How would your business operate without you? Brian Montgomery, CEO of Crest Services recently learned the answer to this question when he was diagnosed with cancer and forced to take a 6-month leave of absence from his Lewisville, Tex-based company. While away, Montgomery was not surprised to learn that the company of 50 employees continued to grow at a rate comparable to that of when he was present. Today, he attributes the strength and continued growth of Crest Services to employee and customer loyalty. 24×7 recently spoke with Montgomery about how Crests dedication to customer service influenced the company during his absence.
24×7: What benefits has Crest experienced because of its dedication to customer service?
Brian Montgomery: Growth. When I started Crest, I made sure that every employee was customer-service oriented. You know the saying, the customer is always right? Well the customer may always be right, but sometimes they are a little misleading as well. You never tell customers theyre wrong, but you can engage in a discussion in which both sides understand from where the other is coming. We like to think that our managers are well prepared for this kind of customer service. All of our managers have to read Stephen Coveys book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Fireside) when they enter employee orientation at Crest. I want employees to have the same basic principles that I believe in. Its a goal of mine to make sure everyone gets to the same end result: making sure the customer is treated the way the company wants them to be treated, because that is how we continue to grow.
24×7: What kinds of services does Crest offer?
Montgomery: We service everything from basic biomedical equipment to CT and MRI. We also can provide parts through our preferred-provider relationship.
This is a big year for us. Weve just added a 3,000-square-foot addition to our company headquarters for a new training facility. Training is going to be our main focus this year. Were not only going to offer internal training for our employees, were going to be expanding to include outside training as well. The program will enable an employee or technician to achieve his or her desired credentials from anywhere, not just from the hospitals we service. Students will be able to go online, take a written course, and then schedule on-site training at our office training facility. Currently, the course consists of 10 required classes with 40 electives. We plan to increase the amount of classes offered from 50 up to 150 by the end of this year.
24×7: How does Crest market its services?
Montgomery: Up until about 6 months ago we didnt do any marketing. Everything weve ever gotten has been through word of mouth. Weve had some brochures, but weve never needed them. Wed go to hospitals that had basically no background information about our company because we were either called in by the CEO or the COO or somebody that already knew us. We had a 100% signing rate with hospitals. It helps when they call you!
Because of my personal situation, however, weve decided to take a more aggressive approach toward marketing to increase awareness about Crest Services and its capabilities within the industry. We do everything from direct mail to cold calling. Ill tell you the truth, the technique thats shown us the best results over the last 6 months has still been word of mouth. And thats the way Id love to keep it.
24×7: Its noted in the industry that youve battled cancer. How has that experience affected you and your business? What did you learn from the experience?
Montgomery: I was diagnosed a year ago with acute leukemia and large cell lymphoma, and was given 6 months to live. The biggest highlight of my life during that time was realizing that the company was running at full speed without me. We grew and kept growing. Everything just continued. It makes me proud because it means that I can step away and things will continue. And they did. They continued in a very positive manner.
On December 23, 2003, I went into 100% remission with no signs of anything. Now, Im back to work, and my goal is to get out into the field to let the industry see that Im fine. The whole experience proved to me that I have high-quality people here who can run the company without me, and those people will continue to take care of our customers.