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Business Pilot is “like having an extra member of staff”

In the second episode our new customer focus video series, Elton chats to Joe Djeebet, MD of The Window Man, about how using Business Pilot has changed his business.

With multiple showrooms across Somerset and Dorset, Joe and his team use Business Pilot to ensure the best customer service possible for their customers, no matter which site or showroom they visit. He said:

“We’ve been spreading our wings a lot more. We find that the Business Pilot has actually helped us do that because for all intents and purposes it’s like having an extra member of staff…

“I wouldn’t be able to run three separate shops without Business Pilot. It’s as simple as that. It would drive me up the wall.”

The Window Man works in the retail, trade and commercial sectors, and during this interview, Joe talks about features in the Business Pilot system that the team have utilised to make life easier working across three site and across multiple sectors.

Joe has some great tips for potential new Business Pilot users in the video, and this is one of our favourites:

“If I travel…the temptation because it’s connected to your iPads, connected to your phone, you’ve got that 24-7 working thing. One thing I’ll tell everybody, you’ve got to remember there has to be a work-life balance. You need to learn to switch off.

“But if there is something that’s really bugging you, really on your mind, and you need to put it to bed, it’s at the touch of a button.”

Fancy seeing if Business Pilot could be like having an extra member of staff in your business? It’s easy to get a Free Business Pilot Trial

You can watch the full conversation between Joe & Elton here

Or, if you prefer you can read the full transcript of the conversation below:


Elton Chats to… Joe from The Window Man


– Our business is The Window Man. We’re based in the south of England, in Somerset and Dorset.

My name’s Joe and I’m the managing director of the business. We specialise in all different types of windows and doors and conservatories within the industry, from trade, retail and commercial sector.

We’ve been spreading our wings a lot more. We find that the Business Pilot has actually helped us do that because for all intents and purposes it’s like having an extra member of staff.

It enables me to just feel like I’ve got a little bit more control of things on a day-to-day basis because I can physically see things where we’re working three premises.

If we are still working with files and T-cards and so forth, I think it’d be quite difficult for me to really gauge where we are. It also, obviously, gives me a chance to analyse staff members, efficiency, sales, closing rates, what branch is selling the most products, etc. All in all, that’s what we do really.



– Perfect.

Joe, one thing I’m interested in is what was life before Business Pilot like? A big thing for me is the contrast. It’s amazing hearing all the different stories of how Business Pilot are so amazing. Everybody wants to hear that. What was the contrast? What were your systems before? How did you manage the business before?



– The system very much was in an old-fashioned way really. T-cards, notepads, message books, filing cabinets. We still use them, don’t get me wrong. We do still have some paper files, but I think where I find it, one of the most useful things is, like I said, going back to where we’re working in three different places, our phone system is linked to all three shops.

For instance, customer will call. It will be so many rings, a specific option they’ve pressed, whether that be Yeovil, Weymouth or Crewkerne. If they don’t get through after certain number of rings, it will naturally transfer to another office.

At that stage, our staff is completely briefed that they need to treat every customer as if, obviously, whichever branch they’re dealing with. I know some of the national branches of companies, not necessarily in our sector but in the builders’ merchant trades, they get quite competitive with each other.

I still try to keep that team ethic really but also from the customer perspective, they ring up, they’ll say their name, they go on to Business Pilot, and all the information is there.

Whether that be a client ring or be the supplier, nine out of ten times, the person on the end of the phone will always be able to give an answer. That, in effect, really, really does help with efficiency because, obviously, no one likes to be waiting to be called back, whether you be a customer or a supplier.

People are impatient nowadays. I can’t imagine how customers nowadays would have dealt with the fact of ringing a landline and waiting until the surveyor is back for a call, maybe in a day’s time.

It’s so instant now. Business Pilot is helping us be able to react and respond to the way people are because people have changed. That’s not through any negativity towards, obviously, clients and customers. It’s more of a fact of the way that our world is.

Obviously, we all know that COVID probably sped everything up a little bit of trying to make everything more instant without having to move.

So, yeah, very, very, very led to T-Cards. We would ask people where the business comes from when we get a lead, but it’s not prompted.

