Focusing on long-term growth: an interview with InterServer

Part of what I enjoy about working for OpenSRS is the diversity of our resellers. Though there’s overlap in the services many provide, the range in their size, product lineup, and focus make each quite unique. As such, an opportunity to speak with one of our partners often provides me new insight into their target market or the domain industry as a whole. My most recent conversation was with InterSever, an independently owned and operated Hosting Provider, who, during its 18 years in the business, has evolved to offer a pretty impressive lineup of Shared Hosting, Cloud Hosting, Quick Servers and Dedicated Servers. Here are some highlights from our chat.

What made you choose OpenSRS?

“For us, our partnership with OpenSRS is less about the bottom line and more so about working with the leading wholesale domain registrar. Margins are not steep within this arena, so ensuring that our customers have a robust and competitive list of domains and features to choose from is our top priority.

Another big factor was OpenSRS’ API integration, as we do all of our development in-house. When our senior developer found an opportunity to be a contributor to the OpenSRS community, a resource we’ve benefited from, he jumped at the chance without hesitation. The code that he wrote can still be found in the OpenSRS toolkit today. In short, we’ve worked to remain agile and consumer-focused as we expand, and the OpenSRS system  supports this.”

How do you aim to set yourselves apart in the industry?

“In the 18 years we’ve been around, we’ve never changed hands in ownership. This has shaped the development of our company as we’ve expanded our services. For example, in addition to being a Web Hosting Provider, we own and operate our own data center based out of Secaucus, New Jersey, the home of our corporate headquarters. Keeping things close to home allows us to maintain control over our infrastructure, and in turn, the service we extend to our customers. That’s also the motivation behind our choice to have a fully in-house development team. We want to be able to customize features as needed and quickly change focus to address new problems that affect our customers.

In fact, that’s the element that truly sets us apart within the industry: our commitment to supporting our customers and preserving our personal, small-business feel as we grow. Our support team is comprised of technical experts that specialize in our various operating systems and operates 24/7 via phone, email, and live chat. This support comes at no additional cost per month and remains a top focus of company resources. We want our customers to call us if they need to talk and be able to count on a fast response.

What services are you proudest to offer?

“Our web hosting services have been highly recognized across the industry for the resources and scalability that our servers and network offer. But in such a competitive market, price-point and your relationships with customers really matter, not just the quality of the product. That’s why we offer free migrations with our standard web hosting packages, which start at $5 a month. We’re interested in maintaining customers for the long term, a commitment perhaps best evidenced by our price-lock guarantee, which entitles the customer to their initial renewal rate for the entire lifetime of the account. Finally as a small, but appreciated, cherry-on-top, each shared hosting account is eligible to register one domain for $1.99.”

How does this commitment to building strong, long-term relationships affect your product development?

“Being attuned to the needs of our customers allows us to focus our efforts on products that will have an immediate and measurable impact. As a team, we analyze our support tickets to identify common customer issues. We then determine the root causes of these issues and look to develop solutions where we can. For example, at one point, we noticed that many customers in our shared hosting space were running into security issues that ultimately resulted in their WordPress sites getting hacked. A bad theme or plugin was usually the root cause. With this particular issue growing steadily, our CTO John was determined to implement a solution.

This led to the development of InterSheild, a five-prong malware and prevention system which steps up the level of security on all shared hosting packages automatically.

The five prongs include:

  • Web app firewall
  • File upload scanner
  •  Automatic scan of running scripts
  •  Outbound email protection
  • Malware detection

This approach eliminates many of the common vulnerabilities associated with operating in a shared environment.”

Takeaways

What emerged for me during our interview was a sense that InterServer’s foundational values shape their business practices in a tangible way. The two co-founders are there at the office every day, and their CTO remains an active presence on the support floor. And while their recent growth has been anything but slow, they’re not interested in shortcuts. As Director of Marketing, Stacey Talieres, puts it, “we’re invested in what we do. We’re devoted to strategic long-term growth, rather than just acquiring customers. So we gauge our success on customer retention.” Their team also noted what they feel to be an unfortunate, but understandably common phenomenon in the Hosting Industry: many small companies focus on quick expansion in the hopes of being acquired by a larger player. InterServer often finds themselves a magnet for customers who jump ship, or worse, are left stranded, in the shuffle that sometimes follows such acquisitions. The company seems happy to provide a reliable alternative and confident that remaining true to their values will lead to stable, long-term growth.