Based in Chichester, Rakeem’s team ran the business using some pretty impressive spreadsheets, but as the company grew, Rakeem recognised that they need something different to help them manage their sales and operations.
Rakeem said: “With how much bigger we’ve become and how much busier we’ve become, I just dread to think how we would have done this with the old systems that we were using.”
In all of his chats, Elton asks our BP Community what their advice would be to other installers who might be considering Business Pilot and Rakeem said:
“I would say definitely go for it. You won’t regret it, that’s for sure. I think you need to fully embrace it. You need to make sure that your team has full buy-in on it, which won’t be difficult task with the level of quality training that you guys do.”
You can watch the full chat, and catch up on any others you’ve missed over on our YouTube Channel!
Here’s the full transcript:
Elton chats to…Rakeem at Signature Home Improvements
– My name is Rakeem, I’m the director at Signature Home Improvements in Chichester. We’ve been going since 2019. Yeah, 2019.
– There we go.
So, okay, it’s a few years that you’ve been running the business then.
Obviously, business pilot wasn’t the first way you were managing the business. So, what was it like before business pilot? What did you do when you first started?
– Spreadsheets. Spreadsheets, which we’re very proud of because they were very elaborate and very good at the time. But yeah, spreadsheets is how we were running it before, basically. Spreadsheets and shared folders.
– Which is not uncommon. In fact, actually, I would say that’s quite a technical solution that we come across.
I remember when we first started, the early conversations internally was all around, like, we need to make sure we can import people’s data properly. That was our sort of thinking.
And we put a lot of work into that and then realized actually a lot of this data was bits of paper. There’s so many companies with just scraps of paper, really.
And it was working to a point. I mean, obviously it wasn’t working enough, otherwise they wouldn’t be looking at a new solution.
But to a point, it was working. And so actually having those spreadsheets and shared folders isn’t the base level at all. You know, that was almost a more technical solution. So, okay, so that’s all great. You’re doing that.
But there’s obviously a reason you looked at Business Pilot. So what wasn’t it doing? What was the gap really? Why did you need another alternative?
– It came with volume, really. So the sort of the back story to how we came to business pilot is quite amusing really, because obviously when we started, we knew Matt from Everest.
And he reached out to us right when we first started and said, look, it’s fantastic working with these great guys. It’s great CRM software. It’s absolutely brilliant, blah, blah, blah. And then he told me how much it was. And I was like, I don’t need that. That’s what waste money, like that’s ridiculous. What we’re doing now works perfectly well.
Anyway, fast forward, I reckon it was probably about 18 months or so.
And we got sort of bigger and busier and busier and busier to the point where we had sort of turned into that scraps of paper and sort of huge spreadsheet company.
And we were like, ah, perhaps it is time now to call Matt back and just have a look at the demo of it. We looked at a couple of other systems. Not for very long because we soon learned that although there’s some great CRMs out there, none of them quite, you’ve either got some that’s very heavily focused on, very heavily focused on the sales aspect.
It doesn’t take care of the operations aspect all the other way around. So once I knew that Business Pilot was going to be the one pretty much on the first demo, it shows that it has come from a place of window company knowledge, basically.
– 100%. And I don’t know if you know the back story to Business Pilot, but probably a little bit different, but also a little bit similar.
So it was Cherwell Windows at the time. And we were looking at the systems and processes and it was just a frustration in you just didn’t have visibility. And they were using another CRM to be fair, which was for the window and door industry, but it just didn’t give the level of visibility.
And probably what you were finding there is what they were finding in order to grow, you’ve got to have that visibility across everything, whether it’s sales or operations. And so it’s that gap and you suddenly hit like a pain point where if we’re going to continue to grow this business and not completely full of the stress and all that sort of stuff, we’ve got to find a better solution.
So we sat down and just said, okay, what does the perfect solution look like?
You know, and at that point we didn’t know we could build a perfect solution. That’s not what I’m saying.
But the thinking was around, okay, if this was perfect, what would it be like? And then how close can we get to that? Was then the, I suppose the technical challenge. So no, it’s interesting.
And we’ve all got, I suppose, different stories as to how we got to Business Pilot, but at the same time, there is a common thread in all of it. And that is that visibility. And it’s interesting you bring up the cost as well, because that is something we hear.
It’s not always, but it’s certainly something we hear when people are saying, well, I’ve got office, I’ve already got spreadsheets and I’ve got this. So why am I paying some more money? And of course the way things are now, everything is software as a service. It’s rental rather than buy.
And I’m sort of from that era where we used to buy software, things like Adobe Photoshop and so on, you bought it outright. Whereas now it’s all rental. And so we get it, but I’m guessing now, what would you say in terms of that there is a cost? Would you say, look, it’s still a cost, or do you see this now as the amount it saved you? I mean, what’s your sort of take on that now?
– Oh, value for money, absolutely.
Yeah, there is a cost, but it’s a little bit, I suppose the only way you compare is, it’s a bit like saying, well, we’ll just get rid of office and we’ll switch to Gmail. You just wouldn’t do it.
