Meet the Team: Ben

In this blog series, we’ll be featuring our staff here at Switchbox to give you a little more insight into what it’s like to work here, and all the interesting stuff that our team gets up to! Next up is our Product Owner, Ben!

Company Role: Product Owner

What do you do at Switchbox?

I like to think that my role is a mix of project management, client management, managing workflows of the team and projects. I communicate between several internal and external stakeholders, a communication hub for everyone. I make sure things run smoothly, and remove obstacles from team members so they can do their job efficiently.

What is your favorite memory at Switchbox? 

We had a PO outing at Harvest Pizza, it was a reminder that everyone on our team bonds and meshes well. We got to just hang out, have fun, and not have to talk about work and just be friends together.

What’s your favorite movie, TV show, or book?  

Movie: Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Rings

TV: The Expanse

Book: Anything by David Sedaris

What do you like to do when you aren’t at work? 

I love to travel, and my number one priority is to travel to as many places as I can. I love trivia in any form. Huge movie fan, I watch every Oscar nominated movie every year. Hanging out with my dog.

What is your favorite thing about working at Switchbox?

The biggest part is definitely the people. The consistency of support from leadership and effort from my teammates. Everyone is trying to do their best all of the time. Which is so unusual from any other company.

Using AI To Complete Your To Do List

How to utilize Artificial Inteligence to accomplish your daily tasks

How many things do you not do because of the guilt that you feel by asking someone for help? Not calling the doctor because you don’t know what your schedule looks like, not returning a phone call because you are driving, looking up what the weather will be like when you are getting ready. Now think for a moment on how technology can assist you with this problem?

These daily tasks can often times get pushed to the side and get forgotten, but with the help of technology it has made it easy to check them off of your to do list.

Little Things Add Up with AI

technology doesn’t have to solve the big problems every time, it really adds up with the small daily tasks that take time from you looking at the big picture in your life.

How many things do you not do in a day because you feel guilty asking someone else for help? Now, don’t you wish you had a personal assistant to help you with that problem? Technology has come such a long way, and now with the rise of Artificial Intelligence everyday checklists are becoming easier to accomplish.

Need a reminder to call the doctor to schedule your annual checkup? Just ask your AI device (Google, Alexa, Siri) to remind you to do it during your lunch break!

Busy doing the dishes but need to figure out what the weather will be like later that day? No problem! Use technology to your advantage and ask AI to read the weather to you. Using AI and tech doesn’t have to always solve the world’s problems every single time. Sometimes just taking one thing off of your plate can help you save some time to get to do more of what you need to do during the day.

While this is just a basic example of what artificial intelligence is capable of, simple things like assisting with your daily checklist can save you time in your day, think about how AI can help your business and automate processes that you do manually right now.

Thinking about automating your business? Contact Switchbox today to chat!

Switchbox’s Annual Chili Cook Off

Battle of the Chili Puns, 2023 Edition

It was that time of the year again, Switchbox’s beloved Annual Chili Cook Off! Our staff gets together and works on their best chili recipe, or if you are Joel, Googles the best chili recipe, and we have a blind taste test to see which Switchbox team member is the best chef!

For the chili cook off, everyone who enters a recipe is kept anonymous, with the use of our wonderful Chili Pun Celebrity cards made up by our Product Owner Kristin. Some of which include: Beefer Sutherland, Chillian Anderson, Queen Labeefa, Chili Mays, and Chili Ray Cyrus, just to name a few.

The Switchbox Chili Cook Off is a staff favorite event of the year, why? I’m pretty sure it’s the chili puns, and the fact that people can blindly judge others! Everyone gets to vote for their top chili picks, and the most points wins. This year, it was declared that the winner was our developer Sean! Who made his chili with cinnamon and pork belly!

Stay tuned to see who wins the 2024 Chili Cook Off!

A Very Switchbox Gathering

Client Appreciation Night and Team Gathering

Something about the Switchbox team is that we love to work hard and meet our goals, but we also love to have fun doing so.

So, when the opportunity arises to combine those two, we jumped at the chance to take it! In September we had the chance to throw an event for our clients to show appreciation on how grateful we are that they continue to choose Switchbox to make their business better, and what better way than having some drinks, eating some tacos, and throwing some axes!

