The latest episode of our ‘Elton chats to…’ series features Paul Hines from Progress Windows, Roofline & Conservatories.
As a self-confessed ‘numbers man’, Pauls’ favourite feature of Business Pilot is the Sales Dashboard. He said:
“…the sales dashboard is a game changer. I don’t know how you can run a business without it…now, I just click a button and I can see in real time, daily, hourly, monthly, yearly, whatever I need to know, whatever number I need to know almost instantly.”
Even though Paul and his team were using their own digital system to manage the business, including spreadsheets and diary notes, they have still seen huge time-saving benefits since becoming part of the Business Pilot Community.
“You don’t have to work any harder with the system at all. You just do what you’re doing in conjunction with Business Pilot, and that’ll do a lot of the work for you.”
Paul says that Business Pilot has changed his business and his advice to potential new Business Pilot users is to make sure that you get buy-in from your team and be in the right mindset.
“If you want to improve the business with the use of a CRM system, if that resonates with you, if that’s something you’ve been thinking about, then absolutely, two feet, go for it. You won’t regret it.”
Is Business Pilot the game-changer you’ve been waiting for? Get your free trial today to find out!
Or, you can read the transcript of the interview below:
Elton Chats to…Paul Hines from Progress Windows, Roofline & Conservatories
– My name is Paul Hines. I am the Managing Director of Progress Windows, roofline and Conservatories. We are a home improvement business based in Hinckley, Leicestershire, and we predominantly cover the Midlands area overall.
– Perfect. So Paul, obviously, as I say, the purpose of getting together for a chat really is just to get your sort of experiences with Business Pilot. You know, that might be the system, the people, just generally. So if we start off because obviously people who have heard about Business Pilot will be thinking that the software itself.
So a good place to start, I find, is always what was it like before and what’s it like now because I think the contrast is quite often the key thing, you know. So what did you do before Business Pilot? What were your sort of systems, processes and so on? How did you do things?
Improving Customer Experience
– It was very manually driven if that makes sense. So it was very work hard, not necessarily smart. It was just relying on people, which is, and the people in this business are brilliant. They’re absolutely fantastic, but people can forget, have bad days and different things. And the challenge for any double-glazing company is its communication. The communication to its clients.
We all know, we all have the same issues. And so the way we would deal with that is by diary notes. Very manually led processes, which nine times out of 10, well, probably not nine times, but three or four, probably seven times out of 10 would work, but sadly wouldn’t work all the time.
And often we’d get a lot of phone calls, you know, what stage is this job at? When am I survey going to be? What time is the rep coming around? Who is the rep coming because I’ve forgotten? What sort of time is he coming around? So that was a lot of, lots of the questions we were getting on the phones. So, you know, we can’t add it up. We don’t know. But the time that manually driven system must have taken is quite immeasurable, really.
– And also the customer experience. You know, I’ve spoken about this before, where we’re now people have moved on, you know, what they expect from any business.
You know, I mean, I remember days where you just dropped your car off at the garage. There was no, you know, you didn’t get a cup of coffee or anything. It was dropped it in, you know, it doesn’t matter what sector we’re in. People’s expectations have been lifted to such a level. And so, you know, it’s those three out of 10, you know, let’s just take that number. Like you say, I mean, it might have been six might be an eight doesn’t matter.
The point is, whoever they were, those people didn’t get the experience you wanted them to have.
– You know, that’s exactly right. And that’s been a challenge for our industry, hasn’t it? We are a very good industry. It’s moving forward all the time. It’s got some really, really good people in it. But it does still feel a little bit old fashioned in the way it goes about this client.
And that’s not for the want of trying, we desperately care about our clients. We really, really do. I think most of them would say that. But sometimes it’s really hard to get that across, like I say, with that manual driven system.
So yeah, you’re dead right. You know, a few people would slip through the net. It was quite big, quite big holes in it. And sadly, every now and then someone would not quite be as content as they should be with us.
– Yeah, yeah. And like you say, it’s not for want of trying. That’s the point.
