You will also discover why his employees know what they need to do the moment they walk in the door!
OWEN: Hi. My guest today is Tom Caesar and he is the Managing Director at Positive Lending Solutions. Tom, welcome to the show.
TOM: Thanks for having me Owen. I’m stoked to be here.
OWEN: Awesome. This show is all about getting guests like yourself, in your case you’ve been able to systematize your entire business so that it actually runs without you. And we want to learn how you did that. But first of all I want to capture the listener’s attention and keep them all the way to the end of the interview. What are some mind blowing results that you now experience as a result of going through that process of systematizing and automating your business?
TOM: I suppose for us we’ve doubled our workforce year on year. So we’ve doubled in staff numbers, we’ve doubled in revenue, our net profits have doubled, and just our productivity. We’re able to really coach, manage, and do everything we need to do by systemizing everything and automating a lot of the work flows. So for us it really has been the core to the growth of our business.
OWEN: Okay. How has your company been transformed as a result of systematizing the business?
TOM: Probably the most important part for us is in the early days we went to a phase of it was really hard to measure exactly what was going on within the business without having those KPI’s and actually record exactly what results we were getting by systemizing everything and having that information at our fingertips. A prime example is just being able to coach our sales guys on call recordings, and then capture those call recordings against different campaigns. And just being able to track those things has been huge for us.
OWEN: One of the things you said during the pre-interview is that you said you’ve been able to add more staff. And when they work the first day they walk through the door they’d know exactly what they need to do from day 1.
TOM: Yup, definitely. The first two weeks they have a program they go through. Once they start with dealing with clients direct our processes are set in Salesforce. So really for them there’s no escaping in trying to do things differently. Four years ago we were using Salesforce but we weren’t using it properly. So that’s where our new staff now come in and they have to follow our systems and our processes because they’re forced to. They can’t do it any other way.
OWEN: How’s your personal life been transformed as a result of systematizing your business?
TOM: A lot less stress. It’s a trip for us. We know whether a staff member is going to work out or not in the first few months. And for me I’m able to step back and focus on building on the business. I’ve got them work. Probably 4-5 years ago I’d be up until 3 or 4 in the morning, and probably a lot of that was building these systems and procedures. But now I’ve got a lot better work-life balance are into also next Friday. I’m off for 6 weeks on my honeymoon. And I’m pretty comfortable that I can leave it in the other management’s hands. And the business will function as is.
OWEN: Speaking about being away from the business, I’m wondering, since you’ve been able to systematize the business and it actually runs without you what is the longest time you’ve actually been away from it?
TOM: I went away about 2 years ago for 7 weeks. I did work while I was overseas. I went over for the Dream Force Conference and then travel the US. But since then we’ve built a really good senior management team and it’s at a point where I go away next Friday. I’m diverting my phone to reception. And we’ve got the other senior managers that will be stepping up and just doing their roles and I won’t be taking my computers. I’m planning on having a proper break where I actually learned to relax again.
OWEN: Awesome. The listeners are probably wondering what exactly does your company do. What exactly does your company do and what are the big pains you solve for your customers?
TOM: Okay. Basically our customers come to us for a loan. It could be for a home loan, a car loan, or any other commercial equipment. And they come to us via some of the digital marketing we do. So what we’ve created is a platform for our customers to not have to meet us face-to-face at 7 o’clock at night when they finish work, or before work, or on their lunch break. And actually give them the tools to be able to deal with us without having that face-to-face meeting. So for us we’re based in Adelaide, Australia. We now have a market of all of Australia instead of just Adelaide. For us that’s essentially what we do. We’ve created a tool that stops that 2 or 3 meetings that you have to have and keep it simple for the busy person who works 40, 50, 60 hour week.
OWEN: How many full-time employees do you have and is the company profitable. What was last year’s revenue and what do you think you can do this year?
TOM: Okay. We’ve just hired our 50th employee last week. So I think we’re up to 52 now.
TOM: Thank you. We plan on continuing the growth. I think by year’s end we’ll be at about 70. We’re on track the end of the financial year here in Australia is up next month and we’re on track to crack 7 million in revenue. And now our net profits will be around about 2.4 million. We’ve just come 9th in the fast starters competition for our city here for being the 9th fastest growing company in South Australia. And we’ll just continue on that journey I think where we’re striving for the growth and we’ll keep improving those systems.
