In honour of Logixsource’s fifteen year anniversary, Marnie Hughes sat down with founder and CEO Heather Cartwright to discuss the basics and the challenges of fifteen years in business.
Marnie Hughes (MH): Today we're talking to Heather Cartwright, CEO of Logixsource Consulting to discuss business consulting and building a strong business model. Good morning Heather.
Heather Cartwright (HC): Good morning Marnie.
MH: I just wanted to speak to you about the different business products that you're currently offering. How did you decide on the four business products that you currently have on your website at the moment?
HC: We came out of the gate originally part of the Consulting background that you look at is people process and technology and the convergence of those three areas to provide a value proposition to clients because we focus on transformational opportunities with clients. So it's really an end to end cycle. The first part of the cycle starts with developing a strategy and then that moves into a portfolio of projects that a client needs to take on in order to move to a new and better place. That ends up developing into training and development opportunities for the people because they need to have different skills as the business transforms and finally the Recruitment and Staffing. You may actually need to bring in different people with different skills to support that change in the business. It's really an end to end methodology.
MH: There's a very logical flow when you describe it like that and I think your website illustrates that. Speaking of your website, which is very impressive by the way, can you tell us a bit about your marketing strategy?
HC: Sure. We are focused on really trying to work with clients in the 250 million dollar and above range around the program and the project management services offering. This is really where we work with director and VP level in an organization and they typically have a well-developed business strategy in a more mature Marketplace. They typically have a portfolio of initiatives that they need to undertake and we can help them be more successful with that.
From the 50 to 250 million-dollar range our focus is more around helping either define strategy or confirm and align the strategy with the business objectives and help develop those priorities and objectives to help meet the business strategy and then to potentially help Implement those from a project/program management perspective. Also from a change management perspective. Business requirements analysis is usually a key component of this as you look to implement some of these new areas of the business for example implementing an ERP solution or various kinds of technology for sure.
And then our final strategy is our new managed services offering which is perhaps for businesses of 10 to 50 million where we can help them by providing regular recurring services and these services can be in the IT side, the HR Recruitment and Staffing side, back office administration areas and then of course helping them with ongoing strategy around the customer side with marketing and sales potentially helping them with social media strategy. Those are really the three target sectors or sizes of business that we're looking at and how the strategies align to those target areas.
MH: On the project level, how would you decide which opportunities that you would pursue?
HC: Well it depends. Do we have experience doing this type of work. Clients can be very demanding and that is certainly a key criteria. We need to have been there and done that. Then a lot of what we do is very custom so we might have done two or three different things and be able to put that together in a unique or hybrid solution for clients and I think that's where we've excelled in the past by providing those customized strategies for clients and helping them through a unique situation.
MH: How do you go about relationship building and how important is it to you and your business?
HC: Well I think there's a number of channels that we work with and certainly in the Professional Services business the best way to get business is from referrals from satisfied customers first of all repeat customers. We have relationships with the same people that we had started with. Our very first client we still have on board and he's been with us through four organizations so that's a very exciting thing for us that we have our original first and second customers since 2001. We are referral-based but moving more into networking activities and certainly awareness on the internet and trying to experiment using some new tools and offering thought leadership to clients and people that are interested to help generate awareness
MH: Could you describe one of your greatest challenges in that time?
HC: Sure. I think that we've seen a few economic downturns and that becomes the repeatable challenge is trying to manage projects when there is an economic downturn. That results in unstable revenue and difficulty to forecast and manage the business. It also makes it difficult to scale from that perspective, so that would be the greatest challenge. We are looking to now move into more of a managed services area with clients. We used to spend a lot of effort with clients working with the staff inside of it and a lot of the recruiting and staffing side of the business has changed significantly. As a result, our focus is currently more project side but we have done and have been successful at some managed services business and we're looking to offset some of the peaks and valleys in the projects side with more of the managed services offering.
MH: Excellent. Over the course of time you say there's changes in the recruitment side of business, how about from the technology perspective? Over the past 15 years how would you describe how Logixsource has adapted to that?
HC: Well I think there's two sides to it. From the client side one of the primary focuses that we have is really around business process automation and using technology to automate both business Enterprise systems as well as collaboration with their clients and their suppliers through strategic sourcing systems, ERP systems and B2B plays in the marketplace. We've done a lot of work in that area and we've been very successful at that side of it. Certainly from an internal perspective we have also used technology to automate as many of our back office systems that we can and that's really helped us scale to minimize the manual processes it takes to run the organization itself.
MH: So you are 'walking the walk' so to speak in terms of streamlining your own technology and your own activities within your business in order to be able to support those efforts for clients?
HC: Yes absolutely and one of the keys to our success and our model has always been a Consulting-on-demand model so we don't carry an overhead of consulting staff. Since it is on-demand we need to have access to people very quickly and we need to automate our processes so that we're able to connect quickly with the right people and be able to organize those people so that we can access them for different clients.
MH: Your company manages change for clients. Do you practice change management strategies within your own company?
HC: Yes, we have to. We've had significant leadership changes in the last couple of years when I started the business 15 years ago. That first year, Mike Boyle joined us and led the Recruitment and Staffing and he recently retired about a year ago. Scott Savage joined us as a partner two years ago and that has required significant change. We have brought on Scott's daughter Emily full time in January so that's our first full-time employee and that requires significant scale of the organisation. Then we have a core team of outsource providers but they are really our in-house team that is ongoing: Marnie Hughes, our accountants Accountants on Main, Judy Avery and Sandra Blair and a number of regular partners that we work with. We also have a strong Consulting team with regulars such as Tom Gibson who has worked with us off and on through at least ten of the fifteen years and Robert Killin similarly.
MH: So far, so good. 15 years is a pretty significant milestone so congratulations on that.
That’s all for this month! Keep an eye out in August for part two where Heather and Marnie discuss why Heather chose to start a new business, how that’s required extreme adaptability, and what it means to be a female CEO.
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