You know, to me, that’s the thing. This isn’t a company who will actually we don’t care as long as we get it right some of the time. No, the opposite. We do care. We want to get it right all the time. But because of the lack of an organized system, whatever it be, that’s what’s letting us down. You know that that’s the point.
So were you using the sort of the classic whiteboard or T cards and so on. How did you plan out your schedules and so on?
Life Before Business Pilot
– It was quite it was quite computer driven. I’d set up my own Excel spreadsheet, which worked really well, to be fair. And we’ve all got our own little system where some still do it on paper, I did mine on the computer.
And it worked well, all the information was there. I could record things historically. And it worked okay, we were still pretty, pretty good, really, for what the industry. Yes. For what the industry has been like in places we were still pretty forward on, really, we weren’t too bad. But, you know, even with what we were doing, we just couldn’t keep up with the expectations of clients overall across the board.
So yeah, we would have the Excel spreadsheet and we could all access it and I would change it the notes on there and the job things on there. It was okay. But it was so manually driven. You know what I mean? There was no automation. And you would only ever do what you tell it to do. And we, you know, we needed to take a next step forward on that.
– Brilliant. So, okay, so that was sort of like, that was life before Business Pilot. Obviously, you guys are on Business Pilot. That’s why we’re having this chat. What, what’s the contrast of that? So what’s life like on Business Pilot, you know, just looking at how you did things and how you now do things?
– It’s a lot more automated. It’s a lot more predictable. It’s a lot more systematic. It’s a lot more processed. So that technology allows you to spread your net further. If that makes sense. We can take on more clients because there’s a system there to deal with them.
It’s a one click situation. So you can work from the working from home things. Now, you know, the way that comes from overnight. So Business Pilot allows you to do that 100%. It’s a lot more, it’s a lot, it’s very user friendly. And anybody can use it.
The biggest challenge for the industry in parts is that is this sometimes the lack of, of willingness to try technology or to try computers. That’s okay. It’s not a problem. But you know, window fitters aren’t particularly innate in computer software systems, if that makes sense. But Business Pilot, they can see it working for them and it works for them.
– So the sales guys. Yeah. Well, and I’ve found, you know, sales guys, you get a real mix, but actually, there’s a good percentage who just do not want start using technology. They’ve always gone out with their pad, you know, and, and that’s fair enough. And one of the messages we try and push out is we’re not telling you to give up paper.
What we’re saying is there’s a whole load of tools that you could use instead of paper. Yeah. You know, which is why there’s all the, you know, the job sheets and everything you can print out from the system rather than saying, well, why would you have that because you don’t need it?
Actually, it might be down to the person, the individual might still need it because that’s what they’re comfortable with. So obviously, we’re talking about some of those more automated, you know, and you’ve said it automated a couple of times. So have you got some specific examples that you could give again, people looking or listening and thinking, what do you mean by it’s more automated? So what sort of things are you, you mean in there?
– So, you know, obviously booking appointments and things like that. So booking the survey is the whole process that a client will go through. And you’ve obviously got contact points at each and every stage, and there’s a lot going on. So it’s really important to clarify things that you’ve said, and things like that.
So for example, now a client will call in and we’ll obviously enter them on to the system. And that will then send them an email to say, thank you, first and foremost, your details have been passed to your representative. And already, they’re already on the route to buy with my company, if that makes sense. Already they’ve got an email, already they’ve got some sort of belonging to this business.
Otherwise, it’s just, hi, yeah, I’ll see you on Friday, nine o’clock, brilliant see you then bye. That’s okay. Nothing is wrong with that. But it’s nice to have that follow up email to say, thank you for your time, really appreciate it. This is when we’re going to see you. We’ll see you then. Any problems, let us know.
You’re now in our, you’re in our group, you’re in our, you feel belonging to what we’re doing. And that’s huge. And then that happens every step.
So the survey, when I book it on the jobs, the snagging list, it’s always backed up by emails. Yeah. And automation, it’s not, I don’t have to type it all out. I just have to click a button and off it goes. And you know, you don’t have to work any harder with the system at all. You just do what you’re doing in conjunction with Business Pilot, and that’ll do a lot of the work for you.
