How To Understand CRM
Devin MillerThe Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
How To Understand CRM
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
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you know never forgetting how to communicate uh um you know i i and i think i think so and and over and not over complicating life life is simple [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive expert i'm your host evan miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups into seven and eight figure businesses as well as a founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat now today we've got another great uh guest on the podcast rail bricker and rail we're going to be talking about a couple of things i think will certainly be of interest one is just in general how do you create a startup culture uh within your business and kind of what that associated with and then the other one we're going to talk is a little bit about crms customer relationship management you know definitely is uh is becoming a bigger part of the business sometimes they can have some great uses but other times it's much better to monitor daily progress to have the team sit around the white board and actually sit face to face and build those relationships and then we'll talk a little bit more as about building relationships in general and how to how to get the relationships built quickly and leverage those relationships so some great conversations and with that much uh as an introduction welcome on the podcast rail thank you very much devin great to be here so i gave kind of a bit of a quick run through as uh a few of the topics where we're likely hit on today but before we uh dive into that maybe just introduce yourself a bit to the audience a bit about the your background and why you have some experience in these areas and we'll go from there thanks devin i i'm perth based in perth western australia um having been the next south african lived in australia for 22 years now um from a background perspective i've done i've done a lot i i embraced the idea that my late father said which is you know one day when you retire have 40 years experience not one year 40 times over and so i started my working career underground on mine 6 000 foot underground and ended up in a small software house started my own businesses in 1990 i reversed listed those in 1996 spent five or six years in venture capital came to australia listed a vc fund on the australian stock exchange went back out on my own to be a solopreneur in 2001. i still own that business it's a mortgage origination business done over three billion australian dollars in mortgages and seven years ago after two cardiac stents i decided to follow a real passion which is being on stage and helping other businesses grow and so i transitioned i still own my financial services business but i work a lot as a professional speaker mentor and facilitator for small and medium enterprise no and that's uh definitely a great uh walkthrough and a great introduction so i've done a lot learned a lot and excited to chat a little bit about some of the topics at hand so with that let's uh dive right in so one of the the topics where we talked a little bit before the uh before the podcast was uh with your jar or with regards to generally creating a startup culture within your business so that can be you know from the get-go how do you keep that because you know a lot of times maybe when it's just you or you and one other individual a founder by you know by nature a lot of times you are a startup culture because it's just you or you and a founder but as your business starts to grow it can get more difficult at least from my perspective i've been using that startup culture in the business as it continues to develop and to bring other people on so how do you kind of go about creating a startup culture within your business so i i think thank you very much and ask great question the the challenge is to actually do it somewhat intentionally but somewhat organically and i know that sounds a bit weird but but the idea being if you focus too much on we're going to do this to create a culture i i think it becomes too static i think i think you have to have an idea of how you want it to be and so so in all my businesses we've again started as solopreneurs employed our first staff employed the second staff uh you know and and grown the business there on but what we've done is we've kind of stuck to our core values so so you know in my research around the world on culture and i do a lot of work in that culture space i've interviewed 85 companies large and small some from 10 employees to some 90 000 employees and the overriding principle and it applies to small business startups as well is that there were two factors that really made great cultures and that was purpose and values and i guess the purpose when you start your own business is your why and and some and cynics famous about starting with why and and lots of writers have written about the why if you're clear about why you're doing what you're doing and you make that infectious you you bring the team along on that journey with you of what drives you to be successful and what and and i guess part of that is you know every business needs customers and customers give you feedback well you know if that customer feedback is reflective of your why your passion that's what makes it ineffective on the rest of your team so when you bring a star from wrong you know i'm a bit harsh i'm closed off and i say to them i'm actually a nice guy you know i only fired two people in my life thankfully i turn around to staff and i say i'm going to give you enough rope and i go for what you know well you either drown yourself you're going to drown because you're not pulling yourself out the water or you're going to hang yourself with that rope but you've