Tag Archives: ROI

The Real Estate Branding Revolution - Creating an Immersive Experience WIMS Consulting

The Real Estate Branding Revolution – Creating an Immersive Experience

We have seen the benefits of storytelling and branding as a marketing tool to create an experience for companies and people in almost every industry. As of late, we have seen the real estate industry begin using branding and storytelling to create a lasting impression on people to invoke emotions and appeal to their aspirations. But what does this look like and how can it best be leveraged?

Sports teams, athletes, actors, and “influencers” hire marketers, agents, and consultants to carefully curate, promote, and monetize their personal brand to better connect with fans. Restaurants are leveraging their atmosphere/vibe, décor, and community involvement to appeal to customers just as much as they focus on the actual food and beverage offerings. So why not real estate too?

Traditionally, real estate has been a game of square footage, location, and expectation of appreciation to determine value. The best players in the real estate game look past these objective features and focus on the subjective needs of their target market.

This means taking into account, and optimizing, the impact you can have on someone by establishing a memorable experience that will leave them itching to revisit the property, envision themselves living, working, or owning it, and at the very least passing it on by referring it to others.

Many in the industry are now treating their buildings and spaces like they are their own company by creating a brand around the asset that helps to differentiate from competition. Developers, investors, and brokers are leveraging technology more than ever to showcase their properties. Commercial and industrial buildings are now building their own websites, social media, their own videos, and marketing, and much more. Apartments and multi-family buildings are too. Plus they’re integrating CRM systems into the day to day operations to close the loop on leads, prospects, and track referral sources.

Some are now adding virtual and augmented reality walk throughs to show off the amenities, highlight key features, and visualize the surrounding community and more as well. Tenants (and potential investors) can get an even deeper feel for what a space can offer without having to physically be present in the space.

Creating a story surrounding a space to develop a certain desirable atmosphere for people matters more than ever. You are no longer just selling square footage as much as you are selling the ability to solve their problems, meet their goals, and help add value to their life, business, or whatever the case may be.

Building a brand that people want to share is a powerful tool. Creating that reputation of being the place to be essentially markets your space for you. This could be through adding more amenities such as a pool, a gym, a lounge, a rooftop patio, an art gallery, anything to foster an ambiance of originality that can be shared with friends and colleagues. People remember what they have not experienced before, giving you an advantage over competitors if you can differentiate in this way.

All of this adds incredible valuable for commercial properties, office buildings, and apartment complexes. If you can create an immersive impression, it can have an effect like the movie “Inception” that lingers longer after they visit the website, do a walk through, view a brochure, or watch a video. That is when you know you nailed it and is what you should aspire to.

What other approaches are you seeing being used to help tell these stories and create these brands?

Real Estate Tech

The State of Technology & Innovation in Real Estate

The integration and adoption of technology into every industry is inevitable, even in industries that are traditionally relatively slower to adopt like real estate. Tech developments are enabling professionals in the space to be able to facilitate easier, faster, efficient, and more secure deals for all parties involved. Below are some of the emerging technology trends that are being integrated into real estate now, and in the coming years, many of which have been accelerated by the outbreak of COVID-19.

Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality

The AR/VR spaces have seen tremendous growth, and it seems with the onset of COVID-19 the demand and urgency to roll out these capabilities has only increased. With the need for limited contact during the pandemic, restricted travel, and work from home trends, it is only natural that AR/VR trends will continue to surface in the real estate industry.

AR/VR technology increases the efficiency of managing tangible spaces and properties. Buyers and investors can view homes, office spaces, apartment complexes, industrial properties, office buildings, etc. without having to physically visit these properties. This saves time and money. The benefits are plentiful and include:

  • Virtual tours to advance remote property viewing,
  • Increased efficiency of property marketing,
  • Web and mobile applications for easy accessibility (even if a user does not have a headset),
  • Detailed investigation of properties that saves time,
  • Potential to remotely cover all stages of the negotiation process,
  • More dynamic and real-time collaboration with architects, developers, GC’s, and brokers,
  • Ability to build out a space, input secured tenants, and decorate a potential property, and
  • Many other use cases and capabilities are being developed daily.

The increasing popularity of real estate mobile apps and websites to search for properties will only be enhanced by AR/VR technology. People are closing deals and investing in properties/land without even physically seeing properties and are saving time in eliminating those properties that they would otherwise waste view in person.

CRM, Automation, & Business Intelligence

CRM programs are still in an early stage of adoption in the real estate industry despite being around for a while, and regardless of having proven their incredible value to companies in every industry. This industry relies on, and has a heavy emphasis on relationships, so the value to having a great system is immense. In addition, the more a firm and its professionals can automate the sales and marketing process to supplement their activities, the more likely they will be to grow.

