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How to Position Your Small Business to Grow Sales During and After COVID-19 [Podcast]

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The Capitalist Sage podcast

The pandemic has changed customers and their buying habits. That’s without question. So how do you talk to them now and in the next normal time? Open Window Marketing founder Lisa McGuire joins Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini to discuss brand positioning and more.

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Instagram @iamlisamcguire

Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners to end 2020 strong.

  1. The 3 Customer Profiles of 2020 – how your customer has changed
    Customers have shifted from pre-pandemic to the pandemic to the next normal. How can you possibly know what to say?
  2. Why traditional marketing no longer works and how to move forward.
    Traditional marketing talks about the features of the product and why they are the best choice. In our noisy world, you need a new approach.
  3. Why your personal brand is even more important to help you drive more revenue

Timestamp, where to find it in the podcast:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:03:10] – About Lisa
[00:04:01] – Marketing Mistakes
[00:05:43] – Changing Clientele
[00:09:33] – Importance of an Online Presence
[00:16:14] – Clarifying Your Message
[00:21:14] – Traditional Marketing
[00:23:57] – Spending and Personal Branding
[00:30:17] – Marketing Done Correctly
[00:31:52] – Closing

“And the big idea to take away from this is the customers that you’ve had no longer exist.
They are now pandemic customers. They have new problems, they have new priorities. So what
do you need to do in your business to shift your product line and offerings? To meet these new
problems, or if you still connect with their problem, how do you need to shift your message?”

Lisa Mcguire

Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and

tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with

Transworld Business Advisors, and my cohost is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets Digital

Marketing and the publisher of Peachtree Corners Magazine. Hey Rico, how are you doing?

Rico: [00:00:47] Good Karl. It’s a beautiful day considering how much rain we had the other day.

Karl: [00:00:53] I know, I know. This storm has gone past and now we’ll hopefully get some

better days going ahead. Things are getting cooler for the fall. Why don’t you introduce our

Sponsors?

Rico: [00:01:04] Yes. Our lead sponsor is Hargray Fiber. Hargray Fiber is a Southeast based

company that does internet connectivity. They handle fiber optics, which is the main drive of any

internet home or office, right? So they’re in the communities that they serve as well. So they’re

not your cable guy, right? They’re not a company that just has an office there. They’re involved

in the communities that they’re in, whether they’re involved with local companies. So for

example, in Peachtree Corners, they’re involved with Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners with

the city. They’re providing internet connectivity to a lot of companies in the area. So if you are

interested in Fiber optics in a company that’s local that has a local presence, and that can give

you the tools you need, like smart office tools to be able to operate your employees at home or

in the office, reach out to HargrayFiber.com or you could go to Hargray.com/Business. And they

have a promotion going on, a thousand dollars visa gift card for those companies that qualify

becoming a client of theirs, so check them out.

Karl: [00:02:10] Oh, that’s fabulous. Everyone needs more internet, more speed and I’m glad to

have good businesses like Hargray in our community to help business owners with that. Today,

I am honored and pleased to have a great guest. In this fourth quarter as we’re coming in,

rounding out 2020, most business owners have seen all sorts of impacts. Some have grown,

some have stayed the same. Some have actually seen some reduction in their customer. What I

know for sure if you’re going to have a great fourth quarter and start off 2021 well, you’ve got to

focus on growth. And today we have Lisa McGuire here to talk about how small business

owners can really focus their marketing and sales efforts in concert. To help them really have a

springboard to their growth in 2020 through 2021. Hi Lisa, how’re you doing today?

Lisa: [00:03:07] I’m doing great Karl. Thank you so much for having me.

Karl: [00:03:10] Oh, pleasure. Well, Lisa McGuire is a business growth and adviser. And a

marketing consultant with Open Window Marketing. And I’d love for her to introduce herself and

tell a little bit of how she helps people in business.

Lisa: [00:03:25] So, one thing we know is when business owners started their business, they

wanted to do the work they love. They didn’t necessarily want to wear all the hats that a

business owner has to wear when running a business. So what I do is I come in and help them

determine how to figure out who their ideal client is, how do they connect with that client, what

message does that client need to hear, to be able to engage with them, and then how to grow

their business through marketing that works. And then it filters into the other areas, productivity,

the mission of their company, the culture of their workforce too.