got your choice pull yourself out the water and come along on the journey with us or you're not going to make it but we're going to give you enough rope to do it and so that from my businesses over time is empowering staff so so the working title of my book that i published in 2018 it became called dive in which is a different story for another time but the actual working title for a long time was give up control to gain control and that's how i created a culture of startup a startup culture is i empowered my team as soon as i got them on i employed them because they had certain skills you you know you're not employing somebody who was you know um you know sweeping the street yesterday to come and write code for you today although at times there were lots of guys who could code with steeping streets because they couldn't get jobs but you know um but but you employ someone for a particular skill set let them use their skill set let them ask you questions i mean i also meet lots of startup founders who don't want to share their knowledge and i think that would be if you're happy to share your knowledge and train people with the knowledge that they might leave you then you create this amazing culture of shared vision of shared purpose and of shared values now one no and i think that that that definitely makes sense since the great uh great great information one thing you hit on that uh thought was interesting that had a great question is you talked a little bit about hey we're going to create a culture you know some of it is you need to almost impart that culture part of that excitement and otherwise share you know kind of your motivation and what you're doing and why you're doing it and then to some degree becomes contagious right in other words a lot of people will catch that fire and catch that and or cast that idea you know how do you go about doing that doing that within i think in a general sense it makes sense but the question would be is a bit how do you go about doing that within a business such that you're saying you know do you go around saying hey we're a startup we want to change the world you know kind of do that idea is it more of hate you know i guess i'm trying to think about in the practical implication when i'm meeting with my teams when i'm talking i didn't or certainly agree you should be sharing that but how do you go about doing it or what do you share does that make sense yeah so i mean at the end of the day the the the the as they say in french the reza and betray the reason for existence of any business should be to solve a problem okay you know you're not going to get clients and you're not going to do anything if you're not solving a problem now i my driver in life personal driver is solving problems i you know if i have to do the same thing day after day and i'm not solving a problem for somebody i get really bored really quickly so so in any business any entrepreneur who starts a business should be starting it because they're solving a problem and so they need to find the people around them who want to solve the same problem that's really you know that's part of it is is that's how you you're not going out and saying you're not selling it to them but you're saying you know i i realize there's a problem and i want to solve it well i'm going to go and find not necessarily and we're not talking about you know finding more of the same because we do need diversity we do need the richness of diversity and inclusion in our businesses but what we're looking for is find people who share the same passion for solving the same problems and so even if and that's what it's about it's about you know over the years in the mortgage business where you know the financial services business as we grew and and class customers so the way i started it was obviously did everything got my first staff started handing over tasks to a point where now 20 years later i still see customers because i love seeing customers i love solving their problems but then my team take over all the admin but the feedback that comes to me through the team is that hey wow those customers really enjoyed the problem you've solved really enjoyed the fact that you solved their problem tell me more about how you did that so i can do that for my customers i think that's the best way i've created a culture here no and i think that makes sense i think that too often i i think it it's easy for if you're the founder co-founder you're in in the company early on a lot of that you talk by nature in other words you know if you're the person that's starting a business you've thought that through or you've talked it with your founder but as you grow and as you get bigger often times you stop you start to focus more on the day-to-day the i wouldn't say the mundane but the things that the tasks you have to get accomplished is easy to stop talking about what you're why you started what you're doing what the purpose is what the goals are and that overarching big picture because you're focused on the day-to-day and yet that's a lot of times when you miss a lot of that that culture is infusing it because you stop talking about it and focus on the day-to-day now that's just one comment on that i agree with you you have to you have to keep reminding the team why you're doing it and you have to keep reminding yourself you know what you know and and in my work with small and medium businesses i do a lot of stuff around what happens when your wire goes fuzzy what happens when you're looking through those rose tinted spectacles and nothing's in focus in front of you you know how do you actually bring yourself back you know how do you and and sometimes it's going back to basics but the key i think to successful entrepreneurship and successful startups is that ability to be able to work in the business because you know every guru says don't work in the