Get to know Susan Shannon, muniSERV.ca, GV36

I’m Susan Shannon and I’m the Founder & Principal of muniSERV.ca. – Connecting Municipalities & the Businesses That Serve Them!

I am from Grow Vantage 36 and like others have mentioned, I don’t even recall how I heard about Grow Vantage and how I ended up there. But I’m glad I did!

Aside from updating my business knowledge, I was able to build a network of friends and business colleagues – some of who I still have the pleasure of working with today.  And of course Patricia is the consummate supporter with the “pep talk” we all need from time-to-time!

A brief history:

I had operated my consultancy – Shaping Organizational Solutions (SOS) for about six years prior to developing muniSERV.ca, and in that consultancy, I worked with the Councils and Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs), of Ontario’s large, urban municipalities. 

Having been a municipal CAO earlier in my career, I knew municipalities (particularly smaller ones), often struggle to find the goods and professional services they need.  The idea of muniSERV came to me back then when I was one of those CAOs who was struggling.

My idea was to create an online platform where municipalities could quickly and easily find the municipal products and services they need, all in one convenient location – and where businesses with municipal goods and services could connect and showcase what they do, directly to potential municipal clients.

So, I took the plunge and muniSERV.ca was born in October 2013. I wanted muniSERV to be more than just a listing on a website though. 

How it works:

We have both “municipal” members and “professional” members.  We believe it’s our job to actively help our professional members increase their visibility and reputability with our municipal members, by providing unique marketing opportunities that are delivered directly to the inboxes of our municipal members.

Our professional members select the category(ies) of the types of goods or services they offer municipalities. We have categorized them in the categories familiar to municipalities, but members can also request new ones if there aren’t any that accurately describe their products or services. 

There is a wide variety of goods and services categories from which to choose.  Here’s a few examples; accountants, marketing/branding, security and municipal software platforms, environmental products, organizational development, training, human resources, engineering and so much more. If you want to see all of them, check out the municipal homepage.  This is how municipalities search for our professional members.

Where are we now:

I had always heard that it takes about 10 years for an online platform to start gaining brand recognition and from my experience, this is pretty accurate.  Like most entrepreneurs, there were days when I felt I should just give it up, that maybe no one else thought it was a good idea and that maybe I was letting my passion rule my head.  But here it is almost eight (8) years later and muniSERV has grown to a place where it is much easier to manage. 

We were very fortunate because unlike many businesses, we actually grew in 2020. I believe this was due to brand recognition but also at least partially due to the fact that no municipal offices were open and there were no municipal conferences, which are typically the only two other ways for businesses to reach municipal clients. muniSERV is operating pretty much by itself now, like it was intended to, and municipalities and professionals are signing up all on their own, instead of me needing to make so many sales calls!

As a result, in addition to managing muniSERV, I was able to go back to operating my consulting firm. I was able to once again work with the Councils and Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs), of Ontario’s municipalities directly which has also helped our muniSERV members because I’ve been able to directly refer our muniSERV members when I hear of a municipality’s needs that match the services a member provides.  

So, my words of encouragement are be realistic about your business and your goals, but definitely keep the faith.  Good things come to those who wait!

Wishing you much success, fellow GV’ers!

Susan Shannon, muniSERV.ca

sshannon@muniserv.ca/ 705 538 0176 or 855.477.5095

Patricia Dent

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