You are familiar with analytics when it comes to offensive strategies in marketing and sales, but how do you use analytics as a defensive tool to create strategies to reduce costs and prevent shrinkage?
Our guest today is Russ Hawkins, who is the President and CEO of the leading data technology company, Agilence. Russ has spent over 35 years in the technology industry, helping established organizations and small start-ups reach their full potential by driving change from the “inside.”
Take action on the ideas and data you currently have otherwise someone else will.
LINKS FROM THE EPISODE:
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ABOUT OUR GUEST:
Russ Hawkins is the President and CEO of the leading data technology company, Agilence. Russ has spent over 35 years in the technology industry, helping established organizations and small start-ups reach their full potential by driving change from the “inside.”
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Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:01):
Welcome to the Multiply Your Success Podcast, where each week we help growth-minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team. And as we open today, I’m sure that you’re familiar with analytics when it comes to offensive strategies in business, in marketing and sales, but how do you use analytics as a defensive tool to create strategies to reduce costs and prevent shrinkage? Our guest today is Russ Hawkins, who’s the president and CEO of the leading data technology company, Agilence. And Russ has spent the last 35 years in technology, helping established organizations and small startups reach their full potential by driving change from the inside. You’re going to love this conversation about using analytics and cost reduction and shrinkage. It’s really exciting. So let’s go ahead and jump right into our interview.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:00):
Who’s the founder and president of Mobility Plus, Rich is a long-term client of mine and he’s become a friend of mine as well over the years. Rich is someone that I believe to have great integrity and is just an all-around great person, and so that’s why I’m just so excited and thankful to have had this opportunity to share part of his journey with you today. So let’s go ahead and jump into our interview.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (01:23):
My name is Russ Hawkins and I am the CEO of Agilence, Inc. Agilence is a contraction of agile and intelligence. So bring those two things together and you’ve got Agilence.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:36):
I love it. Well, and with Agilence, bringing agile and intelligence together, to me, that’s really a large part of what I’m hoping to discuss with you today and have you share with our listeners, is really talking about this concept of analytics in retail and some of the different things that are going on there, and how analytics can be used in current business practice in finding and retaining employees. So I’d just like to open up there a broad starting point for us.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (02:06):
Sure. Well, one of the biggest problems of today’s age, empowered by the internet and the proliferation of organizations, is that most companies are awash in data. They have so much data that they can’t find the diamonds in the mine, so to speak. And so what we’re all about is making data accessible, democratizing access to the data across the board in these organizations. So you mentioned retail. We also have a large footprint in restaurants with companies like MOD Pizza and Panera Bread and some of the Inspire Brands. So it’s really about giving people access to the data that they’re already generating in a way that lets them take actions from it rather than just being overwhelmed by data. And so this can affect lots of different aspects of operations. I tend to like to think of it in three buckets for most of my customers.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (03:09):
The first is around revenue creation, revenue enhancement, revenue retention, all of those things. And so this can include just simply knowing where you’re at against your plans, whether it’s at an annual level or a specific geography or a specific set of stores or just a specific part of the business. It can include, in that category, things like, is your loyalty program working well? Are your other promotions actually getting you the benefit that you anticipated when your team was conceiving of these things? So we have identified more than five dozen different use cases that operators should be thinking about when they’re thinking about revenue enhancement, revenue control, revenue management. The second area, and this is part of our legacy, is around cost and expense control. So there’s lots of information, lots of data out there in the various systems that companies are using, understanding where the leakage points are in the business, whether they are related to the product and pricing, whether it’s related to process interruption or processes not being executed correctly, or simply just related to bad hires, people that are your silent partners when you didn’t really anticipate that.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (04:32):
And so we have identified another large number, three dozen or so, specific use cases around what I call cost and expense control. And that includes many of the things related to asset protection and loss prevention, which is one of the deep areas of our deep expertise. And then the final area’s around compliance. And I like to think of compliance in two levels. One of them is not that interesting, it’s strictly compliance, making sure that you do things correctly in your business. If you sell alcohol, for example, age verification, if you’re a retailer that sells cigarettes and those kinds of things, age verification. Today, cannabis businesses are under state control, they need to be monitored. So compliance across laws and regulations is a very important thing, and it should be something that is done automatically. That’s not the most important part of compliance from my perspective. The most important one is doing what I call alignment, getting alignment from the boardroom down to the stockroom.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (05:38):
So I, as a CEO, can come up with ideas and strategies and set goals and directions, but if I don’t communicate them effectively, if my team doesn’t understand them well or is unaware of them, then that’s a huge problem for me to achieve those goals. And so compliance in the sense of ensuring alignment from the boardroom to the stockroom is a very, very important part of what we do and what we think is important for operating these businesses.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (06:09):
Can you give an example here of where there’s this alliance from the boardroom to the feet on the street, the folks that are doing it day to day, and maybe through an example that you’ve worked with clients through or something just to help paint a picture on what that looks like?
