At the end of a long workday, Amy Kardel, president and co-founder of Clever Ducks, ducked into the office's in-house coffee shop, one of many the many perks of being on the team at the San Luis Obispo-based solution provider. As she got her coffee she surveyed the brag wall, a leaderboard that hangs there. The brag wall lists the Clever Ducks team and charts each employee's progress toward certification along an individualized professional growth plan. And while it takes a lot of work and dedication, Clever Ducks' growth plan could be the most valuable perk it offers its employees.
At present, every one of the 13 members of the technical staff is CompTIA certified, making Clever Ducks a CompTIA Certified Team. Each IT pro holds CompTIA A+, with the majority also holding CompTIA Network+ certifications and some higher-level staff holding CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA Project+. The 100 percent certification rate among techs is no coincidence. At Clever Ducks, signing on to a growth path that requires CompTIA certification is part of the job.
"It has created a virtuous cycle of improvement," Kardel said. "It creates a culture that helps your team conquer challenges for clients and really bond."
And from that virtuous cycle have arisen numerous benefits – for the employees, for Clever Ducks and for its clients.
CompTIA: A Formal Part of the Process
Even within administrative jobs, you know how to use your 'weapon.' Getting an A+ certification can teach you that.
Though CompTIA certifications have been a part of Clever Ducks for its entire 20-year history, within the past five years the solution provider formalized the growth plan concept – and how CompTIA certifications fit in.
"We realized having that growth plan and developing people and giving them a sense of personal and career growth is a key retention tool," Kardel said.
Starting at onboarding, Clever Ducks guides each employee down the certification path, which carries them up the job ladder. A Clever Ducks tech who has passed an exam has demonstrated the ability to do more advanced work with clients. So learning more means taking on greater challenges – and earning more.
And it's not just those in house who benefit from CompTIA certification.
CompTIA and Client Satisfaction
Client satisfaction is, of course, the measure of a solution provider's success. And the small- to medium businesses that Clever Ducks' techs serve are thrilled with the level of service.
Clients don't necessarily see the credentials of the techs who handle their computers and networks. But they know what quality service looks like, and whether by word-of-mouth or via the Net Promoter Score (NPS) that Clever Ducks uses to gauge its success, client satisfaction has gone from great to fantastic since the formal implementation of the growth plan.
That's because, as Kardel sees it, certification doesn't just make for more skilled techs – it cultivates a sense of perfectionism that extends throughout an employee's professional life.
"It raised the expectation of excellence in other areas," Kardel said.
This applies, Clever Ducks has found, even beyond the tech staff.
Even Admins Win with CompTIA Certification
Recently, Clever Ducks brought on a new administrative assistant. While she was familiar with some of the technical vocabulary coming across her desk, she asked Kardel what it would take to truly grasp the foundational concepts of IT.
For Kardel the answer was obvious – get CompTIA A+ certified.
"We believe every Marine is a rifleman," Kardel said. "Even within administrative jobs, you know how to use your 'weapon.' Getting an A+ certification can teach you that."
Get CompTIA A+ certified to build a foundation of IT knowledge.
Matthew Stern is a freelance writer based in Chicago who covers information technology, retail and various other topics and industries.