Rudder Capital Corp.'s Patrick Engels Discusses Operational Efficiency Software
In an atmosphere where lost time is literally lost money, St. Paul, Minn.-based high-tech holding company Rudder Capital Corp. couldn't afford to continue doing business as usual. It was time to improve its operational efficiency. One of its core businesses—Rudder Home Services, which is a nationwide network of certified installers of services such as DirecTV—could sometimes be way behind on processes its personnel had to do manually, such as totaling the number of unhappy customers who were declining to pay.
Those "chargebacks" are now down 5 percent to less than 7 percent of Rudder Home Services' revenue, says Patrick Engels, Rudder Capital's president and CEO. Plus, Rudder Capital expects to see $400,000 in cost savings since its January decision to deploy software from Whitby, Ont.-based Creative Vistas. The Canadian firm's subsidiary, OSS-iM View, provided Rudder with its Webtracker software that supplies business intelligence tailored to large field-service industry customers.
Rudder Capital then could automate its order entry, payroll, purchasing, accounting and account reconciliation functions.
Target Marketing: What was Rudder Capital's direct marketing challenge?
Patrick Engels: What we did is we had a number of locations that were all independently managed, with no central way of looking at the information and/or managing the product that went along with that. So what we were looking for was the solution that—from central headquarter's perspective, on a real-time basis—we could have insight to all the different locations. ... No. 1 is it would mitigate the management structure that we required prior to having the tool in 16 different locations. No. 2 is it allowed us to, real time as of that day, understand how much revenue we actually generated and then also calculate what the profit was on that, because we're able to both track the revenue and the labor associated with it. And then the third thing was, because there's equipment associated with it ... we're able to charge back to our customers to get paid for it.
TM: How is Rudder Capital using this business intelligence software to drive customer retention efforts?
PE: ... Rudder Home Services, the industry that they're involved in with satellite has gone through a lot of consolidation. And there's a number of smaller mom-and- pop type companies that we compete against. ... A lot of those mom-and-pops are no longer competitive, because they can't provide the real-time reporting; they can't provide the information that the providers need in order to run a business. So, as an example, there's been a lot of consolidation down in the southern part of the United States where we operate. A company called MasTec operates a lot of the job flow. Because of not only what we've put in place with our management, but the combination with Webtracker, we've been selected as a top four provider for [specialty contractor] MasTec and others in this industry. And that's significant, because you would have up to 40 different potential companies in the area doing the work. Nw they've narrowed it down to four, and we were selected as one of those four. [This helped with Rudder Capital's retention efforts] because, again, you wouldn't even be allowed to be a player if you didn't have that type of criteria that you bring to the table.