Meet Lauren Groff
Lauren graduated Cum Laude from Colgate University with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Religion. He also proudly holds the prestigious Eagle Scout rank from the Boy Scouts of America. As an active member and former ambassador the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, he graduated from the chamber’s SmartUp business program and The Leadership Institute. He later appeared as a guest on Chamber Chat on NewsTalk1300.
Lauren is an enthusiastic and active member of his community. Lauren served as an adjunct instructor at ITT Technical Institute in Latham for several years, and he currently serves on the technical advisory board at Mildred Elley School of Business and Technology in Albany. He formerly served board member of the Troy Downtown Collaborative, and now serves as Board President of the Troy Downtown Business Improvement District. Lauren has been featured in local newspapers, magazines and news channels.
Lauren lives in Downtown Troy with his beautiful wife, Erika, and they are the proud parents of Grace, Satya, Liam and Hannah.
Lauren, what was your experience in the IT field before starting Groff Networks?
- Lauren Groff: Basically, I was a computer and network administrator for 5+ years.
When did you first discover your interest in computers?
- LG: My dad had this DOSS-based machine, I think for work, at the house. And I remember in high school, I loved the fact that what used to be manually typed on a typewriter, could now be carried around on a 3 1/2 inch floppy.
Why did you choose to start your own company rather than work for someone else?
- LG: Because when I worked for someone else I got downsized twice and I was actually employed by a bankrupt company. After the second layoff I decided to give it a go on my own, and I’ve beat the track record of all three of my past employers.
When did you decide to work on your own?
- LG: May of 2005.
What were your objectives for the business at the time?
- LG: To be able to employ myself. When I started serving businesses it was mostly about delivering quality, service, and reliability.
How have your goals changed since?
- LG: Basically, I was a one-man-band, just waiting for stuff to break, but over the years we’ve been able to grow and become a comprehensive outsource IT provider for small media businesses. I think we’ve come into our maturity now.
In what ways has Groff NetWorks evolved over the years/ what are the current developments in your business model?
- LG: Being the outsource IT department, and doing everything we can to optimize the productivity and efficiency of the businesses we serve.
Tell me about what IT services you offer.
- LG: It is summed up as comprehensive and what I consider outsource IT services to be. Larger companies have what is called an information technology or IT department that is all in house. They do everything supporting the computer, the server, and making the infrastructure, networking and computer-wise happens and works, bringing new technologies and strategy. Those are the kinds of things we bring to the small business, but in an outsource way. That seems to make the most sense for small to medium-size businesses.
Aside from small to medium size businesses what kinds of businesses can benefit from your services?
- LG: A business that employs five to one hundred computer using employees is optimal for us.
What have you done differently from other IT professionals in the area?
- LG: Offering the comprehensive solution, not just waiting for things to break but really offering what makes the most business sense for our clients. We build our whole system around trying to get the end result of maximized efficiency for our clients, with the least amount of risk, as well as making everything run better.
What are clients’ biggest complaints about other techs they have worked with in the past?
- LG: We’ve heard them all! They don’t return phone calls, they feel neglected by the provider, or they were oversold.
How do you find that you measure up in comparison to other IT professionals and the complaints that are put out against them?
- LG: Some of it is in our promises- we respond in sixty minutes or less guaranteed if you call us with a computer problem. If you don’t get a response from us in that time frame your first two hours of work are free.
Also lightning fast repairs-you shouldn’t have to wait around for your computer to be repaired. We offer remote support services and we can enter your computer through the Internet so you don’t have to wait for a technician to show up. If we can’t fix it through the Internet we will send out a technician the same day. There is also no geek speak- our job is to serve by translating info into words the average person can understand. There will be no damage done to what we’re working on and no mystery bills. We’ll explain to you in writing what we’re working on and what it will cost.
How many technicians do you currently employ and can you tell me about your team?
- LG: Jack and Jon are our two technicians besides me. Jack is the main on-site technician outsource network administrator, he is assigned to the on-site service calls. John manages the proactive systems we have in place. He monitors the systems, back-ups, makes sure we have no viruses, and deals with remote support.
How do you ensure they’re all up to date with the latest programs and technology?
- LG: It’s a challenge. It’s keeping them exposed to the technology out there. It involves trade associations and I pick up a lot of info from group meetings in Nashville. I bring the information back here and unleash my technicians on figuring it out and adopting it in house.
You’re a managed service provider, what does that mean to your clients and how does managed service increase productivity and profitability for those clients?
- LG: A lot of people believe that it’s the cost of their computer or the bill they get from their provider, but the biggest expense in technology is payroll. We have a system that addresses the issues that cause slowness on a computer that impacts the bottom line. The more we use it, the more it mitigates those problems. It can add up to some big numbers for an organization. That’s what we want for our clients-to bring the best services to impact that bottom line.
What part of your personality has helped you achieve success as an entrepreneur?
- LG: I love networking, getting out there and meeting people. To achieve success, you have to pursue excellence. It’s having the willingness to try something, to sharpen it and sand it down to where you want it to be.
What have you found most challenging about running a business and what have you done to overcome those challenges?
- LG: I think the biggest challenge is the risk. You’re putting a lot on the line to have this sort of thing happen, you put in a major investment to get to the next level. It’s just one step at a time and sometimes you have to take steps of faith.
You offer and encourage a free two hour on-site visit. What does this entail and what does this offer your clients?
- LG: It’s whatever they need for two hours from the technology support standpoint for computers or servers. It’s designed for the small business. Many times it’s a change from a current provider, and sometimes people get a little apprehensive when switching. So, it’s a chance for people to get to know our services and see how we function and respond.
Tell me what is on the horizon for Groff Networks.
- LG: I’m excited about the further improvements to our systems and processes. The end result for our clients is that they receive greater efficiency.
Is there anything you would like readers to know?
- LG: You need to look at the scale. If increasing the efficiency of your people is valuable to you, these are the things you need to look at. If you see that increasing the efficiency of your personnel will impact your bottom line and revenue, this is something you need to think about.