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (06:25):
Well, one of my greatest examples here is a company called Spirit Halloween. You may be familiar with them. Every August they starts showing up in strip malls and other vacant properties. They have a really interesting business model where they essentially use vacant space for a temporary period, usually it’s August to November, and they open up 1,500 of these locations on an annual basis. Now, they have a very clear understanding of what their objective is, and they have a very strong management philosophy about how things happen. But as you could imagine, opening and closing 1,500 stores in such a short period of time can be a real challenge. And forgetting about the opening and closing part, while they’re running, you’ve got to have managers that are running these stores and that know what they’re doing. However, you don’t really have the time to train them when you’re only working for four months.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (07:22):
And so this is an example of where the boardroom knows what they want to do, they know the most important things for those store managers to do, their model doesn’t allow them to do the traditional training that we would expect to be done, and so what they do is they use some functionality that we’re able to provide that lets the system monitor the data, that looks at actually, on an ongoing dynamic basis, what’s happening with the transactions that are happening at the stores, what’s happening with all of the various data sources that they’re using, whether it’s the POS system or their ERP system, they may have some supply chain management product. Anyway, pulling all of these things together is a critical, critical function for Spencer Gifts, but they don’t have this ability to train. So what they do is they set up a dozen specific measures for each store manager, the system monitors the data itself, and when a certain combination of events occurs, that triggers an alert to that store manager and that store manager is given step-by-step instructions on how to handle that situation.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (08:35):
And so this is the way that they’ve chosen to manage their people. Now, that’s an extreme example. And an additional example would be something around expansion selling. So every company that I know wants to expand their sales. And if you’re a shoe company, they want to be able to sell a pair of socks or shoe polish, or whatever it might be, at that point of sale. And so most of these companies have an objective for doing that. And so in this example, the boardroom has set an objective for a customer that we’re very familiar with, one of the major shoe retailers in the country. And what they’ve said is that we want a hard metric of at least 20% of the time, we want our associates that are manning cash registers in the stores to be successful in this upselling metric.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (09:24):
And so to ensure that that happens, they set up a monitor, that monitor looks at what each individual has done at every cash register in the business, and looks at what their percentage of expansion sales are versus the initial core product, and then ranks all of these people from best to worst. And we can do that both at the store level and at the individual level. This way you can identify the people that either don’t understand the problem or don’t understand the opportunity, and you can, on a remedial basis, go back and train those people to ensure that they understand what’s important on this particular metric. Now, in that case, I’m just giving you an example of a single metric, the Spencer Gifts and Spirit Halloween is one where it’s all of the metrics that are required to run the store. So we can do things really any step of the way between those two extremes. And that’s what I mean by compliance and alignment, alignment around objectives.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (10:21):
Very interesting. Well, and one of the things that you mentioned that you go very deep in is loss prevention and this idea of shrinkage that we hear talked about often.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (10:33):
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (10:33):
So how has this, over the last 5, 10 years, changed, and where do you see this going and how do you help manage this?
