— Interview with Taylor Rhodes —
R&R: Where are you based and how long has the company been in business?
Taylor Rhodes: We’re celebrating an exciting milestone in 2019 — 20 years! It’s amazing to see how SMS Assist has evolved. What started as a floor care business with three employees is now a facility maintenance company with more than 800 employees working within our cloud-based platform, One by SMS Assist.
R&R: What is your title and how long have you been with the company?
Rhodes: My name is Taylor Rhodes, and I joined SMS Assist in May 2017 as chief executive officer. I work with our leadership team to create our vision — our inspiring mission — and then to create an engaging company culture where smart people volunteer their best to make the vision come alive.
R&R: What trades/services do you offer retailers and restaurants?
Rhodes: We have a nationwide network of 20,000 qualified service providers whom we call Affiliates. Having a trusting and ever-growing Affiliate network is a big part offering our customers unbeatable value.
Through our Affiliate Relationships team and training, we want to keep growing and evolving our partnerships with Affiliates.
R&R: In what regions of the country do you conduct most of your business, or are you nationwide?
Rhodes: SMS Assist offers our customers more than 45 trades including specialty trade services, reactive services and scheduled services. Our customer service representatives and Affiliate network complete work orders with our technology, so we can capture our customers’ work order data and provide visibility into work performed. We also offer services like asset tagging, warranty management, streamlined invoicing and budgetary visibility.
R&R: What makes your company’s “signature service” stand out in the industry?
Rhodes: SMS Assist has made it a priority to provide our customers with peace of mind. Every employee at SMS Assist is focused on providing the best service and transparency for our customers, no matter their position. This couldn’t be achieved without our technology platform, One by SMS Assist; the support from people across our two offices; or our vetted and trained Affiliate network. These features are what make us a differentiator in the industry.
R&R: Name some highlights and successes from 2018 you’re proud of, and your plans to continue or grow that success in 2019.
Rhodes: The past year was a whirlwind! We brought on four new leaders with fresh perspectives and extraordinary experience in building and scaling technology-enabled companies. We opened our second location in Naperville, Illinois, to support the expansion of our customer service organization. And our Product and Technical teams have provided technology updates that allow our employees and Affiliates to complete more work orders faster and without return trips.
In 2019, we are looking forward to continued growth and improvements. We also have some big news coming up that everyone is excited for.
R&R: What kind of feedback do you receive from clients?
Rhodes: Our customers ultimately choose to work with us because of our customer-first approach; customized product solution; and a strategic and powerful Affiliate network.
We are always striving to improve, but it’s motivating to hear when customers say that we give them visibility into data that they never had before, or that they are pleased with how responsive we are when it comes to adding features to their portal and providing help when they ask for it.
R&R: Why should owner/operators choose your company to be their next vendor partner?
Rhodes: Our team is made up of people who come from restaurant and retail backgrounds. Layered throughout our organization are trade-specific subject matter experts with extensive experience in the FM industry. Our subject matter experts train our customer service managers on common repair items to ensure that they are asking the right questions. We understand the urgency of the retail and restaurant industry, and we know the importance that facilities maintenance plays in maintaining our customers’ brands.
R&R: How many retail/restaurant clients do you have, and is that sector growing for you?
Rhodes: SMS Assist is a privately held company, so we don’t share our customers’ names, but we currently have over 40 retail and restaurant customers.
Our business with retail and restaurant clients is growing nicely. In the past year, we have added a significant number of new customers and expanded our relationships with customers we have had for years.
To continue growing at a healthy pace, we’ve implemented leadership and development programs to grow our people. We’ve seen that the more we reinvest in our team, the more value they can offer to our customers as we grow. We’ve also stepped up our investments in product and technology innovation so that we can bring more insights to our customers, which helps them make smarter decisions and save money.
R&R: What trends are you seeing in the industry, and how do you predict 2019 to shape up?
Rhodes: At SMS Assist, we have been focused on collecting data that can help customers understand how their systems are working and operating; what drives cost and downtime for their stores; and how we can help them get more value and uptime from their facilities. This helps us deliver unbeatable value to our customers by anticipating their needs and helping them spend capital more wisely.