Windows Active selected our very own Elton Boocock as their Director of the month. With the massive success of Business Pilot and the way the business (and system) has come forward as a ‘challenger brand’ to and taken the industry by storm, it was only a matter of time before they would want to catch up with our MD. So here is how the interview went…
NAME AND JOB TITLE:
Elton Boocock, Managing Director
It can be almost anything. My working days are pretty diverse, from creating content for social media to developing strategies and projections. A big part of my working week goes into technical direction and setting the system development road map.
Business Pilot is always evolving. While installers approach business broadly in the same way, each will have specific requirements. We’re at a point now where we have most bases covered, the platform has grown and adapted to the needs of our customers, but that doesn’t mean we have everything nailed down and if something comes in and it justifies the development, we’ll always look at new ideas.
We also invest time in the development of key industry partnerships, for example the FIT Show or FENSA. We genuinely believe we can make a positive contribution to how the industry operates as well as its bottom line and our partners are really important in communicating it.
FACTS AND FIGURES:
I left school at 16 to join the Army Junior Leader Regiment of the Royal Corp of Transport. After a year I opted not to stay in and ended up working for a property maintenance company, fitting windows, then road maintenance. My first job related to what I do now was in digital marketing – that was pre-Google, so it tells you how long ago!
When did you join or set up current company:
I set up my first digital agency in 1997. That was how I met Cherwell Windows in 2016 and we set up Business Pilot in 2017.
Most useful/favourite gadget:
My iPad. You can take your business with you wherever you go and the whole ecosystem is great. There are apps for literally anything you could ever want.
Favourite/most useful website:
Google! Because there is not a single question that you can’t find the answer to. It’s transformed how we live work.
Business person you admire:
Warren Buffett is one. For all of his enormous wealth and success, he lives a very normal life; the other is Walt Disney. He didn’t always succeed, in fact he nearly went bust on a number of occasions, but it didn’t stop him pursuing perfection.
Recommended hotel for business:
Right now, the idea of travelling anywhere for business feels pretty alien. I don’t have a specific chain that I use and in general, I try and stay in an independent hotel.
Favourite UK restaurant:
The Crazy Bear in Beaconsfield.
Best business decision:
I was always going to have to say setting up Business Pilot but it genuinely is. It’s unusual to be able to build something which as well as making companies more profitable, can make such a difference to people’s personal lives, taking away stress and pressure, improving the working environment for their staff. It has the potential to have a massive impact.
I used to do a lot of truck racing. My family are in logistics, so I grew up driving trucks. I was on course to win the 2013 season but was taken out in a race at Brands Hatch, which more or less ended my season, by Ayo Akinwolere and Blue Peter who were filming a segment! I did get a badge!!! The other factor was it cost a fortune to keep doing it. Other than that, it’s music. I’ve always played drums and write my own music.
That’s again something that’s changed in the last 12-months! We still have our offices but I’ve been working from my home office, as have the rest of the team, since March last year. We will go back but I think remote working tools like Teams, Zoom – and Business Pilot – have demonstrated that you can run your business from anywhere as long as you’re connected.
Tell us more!
The last 12-months have created clear challenges for everybody, as a business we’ve, however, seen significant growth and accelerated our progress against our projections. Business Pilot is a cloud-based CRM and business management tool. It was developed as a partnership between Cherwell and Thames Valley Windows. They hadn’t been able to find a CRM system which allowed them to manage their business process from beginning to end, including job scheduling and contract management. Having tested and trialled every pre-existing system and having found that they couldn’t find what they wanted, they took a radical step and committed to develop their own platform, bringing in me and my team, as digital specialists – and Business Pilot was ‘born’.
In the truest sense it’s designed by installers for installers, amongst other things we’ve taken Cherwell Windows Jim Breslin’s scheduling board, something which was based on 30 plus years in the window industry, digitised it and given it drag and drop functionality to boot, giving our customers the ability to schedule and reschedule jobs in seconds. The really smart thing is that it brings everything with it, so you’re cutting out admin and changing everything straight away. You don’t have to make multiple changes.
We were always confident that installers would see the benefits of the system but the first Lockdown significantly accelerated that because it forced installers to address business continuity and remote working. You can be sitting on the beach and checking your order intake and profitability on your phone, with Business Pilot, it doesn’t matter where you are. On that same basis, it allows your team to manage leads, check inventory, schedule jobs, sign-off on sites, and track your finances from anywhere.
Our customers were able to switch to remote working overnight because in a way they already were. Their systems were there on the cloud ready for them. Until COVID-19 hit they were working in the office. With Lockdown, that office was instantly accessible from people’s spare rooms and garden sheds. The infrastructure of their business didn’t change. It remained exactly the same, leads came in, they were tracked, followed up. Business was won, fitters checked their schedules on the app as they did the day before – our customers stepped into a ready-made digital business and continued to trade. For those who didn’t have a pre-existing CRM, the transition was much tougher – and I think very few would want to repeat it.
What I’m really proud of is that despite COVID-19, our developmental programme has remained on track. This includes the launch of our new Status Progression Tool. Business Pilot at its simplest does three things: it digitises your processes and your operation as an installation business, allowing you to do what you do from anywhere; it automates those processes, doing those repetitive jobs for you; and it gives you complete visibility from the start to the end of that process.
The new Status Progression Tool delivers new flexibility, visibility and efficiency to all of that, allowing installation businesses to digitise their lead to contract and contract to completion, pipelines; assign tasks or next steps; if appropriate to automate those tasks; and to track who has done what and when. The real difference is that you can make those pipelines follow the processes that are unique to your business; set the specific tasks that you want someone to complete; make sure that they do it; and instantly see where you are on that journey. You map it once, you automate as much of the process as possible, and your team have to follow that process. Imagine how you wanted your business and processes to work when you first set up – this is it! You aren’t ‘crowbarring-in’ your processes into an inflexible CRM that thinks it knows how you should run your business. The Business Pilot Status Progression moulds itself around what you do – but makes you more efficient and more profitable.
It’s hard to get across how transformative it is but as a benchmark, think about how long it takes you to take a lead through to contract, the processes involved, the things that you want your team to do but which they don’t, the mistakes that are made. Then think about it again as a completely transparent and automated process, which can be complete in literally half the time or less! You’re bringing in new consistency into your business, being better at what you do, delivering an improved service to the customer and doing all that, in less time and at lower cost. These are things that installers really need to be thinking hard about. Their competitors are already going down this route. They are operating with greater agility, more efficiently and more profitably, through tools like Business Pilot. Right now, it’s not too late, you can still catch that train, but if you wait very much longer, you’re going to miss it.
For me personally and for Business Pilot, we are at the start of our journey but making good headway. We expect to see continuing growth this year, perhaps as people step back from the hiatus of 2020 and COVID and reflect on what it means for how they work longer term. There is a really positive opportunity for people to change how they run their businesses. It’s not only about making more money but having more control and taking away the frustrations and stress. If the last 12-months has taught us anything it’s that we should place value our time away from work with family and friends.
Business Pilot isn’t only about running your business more profitably, it’s about buying you time back to enjoy the things that are a whole lot more important in life!