Further, not just helping with the management of relationships and sales but tracking and referencing data can really set firms apart as well. For example, “Business intelligence derived from big data is already one of the biggest trends in property management. It can empower a real estate application affecting the process of interaction of property owners, agents, and customers in the app. BI provides various tools for the optimization of decision-making. Business analysis algorithms are applied to get intelligent predictions defining the relationships of app users. Then, it is easier to give an answer to the question about what is going to happen. Reviewing internal data and analyzing business processes, BI is increasing your data-driven real estate business. With business intelligence software solutions, you can optimize your operations leveraging and processing all incoming data.”

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

AI and ML have a bit longer of a way to go yet compared to the other trends, but they’re likely a lot close to widespread adoption then you’d think. An article from Forbes, highlighted some of their potential use cases:

“Right now, property search sites rely on simple preferences like location and size to display properties for sale; in the near future, however, AI may enable these sites to recommend properties based on additional preferences, personality traits, and values.

AI will also be able to help predict pricing trends more accurately. This type of technology would look at historical trends in the market for an area, but might also take into account area crime, schools, transportation, and marketplace activity.

It may also make the buying experience faster and easier. Companies are already creating ways to digitize the entire homebuying experience — no more reams of paper to read and sign at closing.”

Crowdfunding & Fund Syndication

Purchasing real estate, especially in the commercial/industrial sector, obviously requires a large amount of capital, which creates high barriers to entry. Syndication through crowdfunding, (along with blockchain mentioned below) allows for part-ownership in properties. Similar to how crowdfunding has become popular for those wanting to invest in start-ups without the traditionally large amounts invested by private investment firms and angel investors, you can now crowdfund to invest in properties too. This easier access enhances the trend towards a “sharing economy” where expenses are distributed, yet relationships flourish, through sharing the tangible things that traditionally single people or businesses would own. This is further evident in the business space through the popularity of coworking spaces.

Blockchain

Blockchain is most often associated with cryptocurrency, but it is reshaping business practices in traditionally non-tech industries. Blockchain does not necessarily change how real estate business is done; however, it serves to mitigate many of the challenges that arise in real estate negotiations, creating a safer and more efficient approach for the industry.

Fraud has existed in every industry that uses paper contracts. Why try to develop fraud detecting software or practices instead of just getting rid of the real problem: paper. So-called smart contracts can link digital property ownership to the blockchain, preventing any altering of material terms once they are encrypted. The documents become impossible to forge as the cryptography keeps them safe.

Although records are impossible to forge, they are not impossible to update. Typically, up-to-date, and relevant property information can be difficult to obtain when dealing with real estate paperwork. Also, it often must be paid for. Blockchain, however, provides all the historical data on properties and relevant updates in real time, preventing the need for any intermediaries to provide and verify relevant information.

Real estate deals involve many different individuals: notaries, bankers, real estate brokers, and others. Blockchain allows the buyer and seller to reduce the time needed from some of these respective individuals for their deals.

Drones

Marketing has become less about specific products/capabilities and more about storytelling, creating an emotional attachment to material things. Creating videos using drones can help tell the story of properties while maintaining a cost-effective marketing budget. Different angles give a better big picture look into what a property can offer.

Furthermore, drones can also assist in estimating the value of a property. Not only can you see surrounding properties, but you can get a better feel of the surrounding community. Drones can be used to spot potential risks or maintenance issues, providing a more thorough evaluation of properties.

Conclusion

This article just scratches the surface here, as there are many other technologies rolling out related to construction best practices, architecture, maintenance, materials, marketing, etc. The industry is ripe for further disruption and optimization which presents incredible opportunity for those that embrace it and make the most of these emerging technologies.

 

Written By: Mike Simmons and Evan Shirreffs.

WIMS Consulting Family Office Funds

5 Ways Family Offices Can Optimize for the Present & Future

Over the past 50 years, the amount of family offices has grown to an estimated 3,500-5,000 as ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) investors have increasingly used this approach to leverage and manage their wealth. Whether it be through Single-Family Offices (SFO’s), Multi-Family Offices (MFO’s), or a combination of both through syndication, wealthy families have seen the advantages of customized structures that meet specific needs and go much more in-depth than just financial investments.

With family offices varying in size, scope, purpose, and operation, it’s impossible to define the specific actions family offices should take, but it is possible to highlight key themes and challenges that most family offices face and offer advice on how to deal with common situations that arise. The increased level of sophistication for these investors has created a need for constant communication and transparency to ensure everyone involved in deals is on the same page and held accountable to achieve the desired results.

 

Vision – Clearly Communicate Goals to Foster Alignment

Family offices need to communicate their goals and alignment to all players involved, from their internal teams to management at their portfolio companies and everyone in between. With varying scopes of family offices, the common goals tend to surround income, total assets, and legacy. There is a varying degree to which these topics are discussed and articulated among family offices. Mapping out priorities that articulate the desired purpose and direction for the family’s wealth will encourage proper decision making and the right strategy. The proper structure of the family office can then ensure that governance framework, operating processes, teams, and advisors are set up in a way to support the family office’s purpose and values to achieve specific goals. Further, it will help identify the right KPIs/metrics to track and measure against as well.