business work on the business but the truth of it is as your business grows your team need to understand that you can do the job but you choose to empower them to do it as opposed to employing stuff and telling them to do it so if you have a mindset of empowering your team empowering your team to do the job then they come along with it on the journey so whereas i i meet entrepreneurs who go i've employed this person and and and i don't feel like training them i don't want to train them and and the main reason i get is oh because they're going to leave me in five years and leave with my intellectual property that's part of the world but in those five years they're going to give blood for the company they're going to share that vision they're going to go out there and so what if they leave you know there's no such thing as slavery anymore at least we don't think there is in in in most parts of the western world no i i know that uh definitely and i think that you know you there is a fear that people are going to leave your business and i think that there is probably some reality and most of you look at most their employees aren't going to stay with your business for the entirety of their career and you know and that that's not a bad thing you just need to build that in an understanding hey they're going to be here for a period of time they're going to contribute they're going to do it and they're going to be part of the culture and they're going to probably move on at some point and new people will come in so it's just part of the growth and evolution of the business and so i think that's some great points now shifting gears just a bit because one of the other things that we chatted on before the podcast as well is a little bit about crms versus whiteboards and i know you kind of talked to how you guys incorporate more whiteboards and daily progress and how you sitting here on the whiteboard a lot of times is better than just looking at a crm on a computer screen and looking at a number so tell us a little bit about you know kind of how you how you view the using a whiteboard and monitoring daily progress and otherwise using it to build team so so it's interesting with the evolution of that i had a staff member early days probably 15 years ago in in the mortgage business in the finance business and she turned around to me one day she had a pile of 40 files on her desk and she was a good five foot eight and and and this pile of files when she sat down was taller than her and she once jokingly said to me if that pile of files falls over and hits the floor i'm going to resign before it hits the floor because i don't want to clean it up and so i thought about it and i and then i started questioning i had three or four assistants working just on my clients at that point and i started asking them how they managed that pile of files on their desk and they said to me oh well you know some days if they're feeling really energetic they'll work through the hard ones and other days they'll just take the hard ones and put them in the bottom of the pipe okay and deal with the easy stuff on the top which is kind of human nature right so i thought about it and i said the average one of my team members had 40 clients that they were looking after at any one point so i started thinking about a system where i could and i said to them what's the problem they said well they walk in and all they see is this big pile and it's kind of demotivating to see that okay so let's find another way so the next thing i did was i bought bookshelves and i put and and there were five shelves my and i i came in and this is what i mean by entrepreneur being involved i came in with a labeling machine and i labeled the shelves monday to friday and i said to them right pick up the file at steven miller's file as an example right and today today is monday and you look at the file you call the lender you do some work you email devin because you're waiting for paperwork or you're waiting for the bank and then you expect to have an answer by thursday physically take that file and put it on the thursday shelf so that now and after a week you've taken your 40 files and broken them down into five piles of eight so when you walk in on tuesday morning you're only taking a small pile of things off your shelf not a large path and then you go through the same process and redistribute them for the next week and then i brought in the whiteboard so i said okay now let's even have a better way that i can help you manage your systems and so next to each staff member i put up a small whiteboard you know you know a meter wide basically um and we we got this permanent tape and we taped off five columns and called them monday to friday and i said to them right now write down on monday or on thursday if you put devin miller's file on thursday write miller under the thursday column and so that's how the process started was all black or black colors and over time it's evolved to other colors for coding but so that's how it started and then what would happen is in my daily huddle with the team i would walk in and sit down with a team member and i'd say hey rachel right tell me about every one of the files or the files that you've got to deal with today what are the challenges what are the problems what can i do to make your job easier all right and so that you'd say well yes this devin miller character oh my god you know his payslips are so confusing can you help me work out what his annualized income is right no problem it's visually up there on the board we sit down we work through the file we work through all the problems and often we would bring the entire team around each person's desk and i felt that was a good way of teaching the team members to collaborate so there were four team members would go from each desk to each desk going through each person's files because i i