It was a bit of a challenge getting sales guys to upload their prices onto Business Pilot, so then everyone in the office can deal with that as well. That’s nearly there now as well.


Investing Time for Positive Change


– I think since we’ve had it for 19 months now, I think every month I’ve felt it better and better and better. I genuinely feel like this last six months as a company, the penny’s finally dropped.

What I would say to any prospective people who are looking to get it, you have to have a bit of patience because it is a big change. No one likes change, but you have to invest time into it.

I feel like there’s a couple of ways of looking at the time investment there.

You could try and do a crash course at the beginning, which I was quite keen on that. I did try, but it’s not quite right. People need to live and breathe it. You need to almost run old systems alongside your new system for a sustained period of time, then just sort of edge it out.

I’m one of the worst people for technology, but now I’m walking around with an iPad Pro and an iPad pencil using Tommy Trinder and just missed the business by it.

I’m even allowing Business Pilot to run my diary. That took a lot of persuasion, but you’ve got to be patient and just keep playing with it. It will pay dividends.

Name Your Business Pilot Champion


– I’d also say that anybody who’s looking to get in it, make one person in your business, the Business Pilot king or queen, and let them be the go-to.

I’m quite fortunate. My wife Michelle’s taken on that role. I know for a fact she’s been really proactive in dealing with you guys when she felt like something might need to change or something you want to add.

You’ve always responded really, really well because one of the challenges we have is bringing our trade business into it.


Adaptable System to Suit your Business


– Now I know there’s a delivery bit. That’s a very minor thing, but it just creates a multitude of problems.

She’s brought the trade deliveries into the fitting schedule effectively. So Mr. Delivery Driver is just named fitter. So, when the yardman’s getting all the products out the day before ready for the installers, it’s getting us to buy only the delivery as well.

It’s just utilising the product, the process because the trade window versus the supply and store, it’s the same process, still a salesman, collect an order, deliver the product and get paid. Just missing that horrible bit out, the middle, the fitting bit.



– Even just in that, which is why I said I just wanted a conversation rather than a load of questions. I mean, you picked up on so much.

So I was with a new onboard last Friday and at the end of the day, the guy says to me, he says, “Go on then Elton,” he says, “On a scale of one to 10, yeah, where are we in terms of if one is you’re just not going to get this and you won’t put it in the business and 10 is you’d send me out training it tomorrow. Where do you think we are?”

I said, “Look, I’ve got to be really honest with you and I’m always honest with anybody looking at it. Right now, you’re in the pain point actually.” That’s where you are because on day one, you’re bringing in all this change and you’ve got all this stuff.

Now, in a month’s time, you’re going to feel different. In three months’ time, you’re going to feel even more different. Six months’ time, completely different. So, you’ve just got to give it time.

Don’t be sat there on day one thinking, “I don’t think I can do this,” because on day one, the system is so big and it does so much, but you don’t have to do all of that on day one.

You’re just bringing the bits that you need on day one and you grow into it. That’s basically what you were just describing to me there is how you’ve grown into it. So, the Tommy Trinder and Business Pilot, do you use the link there when you’re sending stuff over? Because definitely APIs.


Professional Quoting


– To be fair, it’s me. So, what I do is I’m not on sales as a speak, day to day, but as you can probably imagine, obviously, it started the business so many years ago, people do still just come direct to me. So, I’ve been basically going to people’s houses and when I do any appointments, I’ll get the Trinder stuff done. And then my daughter works alongside Michelle in the office. My sort of thing is that I’m not here to sell. I’ve not really got enough time with the other things. So, I just like to prepare nice documents and then give it to her and then she will upload onto Business Pilot, and she can use the facilities on there to sort the full price.

It just looks right and it’s not me going with tape measure and a book. I’m there, I draw the windows up properly and then it’s all a nice understandable vision for the office to understand it rather than scraps of paper. And then they start the order process back.


Full Control of Sales


– What we also do on Business Pilot is really, really important is every contract that’s sold, no matter what it is, it gets uploaded and then it comes back to me to approve it.