 

Operations – Set up the Proper Delegation of Duties

Once everyone knows and embraces their role, family offices can then fill in the gaps where they need help, making the whole process much simpler and clearer. These gaps can be filled through streamlining operations via outsourcing. Outsourcing to specialized agencies not only provides expertise and more eyes on what matters, but it also allows family office executives to focus on the areas they’re passionate about.

 

Deal Flow – The More Opportunities That Come Your Way the Better (if it is manageable)

The best deals typically come through referrals, but there are also plenty of solid opportunities that come in via cold calls, emails, pitch events, or online databases stacked with potential investments. No matter the source, access to these deals is paramount to succeeding in the private investing world. A few sources we have found useful are AngelList, PitchBook, LinkedIn, CrunchBase, etc.

In more of a nontraditional move, family offices can also find deals and collaborate through equity crowdfunding. A capital raise can start as Reg CF and later convert a round to Reg A. Start-ups are increasingly seeing the value in crowdfunding to raise initial capital as it helps to validate their business model and market fit. With less regulation than private equity, investors can also benefit from getting involved and take more ownership of great ideas at an early stage.

 

Syndicate Investments to Reduce Risk, Increase Upside, and Achieve Economies of Scale

Most family offices already co-invest through syndication with other family offices. Yet this only increases the need for transparency from all firms involved: the family offices, their teams, portfolio companies, and any outsourced agencies that are involved in establishing a smoother operation. Syndicating deals allows you to reduce the downside by committing less capital, it increases the amount of relationships/resources that the target company can leverage, and it also enables each family office/fund to be able to split expenses when appropriate.

Finding and deploying the right consulting firm is a key example of this, due to the essential need for trust and objective parties when dealing with a large amount of wealth from a small number of sources. If family offices do choose to outsource certain operational functions (like marketing, sales, finance, etc.), a firm that provides constant communication and quick action to resolve issues is necessary. With the right external agency, family offices can concentrate on the roles that align with their purpose and passion with respect to running a successful operation. Not to mention, they save even more capital by not having to hire full-time positions to do what these outsourced specialists have been doing well for years.

 

Succession Planning – Always Keep an Eye on the Future

Succession is one event that family offices must have even though it can be uncomfortable. Having a contingency plan in place allows for smooth transitions and operational stability across the board when the time comes. This could mean planning for the transition from one generation of principal(s) to the next, or from one family office executive to the next. CEO’s tend to be in their position for an average of approximately 5 years. For family offices, managing directors and executives tend to hold these offices for 10 years as they have established a rapport with the investor families. This means that much more of the operations are in the hands of the family office executives than in traditional businesses.

When succession occurs with these individuals, it can be tough for the family office to stay on course if objectives and procedures have not been communicated. Understanding the role of the family, the family office, the portfolio companies, and any external firms in the event of succession is key in mitigating risks and obstacles that can cause disruption. With less regulation and oversight regarding practices of family offices, a lot more is done on an informal basis, leading to the possibility of overlooking key operations. With a clear and defined plan, it provides an easier transition when any type of succession inevitably occurs.

 

Conclusion

As you look to scale your operations, investments, and grow, there are clearly a variety of routes to take. The key is determining the route that best fits your family office’s vision, the portfolio companies you want to invest in, and then ensuring that all parties involved, whether in-house or external, all understand and are committed to executing it.

Written By: Mike Simmons and Evan Shirreffs.

 

THE PRIMARY MISSION OF WIMS CONSULTING IS TO HELP YOUR FUND AND ITS PORTFOLIO COMPANIES GENERATE A HIGHER ROI NOT ONLY INTERNALLY, BUT ON BEHALF OF YOUR INVESTORS AS WELL. WE CAN ASSIST WITH SCALING YOUR INVESTMENTS TO HELP INCREASE VALUATIONS IN ADVANCE OF ADDITIONAL FUNDING ROUNDS, LIQUIDITY EVENTS, EXITS, OR IPOs. WE CAN PROVIDE A LOT OF DIFFERENT SERVICES, CREATE AND IMPLEMENT A ROBUST STRATEGY, AND EXECUTE EACH TACTIC, BUT EVERYTHING THAT WE DO TRULY BOILS DOWN TO THAT ONE SINGLE OBJECTIVE OF ADDING MORE VALUE TO YOUR FIRM.

