Data is very important because it helps you understand what’s working and what’s not in your organization. That’s why you need to have CRM tools to keep track of everything. But a CRM is not everything. Introducing Datacube – the platform where you can have all your numbers in one place! Learn more about this with Nick Parker, an experienced and highly commercial Global Director of Asset Management with a demonstrated and successful history of working in the real estate and data center industry. He explains you need to keep your data as neat as possible to save time and money! You don’t want to waste resources in your business. Learn how you could stay connected with your customers and keep them happy to succeed in the path you are destined for.
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Datacube: Combine Your Numbers in One Place! With Nick Parker
We have an exciting episode and it all revolves around data. If you're in any of these Facebook groups or have any business coaching for your business, you know data is important for you to run your business because otherwise, you're flying blind. One of the biggest problems I see is that service businesses start with a CRM and think they're on the right track.
The problem is you ask them questions about how their technicians are performing, their average ticket, average sale or which marketing methods are working the best. That one's especially true in my case. I get a lot of answers that they feel like this is working or that's not working, instead of knowing. I reached out to Nick, who's our guest and he's going to talk about how Datacube solves this problem by connecting to your CRMs. Welcome, Nick.
Thank you for having me.
Nick has got a lot of experience and education on the data end side. Nick, why don't you take us with your background? Tell us a little bit about yourself, Datacube and what the mission is. What are you trying to accomplish?
Personally, I'm trying to help business owners. That's what it boils down to. The avenue I found to do that was data because when I was in college, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I wanted to be able to speak the language of technology so I could have conversations with programmers, know where to go and how to have those conversations specifically.
I got a certification in Data Processing, Gathering and Visualization from the University of Michigan. Shout out to Coursera.org. I highly recommend it for learning. That inspired me to minor in Computer Science and then major in my professional selling track as I did. I was looking for an avenue to be able to combine those, speak to business owners and help them solve problems when it comes to data because that's a huge thing in the future economy of being able to parse big data.
That's my background. I've been with the company. We've come a long way and got many additions, iterations, updates and all sorts of stuff going on in that time. As far as Datacube, where we have come is, it originally started with Ishmael. He was trying to get some dashboards made. Long story short, he hired some programmers to do it.
It wasn't what he thought the final deliverable would be or should be. One day, he was venting to one of our other owners and was like, “I got some programmers and designers at my company. Let me see if I can help you.” He had some changes and a couple of thousand programming hours later, here we are as a full-fledged data visualization company.
We set out to make businesses data more easily digestible, not so overwhelming and customizable. The point is to not give you some Warren Buffett spreadsheet that you have to parse through all day but to show you exactly what data points you need to know so that you can at a glance know exactly what's going on with the different parts of your business and be able to make better decisions based off of that.
We'll touch on that topic that you mentioned. The data points that it pulls. What do you focus on? There's a lot of data. In most CRMs, you can pull an endless string of stuff and you won't know what probably 70% of it is.
We focus on what business owners tell us that they focus on. That's the bottom line. Originally, we built an out-of-the-box dashboard model based on what Ishmael wanted. That's how we structure it, but anytime I give a demo. I'll say, “What is important to you? What are you trying to dial in on this year? What goals do you have?” I get a wide variety of answers.
I will get people who are trying to focus on average tickets, memberships, reviews or whatever the case. It's whatever people are focused on. We have NDAs and I don't want to give away their secrets, but there are all sorts of stuff that you wouldn't even think of if you weren't in that business that is important to people. As long as it's important to them, it's important to us. We take those endpoints and show them which way they want to see them.
My understanding is you connect to several very well-known CRMs. Do you want to go through the list? That way, in case someone's reading and be like, “You connect with the CRM I use.”
We have connections already made to ServiceTitan. That's the big monster in the room in the best way. Housecall Pro, pulseM, Podium, QuickBooks, Intact, CallRail, CallFire and Manager. We can connect to any system with an API is the long story short of it. As you might imagine, I've gotten all sorts of software that I've heard of since I started doing this and I've come across 2 or 3 that don't have an API. As long as it has an API and the software is in the 21st century, you should be good.
If you have software or CRM that you're paying for and it does not have an API connection, find someone else. I hate to say it because there are some good companies out there, but if they have not kept up with open-sourcing their information so you can take that information and work with something else, you're not living in 2021. That's what you do well.