Like the value that it brings to us is so high, that you couldn’t, there will be no other option. If you were going to cut something, it couldn’t be that. If that makes any sense. I think, as I said, Business Pilot isn’t the only solution.
We could have kept doing what we were doing, absolutely. But it would have required a lot more people hours to get there and a lot more frustration. So if we can cut that out, that’s great. So I see it as good value for money most definitely. And that’s why we’re still here, very, very happy.
– Yeah, no good.
And I mean, these are the sorts of things, again, common things that we will hear, it’s almost like having another member of staff in the business or I had somebody leave the business and I was really worried, but then I realized I didn’t need to replace them because of what Business Pilot is doing.
So, and that is what we’re trying to do rather than just have a system where you store information. It’s kind of, it should be working for you over and above that.
So that’s really good to hear. One of the questions I’m sort of asking everybody is, what’s your particular sort of favourite feature in Business Pilot and why is it your favourite?
And the why is probably more important. There’s lots of features, but what would you say your favourite one is and why?
– I would say, because I think my favourite feature is the core of it, which is the contact lead contract system that is in place means that anybody here who’s got access to Business Pilot can pick up any of the phones that are ringing anywhere at any time. Take a call from a customer and within like a few taps, be up to speed on what’s going on with that customer.
So, whereas this is something we noticed a lot before, whereas you would have customer who would ring in and it wouldn’t be the right person or somebody would know something about it, but the other person didn’t.
So it was a, we’ll call that customer back and we’ll do this and it just slows the whole thing down.
So what we’ve gone from is sort of like a customer simple question, which turned into several emails back and forwards within the company. And then a phone call back to the customer has turned into a resolved in the first phone call thing, which is very, very valuable to us.
It doesn’t matter if I’m on holiday or somebody else on holiday, it’s all the information is all there central and easy to access.
– Yeah, I think that’s good.
You know, people, when I say feature, people naturally think of something, I don’t know, schedule board or status, you know, they come up with a feature reports or whatever, but actually what you’ve just said is probably the best thing but it’s not necessarily considered a feature, but it is a feature.
It’s the fact that the joined up thinking behind it, you know, everything connects, whether it’s like the schedule board that then tells you on the schedule board how much, you know, essentially how much revenue you’re generating that week, rather than it being off somewhere else in another report. It’s the way everything’s joined up.
It is something probably the feature, you know, so no, that’s good. That’s really good.
So you spoke then about how all the different, you know, anybody within the team can pick up on it. How have the teams responded to? Cause it’s great when we decide we’re going to bring in a system, but of course I’m also aware, you know, there’s a whole team of people who are thinking, “No, not more change. What are you doing to me?” So what was your experience of bringing the system in?
– Yeah, very straightforward. I mean, the setup of it and the guys in your tech team, guys and women in your tech team were brilliant.
Everything was done when you said it was going to be done.
We didn’t really have, we didn’t import any data, which made things simpler, I should imagine.
But it was sort of something that we could, we picked up straight away. So there was no sort of downtime. There wasn’t really much of a learning curve.
Anything that I have had problems with, and you can speak to Katie and she’ll testify to that, is that I pick up the phone and I’ll ask the question and I normally have the answers straight away or within a few hours.
So as we’ve become more and more advanced with it, I find sort of more and more sort of advanced features within it that I’m just picking up and learning because I go, so yeah, very, very straightforward onboarding process.
– So, and that’s really good. I mean, because it crosses over from our side, like two departments. I mean, we try not to sit them in silos, again, using that same methodology of the system where everything’s connected.
So we’ll talk about support. So you mentioned Katie, Katie’s in support and training. So I think for you guys, that would have been Rebecca, I think.
– Yeah, a lot of the time.
– So Rebecca or Arwen or whoever’s doing the training, you know, they’re different departments, but that kind of crosses across both of them.
And it’s interesting when you say about how the responses are, we measure in terms of how many support queries, and when I say support again, 95% of those are actually, they’re a training question, really, they’re, how do I do this?
And so we measure the response time. So we’ve got one that is on the call. Then we’ve got like nought to three hours, three hours to five hours, one day, and so on So we know how many requests are being dealt with in what timeframe And we’re always pushing for as many as we possibly can to be dealt with on the call.
And I can tell you the number, it’s, you know, I can’t remember the actual number, I saw the graph the other day, but it’s like over 90% are just dealt with on the call. You know, that kind of tells you.
And the ones that are not, sometimes they’re just, they’re more complex because like you’ve just said, the more you get into the system, actually the more advanced a user you become. So some of the support on it is more advanced as well. So, you know, so that’s really good.
– It’s been interesting because certainly now, I feel like I’m on the other side, as we’ve brought new people into the business over the last couple of years, I’ve been training them on how to use Business Pilot.
Which has been so far, very straightforward. Like it’s picked up, we’re talking about people who’ve sometimes never even touched the CRM system at all.