Karl: [00:04:01] Wow. Well, I’ll tell you, I look at a lot of P&Ls for business owners. And one of

the things that really becomes apparent, I look at how one business owner spends on marketing

and ask some questions about that. And then I look at another one who may not do a lot of

marketing. You’ll hear a lot of, I grew my business through referrals and so on. And I realized

there’s a big difference when you look at the performance of growth, those that focus on that

marketing versus those that don’t. But when they start business, they didn’t really think about

that. What are some of those mistakes you see business owners making when it comes to

marketing their business in general?

Lisa: [00:04:45] Yeah, just kinda marketing their business in general. What they’re looking at,

they’re looking at, okay, what is it that I have to sell and how can I push it out to get as many

people to buy it as possible? They’re not looking at it from the customer perspective of what do

they need to hear. All they know is I’ve got this many widgets to sell, or I’ve got to book this

many billable hours, and what can I do to make people buy from me. And so what they end up

doing is they’ve got this message they repeat over and over that isn’t connecting with their

clients. They put a lot of money into tactical things. They’ll do Facebook ads, they’ll pay a lot of

money for SEO to get people to come to their website. But what happens is the message that

they’re using either to get people there, or once they are on the site, it’s not converting because

it doesn’t matter to the customer. They talk about features. They forget about them.

Karl: [00:05:43] Wow. Well this year, has gotta be really interesting. For many businesses

because of the pandemic, their customers might have change. Either new customers are

coming through or what their existing customer needs have changed. How would you walk

someone through looking at a situation like that?

Lisa: [00:06:04] Yes, this has been a year that was unthinkable. We never could have imagined

it. And so if you think about back to January, February, we had pre-pandemic customers. Things

for going along, if you remember just a couple months before that we were celebrating a new

decade, there were all kinds of analogies, the 2020 vision, we’re going to make this the decade

that really makes the difference. And then the unthinkable happens. We have this global

pandemic. And really the whole world, as far as the business world in the United States, just

kind of came to a standstill. You know, we were in a period, if you remember back think when

they said, if you just quarantine for a couple of weeks, we’ll get through this. And so it was

uncharted territory. So here’s what we found with businesses. They did one of three things.

They either continued with their marketing as usual. They used a different message and pivoted

their message. Or they said nothing at all. So if we look at those three things, continuing

marketing business as usual would tell their customers you’re insensitive to what’s happening in

my life. Why are you going on acting like this world has not changed? The ones that went quiet,

what happened is they made a space for other businesses to come in and take their place. But

the businesses that won, the businesses that did well, were businesses who first of all

acknowledged what was happening and became very empathetic to your customers. You know,

there was and continues to be, but initially a lot of fear. A lot of anxiety, anxious, you know,

what’s going to happen to my business? What’s happening with my family? Am I in danger with

my health? So making sure that you really understand that customer and who they are was

really critical. So we heard a lot of messages, we’re in this together. You know, we’ve heard the

new normal, we heard all of those things to really unify our market place to be able to reach

them. But now we’re what, six months into the seven months into this, I guess, because it’s six.

Now you’ve got a third type of customer. You’ve got the customer that is realizing, okay, this is

our new way of life for now. You know we’re moving forward, so what can we do? Our whole

world has been disrupted. If you think about it or work lives, our home lives, how we consume

media, how we purchase, what we value up, like everything has been shifted. So what can we

look at what the customers, what they need now? And what the big idea to take away from this

is, the customers that you’ve had no longer exist. They are now pandemic customers. They

have new problems, they have new priorities. So what do you need to do in your business to

shift your product line and offerings? To meet these new problems, or if you still connect with

their problem, how do you need to shift your message? And that is the advice I would give

business owners heading into 2021. If you’re using a pre pandemic message, you’re talking to a

client who is no longer existing.

Rico: [00:09:33] Lisa, do you, what do you find from the clients that you talk to from the

companies you talked to more effective? You know, as far as business goes, what tools are

they implementing? What are they changing that they weren’t doing before the pandemic?

Lisa: [00:09:51] Well, I think the thing that has become very apparent to business owners is if

you did not have an online presence, you need to have one. You know, I’m very active in

networking and in those first couple of weeks, people were trying to figure out how do we

network if we can’t go to coffee? How we will reach people? How are people going to find me?

And you know, if you look even at restaurants, they had to do a quick of it. How do we get

people to consume our food? How do we make them feel like they’re safe? So being online and

making sure that your customer experience online is seamless. That has been the big shift that

I’ve seen with most people is figuring out, okay, how do I go online and switch my products.