OWEN: Great. It seems that right now you’re enjoying the benefits of having a business that’s systematized and works without you, but it wasn’t always this way. Take us back to when the business was not systematized and automated like it is now. What was wrong with it?
TOM: Lots, everything. What we couldn’t do is we couldn’t manage staff properly, we couldn’t manage our processes properly, we didn’t have a 360 degree view of the business. Our compliance was hard to track. So if we had a client that was disagreeing with one of the lending managers we’re saying, we didn’t have everything there properly to be able to really see who said the wrong thing. It was definitely tough times. It was very manual. It slowed us down. There was a lot of administration. And really everything you could imagine just went wrong.
OWEN: You mentioned that even at that time based on how the business was working you guys could not grow out of the 5 to 6 staff range. Why?
TOM: What we were doing is we’re really hitting a limit of how much our sales guys could do in our admin staff because there was so much manual process. There weren’t enough hours in the day… It wasn’t profitable. We were generating revenue but we just weren’t generating enough to make the business profitable. And that was really a massive problem for us. And we’re really stuck with that 5-6 staff range before we really realized that we need to start utilizing some of these systems at our fingertips. We had Salesforce, we were paying for it, but we were using it in very simple ways. That was when I flew over to Dream Force which is the Salesforce Conference. It really opened my eyes up as to what we could do next.
OWEN: Before we can talk about what you did to solve the problem we want to get into it a little bit deeper and look at more of the emotional things of what was happening. What was the lowest point? Was there even like a breaking point that something happened specifically that made you think that you had to change things around. I want to know how bad it was?
TOM: It was probably not so much a particular point but we were in a fair bit of debt. We set the business up on a credit card. I was working… I would’ve been over 100 hours a week. It felt like I was getting nowhere. And you get yourself into a sort of black hole. I was mentally struggling. We tried projects, we lost money. We got burnt by people that we thought we could trust. And it’s sort of all built up. And that’s one of the biggest things is that we have to be so careful who you trust when you’re a small business and you’re setting up because every cent counts. You’ve just got to make sure. If you’re going to invest in something and someone you’ve got to be pretty confident in what you’re backing. But at the end of the day you’re always taking a risk. But that was probably my toughest point. Those first few years were certainly very tough.
OWEN: You also mentioned that you are trying to be a better manager with your staff, but then you realized that you had to change something about the way you think. Talk about that.
TOM: Certainly. With being a better manager for me, we really changed our mindset to be a coach, and it’s to coach the process. That was a huge thing for us, is we were very big on driving results and that was what we were looking at but we really changed that to focus on. If we coach the little things in the processes things will improve. So from a business owner’s perspective we needed the tools to be able to coach better. And that’s when we started watching more Salesforce videos and saying on what else we could with the system to make that easier. And once we realized what we could actually do and the vision we had with our system it was a massive environment for us.
OWEN: I’ve heard you say Salesforce every time, but I’m wondering why did you even identify that as a tool that would make sense to involve in your company. I’m just wondering what was the reason behind that.
TOM: After about 3 or 4 months it was myself and my father that set the business up. He was more of an old school guy and we basically, in the first 3 or 4 months we got a lead in. We printed it on a piece of paper and we wrote all of our notes on it when we called them. And that was our process. From there we looked at some tools. Salesforce was expensive for small business to invest in but for us the investment was massive. Just from a simple thing like sending out email templates, having them all stored there and tracked out of Salesforce, that was the point where we said we need to invest. It was one I knew from an old job. I never completed any administration or development prior to that but I learned how to do it from that point on.
OWEN: It works more like a customer relationship management tool for you guys, especially since you guys are focused on sales a lot, right?
TOM: Definitely. It runs our entire business now. We’ve just signed up for marketing cloud which we’ve almost finished that implementation to automate even more so. We’re just now constantly as we’re growing we’re able to take on more of the tools that they provide because my personal opinion is that they’re the biggest CRM for a reason, they’re growing, they’re innovative. And if we stick with a company like that I think our company will grow in the same way.