So, I can make sure that I’m happy with the price, happy with the area, happy with the customer. There could be a multitude of reasons why I might kick that deal out – as of yet that hasn’t happened.

So that process works really well. So, even on my own sales, it goes through the whole system, it still lands back on my lap and then I’ll designate it to a manager to see that sell through. That’s been massive for me as well. Yeah.



– So again, for people who are not used to the system, essentially once you’ve got a lead, you don’t mark it as sold. Well, you do, but it’s a soft sell we’d call it.

So, it’s then going to come before it’s actually sold into a contract. And you can bypass that, not everybody does it, but I agree with you. I mean, it’s a really good way to do it. So, everything gets checked off before it actually becomes a live contract. We do.



– So, for instance, I’ve got main sales guys, just do have [I]pads in the house. Because I think like you can over complicate things. I still do believe you can over complicate things. You know, the guys are right up orders in the house customer sign a pay deposit, then it’s going through the system that’s when within the call and off period, I just, you know, I’ll just check it over.

But again, because of the like different apps and that you can get on phones and iPads and so forth now, scan it, send it into the office, upload it straight to Business Pilot and go from there.


Advice on Getting Started


– I’d say one other bit of advice I really would give people as well, and this is really important because obviously one of the things is, like you said, people get invested in this. They need to invest time. Don’t give it to the fitters straight away.

We’ve made that mistake. We took Business Pilot, and we went for it. We bought iPads. You know, we wanted to just be this digital company overnight. It doesn’t work.

So, we actually gave it to the fitters, probably for six or seven months. They just weren’t using it. But they did see some of the benefits of it. So, we took it off them.

We went back to printing the job sheets off Business Pilot. Because Business Pilot does do a nice, neat job sheet. And because you’ve got all the products, all the paperwork and confirmations and contracts, it’s really easy to go back in the morning.

A couple of months later, they go, “Oh, really could have done with seeing a photo of that?”

“Should have put a bit more time to learn the Business Pilot and use them tablets we bought you.”

“Oh, I only seen the confirmation, but not the survey.

“Oh, should have learned it more.”

So, we’re actually about to bring it back into the installers. Almost because of the fact they now look at the office and think they’re missing out. Which they are. They really, really are.

So, we’re about to relaunch it with the installers because I feel that as a business owner, I’ve got complete confidence in it.

We’ve got Michelle who’s really on it. And we’ve got a couple of others up and coming as well, like at our newest shop in Weymouth. The two people that come to us have both come from more corporate businesses.

Every corporate business has a CRM. They would be surprised if we didn’t have a CRM. And then of course, they were [coming in] from day one not knowing it, but already had a bit of experience of using systems.

One had come from a big supermarket chain as a store manager, and the other had come from the NHS. So, both had the IT system. So, for them to come into a business and write T-cards up and whiteboards and stuff – it would have just been ‘wow!’



– We’ve got one like that where it’s another family business. And the daughter had gone off to do more corporate stuff as it was. So, she’s coming back into the business and the condition was we’re not carrying on like this. We’re having a system. And I think that’s it. Now we’re used to this. We still often talk about it as new.

And by the way, that T-card, that whiteboard, all that stuff, that’s not uncommon. Even now, I know our paradigm is very much that we’re in systems, but that’s only because we are.

There’s so many people out there that are still on paper, but it is also interesting. And you’re saying it, we never set out to abolish paper. No. Our thing was always, we want to give you the options because you’re going to have one sales guy who says, “I’m never going on a computer.” But he’s an amazing sales guy. So why are you going to force him out of business?


Business Pilot is a Constant Reference Point


– One thing is really good as well. It’s a constant reference point. So, wherever we are, if I travel away, one I do believe, I’m going to say it’s job is as well. Look, the temptation is it’s connected to your iPads, connect to your phone. You’ve got that 24-7 working thing. One thing I’ll tell everybody, you’ve got to remember there has to be a work-life balance. You need to learn to switch off. But if there is something that’s really bugging you, really on your mind, and you need to put it to bed, it’s at the touch of a button.

The other thing going back to whiteboard, Business Pilot is an information source. So sometimes, if I want to have a bit of a visual sales meeting, and I want to write the sales up on whiteboard and make everybody feel great, I do it.

