When it comes to highly competitive industries, even the slightest differences between companies can make or break a relationship with potential clients.

Take IT for instance; business competitors at the top of that game use similar hardware, provide similar services and they achieve similar outcomes.

But of course, there are still many IT companies that significantly outperform their competitors despite these similarities.

So, you might be wondering, how do those companies really tear away from the pack?

Like other professional fields that offer specialised services to achieve set outcomes, IT is a space where company culture and staff personality makes a world of difference.

Employing staff on a people-first basis, rather than simply focusing on technical skill, is a crucial lesson that any business desiring to get ahead should learn.

It’s also a lesson that Kane Sajdak and Bernard Mangelsdorf, founders of leading Gold Coast IT company BITS Technology Group, live by.

BITS Technology may be a comparatively small outfit in terms of staff numbers, but that doesn’t stop them from retaining high-calibre clients including ASX-listed National Vet Care and Ardent Leisure.

“In any competitive industry, you need to be technically savvy and know what you’re doing, but the biggest difference is in the service,” says Sajdak.

“Often our competitors will offer a very similar solution to what we put forward, and sometimes those competitors will even use identical hardware, software or cloud offerings, but the reason why we have such a large and fast-growing customer base is because of the way we deliver the service.”

It all comes down to company culture, how a business interacts with its clients, and how a healthy office environment is maintained.

For BITS, it’s about treating every single enquiry with the same level of respect and decorum.

“Everyone gets treated like an executive when they call our office, regardless of whether they’re the receptionist, the accounts person or the managing director,” says Sajdak.

“I would have no hesitation putting any of our staff in front of any person, whether executive or not, and them being able to handle the issue smoothly.”

Rylie Boon-Seaton, support technician at BITS, says establishing a real connection with clients is key to retention.

“I’ve been working for BITS for just over a year, and I like how we have a good friendship with every customer we make,” he says.

“We think it’s important to establish some level of friendship in order to make the day to-day conversation with them much easier, and not just approach it like a strict business operation.

He also believes that a successful business focuses less on procedure and more on problem solving with the clients’ needs firmly in mind.

“We work in a very easy-going environment that allows us to tackle problems in our own approach. It’s a leadership quality. We get taught how to meet specific outcomes and then we work to meet that outcome the feedback we get is very good.”

Any business can take a leaf out of the BITS book and get ahead in their competitive industry.

The easiest part? It can begin with something as simple as getting your staff to treat clients how they would want to be treated.

Beyond that, BITS is proof that growing a great company culture from the roots is certainly worth the effort.