Enterprise Level Salesforce.com CRM

Enterprise Level Salesforce.com CRM Implementations for Mid-Large Companies

My firm WIMS Consulting has been providing CRM implementation services since its inception (and personally I’ve been leading them for 15 years now), we have been platform agnostic (we work with all of the primary platforms, including Salesforce.com, Zoho, Hubspot, Microsoft Dynamics, and Insightly among others), however the firm has recently taken measures to beef up it’s partnerships and team in order to deepen its focus on delivering more large scale enterprise level Salesforce.com projects.

We have helped many companies of all sizes with their CRM implementations (from startups to enterprise level), particularly leveraging Salesforce.com and Zoho, and we will continue to do so. But the massive shift in approach that mid to large-scale companies have had to adopt throughout 2020 has really highlighted operational challenges, issues that a well-functioning Salesforce program would do wonders to mitigate.

When properly implemented, Salesforce will have an incredible impact on sales and marketing, operations, communication (internal and external), automation, and so much more. You can take one look at their stock performance and see how much value they provide to their clients.

Not only are we aiming to build out Salesforce programs from scratch, we are also highly capable of jumping into existing iterations that have gone a bit off course and helping to right the ship. Or we can come in after the initial phase or two and help your company supercharge it to take the functionality to the next level.

I’ve been harping on the importance of CRM programs for about a decade now, yet it still hasn’t caught on the way it should. 2020 is the year that changes. Like with most technology, competition, economies of scale, and innovation have driven costs down significantly. Not only are they cheaper, but the functionality and value has simultaneously increased dramatically. It’s why acquiring and implementing a CRM program is my #1 recommendation for every business, regardless of industry or target market, if you’re looking to increase revenue.

Most importantly however, is that the ROI (return on investment) will more than make up for the expense.

One of the most important features, especially right now, is that Salesforce helps you automate your sales process. The more automated your sales cycle and follow up efforts can be, the greater volume of deals your business will be able to close. Further, the more accurate data you have about your sales cycle, the more deeply you can analyze it to gain insight that will not only help increase revenue, but ultimately help you improve:

  • Close rates,
  • Customer service and retention,
  • Length of sales cycle, and
  • Forecasting efforts and projections.

While implementing Salesforce can be a significant commitment initially, if your company does it right (which engaging us significantly increases your odds of that), the benefit to your business is invaluable. With just under four months left in 2020, now is the perfect time to start planning and conduct your due diligence to start 2021 with yet another New Year’s resolution.

We’re here to help if you need it!

Private Investment Funds in 2020

Private Investment Funds in 2020: Focus on Optimizing & Streamlining Existing Portfolio Company Investments to Grow amid Volatility

The whirlwind of 2020 has rattled businesses across the country, and it has been no different for the private investment/fund industries. Even prior to this year, trends were moving toward funds (private equity, venture capital, family office, etc.) establishing platforms that focused on a suite of key business functions, such as business development, marketing, finance, PR, etc. to assist their portfolio companies with scaling their operations. Some funds have stood up internally1, while others have engaged external strategic partnerships.

In the first half of the year, a slowdown in new deals was caused partly by valuation discrepancies between buyers and sellers, resulting in a 63% decrease in activity in the Americas region2 after the onset of COVID-19. According to a PitchBook report, U.S. private equity exits dropped by 70% (1st 6 months of 2020 compared to year-ago period) because private equity firms marked down portfolio companies; they chose to hold investments rather than sell them3. Although this may sound alarming, a study by consulting firm Willis Towers Watson showed that despite a drop in exit transactions in the first half of 2020, there is little evidence of forced exits at least3. Furthermore, private equity firms raised $348 billion in the same time frame, which is only 10% shy of what they raised during the first half of 20192.

If funds have the capital raised but are not deploying it because of the risk of an unfavorable valuation or investment, the question must be raised: what have they been doing in the meantime?

In addition to simply boosting investments for current portfolio companies, funds are increasing aid in the strategic side of these businesses as well. “Increasing returns during ongoing fiscal and geopolitical uncertainty pushed top executives from PE firms to maintain focus on value and digitalization, and a commitment to developing the organizational and business models of their portfolio companies.”4 Many Funds have turned to delegating these duties to outside firms.

Outsourcing operations, sales, marketing, and other core functions provides a new perspective for funds. With another set of eyes on current investments, funds can squeeze every penny of revenue out of their portfolio companies to boost chances of success. Outsourcing allows current portfolio companies access to the same professional team as their fund, which consolidates consultants, agencies, people, and expenses for a more efficient operation filtered through a single entity.

Furthermore, with investment funds specializing to extreme degrees these days1, funds can focus on what they have specialized in, while letting the collaborative agency facilitate other aspects of the business. This allows them to keep the main thing the main thing so they can keep investors happy and informed, as well as assist their portfolio companies with more high value activities.

