Johnson Technical, based at Chelmsford in Essex, provides IT support services to small and medium businesses. The company, which started in 2006, was originally based in the Essex Technology & Innovation Centre at Ongar and was able to expand its operations within the Centre as it grew. It also benefitted from the support of a business mentor from INVEST Essex who provided valuable advice on marketing services and developing the growing business.
Johnson Technical’s IT Helpdesk
The company delivers a range of services that provide clients with a single point of contact for IT support.
“The core of our service is an IT Helpdesk which clients can call during office hours,” says Director, Simon Johnson. “We can fix issues remotely 90 to 95 percent of the time, but, if that’s not possible, we arrange a site visit.”
The company’s contracts are based on fixed costs so that clients can be confident that support is available to resolve a problem, whatever the issue. This type of contract also simplifies budgeting for clients.
“We also advise our clients on technology developments to proactively identify where improvements can be made to their IT systems,” says Simon Johnson. “The IT industry is changing rapidly, with a big focus on cloud computing at present. We have developed a range of cloud services which we feel will deliver benefits to clients. We conduct a network review to see how new technology could benefit the client and we explain how. We are continually adding new services and watching the market on behalf of our clients.”
The Essex logistics advantage
The county has proved to be a good base for the company.
“Essex is teaming with small and medium businesses that depend on their IT systems,” says Simon Johnson. “However, they may not have the skills to know if everything is being kept in check and who to turn to if problems arise.”
The company has almost 100 clients based in London, Essex and the south-east of England. Proximity to London has been an important factor in the growth of the company.
“We spend one or two days a week visiting clients. We have good access to our outer London clients via the M11 motorway and A12 trunk road,” says Simon Johnson. “We regularly commute into London via rail, usually from Chelmsford Station which we find to be very reliable and consistent.”
A base for growth
Johnson Technical has developed its business by focusing on what it describes as ‘manageable growth.’ The Essex Technology & Innovation Centre at Ongar has played an important part in that process.
“The main benefit of the Essex Technology & Innovation Centre was its flexibility and low entry costs,” says Simon Johnson. "When we started out in 2006, we had only a handful of contracts. Committing to a long lease would have been impossible. We started on a 12-month lease in a small two-man office, which was very reasonable (circa £300/month). We were then able to move to a larger office when needed, before moving to a third office, which was even larger. At each stage of growth, we were able to move within the Essex Technology & Innovation Centre, within our current lease. This was great for a small growing business.”
Simon Johnson believes that the other benefit of the Essex Technology & Innovation Centre was the facility itself - modern, good looking and well maintained.
“It was a very presentable place to meet our clients. The Centre had great meeting facilities and it gave our employees a good environment for working.”
Mentoring for business development
Mentoring has also played an important role in the company’s development. The mentoring programme, run by the Essex Innovation Programme, offers growing businesses useful contacts and a range of services to help develop products and improve their competitiveness and market share.
“We had a mentoring session with in 2008 which involved a series of meetings.” says Simon Johnson. “At each meeting, our mentor provided invaluable information and insights into how to develop and sell our services in a more efficient manner. We had the technical skills, our mentor helped us to understand what we needed to do in a business sense.“
Simon Johnson feels that it is good to tap into the expertise of a business mentor who brings a wealth of experience.
“He provided an invaluable and experienced second opinion when we were making key decisions and helped to point us in the right direction.”
Johnson Technical continues to grow at a manageable rate, adding new contracts each month to its existing list of clients.
“As a business with high standards, it’s important that we don’t grow too quickly so that we can maintain our standards of service,” says Simon Johnson. “Essex will continue to play a part in our growth.”