obviously started off i was 100 in the business as i started transitioning to do other things i'd be in the office three days a week for you know and so monday wednesday friday i would do these daily huddles with a team and and so that whiteboard and we one of the banks offered us some kaizen training you know they were very into kaizen systems in the bank and whatever and one of the things in kaizen is visual is visual management they call it and so i got the kaizen expert and he came in to see me and was telling me all about kaizen and i said come let's go for a walk and we walked to the open plan area and i said well those white boards next to everyone's desk that's a visual planning system and what had happened is over time it evolved that there are four colors they use now for the four stages of the loan so i could sit there as well with them or walk past and see four different colors and know from just the color that they've written devon miller's name in what stage his loan is at so very very simple and then i would say okay why has it been read for two weeks now what's the hold up so it became an incredibly simple management system we run a crm we have to we run a a full crm system that does everything and sends me emails every day you know it's it's john's birthday tomorrow send him a birthday message and all that stuff and our crm system links into the banks now and that's how we lodge the deals but the problem with the crm as a general thing is it's individually based so each of my staff gets their to-do list on their screen which matches the board but for me to go to them and say just pull up on your screen your to-do list let's work through it i still use the whiteboard even with a sophisticated crm as a way of allowing the team to communicate and actually gives my manager the manager that that has been with me 15 years now gives him a way of managing workflow because he looks at someone's board from across the room and says yeah they've only got 25 files let's allocate them some more clients without having to go into the crm you can get the same information but quickly and easily you can look at the board and go yep he has another file for you now one question and i think that definitely makes sense as a great system and i do think that you know i i'm probably been the same way different thing you know as far as manage it but for me sometimes it's just that there you know while you can put it up on a computer screen there's a difference in writing it out visually managing it they'll erase it change it update it do different colors then it's just sometimes you know just harder irreplaceable to capture on a computer and while you need both it seems like a lot of times people tend to gravitate towards but i need my technology and that's the best way to do it did you ever get any pushback or people who were saying yeah that sounds great but i still want to use my crm because you know that's i like technology and especially as you get younger generations that are more used to technology as opposed to whiteboards was there any sort of pushback there um no because they came into an organization where there was just what was done okay and and yeah and there were questions over time of yeah look i've got this fancy funnel showing up on my dashboard and it shows me all the working that's great and you're happy to manage that but when i walk in and i want to sit down next to you and solve problems with you and help you and teach you and help you grow as a person in this business then i want to look up at the board and go you know because they're still dealing with you know clients that are my clients clients that i've dealt with and so i'll look up at the board and go devin miller tell me what's wrong there why is there a holder you know and so that for me and but it's become part of the culture you know i mean as a practical joke one of the team members here is very ocd you know he is very organized you know his pens have to be in a particular order and so the staff as a joke the one day to found a whole lot of other red pens and replaced every one of his pens with a red pen just to confuse him you know you know but that's part of this the sort of fun culture that we have here but but you know he embraces that but yet uses a computer you know and we have to we have to keep detailed notes on clients and things all that's done on the computer system but the just the management of the workflow is what it's about no and i think that that that gender definitely makes sense and so i think there's a lot of wisdom and i think you have to find you know while the exact system you talked about the whiteboard and you know what the you know how that interacts with the crm it may change a bit you know differently but i do think you have to look and say you know just rather than just rely on technology or rely on the whiteboard is find the system that works best or best for your culture if you're saying hey we need to be able to sit down we need to be able to talk through things we need to be able to see these visually we need to not you know not just rely on technology and vice versa you can't just run everything off an excel spreadsheet and a whiteboard and never have anything else otherwise you're going to always be overloaded and hard to track it so i think let's find that incorporation of the balance and then as you said and use that into the culture of hey this is the reasons why we're doing it this is why it makes sense this is why we set it up and i've even found that a lot of times i'll start to charge down the path of here's what we need to do and go you know tell the team go build this and i'll oftentimes jump over the y because in my mind it makes perfect sense and let's go build it and yet then i usually have to take a step back and explain hey this is why we're doing it this is how we're doing it this is why