Comms Business Magazine talks to Suzanne Chappell, founder of Abingdon based billing services company TMS about her company and its plans for the future.
I get to visit many firms in the course of my duties and at the end of my journey to Oxfordshire I arrived to find a company that was neat, tidy, focussed and getting organised to achieve greater awareness in the channel.
Founded over 13 years ago by Suzanne and David Chappell, TMS remains one of the few independent billing services suppliers in the UK – others having been ‘consolidated’ in to larger organisations. TMS is a channel only supplier that has grown consistently over the years to the point where they now employ around 25 staff and turnover in excess of £5m.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): In a nutshell, what does TMS do? What have been the significant milestones in the development of the company to date?
Suzanne Chappell (SC): TMS offers the channel a cloud based software billing application that we designed in house and continue to develop. We have a user base of over 100 resellers utilising the service who can take it as a white-labelled solution.
Additionally the service is integrated in to WLR for supply, provisioning and billing of services. Here our experience is second to none. TMS was the first CP to go live on WLR eight years ago; our WLR3 platform is established and we have some of the most experienced staff in the industry on hand to help our channel partners.
CBM: Billing is a very competitive market. How does the company differentiate its services?
SC: Well we do not sell direct to start with! Our ethos and mission is simply stated, ‘To enable the channel to focus’.
What I mean by this is that TMS takes the pain away from the Dealer or reseller so they can focus on their skills, customers and making money.
We do this in a number of ways and our services portfolio for the channel reflects this focus. TMS provides carrier management including network services supply including voice (CPS), a comprehensive range of data circuits including broadband. Likewise we can supply hosted telephony and SIP trunks via our relationships with key UK suppliers Vodafone, Gamma and TalkTalk and have a direct debit and cash collection service for our partners.
Uniquely we can also provide a channel offering for utilities that enables our partners to target new revenue streams from their customers in the form of providing a service for the resellers to supply their customers’ electricity, gas and water saving customers money.
CBM: What new developments from TMS can the channel expect to see this year?
SC: TMS is adopting a more aggressive growth strategy for 2015. In this we will be looking to expand our portfolio footprint in to existing partners and look both for new partners and new markets for billing services such as IT, mobile and other office services.
In each case however our objective remains to take the pain away from partners and to that end the management team has been expanded significantly with significant key hires.
In the last three months we have been joined by Duncan Wilkinson (Sales and Marketing), Martin Boiles (Product and Pricing) and Suzanne Carpenter (General Manager).
Helen Booker has taken up the role of Sales Director and her team has been augmented with the addition of three dedicated Account Managers. The TMS back-office teams have also been expanded and further trained to support our partners.
The new team is focussing on improving every element of an already very successful business. Whilst our business plan is ambitious with a wider product portfolio, wider market focus that will deliver revenue and margin growth.
Billing is still a vital and constituent service for resellers so we are constantly updating our solution through our own in-house software development team.
Billing services today increasingly need to be integrated with other core elements of a re-sellers’ business from CRM, bookkeeping, provisioning and credit control.
The structure of billing services is changing as pricing becomes flatter in the voice market but more usage orienteded in the data space.
TMS differentiate through the level of customer service offered, the flexibility of its Billing platform and the range of services it can offer to the reseller community .
We win business through dedicated in-house staff that goes the extra mile and this is exampled by the many references we receive from carriers who recommend our services to their own channels.
Telecoms and Billing requirements may change over the next five years but there will always be a need for sales organisations in the channel to sell vendors and carriers products to the wider business community and these CPs will always need some help along the way.
That’s where TMS come in.