Not only does outsourcing provide more expertise with experienced professionals, but it tends to cost less than hiring someone within the fund or directly at the portfolio companies to manage these responsibilities. VC start-ups are staying private for an average of eight years longer than they would have back in 2000. It only makes sense to provide them with an experienced team for business development, marketing, and more. Without a team, the firm must manage all of this themselves or, for example, hire a business development manager. The average venture capital business development manager salary is nearly $80,000, not to mention additional benefits and expenses. Eight additional years of paying this salary (not including escalators and other contractual advancements) raises that investment to $640,000 allocated towards one person, when a team of experts can be hired to do an even better job.

Over the last decade, the appeal of going public has decreased as companies do not want to deal with inevitable scrutiny after releasing financials and other information. There has actually even been a shift of public companies switching back to private, with 8 out of 10 of the largest buyouts being Public 2 Private (P2P)4. Many companies would rather stay private, or be bought out through M&A, than to receive heat from the public. If a start-up does not go public, having that business development manager can continue as a growing yearly expense (regardless of value), even if the business isn’t in a growth or blitzscaling stage. Similar to the recession from a decade ago, companies are thinning out and hiring more contractors because it is a more manageable and flexible commitment.

Further along this line, “We are starting to see some changes that may signal a strategy shift by private equity to help struggling portfolio companies amid the crisis. Additional stake purchases by private equity investors are up by count and volume compared to same period last year and second- and third-round funding’s are also up from last year. Both are ways to inject cash into companies that need it most now.”5

In volatile times, more of the focus should be on what can be controlled. “Leaders should identify digital innovations such as business intelligence, big data analytics, machine learning, and business processes automation to help companies evolve and gain the skills needed for better performance and outpacing the competitors.”4

While not every business model is 100% perfect, and there are pros and cons to each, there are certainly many advantages both financially and operationally to leveraging a consulting firm to assist funds and their portfolio companies with scaling. Regardless of whether the macro environment is volatile and capital is tougher to come by, or when conditions are great and capital is flowing freely, running a tight ship focused on streamlining, growth, and ROI will always be in style and appreciated.

Written By: Mike Simmons and Evan Shirreffs

References:

1) https://tomtunguz.com/is-venture-capital-worth-the-risk/

2) https://www.institutionalinvestor.com/article/b1mqkqqx3g0k5v/Private-Equity-s-Answer-to-a-Frozen-Deal-Market

3) https://www.pionline.com/private-equity/private-equity-deals-tumble-20-2020s-first-half-pitchbook

4) https://bspeclub.com/2020/04/17/private-equity-2020-outlook-the-start-of-a-new-decade/

5) https://news.bloomberglaw.com/bloomberg-law-analysis/analysis-how-is-private-equity-optimizing-the-downturn

The primary mission of WIMS Consulting is to help your fund and its portfolio companies generate a higher ROI not only internally, but on behalf of your investors as well. We can assist with scaling your investments to help increase valuations in advance of additional funding rounds, liquidity events, exits, or IPOs. We can provide a lot of different services, create and implement a robust strategy, and execute each tactic, but everything that we do truly boils down to that one single objective of adding more value to your firm.
WIMS Consulting for Funds and Investors

Introducing WIMS Consulting for Funds & Investors: Private Equity, Family Office, Venture Capital & Their Portfolio Companies

Your Fund and it’s Portfolio Companies’ Future Partner for

Marketing, Sales, Finance, Operations, Investor Relations, Development, & More.

Your Private Equity, Venture Capital, or Family Office fund is undoubtedly already great at its core functions. Between raising funds, selecting the right portfolio companies to deploy capital to, and managing the day to day operations we suspect that you’ve got those things covered, or at least you have a solid handle on them.

Where we come in is supporting your fund and its portfolio companies with everything else.

The primary mission of WIMS Consulting is to help your fund and its portfolio companies generate a higher ROI not only internally, but on behalf of your investors as well. We can assist with scaling your investments to help increase valuations in advance of additional funding rounds, liquidity events, exits, or IPOs. We can provide a lot of different services, create and implement a robust strategy, and execute each tactic, but everything that we do truly boils down to that one single objective of adding more value to your firm.

Our approach and work product is all meant to be measurable, KPI (Key Performance Indicator) focused, metrics-based, results-oriented, and top and bottom line enhancing. We are dedicated to staying ahead of the curve by always learning the latest and most innovative best practices along with the most efficient way to implement them.

The role we can play will vary based on your fund/company’s existing and/or desired structure. WIMS Consulting can function as various fully outsourced departments, or as your external CMO, Head of Sales, CFO, support team, etc. Or we can simply act as a consultant/solutions provider on a specific project.

It is our aim to provide concierge level service and be the “easy button” you press when you just need and want to focus on your core functions yet need to get everything else done too.

 

Our Value Proposition the reason we will make a great partner to your fund and its portfolio companies’:

  • Deploy us to help manage and scale your portfolio companies’ in any of the areas we highlight throughout our practice areas.

