Randy Bryan isn’t your typical IT person. Sure, he’s a tech-head through and through, but the journey he took to become who he is now—the big boss at San Marcos, Texas-based IT firm tekRESCUE—isn’t as straightforward as the average IT guy’s.
“I’ve always been a tech person for as long as I can remember,” he recalls. “I’m 51 now, and back when I was a kid there wasn’t a lot of technology around to play with, but I always had a yearning for it.”
That yearning led to a degree in computer science from Texas A&M, but instead of jumping straight into a tech job, Randy first took a slight detour: he became a pastor.
“My calling as a pastor, I always felt like it was temporary,” he explains. “I didn’t know when, and I didn’t even know that I would end up pastoring for 20 years, but I knew it wasn’t going to be forever.”
Randy saw an opportunity to get back into tech when the economy went south in 2009. He volunteered to go part-time at the church so he could focus on building his own tech business.
That was the first step. The second didn’t immediately turn out to be the IT firm he runs now, though.
“Before tekRESCUE, we first had an internet TV show called TekMix.tv,” he recalls. “We did real-world tech reviews and people could call in and discuss questions. People would also text us or email us questions during the show, which was live, by the way.
“The idea for tekRESCUE itself actually came before the show, but the show was the first thing we did and the company really grew out of it. It was a way for us to kind of make a name for ourselves here in our town, kind of set ourselves apart as something a little different.
“The show ran for almost a year. We had about 1,200 people who would watch us on a regular basis. Not much, but it was a lot of fun.”
The Right Stuff
Running tekRESCUE became Randy’s primary focus once TekMix.tv went off the air, and pretty soon the company had grown enough to consume all of his mental bandwidth.
Back in those wild west days, tekRESCUE didn’t have a CRM. It wasn’t until Celina Garcia, the company office manager, came on board that they started a serious hunt for a business management app.
“When I started at tekRESCUE over three years ago we didn’t have any CRM at all,” Celina recalls. “I knew right away that we needed one, because I had worked in other companies that used a business management software to great effect.”
Celina says the search for the right CRM was long and involved days and days of researching and trying out different software. After over a year, they found WORKetc.
“We’re a small business but we do have a large customer base and a lot of information that we need to keep and track,” she explains. “So when we finally found WORKetc, we wanted to go all the way immediately.
“I got right down to transferring data that we previously kept in different places like Google Drive and our invoicing software. Now they’re all in WORKetc.”
Randy adds that WORKetc, along with Celina’s formidable organization skills, helps keep the company running smoothly.
“IT is very messy,” he says. “There are a lot of emergencies; it’s always a lot of unknowns and a lot of messiness comes out of that, and WORketc helps make it a little more manageable.
“I’m more of a people person than an organizer, but Celina, she’s great at it. WORKetc helps her have a manageable level of insanity.”
A Manageable Level of Insanity
tekRESCUE is a full-service IT firm with a web design and SEO arm. The IT side of the company does everything from fixing a PC with a cracked monitor screen to installing servers and setting up networks, making sure they’re secure, and doing weekly or monthly maintenance.
It’s also this side of the business that gets the most mileage out of WORKetc business management software, although both the IT and web divisions keep all client information in the system. IT uses WORKetc to keep track of support tickets, billing, and invoicing.
Celina, who uses WORKetc to keep notes on tickets and clients’ current needs, is usually the first point of contact for everything WORKetc-related—which pretty much means every single support ticket or client request that tekRESCUE gets.
“It all starts with the customer,” she explains. “If it’s a brand new customer I get their contact information and what they need. I create a support ticket, and right there I can also create a new customer entry without having to navigate to another page.”
Once Celina enters all of the important info into the support ticket, she then assigns it to a WORKetc workgroup that the team calls their “bucket”.
“The bucket makes it easier for us since if we were assigning the tickets to a specific person, and that person did not come to work for whatever reason or if they’re out of the office, there’s always a chance that it would just not get done,” Celina explains.
“Having a bucket keeps that visibility for everyone who needs to look at tickets.”
The ticket visibility that WORKetc gives tekRESCUE is key to what they consider their most important success story: always keeping track of all their support tickets.
“For us, every single ticket that comes in that we deal with in a timely manner, that’s a success story, and that happens every single day,” says Randy.
“A lot of times, I think probably one of the biggest struggles that we’ve always had in IT is keeping a history of all of the work that you’ve done for a customer.
“WORKetc gives us a lot of clarity for something that is very hard to manage. You’re not just replacing a spark plug on a car; most of the time there’s no straight manual for the stuff we do.
“With every client there’s always a huge mass of information that we need to know, and we don’t really know it all at once. A lot of it we learn along the way as we’re discovering. We’ve even helped clients where they knew one password and that’s it.
“A lot of situations rely on a lot of knowledge that you already have in your head and a lot of research on Google. WORKetc really helps bring as much information as possible into a centralized location where we can deal with it a lot better.
“It lets us manage a lot of the day to day stuff and managing it in a non-flashy, almost boring way, to where it’s just dealt with and we don’t have to worry about it.
“That’s huge for us.”
With WORKetc taking care of the day-to-day drudgeries, tekRESCUE is able to focus on their other great strength: the company’s highly collaborative and “people first” culture.
“I believe everybody at tekRESCUE loves to help people,” Randy says. “We’re not perfect. Sometimes we have customer service incidents where we drop the ball, but really at the end of the day we love people and we love helping them with their technology.
“When you call tekRESCUE you get an actual person that you can talk to and you get people that work for you, that become your IT department, that really do care about the success of your business.
“We don’t have a 100% record in customer service but that is what we strive for everyday. And that’s another thing that WORKetc really helps us with: keeping up and managing all those relationships from a database standpoint.”
As for the company’s highly collaborative nature, Randy firmly believes it’s a necessity when you’re solving problems everyday.
“Everything we do is problem solving,” he explains. “I’m the old guy and I’ve got a lot of wisdom and experience, but a lot of our young people are ten times faster than me, so it’s a good collaboration between those two elements.
“A lot of the time I just have a gut feeling about something, but they’re ten times brighter than me without the experience. If a technician is stuck on something, I can say, ‘Hey, just try this, I don’t really know why but it works’.
“And then a lot of times they come up with solutions that just blow my mind. So the collaboration definitely helps in that perspective too.”
Heading off Burnout
Celina is the only member of the tekRESCUE team who spends most of her time at the office. More often than not, everybody else is either working on-site or working from home.
To help foster a collaborative environment, everybody meets up at the office once every two weeks or so to touch base and be reminded that they’re not just working alone, they’re part of a team.
Randy also sees the regular meetup as a metaphorical release valve for the whole tekRESCUE team.
“What I’ve seen in this industry is that your stereotypical IT person isn’t, by nature, very open and collaborative, but that can quickly lead to burnout. We’ve seen a couple of people over the years basically implode and end up burnt out.
“So when we have our meetups, one of the most important parts of that is we talk about things that we need and the struggles that we have because I don’t want anyone to feel that they’re on an island by themselves.
“In my mind that’s part of why I try to make everything collaborative. You’ve gotta have a release valve of some kind.
“I want everybody to be able to work at tekRESCUE their whole lives if they want and still be able to enjoy it the whole time.”