Chris Schalleur from Christo IT
Chris C.: Hello, we are live. Welcome to episode number three of Thought Leader Magazine. My name is Chris Carr. I am today’s host and today I am pleased to have Chris Schalleur. Did I say that right? Is it Shuler?
Chris S.: Schalleur.
Chris C.: Schalleur from Christo IT. Chris has come highly recommended from a number of my peers. They say he has a very interesting approach towards IT, specifically helping small businesses really tackle that and a, as an owner of a company for the last 19 years, I can’t tell you how many times that IT has either helped me or really hurt me and so I’m sure you’ve seen it all. So, what I wanted to do is kind of pass the ball over to Chris and have him talk a little bit about his company, what he does and how he differentiates himself.
Chris S.: Awesome. Thanks Chris. So, we’re Christo IT services. We started in 1999 with the goal of just helping people with making IT part of their strategic operations. Helping people become really fluent and able in that IT to make it part of who they are and what direction they want to take their company. We take care of small businesses all over Philadelphia, surrounding counties and it’s a really rewarding experience.
Chris C.: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And so, we were talking before the show about, you know what we’ve been doing the grind for almost two decades and stuff like that. So, in all of that, you know, all the hustle and bustle, keeping a business, even afloat and alive for 20 years is an accomplishment on its own. So, like, how in all the madness of just, you know, that that goes on with owning your own business, how do you plan your week? Because one of the things that we do on the show is not to just say, you know what this is a really great company and they do really great things, but we speak with thought leaders like yourself who are really organized with their time. We try to figure out what are the little nuggets that they’re doing that might help us as viewers or listeners basically adopt them and learn from them. So how do you go about planning your week?
Chris S.: So, the real short story to this, so I went to a presentation about eight or nine years ago and the gentleman who was doing the presentation said, you need to define yourself by what you first look at in the morning. If you’re looking at your inbox you’re already reactive. You need to be looking at your calendar first and foremost every single day. That’s should be your primary driver because you can’t make more time. You can add employees, you can add expansion, you can add scale but as far as you are concerned you’ve got that calendar and that’s you have to work with. So, one of the major things that I did was starting blocking off time, blocking off time for employees, blocking off time for strategy, for sales, for whatever it is and then obviously there’s things happen and you put out fires here and there, but you need to, you need to be as stringent as possible and disciplined as possible to take care of those blocks of time as much as possible.
Chris C.: Sure, sure. That’s one of the challenges that I’ve always seen is, is just that one of the things that I find just as an entrepreneur and as an owner of a business is that there are things that I need to do and there are things that I want to do and if I wake up doing the things I want to do too much, I find that the business kind of spirals out of control and so one of the things that I do is I always put the things I need to do first and then the other things. This sounds self-evident, but basically, you know what I mean? We actually keep a log of how many things do am I doing that are outside of the core needs of the company’s because one of the things that I’ve been guilty of in years past is drowning in the idea that I started doing all these things that were just “nice-to-haves” and then the business was basically affected because there are things that you have to do on a daily basis to grow and if you keep, if you take your eye off the ball, it can happen very quickly.
Chris S.: Very quickly. Those are my fillers. So, if you look at my calendar, I have things down at the bottom that there isn’t a date and time associated with them. So, if something frees up an appointment cancels or something along those lines, those fillers just dropped down into the calendars for wherever I have availability.
Chris C.: Got you, Got you. So, I’ve talked to kind of some of the pitfalls that you have. So, you know, that’s my own personal failures or whatever you would call it. So, what has – when you think about your business, what has failure taught you? Like what is your greatest lesson that you’ve learned from some of the slip-ups or some of the failures that you’ve had?
Chris S.: Probably the biggest thing is communication both internally and externally. My biggest failure comes from, I had an employee, a great guy, one of our best techs of all times and I’ve told this story before where we communicated, we’re going to be doing something different. We’re going in a strategic direction. One of the things that we do here at Christo IT is really around immediacy and documentation because we’re working as a team and you need to be able to document and give that reality check for what you’re doing to your teammates so that if something happens or you’re unavailable or God forbid you actually go on vacation or something like that, your teammates need to be able to know what was done and when it was done.