OWEN: Take us back to when the business was not systematized and now you decide that you’re going to make some changes from what you were doing. What was the very first step you took to systematize the business?
TOM: A lot of it was just around I got a pen, a piece of paper, and I started drawing flow charts, diagrams, notes, where we’re wasting time, and then how we could make it work. So we really created an ideas bank and started pulling it all together. For us it was really looking at how much time am I wasting as a manager, what do I need to track to be able to coach this staff better? What tools can I give them so that they’re not wasting time doing task during the day? How can we add new roles to the company which is going to effectively let them sell more? It was really around cutting time down in as many areas as we possibly could so they could focus on what they do best. And from there we just kept adding to that list.
OWEN: Yeah, and you gave an example of how being able to cut time down for the sales guy regarding what the sales guys what they would do, what that led to in terms of productivity. Can you talk about that?
TOM: Definitely. We engaged the staff in these sort of conversations because at the end of the day they’re the ones who are doing those tasks. So having them involved in that has been huge for us because they feel engaged and have some input. Just a simple thing we changed which increased our revenue was we have a bunch of different portals to the bank systems we use when we’re submitting online applications. So what we did is we created a role within the company where we had one person who their job was to submit those line applications. And one of the things we wanted to do was we want the salesperson to still be doing that because they were hands-on with the deal from start to finish and building that customer relationship. What we found is we actually created a wave using Salesforce for there to be a sales support who does that. So their sole role was preparing loan documentation, preparing submissions for lenders, or all the file notes where they’re checking over bank statements and pay slips. What that allowed the lending managers to do is just focus on the next customer but also keep those relationships. That added about 30% or 40% the next month for each salesperson. It’s just something so simple like that. If you think, hang on, I’m investing in someone and a new role. It’s actually going to create more for your sales guys. So it’s definitely worthwhile if it’s going to save the time.
OWEN: So what I hear from that is you looked at all the different functions, this one now from the sales function for instance and you’re looking at what they were doing and say, “What are the things that we’re doing that would actually drive more sales. And what are the things that they’re doing that is part of their day but it’s kind of administrative to them trying to drive more sales.” So you kind of broke those things out and had someone else take over a lot of those administrative task while they were able to focus.
TOM: Yes, spot on. That’s exactly what we did. We’ve now got a big team in the sales support area now. We don’t look at investing in non-revenue generating roles the same anymore. We look at where it’s going to help the company. Because at the end of the day if it’s going to enable the sales guys to be more active it’s going to pay for itself.
OWEN: First thing was get the list of everything you guys were doing across the company. The second thing was figure out what was the most revenue focused goals that your sales guys and other team members focus on. Broke out what were not revenue focused so that other people can handle on their behalf. I’m wondering what other steps did you even take then to systematize the business besides these?
TOM: It’s probably that list for us has never got any smaller. There’s no end date for us. We’ve got a lot of discussions daily, weekly, monthly around how we continually improve. We were never look at our process and our systems and say they’re perfect. We’ll strive for them to be perfect knowing that if we can continue striving for that we should be right up there. It’s a continuing process for us.
OWEN: You also mentioned something about one of the other things you also did was putting management teams in place, COO and CIO. Talk about what those ones were doing.
TOM: We put some more senior… controlling the growth and the culture was probably a tough period for a while because we’ve been growing so quickly especially over the last 2 years. We’ve needed more senior management roles in place, so team leaders within the sales team. We’ve got a CIO who’s taken control of all of our projects from an IT marketing point of view. That’s been a huge weight off my shoulders. We’ve put a CIO in charge of the whole floor and their operations. Now, I can come up with an idea or look at a solution that we want to do and we’ve now got those guys that go and implement them. That was a big thing for us is actually having those senior staff in those positions.
OWEN: Okay, senior staff in the company as well as in the sales department having sales leaders. But you also mentioned that you had a mortgage team and specialists. Talk about the mortgage. What is that?
TOM: We’ve got separate teams. We’ve got our asset lending team which they focus on anything with an asset number, so any cars, boats, sports trucks. Then we’ve got the mortgage team which is this four staff and the mortgage team. And they focus on mortgage, lending, any sort of home loans or developments or investment lending. That’s their focus and we’ve just bought a financial planning firm which comes into our office on the first of July so that we can really offer a more broader range of financial planning products.