Rico: [00:10:38] You know, what’s interesting. I think in the restaurant business especially, it

was easier, right? Because you had Yelp, you had Door Dash, you had Grub Hub, you had all

these businesses. If you wanted food, you could, you would go out and you’d find it. You know,

where you could go. The problem is with, you know, with a place like a yoga place or a soap

maker type of store, it’s difficult, right? Because people aren’t quite looking for that and they may

want it, but they just don’t know. So there’s that two-sided edge to that right? You do, but I agree

with you. You have to be online, but it’s way more difficult for some businesses than others.

Lisa: [00:11:17] Yes, it definitely is. So we saw a lot of people in the health and fitness space go

online and start having virtual yoga classes, things such as that. We found brick and mortar

stores suddenly had to have an eCommerce site. But the other thing too, we have this

opportunity of where we may have been marketing within a geographical area, is now we could

extend our services, you know, you can network nationally or internationally. I’m working with a

couple of clients who did work with local Atlanta businesses or local Atlanta clients. And now

their clients are all across the United States. So how do they find them? How do they reach

them? How do they connect with them?

Karl: [00:12:01] It’s easy to understand the power of being online. And I visit businesses and I

look at their websites all the time and it’s a pandemic in itself how bad some of these websites

are. People don’t put a lot of attention. When you look at a website, someone doing it right, what

are some of the things? Maybe not technical, but what are some of the things that you find helps

business owners be more reachable and successful online?

Lisa: [00:12:33] Yeah. So the first thing, you know, as we talk about websites, Karl the thing I

would invite people to do is if you think you have a great website, look at two or three of your

competitors and go to their websites. And what you’re going to find, it’s very likely you’re all

saying the same thing. So what you have to do is figure out how am I going to stand out?

There’s a couple of different ways to do that. So the immediate piece of advice I can give all

your listeners today, you can go and do this and start making money tomorrow. Make sure you

have clear call to action buttons. And you want them all over your homepage. So you want one

in the upper right hand corner. In that hero shot area. You want one in the middle of that hero

shot area and make sure those call to action buttons are a different color than the rest of your

website. Make sure they’re the same color throughout as you cascade down the page. As you

scroll down the page make sure there’s always a call to action button in the screen as well as in

the upper right hand corner. Because here’s what happens, the visitor may not be ready to

purchase from you or maybe ready to take the next step with you initially, but as they scroll

down the page and start learning more about you, Oh, now I want to know more. And so you

want to make it convenient. We call that call to action button, your cash register. So why would

you hide your cash register in the back ladies room? You want to make sure they’re all over the

place, right? So that’s something you can do to start making money today. So that’s one thing, if

that’s helpful to you.

Karl: [00:14:13] Yeah, that’s great advice. The other thing is, there’s this thinking around Google

pay-per-clicks and Facebook ads and so on. How do they, how do business owners use those

to integrate with their website?

Lisa: [00:14:28] Yeah. So there certainly is a place for paid ads. And you know, the thing is, is

you start with your website. You want to make sure that Google recognizes your website as a

quality website. So I’m going to answer your question, Karl, but I’m going to kind of connect

these two. First of all, Google’s going to try and watch and monitor to see, are people when

they’re on your website, are they staying on it long? If they can register that they’re staying on it

long, that signals to Google, there is quality content on there. So again, your message is so

important. So when you go to a website, you should be able to immediately know what the

business does. It is astounding, the number of business websites I see, I can’t tell what they do.

I have to know what you sell. What do you do for me? Making sure that you are updating

content. And so that would be having a blog on your website, talking about topics that people

have questions about. And, you know, people say, I don’t know what to write in a blog. Think

about this, what are the top five questions people ask you about your business? Those will be

your first five blog topics. And so putting those on there, that’s going to give you some organic

reach with SEO in that. But then when you get to ads, paid ads, that’s when you can drive

people to your website whether it’s Facebook ads or Google ads. And I recommend not trying to

do it yourself, work with a digital marketing specialist who knows what they’re doing. I believe in

paying experts for what they know so well.

Karl: [00:16:14] There’s a subset of business owners that I know struggle in this space. And it’s

in the professional services. Lawyers, accountants, etc. Very smart, very talented in their

profession. But when it comes to marketing themselves, maybe not as strong. And their content

can be confusing to the layman. Finding the intricacies of tax law for how to get out of speeding

tickets or whatever that might be. For those types of businesses, how can their messaging on

their website help them? What would be something they can do to guide people in?