[bctt tweet="Focus on what business owners tell you that they focus on. That's the bottom line. It’s what the business owners are valuing at the moment. " username=""]
You have a gentleman who does a good job of promoting you with his slick 6 or 8 monitors in his office that he shows. From the limited stuff that I've seen, it looks like most of the data, at least the important data points that people concern themselves with, would be sales leaderboards, marketing attribution and reputation management, as far as who's getting reviews and CSR scorecards. Is there anything else that you focus on or see that is a popular thing that people want to track?
We have dashboards for all of those and more technicians, financials and all sorts of stuff. Those are out-of-the-box ones, as I attributed or alluded to. We have gotten all sorts of requests for custom boards, whether it's as simple as memberships, if that is something important to them or zero ticket explanations, as far as why zero tickets are happening or why they're not meeting certain sales thresholds or automating extremely complex and man-hour-consuming Excel sheets that people have had for a while and turning them into live dashboards so that people don't have to keep spending man-hours on that in 2021. It's whatever business owners are valuing at the moment.
I'm most familiar with Ishmael and his pictures. Stacy does a good job because they love the color green as I do. You do too. At least, those are the ones I've seen. You can custom-create pretty much anything for dashboards. Is that fair to say?
That's true. It is whatever a business owner wants. There was a comment that says, “What about CRM that's like Salesforce for smaller businesses?” Whatever a business owner wants to see, whether that's a different CRM, as long as it has an API or a certain dashboard, KPI or conditions on certain KPIs if they don't want it to include certain things or only include certain business units, we do all of that. It's custom-tailored to whatever business owners are valuing at the moment.
To sum that point up, whatever CRM you are using, even if you're not in the home service businesses and not using some of the more popular ones that are trade-specific. Salesforce is more like a general CRM that does a lot of different things well. It's like the ServiceTitan outside of ServiceTitan, if that makes any sense. They have a lot of different functionalities, but they serve a lot of industries and can be custom-made. Do you need to ask your client success manager or whatever their title is, if they have an API connection, or google it online? “If they have an API connection, let's make it happen.”
That is typically what I'll do. We'll say a specific software. I'll google that software name, API and usually with some documentation that says these data endpoints are available and all that good stuff. It's a conversation of, “How do we connect to it? How do we show you what you want to see? How do we show you the data endpoints that are important to you and not show you the ones that aren't?”
With that being said, Datacube has been around for how long?
It has been in development since 2020 and the first course went also live that year.
I'm assuming that Ishmael was probably one of the first ones. He’s the first one I remember seeing.
I believe he was the first or one of the first.
As a startup company and especially a technology company that sorts data and makes it into a nice and essentially aesthetically pleasing view, what has been the feedback from contractors and people that have started with you? You're the client success manager, so I'm assuming you hear feedback, good and bad, more often than most.
The feedback varies. It is whatever the business owner wanted when they went into it. They'll give me feedback on that part of it, whether if they wanted the information for themselves to make better decisions, be able to quickly assess whatever is going on and diagnose training opportunities for their employees.
They'll come back and tell me, “I love having the information live. I'm no longer spending an hour of my day researching financial statements that I shouldn't be doing in the first place.” If they had a bunch of Excel sheets they were making, as I alluded to, they'll come back and say, “Thank you. I can't believe we don't have to do this anymore. We've repurposed this employee that was doing that into bringing us money.” They put a leaderboard up and then all of a sudden, that competition of having the accountability and people up on the wall will suddenly make the people perform a little better. It puts a little fire under their butt.
They will ask a little more often, be more inclined to follow up, be persistent, overcome an objection or whatever the case. It depends on whatever the business owner was trying to accomplish. Overwhelmingly, we have happy customers that got whatever they were trying to get into, provided that they had reasonable expectations if somebody was trying to 10X their business or something like that. I don't know if we've seen that but reasonable goals of trying to dial in on your numbers and get people sorted and motivated. That I hear overwhelmingly.
The one nice thing and I'm speaking of ServiceTitan here because I don't know some of the other programs and how they do, is that the technicians can see their numbers regularly, but they never know how they stack up. Generally speaking, most people in general, CSRs, technicians and office staff, somebody always has a competitive desire.
Some are higher than others, but most often, people don't want to see themselves at the bottom of a leaderboard. That's a place like, “I need to start doing something better or find something else to do. If I am booking calls at the lowest rate and the next person is 5% points higher than me, maybe this isn't for me. I need to get better and ask for training.”
