I never stop thinking about trying to improve a process, enhance a strategy, or challenging team members. The minute we get complacent, is the minute we start losing.
Michael Daugherty help build a company from the ground up with people at the center, and he’s proud to be the CEO of Synter Resource Group.
Mike’s upbringing forced him to learn responsibility early. In a single parent home with a sister with special needs, Mike quickly learned how to manage time, connect with people, and get hard tasks accomplished on limited budgets.
The summer after he finished high school, Mike went to work for a small call center instead of going to college or a vo-tech program. The work wasn’t glamorous, but the company provided a much-needed service and grew quickly. Mike was promoted to management when he was 24, and ten years and 250 employees later, Mike found himself the #3 guy in the company. Mike kept their fast success in the back of his mind and proceeded to help run the company successfully.
Mike credits his success to his fearlessness to work hard and get dirty. He prides himself on rolling up his sleeves and working right alongside team members at every turn and relishing the times he can help and relate to the people he works with. When he was 26 years old, he was sent to manage an office in Texas, through an acquisition, that was comprised of over 30 middle-aged women, a work scenario he had not been faced with prior. Though he was nervous, Mike was able to find common ground and successfully manage the operation for 4 years.
Mike co-founded Synter Resource Group in 2002, and today, Synter is a leader in the business processing outsourcing industry. On the day to day, Synter Resource Group and their employees assist transportation and logistics companies by providing operational, sales, and financial support solutions.
Transportation and logistics is presently going through a generational transformation, says Mike, and Synter Resource Group is on the cutting edge of combining technology and human interaction. Back in the 80s and 90s, the industry was very much a “good ol’ boys” network, his father being a truck driver amongst them. Today, executives in the industry are much more concerned with regulatory issues and operational impediments, while balancing the need for exceptional customer experience that helps lead to strong operational ratios. In today’s economic climate, transportation companies are debating either keeping functions in house or hiring the likes of Synter to handle it. As such, it’s important that Synter Resource Group stays on top of technology and best practices so that they’re the more economical option for their customers.
At Synter Resource Group, Mike has worked hard to ensure a healthy and engaging environment for team members. Not only are the wages competitive, but Synter regularly offers employee celebration parties, volunteering opportunities, and personal development. Investing in people is integral to Synter Resource Group’s business plan because it helps increase retention and offer the best customer service for their customers.
Where did the idea for Synter Resource Group come from?
For many years, I worked for a collection company calling customers of transportation and logistics telling them to pay there freight bills that were 90, 120, 180 days past due. Over 95% of the time, there was a billing issue (valid and sometimes not valid), so it really wasn’t collection, it was invoice resolution. And calling as a collection agency was a negative experience for these customers. So, I thought, why not call these customers “as the transportation company” earlier in the aging cycle, find the core issue, fix it, get it paid, and improve the customer’s experience? Other industries had been doing ‘outsourcing’ work already, some even ‘offshore’. Knowing the transportation and logistics industry, I did not believe there would be an appetite for offshoring customer interfacing functions, but I did know there is a strong desire for transportation and logistics companies to reduce operating cost and enhance the customer’s experience for revenue growth. Thus Synter Resource Group was created. Sytner, by the way, is a name created by ‘synergetic contact center.’
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I typically touch base with Synter Resource Group’s leadership team throughout the day, but I don’t get in their way. I am a resource to help them on areas they are struggling with and provide guidance. And I really love strategizing about how we are going to accomplish our objectives and how we are going to get better at things.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Interaction with leadership. I watch the industry we serve very closely, which helps set the vision and expand service offerings of the company. Then, we set our business expectations based on that. It’s up to leadership on how to make all that a reality, and ideas are informally discussed on a regular basis. At Synter Resource Group, we also do a monthly 1-hour luncheon roundtable to share ideas. And quarterly, we do an offsite leadership meeting where leaders present the progress on there initiatives/ideas, and present new ones. Basically, we’re showing our accountability on what we have accomplished since last session, and when you stand up in front of your peers and leadership, you are going to be ready to talk about how you are doing towards your ideas and initiatives!