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (10:40):
Back to the same theme of an explosion in data, number one. In the last 5 years, the amount of data that’s available to typical asset protection managers has truly been exponential. I mean, a lot of people use the word exponential when they mean multiplicative, but it truly, truly has been exponential. The other thing that’s happened is there’s been huge advances in communication, underlying communication technology. So talking about the internet here, I’m also talking about the proliferation of video and the way standards in video have evolved to make it more accessible and more usable on a day-to-day basis. So we’re seeing huge amounts of technological change. Companies like ours that write software to help these companies, we have continued to evolve and invest in new features and new functionalities over time. The result is, is that it’s more real-time now. We can do things much closer to when the events happen, we can identify problems much more quickly than historically. I mean, literally, historically, someone would be weeks and weeks later taking out an Excel spreadsheet and trying to look for anomalies in the data. That happens in microseconds today.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (11:59):
And at the end of the day, that’s the main thing that our software is looking for. It’s looking for anomalies, operational anomalies. “I expected this outcome, I got a different outcome, and then why did I get it? And then how can I avoid it in the future?” And so as it relates to loss prevention, this means understanding is the product being sold correctly? Is it being sold at the right price? Are discounts, if there are some, being applied correctly? If there’s multiple discounts, are those being applied correctly? There’s a wide variety of things that can be enlightened by the availability of data. The product area’s one, as I mentioned, processes that are being executed incorrectly, often not visible and often never visible with historic methods. With our kind of technology, you can know about these process anomalies immediately, or certainly what happened up until a couple of hours ago, or worst case, what happened up until yesterday.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (13:00):
And then finally there’s the people aspect of it. And I mentioned this I think before, but we’re all engaged in a common enterprise. And one of the key values that we try to hold and we think people should try to hold in their business is one of honesty and integrity. Unfortunately, especially in retail and restaurant environments it seems, we often end up with a silent partner, someone who’s taken it upon themselves to share in the revenue flows of the business one way or the other. And so being able to quickly identify those kinds of individuals and either remediate them or take some other action that’s going to stop the losses, those are the kinds of things to do. So I think technology probably has the biggest impact, the focus on people, process and product, we’ve found to be a very useful way of thinking about things.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (13:51):
Absolutely. Well, thinking back to an earlier comment where you talked about some franchise brands you’re working with some Inspire Brand companies and MOD Pizzas, some of these others, talk about how this applies to the franchise dynamic because franchisee and franchise is a little bit different from having all company-owned locations. How do you work in those dynamics and how have you seen this help franchise organizations?
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (14:15):
Well, we’ve come at franchises a couple of different ways. In the early days, probably our biggest food service company is Panera Bread, and we started with the corporate stores there. They were getting such good operational value out of our products that they wanted to make it available to their franchise operators. And since, in this situation, much of the data is consistent across the franchisees, that’s not always the case, some franchisees have more flexibility than others in the systems that they can use. But in Panera’s case, the opportunity was one where we could leverage the data that already existed and simply add franchisees on onto the platform because all the data that was needed was available from a centralized source. And so whether you are a large multi-unit franchisee and you have 30 or 40 units, or whether you are a single location or a couple of individual locations, you were able to tap right into the data streams and tap right into the content that was already prepared for the bricks-and-mortar, the corporate-owned stores.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (15:27):
Now, we’ve come the other way as well. Generally speaking, we don’t start with single company locations. We’re usually, I like to say is, when the owner-operator has to be in more than one place, then you need our software. Because we can keep you up to speed on what’s happening in your business even when you are not there. And so the other way that we’ve gotten into the franchises, we’ve had a franchise company that operates multiple sites. And often in many of these franchise businesses, they operate multiple banners, multiple brands, so they’ve got lots of different disparate data, the availability ability of that data isn’t always consistent across the various brands, but then you add on the fact that these operators have their own set of needs and their own set of objectives and their own set of sales goals and cost and expense control goals. They want to make sure their team is understanding what the rules are and what the objectives of the business are.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (16:24):
And so we’ve been reasonably successful with some of these mid-size and smaller multi-locations. And then the same thing happens there. Once we get one of them and we’ve got clarity around where the data’s come from, we’ve already built some experience in terms of the reporting that we offer, then we can add on additional individual franchisees over time. So it’s very different than the retail business, and it’s been an area that we’ve learned a tremendous amount about over the last few years.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (16:54):