[bctt tweet="There are all sorts of things like average tickets, memberships, reviews, or whatever the case. It's whatever people are focused on. " username=""]
That's where I see this as a super efficient way to look at a dashboard, see what's going on and make business decisions. The days of going through 1,000 rows on a spreadsheet, trying to decipher data, taking that and making a bar chart or something, all that time wasted is a connection point. There's a lot that goes to get that connection point. That's where you come in.
I talked to Nick a little bit about this before. One of my biggest struggles as a digital marketing company is I see the calls and the leads coming in, but some clients don't track these things the way they should. It's one of those things like, “Where does the fault lie? Is it on the marketing company to track these things for them? Should the business owner be doing it?”
Personally, since I was in the contracting world, I feel like I need to help people get there. Hopefully, this episode and speaking to you will help you get the importance of tracking everything. Life business becomes so much easier with data. I know someone who works at ServiceTitan. I don't know if she reads this show. Sarah is part of the Marketing Team at ServiceTitan. I don't know if you've met her at Service World before. She's awesome. She is this huge wealth of knowledge.
When she starts asking questions, she wants to know this point and this point. She should be a great person to talk to as far as like, “How do we develop this further?” In HVAC, a lot gets talked about average ticket and stuff like that. Have you seen mostly HVAC companies jumping to do these dashboards? Have you seen some influx of some other trades starting to come on board?
Primarily, we'll see the top three of HVAC, plumbing and electrical. However, we've seen all sorts of things, whether it be pest control, restoration services, garage doors and doors in general or any type of home service that you could imagine. It is a matter of being able to dial in on exactly what's important to them in their industry and show it to them in a actionable and useful way.
We've seen all sorts of things. We're always open to new verticals. I don't think I could speak too much on which ones we've had little conversations with. Every industry has this problem of they have so much data. What do you do with it? How do you actionably capitalize on it? How do you parse it so that the return that you get from parsing through it outweighs the cost of having to parse?
Every industry is facing that problem. It is a matter of being able to dial in on what exactly in that industry or vertical is important to them and then getting the, not to name-drop too much, Ishmael equivalent to be able to give us a framework of exactly what is important to them and let us in that industry.
You think about it from a company culture perspective. I'm sure there are owners out there that think, “I don't know if my people want everyone to see their numbers.” Also, it can be a transparency thing. My question to you would be, have you seen that having these easy-to-use dashboards has led to some of your clients using that as a reward system of sorts? If we show reviews, CSR booking rates or some data point that they deem important and use that as a way to let's say, “We're going to bonus employees that get above this threshold, their top three or whatever the case is.” Have you seen that becoming a trend?
I have, overwhelmingly. As an example, at Service World. He's an open book and I know he wouldn't care if I tell this story. Ishmael was telling me about what he will do is check his average service ticket at certain points of the month. He knows at what point it becomes profitable and unprofitable. If it's below a certain point, he will do a little group chat with the guys and say, “I noticed it's a little low this month. If there's anybody who feels like being the guy and you have the highest average ticket this month, I'll give you $1,000 in cash.” His guys are well-compensated as is, so it's not like they're like trying to get that $1,000 so much but also the recognition and competition, as we were alluding to.
I'm incredibly competitive to a faultlike, “I want that recognition. I want to be the number one. I don't want to be last. That's not even a thought to me of being last.” It will encourage the guys to go for the ask, whether it be on memberships, an upsell or a turnover, to try to push that little extra mile, overcome that objection a little harder, come back once more where they otherwise would have given up or whatever the case. It does encourage people to be their best. If you're in a competition where only the best survive or thrive, you got to step up to the plate.
I go back to the last company that I worked with. We had ServiceTitan. As the person who was in charge of the marketing and a lot of the operations stuff internally, I would run reports on Monday morning to get similar information, so I could pass it out. The problem is I had to run the reports or manually count this or even with ServiceTitan because there are 800,000 reports inside of ServiceTitan. You can customize them all, but it's one of those things that are still like the old days where you put everything on a spreadsheet.
It's overload. I usually had 4 or 5 reports. My go-to is I need to know the campaign summary, CSR booking and technician average ticket type stuff. Using and putting that up at a shop where everyone can see it, there's no bias, “This guy is always talking to the service manager or the call center manager.” There are no favorites. This is purely data-driven and based on if you're good at your job and meeting certain criteria.