OWEN: And so back then when you were trying to I’m wondering how did you prioritize the other steps to take to actually systematize the company. How did you decide what systems to create first and which one to create next? What were you thinking?
TOM: It really does come down to a time saving project, how much time is that going to save for our staff or for me, and then we’ve got to weigh up the cost of it. So there’s certain things that we’ve invested in and we’ve had to hold off just because of the cost, but it’s been high on the priority list. So there’s other things we could do which didn’t cost anything because we’ve got an internal development team that we could…
OWEN: Is there an example of something that you held off because of the cost?
TOM: Yeah, definitely.
OWEN: Because what you said was the way you were thinking about it is the time savings and as well as the cost, but I was trying to get an example of something that you’ve heard of that you’ve not done yet.
TOM: Marketing cloud, we’ve been wanting to invest that for probably 2 years. And we just had to hold off until we really had enough money. It’s an expensive tool but it’s a very powerful tool for us. Because it’s not just the cost of it, it’s the implementation and having to pay an external party to implement it, which is where the real cost come in. We held off on that and we’ve finally pulled the trigger and we’ve moved on that. We’re starting to see the difference that’s really going to make to our business. That’s just really a good example for us of it’s what we really did hold off. The second one would be our telephony integration. We use NewVoiceMedia which is a fantastic tool. We make phone calls out of Salesforce and record calls. It’s got some really good statistics that feed from this system into Salesforce through an API. So that gives us some really good data to coach our staff. That was something we probably held off at probably 6 or 9 months because once again it was going to cost us a bit but it’s the best CTI integration on the market.
OWEN: I’m wondering when you were holding off in the meantime because it’s expensive to make the change what are you usually doing in the meantime while you’re holding off.
TOM: We’re doing all the other things that we can do. So whatever changes we can make to our systems and processes that’s what we would be focusing on.
OWEN: Okay. How exactly then did you document procedures and processes for the business? What tools did you use besides Salesforce?
TOM: I suppose even just our IT team use Teamwork, and Asana, and Time Doctor. We have other tools and systems we use for our senior management team. We document all of our projects in a who, what, when list. And we just use Asana for that. We basically just create a project, who’s managing the project and when we need it completed by. It might be just something really small like adding a few email templates to Salesforce for the home loans team. It might be changing some of the SMS templates. We have our senior management meetings on a Wednesday morning and that’s where we track how we’ve gone with that list, tick things off, and add things to that list.
OWEN: And you also mentioned during the pre-interview something about white board and flow charts. How does that come into place?
TOM: In those meetings we just start basically putting things up on the white board ideas and flow charts. We might just be adding one step into one process that we think could save time in a certain area. And it’s just an open discussion. Then the managers will go down to their teams and discuss it with them. The next meeting we’ve got some feedback from the ground level staff who can say they don’t think it will work, they think it would work. And sort of say that we’d get their input and engagement.
OWEN: Okay. I was wondering at the time when you were documenting, trying to systematize and automate parts of it I’m wondering what books or even mentors had influence on you and why.
TOM: Who’s had the most influence?
TOM: Probably there was a real big eye opener for me, Dreamforce when I went there in 2011. I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew that I was going to learn more about what Salesforce could do for us. But what I probably didn’t understand is what that conference was going to give me in terms of the speakers I was hearing and the advice that you really were getting from these speakers. I was sitting there and Richard Branson was the next up on stage. Some of the things he said really hit home for me. I was trying to absolutely everything in our business at the time. I was doing our marketing, running our SEM campaigns, I was trying to do some SEO, I built our website, I was doing the Salesforce administration, I was trying to run a team of staff, and I was a salesperson. For me I was doing everything. But what he said was, Marc Benioff asked him for one piece of advice for small business owners out there who want to grow. And he said, “You need to learn to delegate and trust the person you delegate that job to. Because if you don’t trust him then there’s no point of giving him that job.” For me it really hit home that we really did need more people involved in running the business and I had to let go of certain jobs and trust the people who were going to do those jobs. That’s just a simple thing. I’ve read his books and I love what he’s about. Obviously there’s a lot of influential leaders especially out of the US that I follow. And then I’ve got some here in Australia. I’ve got a mentor out of Sydney who’s involved in a massive startup for one of the biggest broking groups in Australia in the 90’s. He’s been a really good mentor to me. There’s a few around.