I appreciate you having some experience. And one of the things I was interested in speaking to you about is that franchise dynamic. It is a little different, as you mentioned. Some franchise systems have very tight controls and every franchise is really similar, and then there are others where it’s a little more loose, where there’s some overarching big bucket items that each franchisee will have, but then each franchisee will have their own unique little items that they’re paying attention to. So it sounds like you have the ability to adjust one of those scenarios that we’re talking through.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (17:27):
We do, and it really all comes down, Tom, to the availability of the data. As long as the data is available, and when I’m talking about data, typically we’re talking about there’s six things that we usually start with. We start with the bricks-and-mortar transaction log. So this is what’s happening in your restaurant or in the stores on a day-to-day basis. Today, one of the hot things that’s happened, it’s also responsive to your question about what’s happened in the last 5 years, the digital channels have exploded. Every business, whether it’s retail or restaurant, are embracing relationships usually with a significant number, half a dozen, a dozen, maybe as many, 20 third-party providers that are between them and the customer. And so being able to manage that information is very important. And so having data from those types of solutions I is important. And specifically, if a customer’s running their own digital site, their own e-comm platform, being able to bring in that data.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (18:29):
We bring in the human resources data, usually we bring in the loyalty information, so we know those customers that have identified themselves as Stallworth consumers for a particular brand. We bring in the geographic information for the store and where that’s at, and then finally, either the inventory, the menu items, the inventory items, in the retailers it’s the SKUs that they sell in the stores. We do some business with grocery chains and they have 40,000 SKUs in a particular store. So we bring all that stuff together and then we make it available to our customers and give them a tool that essentially it lets them think in English about the questions that they want to ask about the resulting database. And we use some machine learning and AI technologies to help focus the answers on these things. But the net is, is that the experts at these companies, they already know the questions that they want to ask.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (19:27):
What we’re giving them is the ability to ask that across a very, very, very broad dataset with some help from other technologies like machine learning and others to answer their questions. So the result is really, really quick time to data. I like to call it time to data, time to action. If I know about something more quickly then I can react to it more quickly. And so one of our main objectives is to make this data accessible to the average person and make it accessible on a very, very timely basis.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:00):
As you’re describing this, I’m thinking of other industries. So certainly retail/restaurant would be a logical fit when you start thinking about loss prevention, shrinkage, all of those different things. But I also think of even things like manufacturers, where they’re taking all these different raw goods and inputs and mixing them all together, or even maybe service organizations. How do you work in those scenarios?
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (20:24):
Well, look, we’ve got our hands full right now. We basically look at retail and we include retail, we include grocers, and we include specialty retail in that category. Restaurants include both table service and quick service. As a result of our work in both of those areas, we’ve started moving up the inventory supply chain pathway. And so wholesale distribution is a segment that we’re starting to focus attention on. That brings us squarely into the realm of CPG companies and helping CPG companies make better decisions about their own distribution. And while you make a great point about manufacturing, I would say that that’s a little bit further down our list. After wholesale distribution and CPG, we’re looking at insurance very carefully right now. So insurance, specially distributed agency insurance, where they need to essentially score potential applicants and then also score the validity and the reasonableness of claims. So that’s an area that we’re spending a lot of time on right now, and I expect that that will be something that we’ll enter very soon.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (21:33):
The medical industry is another one where there’s inventory that needs to be tracked, or sometimes very expensive inventory that’s needed for patient care. So the medical industry is absolutely in our sights. Manufacturing absolutely has a number of use cases and opportunities. And so we’re a small company, we can only do so much at one time. And part of what has been successful for us is not trying to boil the ocean, as I like to say. We want to take things one step at a time and build our business carefully. One of the things that I always try to do is not get ahead of myself too far. Even though growth is valued, one thing that I don’t ever want to have to do again is to have any kind of layoff or have any kind of force reduction. And so I’m very, very careful about growing the business quite conservatively I guess I would say.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (22:27):
That makes a ton of sense, and appreciate you sharing that. And certainly it sounds like as this becomes more prevalent in a wide variety of industries, the opportunity to grow and expand into these other areas sounds like it’s inevitable over time.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (22:40):
Absolutely. I mean, everybody has the same problem. The simple fact of the matter is, is we have too much data to use effectively, and so we’ve got to have a way of culling out what’s important. Now, that might be different. A marketer might have a different set of data that they’re interested in versus an operator or a salesperson or something along those lines. So one of the keys is mass customization. Having all the data, but being able to tailor the way the information is prioritized based on the needs of the particular individual. And that’s something that we spend a lot of time thinking about and working on in our business.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (23:21):
Russ, this is a great time to make the transition in our show where we ask every guest the same four questions before we go. And the first question we ask is, have you had a miss or two in your career and something you learned from it?