So we were doing this as a new initiative in Christo IT about 10 years ago and one of the things that we were struggling with is this one tech who albeit technically was really, really fantastic. He wasn’t relying on his teammates or he wasn’t helping his teammates get through the documentation piece and over the course of months and months and months we tried to over communicate this and my biggest lesson learned, came out of this was different people learn things in different ways and albeit we were communicating via email or in person some of the team just didn’t get the communication the right way and we ended up costing us some really good employees because we weren’t communicating, not only over communicating and you always hear the expression you’ve got to tell somebody like six different times, but also trying different ways to communicate things. Visually or audibly or whatever it happens to be to try and get that message across.
Chris C.: Yeah, now that makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense. What we have is a series of case notes that we communicate because in our industry, basically we do is we research about our clients and we had to develop a ton of information about our clients, but there was a tall team behind our account managers and what happens here is that if you have a phone call and you learn a bunch of information and you don’t document it and talk about how to implement it and things like that, it’s just only a matter of time between, like, I don’t know how to describe it other than if it spirals out of control, it’s one of those things that it can just cripple a company. And so, it’s very interesting the way you talk about that. So, how would you say that that was kind of like your biggest lesson? This is it just literally just harping on your protocols or?
Chris S.: It was making sure that we had the best talent, but that they were also hearing our way, becoming part of our culture. So, getting that talent in the door, the guys that are really able to make the computers sing and dance and it’s an interesting mix between the people that are talking on the phone and doing customer support and somebody is having a really bad day, stressful day that the computer’s not working and everybody’s had that day and we’re the warm voice on the other side of the phone. But also, the person needs to be really technically adept because it’s got to happen now, now, now, now, now. So, marrying that with our methodology, as you were saying, making sure that everything comes into play. We have to be better at communicating to people who are coming into the organization. This is the way we do things and we want to marry your expertise with what we feel is a really great framework for making those expertise shine to our customers.
Chris C.: Got you. Got you. And how big is your team?
Chris S.: There’s 13 of us.
Chris C.: That’s awesome. Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah, we’re, we’re a similar size and you know when you start a business like this, you never, maybe for you, you loved IT, for me, I just loved graphics. I love to draw and stuff like that. It started out as a web design company. You never thought like 20 years from now you would just stay up at night thinking like, how do I communicate better? How do I communicate faster? How do I do these things? It’s just like, I don’t even know whether it’s just like you could wake up one day and you’re so separated of what got you here, but I can’t even tell you how much time I think about my team, how we’re communicating and all this stuff like that. It’s just a very funny, it’s been a very fun, journey.
Chris S.: Definitely. Well they don’t, they don’t really let me do too many tickets anymore. I’m not the one. If you get me on the phone, it’s probably a really bad day here so yeah.
Chris C.: That’s so funny. I dream with clients and I develop their strategy and I know it’s possible. I do all that stuff and then if someone dare ask me, well how do you do it? I’m like, Oh, I have a guy who does it. I just know what’s possible.
Chris S.: Absolutely. I’m really good on the whiteboard, Chris. The whiteboard’s great.
Chris C.: That’s me too and I know how to connect the dots and I know the big vision, but you know, like I don’t know how to make the donuts anymore. if I did nobody would want to eat them.
Chris S.: Correct? Yup, Yup. Very, right with you on that one.
Chris C.: Yup. That’s great. You know, I was reading a book on the Rockefeller Habits. I don’t know that you’ve ever heard of a book called “Scaling Up?”
Chris S.: I’m an EO with Verne Harnish.
Chris C.: Okay.
Chris S.: So, I absolutely live and breathe it. Yes.
