Twin brothers, Mark and David Fazio, aren’t your typical telco industry leaders. In fact, they started their telecommunications company on principles that were almost in direct opposition to those of their giant competitors.
Where other telcos were charging big percentages over NBN margins, MATE embraced smaller profits. Where other telcos were pushing lock-in contracts and set up fees, MATE was saying, there’s no room for contracts and fees between mates.
When other telcos sent their customer care teams offshore, MATE was installing theirs right here in Western Sydney.
These decisions have been driven by Mark and David who, from the beginning, wanted to do something different in the telco space.
Mark Fazio says, ‘David and I never wanted to be a giant, faceless telco company. We’re just guys from Western Sydney who saw these gaps in the telco market between what the consumer wanted, and what the telcos were offering them. And we wanted to fix that.’
Mark continues, ‘We knew we could only do that by doing things differently than the industry standard.’
‘We started by offering reasonable prices on NBN reselling,’ continues David Fazio, CEO of MATE.
‘When other telcos were complaining about the low margins, and pulling out of the market, we just got on with making a working business plan and educating our customers about the NBN roll out.”
Finding a winning formula
Despite relatively low margins, this approach is paying dividends. From its conception, MATE has blown away the competition in terms of growth.
In its first three years of operation its revenue grew by a staggering 3,703%. That growth has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic with MATE showing an incredible 100% sales growth since March 2020.
Of course, this isn’t all down to pricing. In fact, much of MATE’s success comes from its concept of mateship. David and Mark have embraced mateship, first forged in their hometown of Western Sydney.
In fact, MATE was born out of the backyard of their aunties home in Smithfield. It started out as a local family and friends business and it stayed that way.
‘We hire our family and friends. And once we hired all of the ones we could, we hired our employees’ families and friends,’ says Mark.
‘Staying local has meant we can bring jobs to the local economy and give business to other local companies.’
For MATE, mateship means more than just hiring family. It means treating every customer as if they’re family. MATE does that by focusing on its customer service.
Excelling at customer service
To back this up, MATE in October won the ‘Customer Service Team of the year (large) award at the Australian Service Excellence Awards (ASEA) held by the Customer Service Institute of Australia (CSIA) and now the ‘International Service Excellence Award’ win for ‘Customer Service Team of the year’.
‘Our motto is to treat customers how we’d want to be treated,’ he says. ‘That means giving them the products they want, at a price that works and with service that’s unsurpassed.’
David tells the story of an irate customer who rang them in the early days of their business on a rant about their poor customer service. He went on and on and ultimately demanded to speak to the CEO.
So, David gave him a call back. ‘After listening to this customer for over 40 minutes, we finally realised that he wasn’t actually one of our customers. He thought he was ringing another telco,’ David says.
‘After that we showed them who we were, what we were willing to do for our customers and we signed him up. He’s still a customer today.’
With first jobs as an apprentice cabinet maker and in retail respectively, David and Mark understand the importance of customer care. So, MATE continues to do things differently. You’ll never see MATE in big TV, radio or billboard ads. Instead, MATE focusses 70-80% of its marketing on digital channels and creative strategies.
‘We like digital channels especially social because we can have a two-way communication,’ says David. ‘We aren’t just advertising. We’re listening and engaging.’
For David and Mark, there’s just no reason to be in business if they aren’t talking to their customers.
‘It’s all about the customers. From onboarding new internet and mobile customers, to assisting with their NBN rollout, we want to be there for them. We’re different because we’re here – every single person at MATE is on the ground in Sydney. And we’re all ready to help,’ says Mark.