If I feel like the company isn’t performing on the collection side of the business, I write a whiteboard of customers it’s due to pay and get everybody on that and see the ticks and get the buzz.

But even though that’s using an old school method, that’s still a damn sight easier than going through a load of files and a load of T cards because obviously on business advice, you can drop a report, step back any money outstanding from seven days and beyond. You can print it out often. If you want to have a meeting with your staff, write up on whiteboard, load a piece of paper, put it on the board, email it around. There’s just so many ways of getting information to show you.


A Few of your Favourite Features…


– Yes. Yeah. And that’s the key. So, in terms of like there’s so many different features in there, and we ask this internally, and it’s always interesting on who says different things.

If I said, right, one feature in Business Pilot, what would be your, I was going to use the word favourite, but it’s probably the most important, which therefore makes it the favourite. So, what would you say your favourite feature in Business Pilot is?



– I’ve got two.



– Go on, I’ll let you have two.



– Yes, the schedule. Yeah. That’s my day. All the years, right? All the years being in business, if the T card board looked nice and forward, we know we’re busy. Right? Okay.

The schedule, I have the guys get a sale, goes through the office, I approve it, and then the customer gets booked in. They get a provisional delivery day. They get a call the week before the confirm that delivery day. We try another bit of things.

Well, I’ve tried to do because I think what you don’t want to do is have loads of jobs on schedule. But what you also don’t want to do is have like book like six, seven, eight weeks in advance, half the window companies, half the window fitters, we probably know they will tell you that they’re booking six months in advance, which we all know that that is sort of dropping our level there.

But what we’re saying, right, six or eight weeks in advance, you’ve got that booked up solidly, you know, you’re going to have bumps along the way. So, the method I’ve bought into my business is we do 80% schedule.

So, basically, we only schedule 80%. Because tell you what right? If we put four days’ work in five day a week, and then Thursday, lunchtime, we’re ringing up Mrs. Smith on Monday, then guess what we’re going to be coming on Friday. And a day early, she’s over the moon.

However, I ring up on Friday, I was not quite finished, not to be there till Tuesday. And then we all know what happens then. “Oh, I’ve took a day of work Monday,” everyone’s in on £1000 pounds a day, everyone wants to discount on their contract.

Okay, so that’s one of the things I’ve learned, because I think the temptation, because you’ve got it in black and white, because you’ve got it on a computer front, that schedule, and you and it’s so easy to play around with it is just block it out.

I always say, let it breathe, you can always pull things back to the schedule. And in my opinion is brilliant, because I can always then tell the sales guys, well, what lead times are expected to be well from, which is also quite important.

And I’ve noticed quite a lot of the manufacturers are doing that now as well, actually, maybe even saying, Oh, the lead time for this product at the moment. So, every couple of weeks, we have a bit of a brief in the sales guys and say, right, this is where we’re at.


My other favourite one is quite simply the margins. Yeah, the profit margin sheet, because we use a margin calculator, we always have done. And you know, as I’ll get people come to me, can I take this job out? Can I do this deal? Can I do that deal? And then before you know, if you said yes too many times, that would drive your average down.

Now at the press of a button, I can look at it. I would say on that we’re probably about 10 days in arrears, because we try to do it live, but on the real world, what’s just come through. I’ve got a girl again, we’ve designated someone in the company does about four, she does about four hours a week. Solely putting invoices into Business Pilot, so I can get my profit and losses correct.

Yeah, I can then get that list and I go right. And then I can say to the sales guys, well, you’re getting the margins bang on, you’ve got the averages right.

But then we look at that and you might, we might single out and just look at composite doors, composite doors is a bit of a bug bear to try and achieve margin, because of the starting price, and obviously quite high. And there is a lot of people that are trying to do them too cheap and that product, we need to lift up a little bit or you’ve got a bit of flexibility in there. Yeah, so that’s my two favourite things.



– Yeah. And what’s interesting, they were right at the beginning. So right at the beginning, I remember I was sitting there. So, it was one of the other guys, Jim Breslin, I mean, Jim was running windows for years before this came along. You know, and so and we sat down and mapped all of this stuff out literally on like little Excel spreadsheets, even the reports, we put them all in as to what, what we wanted this system to do. And the schedule board and the whole thing around margins were absolutely key to it.