We chose one of our very own clients, Dueling Axes in New Albany, to host our clients and staff to have some drinks, throw some axes, and just have a good time! Some tacos and chips and queso from our other client Condado Tacos, and drool worthy cookies from Lion Cub’s Cookies! Our client appreciation event was such a success, and we are so lucky to have such awesome clients in the Columbus area, and spread all over the country!

Not only were we able to throw our client appreciation event, but we were able to gather our staff, remote and local, and have a mini staff appreciation event as well! While it might not be our big GGOB trip, we love to get to see our staff in person! Thank you to our amazing employees for making Switchbox what it is, and thank you to are awesome clients for allowing us to do cool things for our amazing employees.

What Kind of Taco Are You?

AI Taco Quiz for Condado Tacos

Switchbox, in partnership with Fahlgren Mortine, created a viral-style multi-question quiz that allows users to find out which Condado taco most closely matches their personality. Fahlgren Mortine produced the layout design and questions, and worked with Switchbox to build the new feature into the Condado website in a way that matches the existing brand, can be easily replicated or edited, and seamlessly collects users responses while driving them to order, download the app, or take the quiz again in case you just KNOW you’re really a Rango-Tango.

Switchbox utilized Gravity forms within the Word Press site, which added to the customizable and easy to edit site for the Condado team to make any changes to the form in the future.

Marketing Emails That Just Missed the Mark

What was the point of that exactly?

You’ve received plenty of them, companies will send out mass marketing emails for new initiatives or sales that seemly do the opposite of what they intended to do. Whether it be off-putting graphics or verbiage, it just wasn’t as well thought out as they had planned.

Say you have a company, and you are planning on spending a lot of money on automated email marketing campaign. You get your developer teams to connect your emails to the customer database, and you’re excited that each customer will now receive automated emails each month telling them about how they are progressing in your rewards program. You think, wow this is brilliant and will definitely up our customer development and marketing program.

But…then you send out the emails like the one below that is basically telling your customers “You don’t have any rewards, and honestly why are you even still a customer, you haven’t used us in forever?”

User interface showing the quantity of points earned, how to earn more points, and the progress to the next award.

The simple solution was being proactive, and thinking “What should we do or say if a customer has ZERO rewards?” Now you’ve wasted a lot of money and time, and it makes the company look bad. The lesson here is that expensive software is not good unless you spend time to think about the implementation. Which is exactly why at Switchbox we have a Strategy and Discovery team to help clients understand their goals before we start building something that produces undesirable results.

Need help ironing out what your goals are for your company’s software, Contact us to chat about our Discovery and Strategy process!

Switchbox’s GGOB Universal Trip

How many companies do you know of that will put 70 people on one plane and fly them to Orlando to hang out together for the weekend? Oh, and have our CEO (ahem, Joel!?) accidentally direct us onto someone else’s bus to the grocery store and hotel? Well, we really like our staff and their families, so that is exactly what we did with our Great Game of Business trip last month! Our goal for last year was a full trip to Universal Studios Orlando for two days with three days of park tickets in February for our staff and their plus ones. Plus a lot of our staff brought their families along for the ride! And, as you can see from the photos, we definitely did not have a good time at all.

Getting the whole staff together is rare, but when we do, we make sure to make the best of it! Being able to relax, have fun for the weekend and hangout is one of the best things about our annual Great Game of Business trip. Plus who doesn’t love roller coasters, dinosaurs, and Harry Potter!?

Having fun with our staff is always a great time, but being able to reward them for all of their hard work is one of the best things about the Great Game of Business trips. Plus being able to see our staff with their friends and families and being able to make memories for the rest of the year is amazing. This is also just a fraction of our photos from all of our staff, be on the lookout for Part II so you can see more of our staff most definitely not having fun together.

Switchbox’s GGOB Trip

Every year we have goals to work for, and in turn if we meet them (we usually do!) we get to treat our team to an awesome company trip. Our goal for 2023 was a full trip to Scottsdale, AZ in February, and most of our team was able to join us with their plus ones and families!

We love being able to get everyone together, especially our remote employees that we don’t get to see on a daily basis! Being able to relax, have fun for the weekend and hangout is one of the best things about our annual Great Game of Business trip.

Everyone got to do different activities, like mountain biking, music festival, visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. Overall its always great when we can celebrate business wins and hang out with our team and their friends and family.