  • Consolidate various consultants, departments, service providers, and bring under one firm to help streamline operations, maximize areas of expertise, and achieve economies of scale.

  • We help aggregate data across a variety of sources, filter it, and convert these metrics into a compelling story to ensure your investors, board members, management, and stakeholders remain informed and happy with progress across the entire fund and its portfolio companies.

    • Further, when the desired results aren’t achieved and adjustments do need to be made, we ensure that story is told as well, along with preemptively bringing potential solutions to the table.

  • We are entrepreneurs ourselves, yet also worked in the corporate world too. We’ve operated and grown businesses and we’ve led funding rounds. We’ve worked with and for funds directly too. Our team has acquired quite a bit of experience across a variety of stages in the growth cycle of companies and across many industries as well.

Our Services Include:

  • Marketing Strategy & Implementation

    • Fractional CMO

    • Website Development​

    • Marketing Automation

    • Creative – Content Creation & Distribution

    • Data Analytics

  • Sales – Bus Dev/CRM Strategy & Implementation

    • Salesforce.com, Zoho CRM, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics, and more.​

    • Lead Generation

    • Sales Strategy and Deployment

  • Finance & Accounting

    • ​Fractional CFO​​

    • Financial Modeling & Forecasting

    • Financial Reporting

    • Accounting & Bookkeeping

  • Operations & Support

    • Investor Relations​

    • Project Management

    • Administrative Support

  • Software & Platform Development

    • Full Stack Software & Platform Development​

    • Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Platform & Application Development

    • AI & Machine Learning

Visit our website for more information or to set up a call.

 

WIMS Consulting Logo Blue

The WIMS Consulting 2020 Rebrand

There is just something about transition, a new decade (even though January 1st seems like it was already another decade ago), and a new mission to undergo a massive scaling of one’s company that requires a bit of a shakeup. Huge transformative shifts force all involved to level up and evolve for the better. They demand a heightened sense of commitment to excellence and discipline.

As they say, the things that got you here will rarely get you there.

The first 6 years of WIMS Consulting have been great, the company has grown double digits every single year (with 2 years at triple), and despite the state of the market, this year is already on track to achieve exponential growth compared to last year (in fact it economy appears to be helping it along even more as companies go all-in on digital). That said, I have still been playing too small and remain far from where I want the company to be yet. It is time to ramp things way up and kick things up another notch.

A rebrand is often mostly symbolic, it is a way to re-engineer how you would like the public to see and perceive your company, and to re-calibrate the first impression for those that do not know you yet. It also allows you to set the tone for current and future employees, partners, and clients. It is an opportunity to recommit and reestablish your values of who you are and who you aspire to be.

Up until this point we have been far from perfect and have certainly underdone some growing pains along the way. As difficult as it is to admit, not every single client project has exceeded expectations for one reason or another. On the flip side plenty of them have gone really well too. Regardless of which side the responsibility lies solely with us for better or worse. Moving forward, that level of accountability and transparency must be the standard. A rebrand is a way to draw a line in the sand, a demarcation to demonstrate that whatever happened before going forward this is the way we will do business no matter what.

Now for a little background and insight on the creative. The spartan warrior is a deeply personal symbol to me since I was young. For one, I grew up attending a school called Milton Hershey (from kindergarten to graduation), and it was our mascot. We learned about their culture and their values (mostly the romanticized and positive version, not as much of the negatives side of it).

Then when I watched the movie 300, wow what an impact it made. To see a group of soldiers, and a King no less, willingly sacrifice themselves with such honor and grace for the good of their tribe, it really stuck with me. I know it was embellished a bit as all movies are, but that didn’t take away from the impression it left.

Between Milton Hershey and the culture resonating so much throughout my life I even got a tattoo of the spartan helmet. For those reasons and others, it sounded like a great place to start when considering what I wanted my company to look like.

Fortunately, when leveraging history to inspire the future you can learn from, and remove, the negatives in order to improve upon an ideal, allowing you to adopt the things that translate. Further, WIMS Consulting is not adopting ALL their values after all (for one we are very much capitalists). “The word “spartan” means self-restrained, simple, frugal, and austere” plus they were clearly pretty violent and brutal. So again, it is not exactly a direct comparison.

The positive side, such as their discipline, commitment, team-oriented collaboration and community are things you build a company around. Others include being strategic, thoughtful, well organized, and assertive. They were creative in their approach to problem solving. The soldiers in their army were only as strong as the person standing next to them and the collective unit as a whole. They tempered the potentially corrosive nature of outsized individual egos. They played offense and defense equally well. They had an unwavering obligation to do whatever necessary to achieve a desired outcome.

Now THAT is what I want the WIMS Consulting cultural values to represent and embody. I want the company to uphold its commitment and dedication to its community (clients, employees, and partners) to that standard of excellence every single day and in every single project and task. This is the mindset required that will subsequently lead to producing outstanding work and deliverables for our clients. It certainly won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing really is.