– And then some people who might have worked with sort of Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce for many, many years and see how much better this is.
– Yeah. It’s so, and that again is key in terms of the philosophy.
You know, so we will hear things about other systems, how they’re clunky or whatever, and how the interface, but actually it’s not just about it looking good.
What we’re really trying to do is make it easy to use. You know, so yes, that also means the system looks good, but that’s kind of not the point. The point is it should be easy to use.
I’m very much about, this is software that we’re providing, but actually I want Business Pilot. And I think Business Pilot is a lot more than just software, it’s the people.
And you’ve kind of, you’ve already leaded, sort of led into that with talking about that training and the onboarding.
But in terms of our team, you know, what’s your experience of our team supporting you in, you know, in Business Pilot?
Support From Business Pilot
– Yeah, excellent really. It’s the overall word on that.
As I said, we’ve had, I will just pick up the phone quite often. I feel very comfortable to just pick up the phone and be like, “Oh, this little thing that I don’t quite know how to do, can you help with that?”
And as I said, there’s never any waiting, there’s never any issue.
You’ve got what I particularly like is I, I mean, I would classify myself as fairly tech savvy, if that makes any sense.
So I appreciate an explanation behind how to do something because then I remember it for next time. I always got that from you guys. So yeah, no, really, really good.
Excellent team you have there.
– Yeah, good. Well, I certainly think so. I just like to hear it back, you know, rather than me just deluding myself, I’ve got this amazing team. It’s nice to know that actually I’m not deluded. Well, not in that area anyway, you know. So it’s nice to know that.
So in terms of the features, we’ve spoken about that. We’re also very committed to that rollout of new features. And I think between the two fit shows, so one year from sort of May, 2022 to 2023, it was about 480 features that were released.
Some of them just being small little bits, adding a column, others being things like, I don’t know, FENSA integration or, you know, bigger things.
– So how have you sort of seen that and how has that helped within your specific business?
– Yes, I would. Well, the first thing to know is that you’re probably, one of the only companies that sends us emails, sort of general sort of update emails that we actually read.
– That’s the first.
– I appreciate that for a start off.
– We actually do read, whenever I see a new update email come through, I always read them. And yeah, most of the features that have been released are excellent and we do embrace them. I think one of the biggest ones for us was the stock system was a huge one.
– And then even something that’s sort of simple, it looks simple from my point of view, which was the Certass export, which has already just saved so much time on our end. So we understand this conversation again, you guys are very open.
I’ve suggested the Certass integration many times. I know the reasons behind it. I know Certass are dragging their heels a little bit on that side of things, but for you guys to come up with an alternative was great. And that works really good for us. So minor thing it sounds like, but for us it’s made a huge, huge impact.
– Yeah, because I mean, that’s an interesting point. We try and almost stay agnostic, I think is the word, but essentially we want to work with everybody within the industry.
It doesn’t matter which pricing tool you use, whether you register through Certass or FENSA, we want to make sure that we can connect everybody with their preferred solution.
And again, so the Certass one, we continue to work with them on a direct API, like the FENSA one.
And it will come, but we just felt that in the meantime, was there anything we could do as a sort of middle step? And that’s what you refer to. And it’s saving you time even before we get to where we want it. So that’s really good to hear.
So, okay, in terms of this video, there’s probably people watching it who are, they’re already considering Business Pilot anyways, so it’s not part of the sales process for them. It’s part of, okay, so we’ve now decided, much like we’ve heard Rakeem say, we’re in that same position, we’re definitely going to go for it.
What would you say to them?
Advice for Installers Looking at Business Pilot
– I would say definitely go for it. You won’t regret it, that’s for sure. I think you need to fully embrace it.
You need to make sure that your team has full buy-in on it, which won’t be difficult task with the level of quality training that you guys do. But I would say absolutely proceed with it.
– Cool, okay, I appreciate that. We always find there’s that moment when people come onboard. It is change. We don’t try and hide away from that. I think you’ve used words about us like open, transparent, and that’s certainly what we want to be.
So we never say to somebody, hey, you’re going to put in this system, and from day one, it’s all going to be so easy for you to do because the reality is within your organization, that there is a change.
Whether it’s moving from a spreadsheet to a system or from one system into another system, there is change.
What we do do, which is what you’ve said, is we support that change as much as we possibly can. I like to think we really get our arms around people and help them through the process because we know within a couple of months, they just wouldn’t go back.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. So no, it’s good. Rakeem, unless you’ve got anything else that you want to share with anybody who might be watching this, for me, was the conversation I wanted to have. So yeah, anything else you’d say or add?
– No, I don’t think so.
As I said, we’re over the moon with it. Certainly wouldn’t, we quite often say that we don’t really know how we survive without it at this point, at this point down the line.
With how much bigger we’ve become and how much busier we’ve become, I just dread to think how we would have done this with the old systems that we were using.
I really, it doesn’t bear thinking about, no, thank you.