MANAGING director Paul Tomlinson, pictured, freely admits that he didn’t always put customers first.
A business that Paul used to run as a young, headstrong IT guru had a philosophy of finding customers, making money and not doing too much to keep the people who pay the bills happy.
It was no surprise that the business went bust as customers turned their backs in droves.
It was a sharp lesson for the young businessman but one he took on board.
“The selling part is the easy part of business,” said Paul, whose firm Mirus IT won the award for excellence in customer care at last year’s business excellence awards.
“But without customer care, it is like filling up a bucket with a hole – and all the customers fall out of the hole.”
Mirus IT, formed nine years ago, recently moved from Crownhill, in Milton Keynes, to airy new offices in Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood.
The company started off in a 400 sq-ft office in Fenny Stratford before moving to Linford Forum and then Crownhill.
Mirus IT now employs 61 people and Paul hopes to grow to a maximum of 100 in about five years.
Paul puts success down to putting customers at the centre of the business model. “We are not driven entirely by profit,” he explained. “Our business doesn’t focus on making as much money as possible.”
Paul tries to ensure that his employees are right for the business and that they feel fully engaged in the Mirus way of working. They regularly meet out of work, including at Friday barbecues in the summer.
Paul is a passionate believer that enabling employees to meet up in a non-work environment, and taking lunch breaks, helps improve productivity in the long term.
Staff performance is measured in terms of formalised feedback from customers.
Top performers are publicly praised on a monthly and quarterly basis while underperformers are helped to improve. Training and updating of skills is seen as vital, too.
“Customers who are treated well become advocates for you. We’ve been able to track back some big contracts to customers referring us,” said Paul.
Now Mirus IT has a £7.2million turnover, with overheads fully covered every month.
And that’s all down to putting customers at the centre of everything.
l Mirus has entered into a sponsorship deal with the MK Dons Football Club.
The deal involves advertising at pitch level.
l To see Natalee Hazelwood’s video profile of Mirus IT, visit www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/business