Hopefully, we nailed that impression and give this perception with the logo and throughout the supplemental components of the branding. More importantly however, is that we maintain the standards and values in a clear and tangible way. Stay tuned for more, but I would love to hear what you think so far!

WIMS Consulting Logo Blue     WIMS Consulting Logo Gold

Charlotte 2020

Charlotte 2020: Grow Your Business in the QC

If you live or do business in Greater Charlotte then you already know there’s a whole lot to be excited about in 2020 and beyond. The opportunities here are incredible, the city and state of NC in general are growing at a crazy fast pace and receiving all sorts of recognition nationally in “Best Places to Do Business” type articles. You can see for yourself (here, here, and here). Figuring out where to get plugged in or get more involved can be overwhelming, so I wanted to give you a few quick initial steps (4 to be exact) to take in the new year to kick things off, and I’ll elaborate and expand on this further throughout Q1.

Whether you’re new here, haven’t arrived yet, grew up here, or have been here for years now I highly recommend investing your time getting to know other professionals who are doing big things in business. Networking here has led to a substantial ROI for me and my businesses and I can’t encourage it enough. There are tons of organizations and resources with which to leverage at various price points and time commitments based on you and your company’s needs.

Personally, I’ve been involved in various capacities at board and committee levels with the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (formerly the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce). I’d highly recommend it as a great place to start and get involved. However, to be fully transparent, after merging with the region’s economic development entity the organization’s mission and day-to-day focus are shifting pretty substantially.  Rather than solely focusing on greater Charlotte, The Alliance now has 15 counties across both NC and SC in its purview. Needless to say, that while it’s a positive shift overall that provides incredible opportunity, the scope and reach has shifted dramatically. Serving that wide an area comes with new challenges as well however, so clearly the day-to-day operations needed to change with it.

While I still very much intend to remain involved as a member and hopefully more, it would be a disservice to you if I didn’t say the new mission has simultaneously left a pretty sizable void for those with a more narrow focus of making an impact in greater Charlotte and don’t have the resources to have a target market that expansive. Again, yet another opportunity

This is where the Charlotte Business Group comes in. (Full disclosure: I recently joined the board in 2019 because I knew this transition was happening and wanted to prepare accordingly.) There are still a ton of business professionals who just have the capacity to focus on Greater Charlotte (it’s hard enough covering the Lake Norman to Rock Hill/Fort Mill area as it is, let alone a dozen plus other counties). So we decided to step in and do just that. We’re providing networking opportunities with our mixers, educational opportunities with our panel discussions, and we recently launched a membership program to be able to ramp up additional opportunities in the community (as well as with more focus on fostering referrals and connections but much more to come as the year rolls on). The focus will remain greater Charlotte, but everyone who wants to do business here is more than welcome to get involved. If you and your organization wants to align with that mission please reach out to me to set up a membership or sponsorship and we’ll get you plugged in.

Next up is another really non-negotiable if you’re serious about Charlotte. You need the Charlotte Business Journal in your life, by way of subscription (print and digital), attending their events, and you NEED the Book of Lists.

Charlotte Inno (formerly Start Charlotte) with their newsletter and PitchBreakfast events among others are also truly invaluable. Whether you want to learn about local start up success and origin stories, or see what other events are coming up on the horizon (they host many incredible ones themselves as well) you at least need to sign up for the newsletter and take it from there.

 

We’ll leave it here for now, as that’s 4 invaluable steps that you need to take in the new year if you haven’t already. But I’ll be adding much more with respect to the specific Charlotte focus moving forward (including a non-profit edition). Would love to hear your feedback on what organizations you’re involved with, what you’d recommend and to continue the conversation as it’s one that’s a major priority for me.

CRM Call to Action 2020

Your Annual CRM Call to Action for 2020

I’ve been harping on the importance of CRM programs for about a decade now (here’s the last time), yet it still hasn’t caught on the way it should. This is the year that changes. Like with most technology, competition, economies of scale, and innovation have driven costs down significantly. Not only are they cheaper, but the functionality and value has simultaneously increased dramatically. Now, you can even get basic versions of a CRM program for free. It’s why acquiring and implementing a CRM program is my #1 recommendation for every business, regardless of industry or target market, if you’re looking to increase revenue.

Whether you work for a large and complex company, or if you’re an independent freelancer, or if you’re a sales mercenary who is compensated by getting to “eat what you kill,” there is a CRM program out there for you. Regardless of your budget (or lack thereof), you can customize the level of sophistication of your CRM program, as they all have various subscription levels. Further, there was recently an absolutely game changing announcement from one of my CRM platform preferences (and the one I personally use for my business).

