A winning formula

Features Posted 10/01/23
Zoë Fryday chats to Nigel Potter, managing director of Select Technology, about his journey into the world of IT

Nigel was always determined that one day he would run his own business. After working his way up the ranks of various organisations in the technology industry, he developed the skills and knowledge to realise his dream. He now leads a successful Kent-based IT support company called Select Technology.

So, how did he get there? Well, Nigel explains that the turning point took place in 1994 when he was made redundant as a technical sales consultant. “When we first set up Select Technology, it was about reselling hardware and software. However, as we grew, and especially when our technical director joined us in 2006, the company took a change in direction with a focus on IT support and services. This evolved into managed services.”

Over the last 25+ years, Nigel’s ambition has always been “to push the boundaries of what people think of when it comes to IT with a customer-focused ethos” – and this has proved to be a winning formula! He adds: “Being a family-orientated business has always been at the core of who we are, and the culture of the business has developed over the years with a desire of making Select Technology a great company to work for.”

First and foremost, Select Technology is an IT support provider, but the company also offers an array of services for all technology and communication requirements, including managed IT support, business IT consulting and bespoke IT projects offering a tailor-made roadmap for each new customer. “Our vision is to become our customers’ lifetime IT partner,” says Nigel. “The way we get there is via our core mission to provide the best customer experience possible while offering value for money without compromising on quality. We have a continual service improvement approach to all we do as a business, and therefore consistently review how the team is performing, how our customers are reacting, and then evolving KPIs and other measures as things change.”

Today, Select Technology is growing exponentially, supported by the fantastic team of staff that Nigel has brought on board throughout the years. He reflects on how every one of them has played their part in all the business has achieved to date.

I ask Nigel about his management style, and he explains that, since starting the company, with very little experience in management, his style has evolved from a top-down, traditional approach in the early years towards a trusting and democratic one. “This means involving managers and employees in decision making and stepping away from the day-to-day and trusting the team to deliver what the business needs – which they do!” Letting go has been challenging but also a rewarding experience for me. Having the confidence to delegate and trust in the team’s knowledge and experience empowers them and has brought a lot of success. I believe this approach has led to more creativity, innovation and a happier place to work.”

The current business landscape, underpinned by the cost-of-living crisis and looming recession, provides uncertainty for businesses. During such times, many firms are prepared to focus on innovation and investment, turning to the technology industry to facilitate this.

Historically, there is no doubt that technology investment has enabled many businesses to become more productive and efficient, with the ability to scale and grow, particularly throughout the pandemic. Nigel is optimistic that this trajectory will continue. “There are enormous financial gains to be made when businesses choose the right IT partner to help them align IT systems and consult on the strategic growth plans of their business,” he says. “A major aspect of our service is ensuring maximum staff productivity by ensuring IT systems are fully supported and always available.”

Nothing succeeds like success, and Select Technology began 2022 on a high having won the 2021 ‘Excellence in Customer Service’ category at the Kent Invicta Chamber Business Awards. Through a year of sustained growth, the business has gained more clients, introduced new services and evolved its marketing to bring the brand and personality to life. As always, Nigel praises his staff for their tenacity, dedication and teamwork – without whom, Select Technology’s victories wouldn’t be possible.

Like many businesses, Select Technology has been faced with its share of challenges. Nigel throws light on the issues relating to the global chip shortage, which has affected the availability of certain products, impacting the company’s ability to supply customers. He goes on to explain that, to overcome this, managing customer expectations and communicating effectively has been a priority. The global supply issue is something that he hopes will be resolved in 2023.

Recruitment has been another challenge. With a skills shortage in the tech industry, the business had a task on its hands when it set out to grow its service desk team. “Rather than compromising by hiring people we weren’t sure about, we waited for the right people. We’ve now got the best and strongest team we’ve ever had at Select,” Nigel boasts.

As ever, Nigel is optimistic about the future of Select Technology. “We are currently working towards scaling the business. We’ve been around for nearly 30 years and my goal is to ensure the business is still going in another 30.” On a final note, I ask Nigel for his advice to fellow business leaders heading into the new year. He went on to give me three top tips: “1) Never stop changing, evolving and challenging yourself to be better. 2) Employ the right, like-minded people and ensure they never want to leave. 3) Gain a deep understanding of your target customer and align your business strategy with their desired outcomes.”

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