Getting Buy-in from your Team
– Yeah, yeah, which is exactly what it’s designed to do. So you say that, and you don’t have to do a lot more work and so on. But what was it like when you first took it on?
Because to me, I always say to people, you I spoke to somebody only the other week and I said, you’re in the pain zone now. You know, I’m very honest with people, whenever you start a new system, you know, and I’d never want to put a cross to anybody that jump onto Business Pilot from day one, this will be easy because I want I want to give the full picture.
That’s why I wanted to do these as a conversation rather me asking some very targeted questions, you know, so talk to me about like your onboarding the whole process, you know, good the bad the ugly.
– Yeah, in truth, in truth, it wasn’t too bad for us at all. Honestly, I’m not just saying it because it doesn’t matter to me. We used it, we like it. We didn’t have the pain. It went in quite well. I was really, really keen on it.
We worked really hard with getting the staff involved with the choice, if that makes sense. It wasn’t me that chose Business Pilot. It was one of my staff members. I tasked them to look. I want a CRM system for my business. You go out and find what do you think is best. She went through one or two, and she wanted Amy, her name was, she wanted to go with business pilot, which was brilliant. So then we got my other office people involved say, look, this is what we’re thinking about. What are your thoughts?
I think the biggest problem is when the MD comes and goes, right, this is what we’re doing. Here we go. And you took it out of the office. Well, what’s this? What you woke up thinking this morning? That’s immediately you need to be involved people in the process, then they’ll go for it.
Maybe not so much the fitters. The fitters are a bit like, look, this is what we’re doing. But certainly they don’t use it all that often, really. It’s more the office people. And generally, and honestly, there was a real optimism when it came in. There was a real buzz about it. There was a real willingness to look into it and learn it.
And truthfully and generally, we didn’t have a lot of pain at all. And I generally can’t think of anything that went particularly wrong with the business because we were bringing it in. It just, overnight, just started to improve our processes. And every day since it’s continued to do so.
– So I’ll tell you what the lesson out of that is. And that is, you got the buy in first. And actually, I think that probably took a lot of the pain away for you. Because, you know, if we don’t have buy into something, we’re already pre wired to come up with an objection to it. And it’s the objection that’s creating the pain.
Actually, that buy in, which is, by the way, just put you in the minority of MDs, because most of them think, well, hold on, I’ve had the idea on the MD, so I must be the brightest one of the bunch.
And therefore, you do what I’ve decided because I’m the one
– I’m definitely not that!
– Hey, that’s why I have to have such a good team, because otherwise, Business Pilot wouldn’t be what it is. So I’m with you on that.
But getting that buy in, I think is really key. And we put we put a lot of stuff into Apple were known for making everything so obvious that you didn’t need a lot of learning, you know, whether that’s still true, I’d beg to differ as somebody who’s come over from Windows to Apple, but that’s what they were known for is making it obvious, you know, clearly, we spend a lot of time trying to do that. So in theory, it should be obvious.
Well, I think getting the buy in of everybody is what probably made that so easy for you, as well as, you know, the system, obviously, I’m not trying to pull down our system, but the buy in is really important.
How did you find like the Business Pilot team in terms of assisting you with getting on board? What was that like? And what’s it like now even, you know?
– Yeah, good, good question. I forget the lady’s name. I’m sorry. The lady that came to the training.
– Probably Rebecca, I think for you guys.
Name your BP Champion
– Rebecca, it was Rebecca. It was. Rebecca – Superb. It was it was really, really good. It’s not an easy job because everybody’s different. And I would imagine Rebecca would say that we were fairly easy company to train because we were receptive.
I can quite imagine that she’d go to one or two rooms and then just be two, three, four, just, you know, grumpy faces, not keen, not getting on with it. But no, Rebecca was great for us.
Again, what we’ve done as well is Amy, some of the work that she was saying, as our Business Pilot ‘guru’. She spent the most time with Rebecca because what we wanted to be was that we could be internally help ourselves. Yeah. So Amy’s by no means Rebecca, but she’s pretty good if that makes sense.
And she knows the system inside out. She knew it pretty well. We spent a lot of time doing that. Then we all spent time with Rebecca. Rebecca then quite rightly has to go. But then we’ve got Amy.