OWEN: You also said Google played a role, manual research on Google, how?
TOM: Google’s your best friend. We kept looking into how we could do things in Salesforce. Really I supposed that’s probably been my biggest mentor. There’s so much information out there at your fingertips. You’ve just got to ask Google the question. We were just asked, “How do I create a workflow that does this in Salesforce?” There’s a video, or there’s a forum, or there’s someone who’s giving advice. If you have to create a formula there’s usually someone who’s created the formula and you’ve just got to change a few fields. Just by Googling those questions there’s just so much information out there. I learned how to build a website from Google, I learned how to do Google Adwords from Googling questions. SEO was a big part of the early days that I was learning how to do. There’s absolutely everything out there, you’ve just got to ask the right questions to Google.
OWEN: What was the biggest challenge that you experienced when you initially tried to systematize the business and how did you solve it? Because if we only talked about what you’ve done and don’t talk about the challenges that we don’t give a well-rounded picture.
TOM: The biggest challenge, when you’re systemizing things it’s a very complex process for us. We would try and automate certain processes and flows but you really had to think about every part of that process to make sure that it might have been something simple like the client wasn’t getting one piece of information. Or an email template would shoot out based on a change in the system. But there might not be some other information there, so you really have to just cover all bases and try and think of everything that they actually need. The biggest challenge is probably getting the staff buying on some of them. I said earlier that a new staff then becomes on board and they have to follow our processing system. Back then 3 or 4 years ago they didn’t have to follow our system because there wasn’t a process, it was a bit all over the shop. That was probably one of the biggest challenges. Once we’ve started bringing in some of the changes with those staff was really taking ownership of the changes and engaging in it. Some of them would try and find shortcuts to beat the automation that we’d put in or the system. That was certainly one of the biggest ones.
OWEN: What did you do when a staff was trying to find shortcuts or use something else out of the systems that you built? How did you address that?
TOM: Probably there was one or two times I had to give a written warning because it became a compliance issue where we had to focus on making sure that they were doing things from a compliant standpoint. Setting a few standards like that, it was changing the behaviors which took a lot of time. Once some of them started seeing the results that the new systems were doing and changing, at the end of the day they were writing more business, so they were going to make more money too. Once I started saying some of those things I think they trusted the changes that I was really implementing.
OWEN: Other challenges you’ve mentioned earlier I’m wondering why did you stay committed to the goal of systematizing the operations of the business.
TOM: I’ve had a vision of what we want to do. A lot of it was restricted to money. It was restricted to resources. We’ve built the team from 3 years ago we didn’t have one developer on our team. We call it out marketing team because marketing and IT development is the same thing I believe because you need to have a good digital presence. We’ve got five in that team now, so we have got the resources. We’re getting a lot more projects completed, and that vision that I had is certainly coming together. The vision keeps changing because we can now. We get excited, our 10-year plan came into 3 years. It was hard to stick to the course. There were certainly times I questioned what we were doing if it was right. But I’ve always taken a lot less money out of the company than a lot of my staff makes. So that’s probably a big part is that we started off a credit card and we’re in debt for quite a while and it was a really tough time. I don’t ever want to get back there.
OWEN: At what point in time did you feel that the business was systematized and it could actually run with you?
TOM: Two years ago it was really when we introduced NewVoiceMedia was a huge component for us for the CTI phone integration. That was a big component for us. It really did bring everything together so that with that full 300 view. If someone had cold reluctance we now know in the first few days if they don’t like making phone calls. We couldn’t do that before. It would’ve been 2 years ago when I went over to the US.
OWEN: We’re talking about more of the current way of how you run your business and I’m wondering what are the different parts of the business and specific systems you have in each part. Imagine someone on one end is a potential customer looking into some of the financial products you guys have. And on the other end is that same person who has gone through your service is raving about you guys, talking about you guys, and referring you guys to new customers. But behind the scenes in the company there are people and things making that change happen. Feel free to walk us through the entire business. And feel free from starting from how you find these people in the first place.
