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View from the Channel: Lorna Stellakis, Managing Director of Q2Q IT

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Lancaster-based managed IT support provider Q2Q IT. The company was founded in 2004 with the aim of changing the way IT support is offered to small and medium-sized business, putting particular emphasis on plain speaking, honesty and affordability. Today, it provides SMEs throughout the North-West with a range of services, including managed IT support, proactive monitoring, hosted telephony, hosted business email, business internet services, back-up and disaster recovery, cyber security and managed cloud services.

To meet growing demand for cloud-based solutions, Q2Q IT has just appointed Yorkshire-based voice, video, networks and infrastructure expert Vapour Cloud as its cloud-based solutions partner. The relationship will give Q2Q customers the convenience of accessing an expanded range of cutting edge tech solutions through a single point of contact. Technology Reseller asked Q2Q IT MD Lorna Stellakis for her ‘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?

Lorna Stellakis (LS): We’re looking about the same as this time last year, at present. We’ve onboarded new clients, but existing customers aren’t spending as much on upgrading or replacing hardware. We expected as much, though, as we had a bumper 2018 for new tech rollouts.

We’re getting a steady stream of new business enquiries now, so we’re feeling confident about the future.

TR: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?

LS: Cloud telephony has been a theme for us this year, and we’ve recently partnered with a leading tech company (Vapour Cloud) to ensure we continue to meet the evolving needs of our customers.

TR: Where is business proving most difficult?

LS: For us, it’s the reluctance of clients to shell out for new hardware. To counter that, we’ve done a lot of work to ensure they can upgrade their existing infrastructure for a fraction of the cost, to prevent businesses being held back by slow machines.

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

LS: We’ve totally changed our marketing strategy this year. We took the view that anyone can profess to be a great IT support company and offer all the latest tech solutions – that’s nothing new. Where we differ is our approach to the business relationship, the personality of the team at Q2Q, and the service levels that we offer.

We’ve overhauled our website and shifted the focus of our fortnightly blog and social media content to more of a thought leadership-style approach, to portray how we work as opposed to just our technical ability. So far the response has been incredibly positive!

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

LS: Obviously, Brexit is making some business leaders nervous! But aside from that, in our line of service support we find that customers are constantly challenged to be more productive while using less staff! So, it’s our responsibility to work with them to streamline systems and allow them to focus on the job in hand – and not be held up by IT issues.

TR: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome them? And, if so, what?

LS: My approach to working with any vendor or distributor is to look for a company whose ethos reflects that of Q2Q IT. I think it’s very important – particularly in a crowded marketplace – to have a strong identity, to know who you are and to put your customers at the very heart of what you do. If you don’t, it shows very quickly.

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

LS: Absolutely. We’re often asked to do things that really push the boundaries of what constitutes ‘IT support’. However, it’s part of what we pride ourselves on delivering at Q2Q – we love a challenge! The team is very proud of their role in making SMEs’ lives easier, and we’ll do whatever we can to ensure it stays that way.

We’re constantly learning and strive to identify any trends in the issues raised with us. As a result, we can offer training to mitigate frequent questions.

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

LS: Honestly, nothing! I love running Q2Q and under my steer the team has completely transformed in the past 18 months. I’m extremely proud of the service we offer, and the culture in the office makes this by far the most positive, supportive and proactive place I’ve ever worked!

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