it makes sense and this is how it fits in with our culture and what we're doing and then when you infuse that why you there almost always it makes a much better product and a much better outcome than if i just tell them this is what they need to implement so i think that absolutely taking them on the journey it's taking them on the journey and saying in fact i'll go one step further my staff hate it when i do that i'll walk in to a morning huddle and i'll go you know i was i was thinking overnight and i'll go oh oh here comes a problem no in my the way i always do it is i usually say i was out for a because i usually i love to run or i like the benefits of running i like to get out in the morning and run and exercise and whatnot and i usually listen to podcasts or books on tape and i usually start the same sentence with i was out listening to a podcast or out or listening to a book on tape and i have this thought and they're like oh here's a new thing and then i have then i explain it sometimes like oh we don't want to do that or oh that's a great idea so no i definitely have that that same or entire kind of uh habit with the the culture or with the the staff here as well so well as we wrap up and there's a lot more things we could talk about i'm sure it'd be a great time and maybe sometime we'll have to have that conversation in the future but as far as for this episode as we start to wrap up um you know we talked about a lot of different things we talked about how it is generally infused in startup culture how you you know bring people and help them understand how you have those conversations and then also how you can start to infuse the you know what balance between technology and and be able to sit down and communicate and brainstorm and how you get everybody into grouping around together and how all that goes in towards a great balance a lot of things that we covered and you know if you're in a listening audience there may be you know more things that you could start on that you reasonably have the bandwidth to start on so people could just start on kind of one thing today one takeaway that they could get implementing or starting on today or to better better the business what would that one thing be um i think it's learning you know never forgetting how to communicate um you know i and i think i think so and over and not over complicating life life is simple you know you said yes we've got this fancy crm system you know what i i spend a lot of time with a big flip chart on my desk just drawing things out and sometimes i do it on the screen in my laptop and other times i just feel the need to be creative and draw things and a lot of that is looking at the systems and so as much as i'm this out there you know you know person who has the attention span of a goldfish most of the time but if i close the door of my office and i say i'm just closing the door file for now i've got to think and i go and look at a particular process in the organization and then i go and i'll sit there and draw it and i'll and i'll try and cross out blocks that make it simpler because that's that to me is the key to business success is keeping it simple you know at the end of the day you have a product the product itself can be incredibly technical and complex that's okay but at the end of the day you have to explain it to a customer in a way that the customer can understand it and that the rest of your team can go on that journey and so by keeping things simple by having you know i i say when you employ new stuff if you can't explain your entire workflow on a single a4 piece of paper it's too complicated no i think that that is definitely it's just about focusing on the business as it grows and keeping it simple not over complicating things yes you'd have an operations manual for xyz when you're at 20 stop that's okay but explain the operations manual in four lines that's what you want to get to didn't agree more so well awesome well i think that's a great takeaway and definitely think that uh it covered a lot of great uh areas of expertise so now with that is we are wrapping up the podcast that people want to reach out to you they want to be a customer they want to be a client they want to read your book they want to be an employee they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you contact you find out more okay so rail at railbreaker.com my direct email i'm very active on social media on linkedin mostly anyone can contact me just don't try and sell to me 30 seconds after you connect with me on linkedin that's just one of my biggest backpacks but yeah linkedin or rail at railbreaker.com and anyone who wants to get a a copy of the book um there it is up on the screen now for those watching the video and i'm assuming assuming you'll put that out in the show notes railbreaker.com free book and they can download a copy of diving the lessons are learnt over 30 years as an entrepreneur awesome well i definitely encourage people to check out the book connect empathy and otherwise uh utilize or leverage a lot of your expertise so thank you again rail for coming on the podcast it's been fun it's been a pleasure and uh now for all of you listeners if you uh enjoyed this episode we'd love it if you could uh click subscribe click share and otherwise leave us a review because we want to make sure that everybody can find out about all this great expertise to make sure that they can help or continue to grow their business and make it successful also if you ever need help with uh with your business with patents trademarks or anything else feel free to go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat and we're always here to help well thank you again rail for coming on a podcast and uh wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you very much and uh look forward to to being on the next leg of the journey [Music] you