Chris C.: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Now, I mean I’ve heard the right people and the right boss and stuff like that. He talks about the right people doing the right things the right way. I know it sounds like it’s a slight paradigm shift, but it was like an aha moment because I definitely feel like I have the right people and I know that they know how to do the right things, but the right way is a process. That’s drilling it, that’s the grind that’s doing those types of things. Do you know what I mean?
Chris S.: Absolutely.
Chris C.: So, yeah and so that’s exciting. Unfortunate that I have a very good team just like you and I find that some of the people that really find their special sauce or the special approach, I’m finding that their clients are coming to me and being like, wow, I could never live without this project manager, she’s wonderful. You know what I mean? Things like that. And so, yeah, that’s been really interesting. So, I didn’t know that you guys, that you were a Rockefeller Verne Harnish guy as well. Okay, great.
Chris S.: Very much so.
Chris C.: Awesome. Awesome. So, one of the questions that I asked prior to the show was what are your top five things that you are looking for in a team member?
Chris S.: Well really the top, I mean I spoke about it before but being part of the culture. So, knowing that we have that culture here at Christo IT and we kind of protect that with bared teeth because it’s really become who we are and then the second thing that I would say would be attitude, which I can teach you the tech all day long but having that attitude, especially dealing with customers all day long and making sure that their needs are met, it takes a really special attitude to have that.
Having a servant’s heart and having somebody who wants to help, somebody who sees somebody who’s again, having that bad day, they’re beating their keyboard across the desk. Being able to want to help somebody. Energy, energy is critical, just having the ability to deal with sometimes unhappy people and making them have a better day, having that energy level is really critical. Then obviously last but not least, they got to make the keyboard really, really dance. They got to be good with computers. They got to be able to not only be good with it, but they got to really love it because I mean because this thing is changing so often you got to keep the passion alive and you’ve got to really love the technical thing as well.
Chris C.: Yeah. That’s great. That’s great. So, give me one moment here. I’m trying to oops. There we go.
So, one of the things that I always found that’s kind of interesting when I’m starting to think of team members is there’s a level of humility that we are looking for and I know it sounds, I don’t know whether it’s the same in your industry or not, but if we don’t hire smart people we’re in a lot of trouble. However, what we find is that I really love the people that say, you know what? I don’t know what I don’t know and so, what I’m going to not going to do is I’m not going to make some know it all that’s going to walk into a company or one of our clients and basically say, you know what? I figured out all your problems and stuff like that. I almost love the people that work on my team that say, you know what, I don’t know the answer but I’m going to find out.
Chris S.: Right.
Chris C.: Because those people, they actually do end up, like they actually do go out looking for that research and they’re constantly getting smarter and our clients are making my employees smarter and smarter by the day
Chris S.: And they own it. They intake it and then they hey, I learned my something new today. They intake it.
Chris C.: Yeah, yeah and then they bring it back to the team and we also learn from it. So, that’s been wonderful us. But it’s a special ingredient and I’ve had people that worked for me that don’t have it and I have ones that don’t and the ones that do, they tend to shine. They basically, they tend to shine in those critical moments.
Chris S.: Yup.
Chris C.: Those are the people that you sort of want, you know what I mean?
Chris S.: Yes, it is because those critical moments are the ones that your customers remember when the team really gets to shine and coming out on the other side, just making both the customer and yourselves better. Yeah.
Chris C.: Yeah. Cool. And then the last question I have for you is, is that, you know, technology is constantly evolving. How do you stay current? How do you differentiate yourself; you know. In your space, there’s a lot of people making a lot of the same claims that you’re making. How are you different from them?
Chris S.: So, we have some really great partners. So, we’re, certified gold with Microsoft, so we really keep up to date with both them and a lot of our clients are moving to the cloud and we’re helping with that. So, we keep up to date with both the vendors end of things, but even internally we have something that’s called a magic hour and it’s similar to what you were just talking about. It’s almost like a technical book report where somebody goes and learns something new and then their goal is to turn around and, every Wednesday at four o’clock, we actually have an internal meeting here where somebody’s taking that learning and giving it back to the team and saying, here’s what I’ve found. I found that new way of making printers, print the pages the right way and here’s a more efficient way of doing it. Here’s an easier way of doing it, whatever the case may be and then turning around and giving that presentation to the team and saying, here’s how it could benefit us. Here’s how it’s going to make our customers better. Here’s how it’s going to make you guys better and that that kind of continued learning has really become part of our culture for probably the past seven or eight years now.
