basically, the team leaders are account managers as well. ”

While technicians operate in teams, customers contact ComputerCare through its front desk and a support coordinator. Customer requirements are then fed through to technicians’ cellphones at critical times, says Stroud.

“It works extremely well for our clients. Over 80 percent of new clients are referrals from existing clients.”

ComputerCare has VMware certifications and all technicians are HP-certified. It is also a Brother warranty centre. Its distributors include Ingram Micro, Exeed, Express Data and Dove.

Services include network support, WAN optimisation, outsourcing, application hosting, email filtering and VoIP, and this year it began offering online backup.

There is also server recovery, which involves taking an image of a customer’s server every month or three months. If a server goes down it can be brought back up quickly, even on different hardware.

Stroud says the company’s service level agreements involve being proactive.

“We try to monitor the servers in real time – the CPUs, hard drives, and there are up to 200 different alerts we can monitor on a server. We also do regular testing on the UPS. We test restore the backups once a month. You get 30-minute service guarantees and professional job scheduling.

ComputerCare has a fleet of 20 work vehicles to serve Palmerston North and surrounding areas. It also serves clients remotely from Christchurch to Auckland, along with some in Australia.

Stroud says the company hasn’t been too badly affected by the recession.

“We haven’t found much of a downturn at all. Most of the sales are from existing clients and we are picking up market share. That has helped us dramatically. Most of our client base is small or medium businesses but we have some bigger clients, though small [business] is where the margins are,” he says.

ComputerCare has been able to survive whether others haven’t, Stroud says.

“There has been a fair bit of competition. When we started in 2001, there were six or seven companies like us. Most have gone while we have survived. Others have lost market share,” he claims, “while we have grown. The philosophy is ‘what is best for the client’, everything else comes from there.”

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