TOM: Okay. We do a lot Adwords marketing which is quite simple. But from us what we’ve learned, we’ve seen a lot of businesses like ours come and go because those processes on the back end haven’t been good. We’ve got a sales team that deal with those client inquiries. They feed through from our website straight into Salesforce. What that then allows our guys to action those leads within 15 minutes. We want to get that down to within 2 minutes during business hours, that’s the aim. I think we’re generally around about the 67-minute mark where we’re definitely within that. The sales support team, they do all the paperwork and loan processing for the sales team. And basically during that process sales deals with the clients doing the grunt work. They do all the preparation of insurance papers, of loan documents. That part of it, they allow the sales guys to be on the phone. And then we’ve got our marketing, sort of IT development team which manage all the campaigns, the websites, the Salesforce development, some of the portals we’ve created to make some of those processes simpler for the end-user. And then we’ve got the homeland sales team and they do the admin part of the process at the moment, but we’ve just hired someone because we’ve only got four sales guys. It’s exactly the same as like I said 4 years ago when we were stuck at that 6 or 7 staff mark, sort of being like that in the home loans team. It’s now time to put a sales support officer in that team too. And then obviously the senior management team that manages all of those teams. There are lots of different elements to that business. There are different tools and systems each one use. They are all quite different roles. We are looking to add more teams in different areas as we grow as well. Right now one of our painful processes is we get clients approved for a car loan before they find a car. And one of the issues a lot of them have is they don’t enjoy going out to dealerships because they’re just getting pressured into a buying a car. What we’ve started building is a database of a lot of car dealers that we’ve dealt with in the past. And we’ll now find out what the client wants and we’ll have basically an officer in the office that will help the customer find a car. What that does, it keeps them out of the car yard, it gets the process moving quickly, and also keeps the customer happy most of all at the end of the day. That’s just another team we’ll be looking to add over the next few months.
OWEN: I’m going to ask you what do you have in place to make your employees know what they need to do. But you said already that you have Salesforce being the core of how most of the business run. And then you have a lot of different tools being plugged into it. But during the pre-interview you also mentioned how you have a 2-week comprehensive training program when people join the company. And then you also mentioned something about how you have regular team meetings. How does that play a role in making sure people are always on board on…
TOM: Example for most of the company it is Salesforce. That’s the essential day-to-day runnings of the business. The IT marketing team use Teamwork. For them they can track how much time they’re spending on projects. We might have one project that’s taking up a heap of time but it’s actually not a priority or of importance to us. That’s where we have that discussion. We’re wasting too much time on that project. We need to bin that one and focus on this one. That’s been a really good tool that our CIO implemented and made his team function a lot better. We then used from a senior manager point of view, all those projects feed into Asana and we use Asana from a senior management point of view. And that allows us to… We’ve got an active list of our projects on the go or tasks that we all need to complete. So we can see what task everyone in the senior management team’s got at the end of a meeting and see where we’re at. Obviously things get added and completed as the week goes on. But by the next week we get a really good overview of what we’ve had done and the impact it’s going to have.
OWEN: Okay. How do you even track the results that the employees are delivering?
TOM: That’s one thing that’s quite important to us is we’ll always try and create a report or dashboard to track these improvements if we do change something. Especially in the process what we’ll always, if it’s not working we can always revert back to what we were doing before. But we’re quite comfortable in change. We think we’re pretty progressive where we actually, we’ve created a culture that we thrive on change. We’ve actually got the staff constantly looking at how we can change and improve. If we can’t measure how those changes are going then there’s not really much point in putting them in because you’re flying blind. That’s why it’s important to be able to find the tool that you can track and measure that. And for us we just use our reports and dashboards in Salesforce.
OWEN: Let’s just give the listeners some concrete idea of what you’re actually tracking. I know you’re using Salesforce to track the things. But what are some of the things you are tracking exactly?