So we had a bit of internal thoughts around that really to try and make that as easy as possible. And now any problems we’ve got, we can contact Amy. Amy pretty much knows it. If she doesn’t, she’s our person and we’re in Business Pilots. Ask the question.
So rather than you guys getting five, six, seven, eight, I don’t know how many different questions a day. Amy will ring you once to twice, not even that, once twice a week, maybe most just to say, well, it’s a couple of queries come up. So again, you got to help yourselves a little bit with that one.
– You do a couple of things in that. I mean, for a start, Rebecca doesn’t tend to come back from anyone saying they’re difficult, but that’s because she’s got a very sunny disposition, as you’ve probably seen.
– She’s a nice girl.
– She’s very upbeat. But I definitely hear what you say, although she’ll always come back positive, there will be ones that are far easier and ones that are a little more difficult to train.
Having that single person contact, that again, I think is another key. When we look at the businesses and how quickly they adopt the system, having that single point of contact, that’s another key to it really.
So, okay, in terms of right, that’s the people and that’s great. And I would guess Amy’s probably talking to the support side when she calls in rather than Rebecca or sort of training side. And I mean, the process anyway, if it turned out that it was a training thing, then the relationships are good, they’ll pass it through and so on.
Favourite BP Features
– But in terms of your features now on the system, so again, probably looking at what life was like, what it’s now like, what would you say is the feature that has made the biggest impact?
And I’ll let you off the hook early. A lot of people say, I can’t say it’s one feature and they say a couple. So, if it has to be a couple, go for it. But what I’m trying to get to is what is that one feature that you said has completely changed everything for us?
– I’m a numbers person, very much a numbers person. I don’t like making decisions on gut instinct if I can help it. So, the sales dashboard is a game changer. I don’t know how you can run a business without it.
And we were really good on numbers before. If I was to show you my Excel spreadsheet from what I had before, even you would say, that is impressive. I could tell you almost anything. Anything at all about my business. But it was very manually driven to get those numbers. I had to work to get the numbers, if that makes sense.
Now, I just click a button and I can see in real time, daily, hourly, monthly, yearly, whatever I need to know, whatever number I need to know almost instantly.
Every business should have a traffic light system. Of course, it should. And Business Pilot does that for you and you don’t have to do anything for it to get it. As long as you just populate your system like you always would anyway, then it gives you the numbers.
Whereas before, I’d have to get my numbers, put them into a spreadsheet to then knock out some more numbers for me to analyse. I don’t need to do that now.
So, that is quite easy for me really because that is singly, without a doubt the most powerful part of Business Pilot for me as a numbers person.
– Well, the reason I’m smiling away is most people come up with stuff like schedule board or status progress, all the obvious ones. But actually, a lot of what it’s about is making sure you’ve got the information you need at your fingertips as we call it.
So, no, that’s really good. And obviously, there’s all the MI bits like the dashboards or there’s the exports and it’s really key. You’ve probably seen it since you’ve been on board. We increase the number of those. If somebody comes back to us and says, “Actually, this is really good. However, we’d also like this bit of information.” We’re always really keen to get new ideas in.
We talk about being for installers, by installers. And that doesn’t just mean, obviously, two of my fellow directors still run their own installation companies. That’s part of it, but it’s not all of it. It’s actually by all of us.
What I always harp on about with the Business Pilot community, that is huge to us. Have you got any specific examples? And these are always difficult. And I deliberately don’t prime people. I’m going to talk to them with the questions because I want it to be a more authentic conversation.
So, I appreciate it’s difficult when I just drop in and put you on the spot. But have you got any specific examples where you say, “This one particular thing, I don’t know, either we found something we wouldn’t have seen before or we managed to do this, that there’s no way we could have done before and it’s because of this specific process or thing in Business Pilot?”
– I’ll just go to one quick real-life example. And it’s only little, but it makes a massive difference. So, I remember that it was almost the second day. We weren’t using Business Pilot long. It had been rolled out and we got the age-old phone call, ring, ring, ring, ring.
