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View from the Channel

J700 Group is a Lancashire-based managed IT solutions provider, helping businesses across the North-West and beyond to achieve a competitive edge through advanced technology.

Offering managed IT services, IT support, cloud solutions, telecoms, web design and SEO, J700 Group is run by husband-and-wife team Jonathan and Deon Cundliffe.

Jonathan, who has 25 years’ experience in the industry, founded J700 Group in 2015 after spotting a gap in the market for a customer-centric managed IT service provider.

Along with wife Deon, who joined the team as Commercial Director in 2018, Jonathan has secured a number of major contracts in the entertainment, grocery and electrical sectors, seeing turnover rise to a six-figure sum.

Technology Reseller asked him for his view from the channel.

Technology Reseller (TR): How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?

Jonathan Cundliffe (JC): Business is great – and growing. It’s definitely better than it was 12 months ago and we’re very confident about the future, thanks to things we’re putting in place now and have been working on for the past few months.

TR: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?

JC: All of them! With so many people working from home in recent months, we’ve seen cloud services, VoIP telephony and Microsoft 365 going silly. But we’ve always experienced high demand in those areas.

We’ve also noticed a lot of enquiries for website development, as many people have set up new businesses during lockdown.

TR: Where is business proving most difficult?

JC:  Finding enough hours in the day! I was out helping a client at 8pm last night; a normal day ends at midnight; and most weekends involve work, too. But it’s great to be busy – I prefer it this way!

TR: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?

JC: We’ve re-evaluated and streamlined our internal processes, which is already having a positive impact. We’ve also hired a PR company to work with us on promoting some of the great work we’ve been doing.

Since we started out five years ago, we’ve never lost a customer, so we know our service is unrivalled. We’re now focusing on different ways of marketing ourselves.

TR: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?

JC:  Recruiting the right people. As a business, we’re very driven and constantly pushing forward, and we want people with the same mindset who will stay focused, fit in with our company ethos and succeed.

TR: Could vendors and distributors do more to help partners overcome these challenges? And if so, what?

JC:  Some people have used lockdown as an excuse not to deliver on time. But that’s not an excuse I can use to my customers and it can compromise our ability to deliver the service levels we pride ourselves on.

When we all step up and support each other, everything runs more smoothly.

TR: Are customers becoming more demanding, and if so, in what ways?

JC:  I wouldn’t call it demanding as such, but customers are definitely more switched on to technology and how it can help them. As a result, they see the advantages of what we can do for their business and want more from us. It’s positive for us when they understand what we can achieve and have an appetite to take it further.

TR:  If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be and why?

JC: I’d retire!

Jokes aside, I actually love my job and wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t.

I’ve been working in technology for 25 years and I thrive on the pressure. My To Do lists never seem to end, but I wouldn’t have it any other way – other than wishing for more hours in the day!

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