Chris C.: That’s awesome. I don’t know they know this or not, but Google does these things called autonomy days. We try to adopt them as a company and what we’ll do is we’ll tell our employees, as long as you’re up to date with your projects and you can get coverage, you essentially can take the day to learn something that’s going to basically better the entire team. You got to, for one, you’ve got to take some time to learn it, then you’ve got to document it and you got to be ready to teach it.
Chris S.: Yup.
Chris C.: But one of the other things that we do, and this sounds totally outside of the box, but we tell him if that assignment takes you three hours or it takes you the whole day, that’s up to you. But what I want you to do is I want that day to be a Freedom Day for you. So, if you want to go to the gym at nine o’clock and take a nap and 11, but basically do that report from one to four, one to five, whatever it takes to make that report as great as possible, that’s what I need from you and so the autonomy allows you to do whatever you need to do with that day. But, our employees are also the kind of people that will weed out some of the weaker players and so what happens here is, is that if you have an autonomy and it’s just come back and it’s not worth it. Like nobody dares do that. They take a lot of pride in that freedom and we’ve seen such great things come out of that.
The only problem now is that our client load can be so busy that sometimes it’s just innovation can, I don’t know, it’s like, it’s one of those things that sometimes feels like a luxury because you’re constantly in the grind. It’s been sort of good for me is that I’ve been able to kind of help teach the team from time to time, both myself and my business partner where we drive an hour to work every day and I made this vow that I would stop listening to the radio and so I’m either on YouTube University, which is basically learning videos about my space or I’m listening to an audio book.
Chris S.: Okay.
Chris C.: So that’s my chance where I can sort of get back to the team would just little things that I’ve learned, things that I want to research and things I want to take to the next level. So that’s kind of fun.
Chris S.: That is fun. I mean it keeps things interesting, keeps things new both within the team and like you said, if they have to turn around and turn to their peers and say, oh I got nothing. Nobody wants to be able to –
Chris C.: Nobody wants to be that guy and the bar is set so high.
Chris S.: There’s accountability within the team and they hold each other accountable on that.
Chris C.: Yeah. If you’ve got good, if you’ve got team members, they babysit themselves, they take care of themselves and stuff like that and it’s, you know, it’s one of those things, I don’t even worry about those things anymore, you know? I mean, we look at their hours, we look at utilization, but that’s mostly to figure out my bill and my client correctly, not like who on my people are doing the wrong thing because you know, it’s just very hard to just sit in the chair next to somebody that’s working and not work. It’s just, you know what I mean? Like it just doesn’t, it doesn’t happen. It’s just not realistic.
Chris S.: No. There’s a lot of Irish guilt cooked into that. Yes, there is. Yeah. I mean, you’ve got that, and you also got like, people that are working through their lunch like, you know what I mean? Like, and it’s just very hard to be the other guy who was just, you know what I mean? You stick out like a sore thumb. So, okay. Great. Well, thank you so much for joining us. I’d love to check back in with you and just kind of see how your business has changed and stuff like that. We have a blog on our website. We’re launching our website thoughtleadermagazine.org and we’d love to have you contribute that way, but if someone did want to reach out to you, how do they reach out to you?
Chris S.: Oh, it’s Chris, email@example.com and that’s a great way to reach out to me.
Chris C.: Okay, great and then also the website is Christo IT, so it’s christo, right?
Chris S.: Yup, christoit.com
Chris C.: Okay, great. Great. Well, thanks a lot Chris. I really appreciate it. I’m going to wrap us up with something we call the Marketing Minute. So, I’m going to put you in the lobby and I’m going to kind of share a little bit of information about some of the things that we’re uncovering here.