Lisa: [00:16:54] Yeah, so a really great way to do that because, you know, here’s the thing we

want those experts. And when you need someone like that, you want someone who knows what

they’re doing, who knows all the intricacies and you know, the ins and outs of how to practice

their profession very well. But what happens is when you speak with them, because they are so

educated and they’re so good at what they do. You’ll find a lot of times they tend to use what we

call insider language. So they’ll use industry terms. And when they start using those, the person

reading the website or the person listening to the message, what goes on in their mind is they

say, I don’t know what that means. So they either get stuck trying to figure it out, what are they

talking about? Or they just stopped listening because it’s too much work to try and keep up with

the person communicating the message. So that is one thing I would advise for those folks, is to

stop using insider language. To make your language, make your website as if a 10 year old

could read it and understand it. You want the language to be that simple. You’ll be able to bring

in your credibility and authority the longer people stay on your website, but that would be the

first thing I would suggest. The second thing I would suggest is make sure that you really get to

the problem that your customer has. And here’s the thing, traditional marketing was talking

about the business. Today, great marketing is being known for the problem that you solve. So I’ll

use a tire store for an example. This one I use quite frequently. So if I sell tires, I am not selling

tires. That’s not the problem I solve when somebody needs tires. The problem I’m solving is

someone needs to have a vehicle that is safe on the road because they have quality tires. The

problem I’m solving is someone has to turn in their car for a lease and they’ve got to update their

tires so it meets qualifications. So look at for the customer, what is that pain they are

experiencing? How is it making them feel? And being known for solving that problem, that is the

way that you go in as a professional service provider and speak to them.

Karl: [00:19:20] It’s interesting, as you’re saying that, it made me think of this concept around

demand generation and leading the customer to discover or clarify the problem they have and if

you’re the person that helps them do that. And a lot of professional services, I talked to

someone the other day, a client the other day, and they were concerned about, they took out

PPP loans and EIDL loans this year. And so as they’re going through, I mentioned to them, they

have to process or apply for forgiveness. They looked at me kind of shocked. You mean it

doesn’t happen automatically? And so I know lots of financial advisors and CPAs and

accountants and folks that help in that area. No one’s talking about that problem that’s out there

that people may not know. And is that an example of some blog and/or content around that

particular problem that would help someone find a professional service site?

Lisa: [00:20:25] That is a very timely and perfect example, Karl. Because, so these people

walked into these situations, you know, okay, this is great. You’re telling me I can get this

money. How does this work? They were very good about leading them to it, but now is the next

step of now you’ve got to apply for forgiveness. Well, these people don’t know how to do it.

What does that look like? How do I? Is there a way I could do it and mess it up? Please help me

figure that out. So that is the next step of when the bank says okay, now it’s time, wherever you

were able to secure. It says, okay, now it’s time to start moving it along. We have no idea of

what that means. So you’ve got to spell that out as well. Yeah. Great example.

Karl: [00:21:14] Well, if I can ask a little about some of the more traditional forms of marketing.

This year, I don’t know how many movies were released between March and September, but no

one’s watching ads between movies anymore. What did the role of these other different

vehicles, whether it’s ads and papers and magazines and those types of direct marketing. What

role does that play in marketing today? And should people still be investing in those?

Lisa: [00:21:47] So, yes, there’s a lot of different types of marketing. And that’s the thing when

you talk to someone that has a marketing company that can mean a dozen different things, a

dozen different directions. And people are always looking for quick fixes, but I really, you know,

the way I describe marketing is imagine you were going on a cross country trip, you know, you

know, your goal is to get the other side of the country. You would not think of getting in your car

and just starting to drive without putting gas in the tank and making sure you have snacks. You

might, you know, plug in your GPS where you’re going, or, you know, you’ve got your Google

maps, you make a plan. You don’t just start getting, you don’t get in your car and just start

driving wherever you want. Well, that’s what people do with their marketing. So, okay I need to

market. Maybe I’ll try direct mail. Oh no, no, we don’t do direct mail because you know, I don’t

use direct mail. So why would anybody else use that? But even here’s a really great rate or

maybe I’ll try these Facebook ads and I’ll boost the post myself. Well, maybe so they’re all over

the place. So the first thing I would recommend for any business owner is to just sit down with

someone who knows what they’re talking about in marketing and develop a strategy. You know,

come up with a 12 month plan, a six month plan, a three month plan. Allocate some budget to it

because your business will grow in one of two ways. Your business is either going to grow by

innovating. So that’s changing up, pivoting, doing something better. Or it’s going to grow by

marketing. So you’ve got to make that investment one way or the other. And when you start

seeing traction, that’s when you’ll have, you know, more to be able to boost from. But you’re not

going to have that traction. You’re going to be wasting your money if you start going into

different areas that don’t apply to you. And I think what happens a lot of business owners,

they’ve got their buddy that did this, or they know of this other company, their competitors doing

this. They think they need to do it too. And that’s probably the worst thing they can do.