Zoho One – An Operating System for Business

“Zoho One is a broad and cohesive set of applications that work collectively to run an entire business on the cloud. It includes more than 40 web applications and an equal number of mobile apps—under a single sign-on, with centralized administration and provisioning—making it a true operating system for any business. While each application punches above its weight against the competition, collectively they deliver a knockout punch.

With Zoho One, we’ve put together all the applications a company needs to acquire and serve its customers (marketing, sales, automation, and support apps); run its operations (finance, recruiting, and HR apps); and provide all the tools for its employees to work collaboratively and get their work done (office suite, mail, personal productivity, and collaboration apps). Almost any company has these same needs. With Creator, our drag-and-drop app builder, customers can even build custom apps for unique business needs—like logistics scheduling—and put them under the same umbrella that forms the single operating system for their business.

Zoho One is available at $30 a month—or just about a dollar a day, per employee. ($35 if you pay on a month-to-month basis).”

While WIMS, Inc. is platform agnostic (we work with all of them, including SalesforceHubSpotMicrosoft Dynamics, and Insightly among others) it’s getting more difficult not to refer my clients and prospects straight to Zoho right now. There are of course exceptions, but they’ve built something special, particularly for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Now, back to the more general CRM theme.

They all integrate with your email provider of choice, along with most social media channels, so tracking communications is easy (and automated). There are an incredible number of third-party add-ons you can incorporate depending on how robust your operations processes are to add additional functionality too.

Most importantly however, is that the ROI (return on investment) will more than make up for the expense.

CRMs help you automate your sales process. The more automated your sales cycle and follow up efforts can be, the greater volume of deals your business will be able to close. Further, the more accurate data you have about your sales cycle, the more deeply you can analyze it to gain insight that will not only help increase revenue, but ultimately help you improve:

  • Close rates,
  • Customer service and retention,
  • Length of sales cycle, and
  • Forecasting efforts and projections.

While implementing a CRM program can be a significant commitment initially, if you do it right, the benefit to your business is invaluable. With just under two months left in 2019, now is the perfect time to start planning and conduct your due diligence to start 2020 with yet another New Year’s resolution.

We’re here to help if you need it!

What is 10X Tom Schaefer Jr.

What is 10X?

If you’re an entrepreneur, a sales professional, work within your city’s start-up ecosystem, or are a follower of one of the dozens of personal/professional growth coaches, chances are you’ve seen or heard of “10X”.  This has become a hot term in the last half-decade, and I wanted to break down my interpretation of what this means, and how it’s meant to be applied to your efforts.  It started as a way to describe the “best” engineers who are 10 times as productive as their “worst” counterparts in the field of software development.  The term has been appropriated, perhaps most famously by Grant Cardone in his book “The 10X Rule”, as an understanding of the levels of effort and thinking required to break out of the average results and truly succeed.

The first component in The 10X Rule (get it here free, just pay shipping) takes a closer look at how we think about success, and how we set goals.  While we’re taught “slow and steady wins the race”, this puts our mindset in a place where average is OK.  However, average is a sliding scale.  If everyone is struggling, your struggles are justified.  We set smaller “realistic” goals, limiting our belief in what is possible.  I believe this way of thinking is rooted in the fear of failure, so we celebrate even the smallest victories.  Failure is necessary for growth.  As we fail, we learn what doesn’t work and improve our efforts for the next attempt.  Welcome failure, set audacious goals that are “10X” what you originally thought possible.  10 new clients a month instead of 1.  Raise $1 million for your start up instead of $100K.  Thinking in these magnitudes, even a “failure” of getting 3 new clients or raising $200K is still better than the original goals.

Now thinking at a higher level than before is great, but making them happen can seem daunting.  This is where the second part kicks in, and understanding the order of magnitude of your actions comes into play.  Break down what it takes to reach your goal.  Does it take 5 meetings to get that 1 client?  Schedule 50.  Does it take 10 calls to get 5 meetings?  Make 100 calls.  Don’t have 100 people to call?  Start building your network by sharing what you do with others and ask them if they know anyone that fits your ideal client profile (ICP).  Start somewhere and create the activity to get to the next step.

“But Tom, I’m a solopreneur and I’m already working 60 hour weeks, I can’t possibly work 600 hours a week, it’s impossible.”  or “Those numbers aren’t realistic, in my industry a 20% growth is considered a huge margin.”  Excuses are a justification of our fears.  We stay in a comfort zone to avoid failure.  Well a solopreneur can leverage tools like CRM to manage a sales and marketing strategy, making scalability much more attainable. A strong digital marketing campaign can grow an audience 100 times what was previously done with more traditional methods at a fraction of the price (and often at no cost at all).  The fear of failure is stopping more people from succeeding than the actual failures ever will.  Stop thinking small and start doing, because nothing ever happens overnight, and every great journey begins with a single step.

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