What's beautiful about putting that out there is you can put multiple data points. Not everyone is going to be the best-selling technician, but they may be the best at getting reviews or memberships because people trust them. Having multiple competitions within your business is going to allow for multiple people, hopefully, to win, which brings that culture where everyone's excited to come to work. As soon as they sell a membership, there’s that whole excitement and adrenaline high because they know it's going on the leaderboard, their numbers are going to change and that gamification is becoming so important.
I see that in our clients. They'll not only use it if a guy is good at this or not bad. It's also a training opportunity to be able to identify everyone's strengths and weaknesses. I know Ishmael in particular, he’ll have the TVs in the specific training room. His managers will go and then have meetings. They don't even need a preset agenda. They just go look at the board and see, “You need to work on this. This is low generally.” You can identify those training opportunities.
As an extension of that, you'd be able to set people up with proper training, whether it's one-on-one. You can identify your strong links and get your weak links set up with them in a shadowing situation. That is something that I do hear a lot as far as the feedback on our boards with training opportunities, being able to reward people for their strengths and lean into their strengths. It’s a huge thing.
To play off that point, everybody knows there is a shortage of skilled trade workers. Having the data at your fingertips, you don't have to even come up with the new training topic of the week because you can talk about what happened last week on a board. You don't have to prepare and do all these other things.
[bctt tweet="The competition of having accountability and people up on the wall will suddenly make the people perform a little better." username=""]
They save you time and money because you can hone in on certain things instead of hiring a consultant. I'm assuming since you're a data company, that data and easy-to-use actionable insights are the future of business in general. I know there are certain things you can't tell us. Is there anything coming in the future that you can share with us about Datacube?
We're working on moving with the technology, trying to get more adaptive work, looking at some things as far as artificial intelligence, taking certain things into account for projecting and all that good stuff, and being able to serve our clients' needs better. We're starting to hear people who have multi-locations a lot more. We're working on organizing our data to be able to accommodate those people and do what we do but in a better and more adaptable way. Ultimately, that's what the technology space is all about. It’s being able to adapt to the moment, rise to the occasion and fit the needs of whatever the moment calls for.
Do you have the capacity? I know Nexgen has multiple locations as well as many other businesses. It's becoming a popular trend even from the marketing side because of the way Google's algorithm is on the local side of things. Can you split the data as is between location one versus location four? That way, you have separate data at those branches but also an overall company dashboard at headquarters.
You can take wherever the data points are and separate them so they can compete locally. Some of these companies are getting very big. They can compete locally but also compete regionally or nationally.
It's all up to whatever the business owner or franchise head is trying to accomplish. In any way, that's what we specialize in. However you want to see data and however it is useful to you or the business owner, that's what we do.
If people want to get a demo, is your website the best place?
It's Datacube.ai. There's a little button right at the bottom that says Request A Demo. You do need an NDA to get a demo because we go through Ishmael's build out. That is real business information. We're working on filing a patent soon. At that point, I don't think we're going to be requiring an NDA. It's a simple little ten-question form. It kicks you over a little NDA to sign, put your John Hancock on that, I verify it and it gets you a demo.
Let's say that someone gets to that point like, “Let's do this.” What is the setup time like? What is the timeframe from the time they say yes to the time where, “I got actionable data that I can do something with?”
If they're working with softwares that we've worked with already like ServiceTitan, Housecall, Podium, QuickBooks and all that good stuff, typically about 3 to 4 weeks is our turnaround time. That might change in the future and be a little less. If you have any heavy customization, it might be a little longer.
3 to 4 weeks is the bulk of who you work with. If it’s some custom, maybe up to two months. This is so people are aware if they're looking to get data before a certain time of season or something like that. They can have it up and running by this date if they wanted to.
Even customization is typically not more than six weeks. It's a matter of being able to make the initial connection and then tie together whatever data points that they're trying to tie together. It’s usually four weeks for out-of-the-box and six weeks for custom work.
To anyone reading this, it's worth spending a little bit of time to at least see what this could do for you so you can imagine what your company may look like. Not only is the data important, but the culture of your company is also super important. You can help fix these things and even weed out some bad apples. Maybe they don't want to be a part of this and it's not their thing. Weed them out now before it's a problem later. I’m thankful for you coming on the show, Nick. I know this was your first show, which happened to be my first full-time hosting without Tersh to fall back on. We knocked it out of the park. Nothing burned down.
I appreciate you having me. This went well. I enjoyed it very much.
I appreciate it. If you need any more information, go to Datacube.ai. It’s another fancy. They're a software company. Until next time. We'll see you next time.
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