TOM: We track the exact return on investment from our Adwords campaigns from our social media campaigns. WE know exactly how much money at the end of the month each campaign’s made us. We can essentially funnel money from one campaign that’s not working into one that’s really working well and just add more to that. That’s a big one for us so that we can actually see where we’re wasting money on advertising. We track a lot of KPI’s for the sales team in there. Things like conversion rates from lead to settlements, lead to qualified, how many calls the staff are making, how many insurance products are being sold, the average deal size, average number of loans they settle, absolutely anything that we have stored in Salesforce we can measure. We just have to create the reports. We’ve got our standard KPI’s are the ones I just mentioned that we sort of follow, and we’re constantly adding to that. We could just pull a report on the specific type of cards we find our client’s financing so that we can target those customers better. The sky’s the absolute limit with what we can do in Salesforce in terms of measurement. But having that phone integration for us really did bring that around to be 360 degree view. Whereas before that there were certain things we couldn’t track.
OWEN: And since you have more free time in the business I’m wondering what areas are you focusing on business now and why?
TOM: Probably getting out there and making the most of opportunities, and networking. I’ve really had more of a focus on a leadership point of view. I try not to get too hands on with projects. It’s really just getting updates and actually making sure the projects are moving along. But I won’t get involved in the groundwork. It really had given me more time to use the ideas I’ve got, going to state for the conferences and seminars I have to go to, and just continually look at how we can improve the company as a whole and from each department.
OWEN: What’s the next stage of growth for the business? What are you planning next to achieve and why?
TOM: A big focus for us is the home loans team. And we want to get an office in every major city. So over the next we months we’re aiming to put offices in Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth. We’ve currently got one in Melbourne, Hobart, and Adelaide, and have a real growth stage from the home loans team. In the next 12 months we want to add another 15-20 staff in that team. We believe we’ve got really good systems from a home loans point of view. We’re developing a few apps that from an educational standpoint, from the consumers as well, and a lone comparison site and things like that. So I think a lot of those things which I have leads we’ve just got to continually build our training programs, our systems from a home loans team perspective, that’s probably the area that we can really improve in the next 12 months.
OWEN: As we come to the end of the interview, if the listener’s listening all the way up to this point, if you were to leave them with one thing, the very next step they should take to get their business to point where it’s systematized just like yours is, what will you tell them to do, or a summary of what you’ll tell them to do.
TOM: I think they would get a piece of paper and a pen, and start drawing your process. Do you have a process in your business? And quite often when you ask people that question the early days, they go, “Oh yeah, we do.” And you say, “Okay, tell me.” And it might be 50 steps or it might be a really long process that’s complicated. You need to simplify that process. Then write down how many jobs and tasks you do and then look at what can be grouped together and paired off to someone whether it’s a contractor or an employee, and cut down any of that time wasting. If you start creating that’ll help you start building that list of what can I do to save time in the company, how much will it cost me, and how can I implement it. It’s really building that list and knowing that for us over 7 years the list never got smaller, the list has only got bigger, but that’s because we’ve built that culture of innovating and progression, and we thrive on the change.
OWEN: That’s awesome. Is there a question that you’re wishing I would’ve asked you during this interview that I didn’t ask you? Then go ahead and ask the question.
TOM: Probably the question where you spoke about why did you continue going down this path. I think for any listeners out there who are looking at, they’re running a business, whether it’s new, or old, or changing systems I think you do have to just utilize what’s out there and push through those tough times. Yes, they’re frustrating times, they’re hard times, they can be financially tough and can impact relationships with everyone in your life. But you’ve got to push through those times and find some interest outside of just work. If you don’t like golf learn to like it. For me I still my Australian rules football, and that’s one place I can go that I don’t think about work. I enjoy a round of golf, and those things keep me sort of leveled out. Push through those times, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you’ve got a good vision dream big and go for it.
OWEN: And so what’s the best way for the listener to connect with you and thank you for doing the interview?
TOM: You can hit me up on LinkedIn. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn and I’m always open to connections on there. If you just search Tom Caesar on LinkedIn or Positive Lending Solutions and you should fine me. And that’s probably the best way.
OWEN: I’m speaking to you the listener now. If you’re at that stage in your business where you are trying to get everything out of your head so your employees know what you know, and so you stop being a bottleneck, sign up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. And if you enjoyed the interview so far I want you to do us a favor and leave us a feedback on iTunes. To do that go to sweetprocess.com/iTunes. And when you leave your review, hopefully a 5-star review what will happen is other people will read your review and come check out our podcast. Tom, thanks for doing your interview.
TOM: Thank you very much for having me Owen.
OWEN: And we’re done.