Chris S.: It’s been a pleasure, Chris. Thank you very much.
Chris C.: Thank you. So, usually what we strive to do as we strive to figure out how engagement works and so we will look at the company’s website and we will try to figure out certain things like heat mapping. So, what heat mapping allows us to do is we’ll look at someone’s website and we’ll try to figure out where their eye movements going, where their mouse movements going. Because when I know where the individual, how they’re engaging with your website, how they’re embracing your website, how they’re embracing your brand, I can make better websites and I can make a better conversion experience. And so, as you can see here, there’s some critical information that was missed in their navigation and on their slider. and what’s happening here is that a lot of energy was spent in the wrong place. So, what we had to do is we had to counsel our client to rearrange the website, to get critical information in the right places.
Other things we wanted to do is we wanted to make sure that if we have a call to action that we want to make sure it’s not too low on the page and so, like for example, in this scenario here, if we had to make an appointment, we didn’t want that to be too far down the page and so this is what’s called a scroll map. A scroll map allows us to figure out where is the white-hot part of your website so that individuals who go to your website that you can put your videos or your calls to action or critical things right in the right place. You’ll also notice down here that in green is where they had their video and you’ll notice over here to this thermometer that only 50% of their audience was scrolling down far enough to see that video.
So, we had to move certain calls to action in certain videos. Other things that we would do is we would do the same testing in mobile and we would also do click testing. The click testing allows us to figure out what clicks are happening on the website over a variety of different filters, such as new and returning visitors, search terms, device type, et cetera, et cetera. So, what I want to be able to do is I want to be able to find out as they’re going to your website, I’m going to be able to find out, you know, interesting things. Like is it better to engage or change content on your website? Maybe six o’clock on a Sunday night versus like Tuesday at 10:00 AM or something like that. Other things that I will be able to do is we’ll be able to find out what key performance indicators they have.
So, if making an appointment is really important, that’s a critical indicator. What are some of the other KPIs are basically sub, you know, areas that are a little bit less important. How are they dealing with some of those numbers as well? So, those are certain adjustments that we look for. I can literally watch individuals on our website scrolling in real time. So, you see these red lines, that’s where people’s mouse movements are going so you can find out whether your website’s confusing or not and then other things that we do is we look at your form analysis to figure out if people are coming to your form, are they abandoning early? And then we look at your conversion funnels to figure out what pages are working best and what attribution pages can we connect to those pages and then we also look at your video.
What’s very interesting about our video is I can figure out are your video’s too long, are they too short? I can literally find out who is watching your videos by name. I can allow them to opt into your video so that you collect their name and their email information and then if an individual comes to your website and they watch a video, but they leave early, our system also drip markets to them about, you know, your overview features and benefits, cost of procrastination, testimonials, next offer or it might be, hey, these are the parts of the video that you may have missed. So, it’s actually a very, very sophisticated process. Now, I’m not saying that you, that you would have to use Farotech to do this. This is a very innovative solution, but we as a company have tried to figure out the best possible ways to generate leads, nurture leads into clients and then convert those clients into brand ambassadors. So, that’s one of the, that’s one of the many things that we do. That’s one of the things that we do to better engage with our clients, but basically to better have our clients engage with their prospects. Okay.
So that was, that was our show today. If you have any questions about Christo IT or anything else, please make sure that you check us out. If you need any information from Chris, let us know and we’d be happy to link you. But thank you very much for joining us today. We look forward to doing this. We’re going to try to do this once a week and as soon as the website is launched, we’re going to make sure that you can watch the videos there as well. We will be publishing this to Facebook, to, this is on Facebook live, but we’re also going to be publishing this to YouTube in the next few weeks as well. Alright. So, thank you very much for your time and energy. I really appreciate all the enthusiasm that’s kind of been brought forward on some of the reactions and the comments. So, thanks again and we look forward to seeing you next time.