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (23:33):
I have a big miss in my career. So this is my third company, my third startup company. I spent the early part of my career in sales and general management that I worked for one of the big telecom companies, eventually became Lucid Technologies. And then after that, my first CEO job was in a data communications equipment company that, up until my involvement, had been connecting banks, connecting bank central offices or bank headquarters with branches and providing a standard networking environment so that these things could communicate. I decided to take the technology that we had, and with the help of some of my team, we were able to refocus that technology on the wireless business. And by the way, this has been a pattern for me. I’ve run three companies, and each time I start out by trying to do an evaluation of the assets that we have and the competitive landscape and what the marketplace looks like from a growth dynamic standpoint.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (24:37):
And in this particular case, we were right on, we got into the wireless business, we were selling wireless backhaul, and I had the idea for ways Waze, way back before Waze ever conceived of it, before Google ever got involved. And it was a very simple thing, I used to collect my fair share of speeding tickets at the time. What I said was, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could know where the speed traps are, where the police are?” And that’s fundamentally, I mean, Waze gives you directions, but the main thing that’s valuable about Waze is it lets you know what’s going on in the road ahead of you because everybody’s sharing. So I had that idea and I missed it and I regret it. I always try to think about ways of using technology aggressively.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (25:24):
And so that’s one of the lessons that I’ve had, is that you got to act on the ideas that you have, you can’t wait, because somebody else will clearly have the idea. Even though you have great ideas, if you don’t act on them, they’re never going to come to fruition. So that was a big miss for me.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (25:39):
Oh, no kidding. Well, that reminds me of a story. My wife, I remember she was in her MBA program, they had a class where they had to come up with a product or a service or something that solved the need as part of their deal. And their solution was, “Wouldn’t it be great,” kind of like what you said, they said, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could just get your bill and just pay your check right at your table and just not have to wait for the waiter to come back and give that to you?” And they said, “Oh, that’s so great.” And a few years later, here it comes. And absolutely it came out and that technology came. And they said, “Oh my goodness, we had this wonderful idea.” So we have a similar sentiment in our household of a missed opportunity there. Well, let’s talk about a make or two. You’ve had a great career and things you’ve accomplished, any highlights you’d like to share?
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (26:30):
Well, I think my view is that success comes down to having the right people on the team. And there’s an old joke that says employee problems start with employee number two. And I kind of agree with that, but I also recognize that the most powerful tool that we have are the people in these organizations. And so I’ve been extremely lucky to learn that early on in my career because I didn’t always hold that to be truth, I maybe didn’t value people as strongly as I do today. But I have a very simple way of thinking about business that starts with people, the people that you have on the team. And my basic view is, as a manager and as an owner of a business, is that if you take care of the people, they’ll take care of your customers. And if you take care of the customers, they’re going to take care of your investors. And if you take care of the investors, the investors are going to take care of you.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (27:27):
So it’s a closed virtual cycle that I learned, I learned a little bit too late, but I have learned it and I’ve learned it well. And so that is serving me well. And my attitude is hire the best person you can, but you’re never going to get 100%, you’re never going to get the perfect person. So if you get 75, 80% of what you’re looking for, hire them, make sure you pay them well, and then get the heck out of their way and let them do their job. And so that all comes from, in my view, putting people first. And you’ll get tremendous benefits out of it if you do that, from my perspective.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (28:05):
I love it. Well, and let’s talk about a multiplier. We get a great cross-section of responses here that you’ve used maybe for personal development, professional development to help you grow.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (28:15):
Well, some of them I’ve already mentioned. I mean, people, of course, are multipliers. I mean, I can only do so much by myself. And so I want to surround myself with the best people I can get, I want to stay out of their way, but I also want to provide them with guidance. And so we’ve talked about that. We talked a little bit about technology, the advent of the internet, and I mentioned video technology very briefly. The whole world of SaaS is a huge multiplier. I mean, my previous businesses, every morning I had to get up and sell it again. I had to get up and sell another box or sell another service. And even in the software business before SaaS, you sell another license. Now, with the miracle of SaaS, it’s great. You sell it once and it pays forever. And if you’ve got a valuable product, it’ll be sticky and you’ll be able to get the benefits of that recurring revenue over time. So clearly SaaS is a technology as a multiplier.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (29:10):
So anyway, we’ve already talked about a bunch of those things. Probably the biggest multiplier for me is to recognize that I don’t know it and I don’t much, I don’t know anything, I mean, to take it to an extreme degree. And to have enough self-analysis and humility to recognize that. And so therefore, in addition to hiring people, I think it’s important that you have a lifetime of learning. And I constantly am looking for ways to expand my knowledge. If I get exposed to fact or a concept that I don’t understand, I’ll dig down into it and learn about it, I’m able to pass that along to other people. And so by combining learning with people, you get a compounding multiplier effect, from my perspective. So lifetime of learning, very important.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (29:58):
Totally appreciate that. And not that I try to hide this from our listeners, but one of the reasons I do the podcast is I learn so much from every guest that comes on. It’s one of my favorite things of doing this. The final question we ask every guest, Russ, is what does success mean to you?