Axe Throwing in Vegas

Hanging out with our clients is one of the coolest parts of the job

Recently a couple of our Switchbox employees were able to fly out to Las Vegas to attend one of our clients, Dueling Axes, holiday party.

Being able to be a part of a client’s holiday party is cool enough, but flying out to Las Vegas for the weekend to attend the party at their newest location is beyond awesome. Joel was able to pick up our developer Tim from Indiana on his plane, to also have him fly out to get to see the Dueling Axes team. Take a look at some of the photos from the weekend, and if you’re in Las Vegas anytime soon, check out Dueling Axes!

Thanks so much to the Dueling Axes team for inviting Switchbox out to their holiday party in Las Vegas! Being able to see what your clients do with software that you help create and develop in person will never get old.

Internal vs External IT Teams

The difference between hiring inside developers vs. an external consulting firm.

We get the question a lot from clients on whether they should hire internal web or information technology professionals or hire external or consulting firms (like Switchbox) for their business or project. The struggle is if you look at what you can pay a web developer per year vs paying a consulting firm per week, obviously the consulting firm will be more expensive for the same amount of hours. But is it actually worth hiring someone for internal work vs. external? Let’s take a look at that.

There are benefits to both ways. Obviously in house, or internal, web developers allow you and your company to retain more control. If they are your employee, and work for you 40 hours a week, you can dictate their projects for the week. Whereas with a consulting firm, or external team, they may have other projects and dedications that they have to fulfill first, which means your project may not get attention that week.

If your company is large enough to justify a large IT team and web development, then it would make sense for you to go that route. But for most businesses, there may not be enough work to justify the expense of having an in house web developer all year long.

Redundancy and Longevity

Let’s say that you have hired two in house developers – a web developer and a dev ops or server person. If you lose one of those people – they quit, retire, or become ill – you have essentially lost 50% of the knowledge, process, and work capacity. But if you have hired an outside firm and you are paying for 40 hours a week, you are essentially having two dedicated developers on your project each week, even if one person would be out sick or quit.

Variety of Skill Sets

With your web developer and your dev ops/server person, that is the extent of their skill set for your company, unless you hired a larger team. With an external firm, you are essentially paying for their variety of skill sets with their different team members – whether that be a UI/UX developer, technical business analyst, or senior web developer. Trying to turn your internal team members into those roles and positions, just never end up working out correctly, and you’re more likely to waste more time and money having them learn new skill sets. With the external firm, you can have a senior level UI/UX person spend 2-3 hours on your project and be done with the user interface. This allows you to tap into the variety of skill sets without making a huge commitment to your business.

Misnomer of the Hourly Rate

You’ve hired a senior level developer, and are paying them for 40 hours per week, and you assume that you are getting 40 hours of work. When you hire an external firm, you’re expecting the same 40 hours of work each week, but we’ll explain why that is just not true. Any reputable external consulting firm will not guarantee you 40 hours of work from the developers, and any that are charging you a straight line item of 40 hours is probably just not being truthful.

At Switchbox, we have our staff at any given time of the year, that are getting paid for to get training, and that is something that the client does not pay for. We’re also paying them for internal company meetings, so if we have a 15 minute all staff meeting to talk about health benefits, none of our clients would be footing the bill for this. But if you have hired the internal senior developer at your company, and your HR department has to hold a 1 hour meeting to go over benefits, you are paying them for that hour and not getting any development benefits from it. You are also paying for that water cooler time, and are chit-chatting with their co-workers. While as the external firm, the developer or team member is only logging time when they are being productive and working on your project and task.

Here at Switchbox, we find that the true ratio is that for every one of our developers we’re only charging our clients for about 80% of their time, the remaining 20% is for internal company meetings and activities that are not charged to the client’s projects.

Knowledge Atrophy

If you’ve hired the internal IT staff – they are only working on your project. Their knowledge is limited to only your company’s project, the app, website, or database. They are only ever learning in your own environment, and not able to diversify their knowledge. At Switchbox, we work on a minimum of 70 projects a year, which means a large pool of knowledge is getting passed around through our developers to learn and grow with. A developer is able to work on multiple projects at the same time, and when Client A’s project reaches a road block, they can take the knowledge from Client B’s project to trouble shoot and figure out a solution to their unique situation.

Thinking more about hiring Switchbox as your external consulting firm, Contact us to chat about it!