[Editor’s Note] This month, we are delighted to welcome, Stefan Sigurdson, CEO of Allen Roofing & Siding to our industry leader Q&A. There is no better way to learn than directly from other business owners and we are excited to have Stefan share his perspective. Allen Roofing & Siding has been a leading provider of roofing, siding, gutters and tuckpointing services throughout the St. Louis metro area. An unwavering dedication to outstanding customer service and quality workmanship has served as the foundation of the business since 1972.
[MV] How do you envision the role of technology in your business longer term? What impact do you think it will have on your company and industry?
[SS] There’s no doubt that technology will play a greater role in our business over time. As with most home service businesses, our primary focus is on our people and process. Success in our business is predicated on having great people operating efficiently to deliver our service — a completed job thats on-time and on-budget leads to customer satisfaction. We then consider how best to layer in different technology solutions to augment our people — we want to ensure they are spending their effort on the highest and best use of their time, not on low level tasks. It’s really an exciting time right now as we are constantly being introduced to new products that could make a positive impact on our business and industry.
[MV] When considering implementing technology in your business is it generally to cut costs, grow revenue, or both?
Our primary focus right now is on growth, but that doesn’t mean growth at all costs. We want to grow efficiently and profitably. Our view is that technology will provide us that capability for achieving this balance. Implementing new technology can come with an upfront cost, but any product or service that allows us to operate more seamlessly has an immediate ROI. The challenge for us is that we can do everything at once, otherwise we risk breaking the machine. We want to be methodical about how we layer software into the process over time.
[MV] Can you tell us about a software product that you have implemented recently and the impact it has had on your company?
[SS] We use a CRM tool called Leap (formerly known as Job Progress). This program has allowed our business to communicate more effectively internally with our team and externally with our customers. The entire customer lifecycle from lead to estimate to production to billed and paid is captured with all sorts of information that our sales, production, and accounting teams can access at any time to do their jobs more effectively. We were 100% paper based workflow prior to implementing. There is more work ahead to fully adopt all of the features and integrate ancillary products, but this software is making a huge impact on our business and opening up lines of communication across our team. There is no way our prior system would scale such that we could achieve our goals.
[MV] Implementing new products and tools in your business can feel risky and expensive. What are the pitfalls you know you have to avoid?
[SS] We are focused on making sure our process is right and our team is ready. Our business has existed for over 50 years without leveraging the latest technology available. It's important we keep this in perspective and focus on our team and process first. Implementing something new that isn't properly vetted or communicated internally will create more issues. Change can be difficult even when it’s done for the right reasons. We have to bring the organization along as part of this process — it can’t just be dictated from the top down. The team needs to be bought in to the changes we are making and that’s why communication is key.
[MV] Is there a pain point you know you want to solve with software but haven't been able to yet?
[SS] We have multiple areas of focus where there is too much friction in a process. We know that technology is available, but we aren't rushing to implement something too soon. We are first trying to address these issues through process improvement without software. While at the same time evaluating all options and participating in demos, and considering how this impacts our overall technology set-up.
[MV] Home services businesses still require great tradespeople. Have you tried any employee engagement tools? If so, how do you evaluate it and what has been the impact thus far?
[SS] Attracting, developing, and retaining great people is core to our business so we are always looking for ways to improve our capability in this regard. Turnover is not just an indirect cost — it can mean lost revenue as well as additional expense to recruit new people. We are evaluating a program called Whistle. It's a fantastic program that would allow our management team to engage with our team and create incentives. We can text or email team messages, along with a reimbursement or reward on a preloaded card saved to an individual's apple wallet. The vast majority of our team operate in the field not at a desk, so our ability to communicate and collaborate with them is critical for ensuring they are engaged and feeling valued.
[MV] Thanks Stefan! We appreciate you providing us a peek into your business and process.