The 29th annual Hampton Roads Small Business of the Year (SBOY) Awards luncheon was held on May 23 during National Small Business Week. More than 300 people attended the event held at The Virginia Beach Convention Center. 360IT PARTNERS was the overall winner of the 2013 Hampton Roads Small Business of the Year Award.
360IT PARTNERS is an 18-year-old business providing computer help to shipbuilders, retailers, funeral homes and other clients. In the past year, the company’s sales increased 24% to more than $2 million and the number of employees went from 15 to 23. President Martin Joseph, said, “When we were told we were the Virginia Beach Small Business of the Year, we were blown away. To be the small business of the region is astronomical! It was amazingly fierce competition.” Martin told the crowd, “It started with me and two great partners, Aaron Frketich and Jasmin Rebultan. We have a sharp staff of IT techs and engineers, dedicated admin team and a sales team who deliver great IT solutions. And then you add in clients who put their trust and support in us. And it’s about giving back to the community. We support charities and businesses which make a difference in people’s lives.”
360IT PARTNERS was Virginia Beach’s 2013 Small Business of the Year as well, and was chosen for the regional award from an excellent pool of city winners including:
- Personal Touch Services Inc. (Chesapeake)
- Strickland & Jones, P.C. (Norfolk)
- Triquetra Technologies, Inc. (Peninsula)
- Hampton Roads Community Health Center (Portsmouth)
- Reed Integration (Suffolk)
The following were selected as the “Top 10 to Watch.” These businesses are some of the fastest-growing small businesses in the area:
- Dancing Tomato
- GM Engineering Services, LLC
- Greenlife Adventure Sports
- Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice
- Kelli’s Dance Explosion
- O’Connor Brewing Company
- RoboCent, Inc
- ShepelleWatkinsWhite Consulting & Law, PLLC
- Vox Optima
In addition, the Impressions in Print Leadership Award was presented to Zack Miller, Founder of Hatch, and Brad Scott, owner of Cetan Corp., accepted the Young Entrepreneur Award (YEA!).
Winners were selected by the following judging committee: Joseph Donnelly, Donnelly Real Properties LLC; Caron Crouse, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP; Lamont Maddox, Guidance Law Firm, P.C.; Doris Gomez, Regent University school of Business and Leadership; Susan Long-Molnar, Managing Communications Consulting; and Dr. Stephen Lanivich, Old Dominion University.
Keynote speaker Dr. Stephen Scoper of Virginia Eye Consultants provided the audience with tips to differentiate a small business from the competition. Scoper explained that what sets a business apart is, "outstanding customer service."
“Especially in medical practices, if you can provide unbelievable customer service along with a great product, you’ll just blow the competition away,” said Scoper. When breaking down reasons why customers leave a company, he cited competition (nine percent), product dissatisfaction (14 percent), attitude of indifference by employees (67 percent) and the rest leave for reasons such as moving away or death (10 percent).
“It’s astounding to me that 67 percent leave because one employee does not do a good job with customer service,” said Scoper. “I can go around the room and I’m sure everyone has a great story about why you are dissatisfied with a particular company and why you won’t go back to them again.”
Scoper referenced a company in which an employee was on the phone with him and told him that he was so busy with other calls that he had to call him back at a later time. Scoper consequently canceled his account with the company. He has since been contacted by the company numerous times wanting him back, only to be told by Scoper that the experience with that one employee ensured he would never go back to the company.
Scoper thought to himself that he has 114 employees and wondered how he get them all to provide “legendary customer service.” For his practice, he requires three steps from his employees: a warm, sincere greeting using the customer’s name; anticipation and fulfillment of each customer’s needs; and a fond farewell with warm “good-bye” again, using the customer’s name.
Perhaps this blueprint led to Scoper’s business winning the Hampton Roads Small Business of the Year in 2011. On a day filled with honoring excellence, Scoper’s speech provided extensive detail on what it takes to stand out among competing businesses.
Thanks to sponsors: Southern Bank (Presenting); Inside Business (Media); Impressions in Print (Leadership Award); Virginia Beach Convention Center (Gold).