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The industry Synter Resource Group serves is increasingly open to engaging a business process outsourcer like us. More so than ever, transportation companies are looking for business partners that can help them run lean, increase operating margins, and grow revenue. And that is what we do.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Constantly thinking about better ways to do things. I never stop thinking about trying to improve a process, enhance a strategy, or challenging team members. The minute we get complacent, is the minute we start losing.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Patience by focusing more on servant leadership, which I do now. But in the beginning, and I don’t think I am alone when I say this, my primary thought was making money as an entrepreneur! I eventually realized without the servant leadership, its not possible to have the surrounding resources (customers, team members, partners, etc) that enable one to become successful. Plus, it’s a lot more self-rewarding to establish great relationships with those that surround you. The customer success stories created by the ones you lead, and the money, will follow.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
Failure is not a bad thing. Many people will focus on failure as a loss, or elaborate on how the mistake made things so horrible. I say, accept responsibility when we make a mistake, be quick to forgive, learn from it, and move on.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Balance work and family. I very rarely will work on the weekends, and typically after 7pm during the week I tend not to work. Of course it wasnt that way in the beginning, but I have done a much better job keeping work at work, which in my opinion, has enabled me to be an overall better leader.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Networking and never burn a bridge. A cliche, I know, but, it’s true. No matter how someone may rub you the wrong way, it’s always best to take a deep breath, be cordial, and maintain the pleasantries. You never know who someone knows, or where an old colleague will show up, etc. Perfect example, Synter Resource Group have been blessed by a team member that it is our Chief Customer Officer, and he was introduced to me by a colleague that I only see twice a year at a conference. By networking and being cordial with him over the years, he got to know a little about my personality, how i run the company etc, and when our CCO, whom he knew as well, was on the market, he thought we were very similar. He introduced us, and the rest is history.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Ha! When I was 21 years old, I lived near a lake. My roommate and I wanted to be entrepreneurs, so we came up with the idea to build a floating food and beverage barge. Literally built the boat and the trailer that pulled it from the ground up. Launched on our targeted date to much fanfare; it was quite the site. Think floating tiki bar. We served drinks, sandwiches, crackers, etc. Even sun tan lotion. Here’s the problem, ask anyone you know that plans to spend a day on a boat what is some of the first things they pack…… drinks, food, and suntan lotion is usually the answer! So, while we thought it was a good idea, we did no marketing to determine the feasibility of whether customers needed our products or not, and most didn’t. It was fun for two summers, and we simply turned into our own personal party barge, so not all was lost!.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think any non-glamorous, non-sexy business is a good one. Synter Resource Group is essentially a contact center performing garden-variety administrative functions – not real glamorous, but we make it fun. Anything that is necessary for a business or person to do, that they don’t want to do, can’t do, or would rather pay someone who is better at doing it. Technical businesses (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc), Labor businesses (landscape, trash pick up, etc) are all ripe for a new, creative mindset and conglomerate opportunities. These types of companies will not go away with technology either, only get better.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?.
I took Synter Resource Group’s VP of Customer Solutions to a Top Golf, as we had a flight delay while traveling. Actually, it was a $190, as we had so much fun playing, laughing, and throwing back a few. Just good to provide him a little down time, as he beats the streets for us so many nights a year.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
CRMs. Having a customer relationship management system makes life so much easier at the office. And provide visibility to not only sales, but operations, IT, and finance. Keeping great notes on a prospect or customer is invaluable.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Emotional Intelligence 2.0”, the title says it all! In the world of business, and your personal life too, interacting with human beings is part of life. Improving your emotional intelligence improves communications, improve communications make you and the person your communication with happier. And happiness is success.
What is your favorite quote?
I have two, but I do not know the author of either:
“Life is like a camera….Focus on what’s important, Capture the good times, Develop from the negatives, and if things don’t work out, Take another shot!”
“Two things come from the past, good memories or lessons learned, and both are vital for success”.
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Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.