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (30:13):
So I have four kids and I used to have a set of rules for them. But one of the first rules was that as they get older, they have to be responsible for themselves. And so to me, that’s table stakes, that you’re not a successful person if you’re not responsible for yourself. And that means being able to fend for yourself, pay for yourself, and do doing all those good things. And so I think that’s an absolute requirement. For me personally, one of the things that’s been in my definition of success is the ability to call my own shots, to be my own boss. And again, you don’t necessarily need to be running a company like I do to be your own boss. One of the things I love about sales my whole life has been that you can start with nothing, as I did, I’m the son of a fireman out of Boston, and I started in sales originally because it was as close to running a business that I could get without having to put up any capital of my own.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (31:14):
And so when you’re in sales, you’re your own boss. And really the concept can apply no matter what the corporate infrastructure in. It really is about accountability and taking responsibility for yourself. And so I think there’s an immense amount of satisfaction in being your own boss, whether it’s independently or as part of another organization. And I think, for me anyway, it’s a critical way of gauging my success. And it’s always related to goals. One of my other things that I talk to my kids about all the time, I talk to my managers about it all the time, is you got to have goals. And it’s not gold, goals. Goals can come in a variety of ways. I mean, I have a goal for today, and I have a goal for this week, and I have probably multiple goals for each one of these timeframes. And then I have long-term goals. I think setting goals and having goal orientation is an incredible way of getting positive feedback when you achieve the goals and of measuring your success over time.
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (32:14):
And so I’m a big fan of goal-setting, it’s one of my main mantras, and it’s really been one of the guiding principles of my life, and I get a lot of personal satisfaction. And that gives me the opportunity to give back, either by training people and educating folks, by giving back more directly through involvement with charitable organizations. I’m a big water conservationist person, and so having goals across all of my areas of interest has proven to be a measure of great satisfaction to me, and that’s how I measure success.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (32:51):
I love everything you shared here. Well, before we go, is there anything you were hoping to share or get across that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Russ Hawkins, Agilence (32:59):
The only other thing that I would say, and it’s another one of my later learnings, everyone, every business organization, everyone, every individual, has the opportunity to contribute back and to be on a bigger mission, to have a larger set of goals and a larger set of people that you can influence. And so in our case, we run a business, it’s a very, very cut-and-dried data analytics business, but we think we’re creating opportunities for our customers, we think we’re creating opportunities for our team, we think we’re creating a safer, more orderly world with our technologies, we’re helping people build skills. And so this greater purpose concept is one that I think everyone should embrace in their endeavors. And especially if you are in a leadership role at a business, I think, it’s one of the key ways of inspiring people to come on the journey with you. And so I think a good amount of time and effort, thinking about what the greater goals of the organization are, and then including that in the way that you self-assess both individually and as a corporation, I think is valuable.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (34:11):
Russ, thank you so much for a fantastic interview, and let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key takeaways. So takeaway number one is when Russ talked about most companies have too much data and they don’t know what to do with it. So the problem is turned around from not having enough to having too much and understanding what to do with all of that. Takeaway number two is that he likes to make data more accessible and usable, and he broke that down into three buckets of data to help you organize that. Number one is revenue, data and enhancement, number two is cost and expense control data, and number three is compliance. So that breaks into two smaller subgroups; doing things correctly in your business, and then getting alignment from the boardroom to the stockroom, essentially from the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top, that there’s alignment there.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (35:06):
And takeaway number three is when Russ talked about having a holistic approach to shrinkage and theft. And he said it comes down to availability of data in six areas. Number one is transactional data at the point of sale, number two is digital channels, number three is human resource data, number four was loyalty information, number five, geographic data, and number six, inventory and SKU data. And now it’s time for today’s win-win. So today’s win-win is when Russ talked about acting on your ideas and the data you have at hand. And so he shared that miss that he had where he came up with the idea of figuring out a way to identify where speed traps happened to be on the road and then Waze came out and did it a few years later. And he thought, “Boy, that was a missed opportunity.” And he learned that he needs to act on his ideas, otherwise someone else will. I think the same is true for your business and my business, and the ideas we all have for our companies, and the information that you already have access to in your business.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (36:23):
So when you have those new ideas or those great ideas, we don’t want to fall victim to shiny object syndrome, but we also don’t want to forego those opportunities. So I thought that was a great takeaway and a great win-win for today. So that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember, if you or anyone else you know might be ready to franchise their business or take their franchise company to the next level, please connect with us at bigskyfranchiseteam.com. Thanks for tuning in, and we look forward to having you back next week.