Ten Years In Business!
It's the 1st of September 2011, which means we are proud to celebrate 10 years in business.
A lot has changed over those 10 years so we though it was a suitable time to reminisce over the past decade.
Ashleigh Consulting was set up to fill a hole that was apparent in the IT market around the Taunton area. Back in 2001, there were a lot of computer shops and IT service providers in the area, but none of them specialised in providing services to small businesses. If you were a home user, fine. If you were a large corporate, fine. However, if you employed less than 100 or so people, you would either get some pale, spotty geek who thought he was an expert because he built his own gaming computer, or a be-suited consultant with an arrogant air of superiority who would treat you and your staff like a bunch of idiots.
We aimed to fill that gap by providing down to earth support and advice from someone that could be related to on all levels.
Now that we are celebrating 10 years in business, we are pretty confident that aim has been achieved!
As mentioned, a lot of things have changed. Back in 2001, most business computers were running Windows 2000 (or NT), but we also used to find Windows 98, ME and 95 in business environments (mainly down to the involvement of an aforementioned spotty geek in the buying process). Back then, most business owners were unaware that Microsoft actually had two tranches of operating system. One for home and one for business so it was inevitable that some of the home systems ended up running vital business applications which was far from ideal.
In the early days and whilst gaining new clients, it was a struggle to persuade business owners that their OS either had to be replaced or a new PC purchased because what they had wasn’t going to be reliable in a networked environment. That became a lot easier with the advent of Windows XP. There were still two versions, but they were quite helpfully known as ‘Home’ and ‘Professional’ which made for a much clearer delineation.
In 2001 a lot of us had mobile phones and they were just that, phones! With the advent of the Blackberry, people started demanding a whole lot more from what went into their pocket! Mobile computing became the buzz-word, with 3G dongles, netbooks and the like being trendy products to own. We have an office netbook and it probably hasn’t been turned on for over a year! It’s too slow to do anything useful on and the screen is too small to view most modern web sites! 3G coverage in the back of beyond of rural Somerset never did do much to promote mobile computing in our area!
Another major change is the cost of business IT. We used to build all of the computers we sold because it cost us around 50% less to do so. We could still sell a PC for around the £400 mark (which was damn cheap at the time) and make a healthy profit margin. With increased supply and demand, those days are all but gone. Hardware is an extremely competitive market with very little profit, hence the reason IBM, the inventor of the PC, pulled out of the desktop market years ago (selling out to Lenovo) and HP are looking at doing the same now. It’s probably 4 years since we actually built a PC from scratch, which is a shame because it is an extremely satisfying thing to do!
So if we don’t make any money out of selling kit, how do we remain in business? The keyword here is service. We provide a service that in our immediate area is very difficult to find without paying a fortune to national blue chip companies. It is the same niche that we identified 10 years ago and apart from a couple of companies who we actually work with from time to time, no-one else is servicing that niche. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. We know all of our customers personally and even enjoy the occasional pint with more than one of them. We also know their businesses inside out, which is a vital understanding that the national companies cannot gain, nor compete with.
Have we expanded over the last 10 years? Short answer - No, and why would we want to? To expand would be to dilute the personal nature of our service. Customers get used to talking to one person, seeing the same individual and get to know them on a personal level. If we were to expand and have tens of engineers, that personal service would be lost.
Many tools have become available that have enabled us to support our customers more efficiently and in the main, remotely. This has allowed us to take on more clients without compromising the level of service we offer. In fact, in the majority of cases those tools have improved the service as they allow us to monitor systems 24/7 and predict problems before they occur.
So, there was a short, if not slightly rambling reminisce over the past 10 years. All that leaves is to thank those clients who were with us from the start and remain with us to this day.
So a big thank you to:
That thanks is also extended to the many clients we have gained over the 10 years since, you are all equally important to us!