“Your reps booked in to see me. I can’t remember who and I can’t remember when. Could you please tell me when it is?” So, normally that would me going, “Take the details, leave it with me. I’ll find out.” Then ringing round one, two, three, four, five, six reps asking each one until I got to the person who it would be.
Then telling that person, “She forgot what appointment time you gave her. So, can you just give her a call and let her know?” Hoping to God that person rings that person because if they don’t, then obviously we’re not going to know. And that’s how it was. That’s how we worked.
However, second day, I forget the name, but Mrs. Smith calls up. “I’ve got an appointment. I think it’s tomorrow at some point. I can’t remember when. Could you let me know?”
It was click, click, click. “Yes, it’s Keith coming to see you. It’s one o’clock tomorrow. He’ll see you then.” “I thought it was, but I couldn’t remember. Thanks very much.” “Did you get the email?” “Oh, I’ll check my junk. I’ve got it.”
It’s only little, but if you had that conversation probably once, or easy once a week, however many times a week, and it wasn’t just that it was the survey or the fit date or the service call date, whatever it might be. We don’t have it anymore. It just doesn’t happen.
People are in tune with it. People understand they’re going to get an email. The reps will tell them, “Look out for your email. It might nip into your junk”. It might. You know what I mean? “look out for it because mark it is as safe. Use it as a resource.”
I just remember, second day thinking, “That just saved me 10 minutes, five phone calls, and a client who’s now satisfied straight away on the phone.” That’s right. That’s the bit to me. There’s a time saving, but actually it’s the customer experience.
– I never forget, and you said about it earlier, and I still remember the first time I had a text message from the local taxi firm who said, “Your car’s been booked. It’s going to…” And you’re thinking, “Wow. This is the registration number.” That’s common now. It’s just normal, but it wasn’t before.
All of a sudden it’s that level of professionalism that’s just gone through the roof. When I’ve been doing these calls, the thing that keeps coming up is just how responsive we are that somebody will ask for something. A few weeks later, there’s an update. One of my update emails comes out, and it’s like, “Hold on. I asked for that two weeks ago.”
I think it was something crazy when we went to the FIT Show. It was something like 480 updates we’d done in that year running up to the FIT Show. You’re like, that is nuts. It’s nuts. At the FIT Show, that’s when we just doubled our development resource. We’re looking over the next year. Hopefully, it could be getting up towards a thousand updates. Some of them are small. Some of them are big.
That’s something that for me, certainly, I love about Business Pilot. No, I concur about that. I agree with that. It does evolve. It does seem fluid. It certainly doesn’t seem to be updating all the time. I agree with that.
Advice for Installers Looking at Business Pilot
– Paul, the reason for the chat was obviously there’s people who are looking at Business Pilot predominantly. What would you say to them?
I’m literally thinking, you’re down the pub, but there’s another installer comes in and says, “I really need to smarten up how I’m working.” They might not even be thinking about a system, but I really need to smarten it up. What would you say to them?
– Business Pilot has changed my business. My business was already pretty good before it, if that makes sense. I would say you’ve got to want to do it. You’ve got to be in that mindset. But if you are, it’s a no-brainer. If you want to improve the business with the use of a CRM system, if that resonates with you, if that’s something you’ve been thinking about, then absolutely, two feet, go for it.
You won’t regret it. You won’t because it is a game changer. It works really well. It’s simple. Get your staff involved and go for it because it’s changed my business. And it was already pretty well organized before. It certainly is now. It’s certainly much better. And our customer feedback, our customer experiences with the business prove that. It’s been so much better to use.
– Perfect. Thank you. It’s what we’re aiming for. That’s what we’re trying to do. So it’s good to hear it when it comes back. But for me, it’s really what I wanted to capture. Just you sharing with potential new business people what it’s like being with the system, being with us as an organization and so on. Is there anything else you want to add on to it? Or do you think we’ve probably covered things?
– I’m happy if you are.
– Yeah, absolutely. Paul, really appreciate your time. I know there’s no gain for you out of it. So I appreciate that. And I hope we can keep just developing the system and supporting you in the way we’ve just been talking about.