In the midst of one of the most unpredictable winters in recent memory, SedonaOffice users got a chance to enjoy the temperate weather and quiet luxury of Marco Island, Fla., during the 2013 SedonaOffice Users Conference. These conditions, along with an expanded curriculum and a knowledgeable group of staff and guest presenters, seemed to create an ideal environment for learning and networking. The conference was held Jan. 14 through 16 at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort. More than 280 people attended the conference, representing nearly 80 companies.

The Users Conference is primarily a venue for SedonaOffice to educate and interact with its users about new developments and best practices. But it was the dynamic among the attendees that co-founders Don Faybrick and Michael Marks were most impressed to see.  “One of the things we’ve tried to do in our conference — and I think it has really come together — is to build a SedonaOffice community,” said Marks, president of SedonaOffice. “If you watch the companies that are here: there are friendships being made. I had someone come to me and say [here people aren’t guarded about what they say] everyone is open. They’re talking about their businesses. They’re sharing ideas. They’re talking about better ways to run and operate. They’re exchanging phone numbers. That’s just a great feeling from our perspective. The clients aren’t just relying on us, they’re relying on each other.”

Certainly, experienced users chiming in during education sessions to offer first-hand tips as well as having detailed conversations with other users, from different companies, were common occurrences throughout the conference. Every meal, break and social event became another opportunity for someone to pull out a tablet and demonstrate a feature or walk-though a setup with another user.

The education sessions were grouped into six tracks this year: Job Management, Operations & Accounting, General Ledger, Executive track, WeSuite and the new Advanced Users track. The expansion of the tracks was a direct result of the advanced expertise of its users. “Our users are well beyond the basics now,” Marks pointed out. “They want to know how to more efficiently run and operate their businesses, how to increase their RMR… Everything’s matured now. Our application has matured. We have people who have been using the software for over 10 years now,” Marks added.

Special guest presenters including Gretchen Gordon, managing partner of Braveheart Sales Performance, who led several sessions in the Executive track on sales and hiring practices, Barry Epstein, president of Vertex Capital Corp, who spoke about things to consider before buying a security company, and Ron Davis, owner of Davis Marketing Group, who joined Epstein in discussing the state of the market in respect to acquisition opportunities and financing options.

The keynote presentation was delivered by Michael Barnes, founding partner of Barnes Associates. Barnes used industry research, including the SDM 100 report, to give SedonaOffice users insight into the security market of 2013 and the potential opportunities and challenges in it. He explored how the entrance of cable and phone companies could affect the security and how the current market bodes for large security companies versus smaller companies. Based on a pre-conference survey of SedonaOffice clients, Barnes revealed that SedonaOffice users are growing at rates well-above the industry average. “On a one-year, three-year and five-year basis, looking at historical compounded growth rates the industry shrank,” Barnes explained. “That’s because the last three years in particular have been associated with revenues having come down with 2011 being basically flat. The average SedonaOffice user’s revenue: 12 percent increase year on year for the last year, 9.9 percent over the last three years on a compounded basis and 7.6 percent on a five-year basis. That’s an outstanding rate of growth relative to the industry.

“Better yet, in terms of value creation, on a one- three- five and six-year basis, SedonaOffice users grew [RMR] at almost twice the rate of the industry on average.”

Though impressed by the numbers, Faybrick and Marks said they don’t come as a surprise.

“They’re good customers, I think, to look for a product like us,” Faybrick said. “But then I think the product works for them in a way that supports that mindset. They’re growth-minded anyway and we help them along that way.”

In addition, Marks attributes these higher growth rates to the daily work these companies put into assessing and measuring their business performance. He noted this is a time- and expense-consuming task, but one that demonstrably has a payday.