So, it’s interesting you pick them up because margin erosion, to me is the, especially in that like post COVID bit as well, you’d had all the turnover, and your average order values are going up, up, up. But hold on, are they going up in line with your costs?

And instead, what’s happening is people have gone, well, we’re doing really well. But what they’re talking about is turnover. They haven’t been looking at the margins. So, I’m glad you picked those two because they’re right from the beginning.


Business Pilot People


– So, in terms of the team, like I’m really, you know, you’ll see emails from me and I’m all about like Business Pilot community, I call it because I don’t want it just to be software, you know, I want this to be a community of installers. I want the software as it were to be led by the installers and, you know, everything about installers rather than just software. And so, in terms of interacting with our team, how have you guys found that?



– Oh, it’s been superb. It’s second to none. I think being totally straight, I think there was a bit of slight bit of frustration at the beginning. But looking back now that was brought on by our impatience to know the product quick enough.

You guys obviously have an experience to realize that we need to, you know, just sort of step through. And to be fair, they come to a stage where we did think like this isn’t going to work for us.

Because, you know, there’s quite a lot of people and then fair play, you organize a training day. We put the room out the back there, projector on, two girls come down and did a cracking job. Everyone come out there really, really positive.

And I think from that day on, we just sort of started going forward and forward and forward a bit.

I think the communication is absolutely fine. I think you answer questions, you listen to us. When there’s a, when we think there’s a, I wouldn’t say a flaw, but when we think there can be an improvement, you listen. And if it’s warranted, you make that improvement.

Again, that’s a testament and a lesson for any business. Everybody needs to listen. Everybody needs to learn. Because at the end of the day, you say about this community thing, that’s dead right. Because as we know, one of the reasons we’re all attracted to this is because it was written by people who’s got experience in what we’re going through. You know, what we go through day in, day out, this does make the process a damn sight smoother.

I wouldn’t be able to run three separate shops without Business Pilot.

It’s as simple as that. It would drive me up the wall. But even to be able to do the three different sites, go back to you and you guys in communication, we needed to get advice from you about how that works for Business Pilot. And you showed us, you know, how we can do the sales areas, so it looks correct for us and how we can, you know, how we can just get a picture of the bit, how we can get a big picture within one program. It just works really well. And your people are nothing short of a brilliant really.



– I appreciate that. You know, and that’s what, you know, internally, we drive that, you know, that’s what we’re pushing for. But I’m always interested in how that’s being perceived, you know, and the feedback is very much like yours, you know, but it’s important for us, you know, and I don’t care whether it’s like the customer care element, the support, the training. I see our role as being here to help you guys to become more and more successful.

You know, some guy asked me at the FIT show, he said, what’s coming next in Business Pilot? And I said, well, no, you asked me what’s the future for Business Pilot? That was it.

And I said, well, I think the answer you want is probably different to the one I’m going to give. You know, I said, because I think what you’re asking is what feature is coming next. But actually, that’s very short term.

The real answer is anything that will help the installer become more successful. Whatever that is, that might be better training, that might be better cross sort of install of communications, it could be anything, basically, if it will help the installer become more successful. That’s what you’re going to be seeing from Business Pilot.

Now back to your original question, and then I gave him some of the features that were coming up. But that’s really important to me is how we do that. And you’ve already sort of picked on it, new features, we have this great big ideas board.

So, we keep that running. Every time we get feedback, it goes on that ideas board. Now, some of those ideas are going to be really easy to do and loads of people benefit. And therefore, they get done quicker.

Some of them are going to be a complete nightmare. And one or two people will benefit. Well, then we, you know, for obvious reasons, we can’t prioritize those because, you know, from really, and the feedback I get is just like you’re saying, we are very responsive to putting in those features, which is, you know, it’s great.

So, okay, what else should we talk about? Really, that’s the main thing for me, I just wanted to have a conversation about it so that we can show other people who are looking at Business Pilot, what it’s like to be with Business Pilot.

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