Karl: [00:23:57] I’ll offer up, if I could add to that, for business owners out there. There’s three

numbers I’ll share, 4, 8 and 12%. When I look at a P&L for a business and I’m looking at trend

over time, I notice how much percentage of their revenue to spending on marketing and I look at

their growth rate. And what’s often, if you want to benchmark for mature business, that’s been

around and known for a while. Some of those can get away with between 4 to 8% spend on

marketing. If they want to grow. If they want to stay flat. They don’t have to spend on marketing,

but if they want to grow their top line revenue, 4 to 8% is what your competitors, what other

people are spending normally grow. If you’re a new business or you’re a business that needs

some explaining or new to an area you’re talking about 8 to 12%, range depending. If your

product is known, but you’re a new company offering something that’s known, you might be

able to get away with 8%. If you’re offering something new and no one else is offering it and you

want them to build awareness. You’re talking close to 12%. I offer those numbers because it is

extremely consistent looking at the spend on marketing correlating to how people grow their

business. Now, the ones you’ll always have a family friend that says I spend nothing on

marketing and my business keeps growing. That is the anomalies. They’re innovating, they’re

doing something different, or there’s something that’s giving them a competitive advantage. Or

they are marketing without spending. So talking about personal branding, talking about other

ways to gain audience without spending for it. Can you comment a little bit on that?

Lisa: [00:25:48] Yes, sure. This is one thing that as we have been in this situation, we’re seeing

a lot more people on LinkedIn. I don’t know if you’re active on LinkedIn or not, but we’re seeing

a lot more of that. And there’s a lot of people that don’t know how to use LinkedIn and how they

can really leverage it. So, you know, here’s the thing that I tell people, particularly when you’re in

an industry that there’s a lot of other people that do what you do. People don’t want to do

business with business. They want to do business with people. And so what makes your

business different from every other business out there is you. And so being able to feature your

zone of genius, being able to show your authority, your expertise, your credibility. One way to do

that is to really work through a personal branding process. Now, personal branding is not all

about saying, Hey, look at me. It’s not about becoming an Instagram influencer. It’s not about

being any of those. It’s really being very strategic about understanding. How do you show up

online? Is that how you want to show up online? What do you need to do to shift that if it’s not

where you want it to be and how can you position yourself as a credible expert that people

would trust to do business with you? So that is something that I really encourage people to do.

Whether you work for a company or whether you own your own business. The only thing you

own when you leave your business is your personal brand. So it’s well worth the investment to

spend the time to do that.

Karl: [00:27:19] I love that you mentioned that. I’m curious about your thoughts on integrating

your personal brand or your personas, if you want to call it, professionally and personally.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all of these, Tic Tok. They have different use cases for

different application. But I’ve seen more people, especially in 2020, there’s a lot of issues out

there that people are commenting on. Whether it’s social justice or gender or race or other

political items, things about climate change, and others. People are voicing their opinions across

spectrums that’s interweaved with their expertise in their business. Any thoughts on how to

manage that. And is that a good idea or? Well, what do you, what would you advise people to

do with that?

Lisa: [00:28:13] You know, it’s what I advise business owners is what I’ve always told my

children. Anything that you’ve put out there online will follow you and could be found. And if it’s

something that you aren’t willing to put on a billboard and have your grandmothers see, then

don’t put out there. If it’s not something that you’re not willing to share in your next job interview,

don’t put it out there. There are filters, but still there are way to, you know, there are ways to get

through those. And you just always have to be conscious of whatever you are putting out there

represents who you are, and it does follow you. So there are appropriate channels. And then

there are ones that maybe you need to just have a conversation with a friend.

Karl: [00:29:00] I’m curious about, there’s a professional sphere, but there’s all these businesses

that are coming up in this entertainment mixed with business. So you could take the example of

a local ice cream shop or fitness business, where it is a business and they have customers, but

it’s also a culture and a group and a community that they’re building that reflect certain beliefs

and their personal. How can those types of businesses leverage both social media and how

they brand themselves?

Lisa: [00:29:35] Right. So it’s a great opportunity and I don’t want to, you know, imply that you

always have to stay buttoned up. I think you have to really look at who is your ideal client. Who

are you trying to attract? If you are on LinkedIn, you’re trying to attract a different crowd than

what you’ll probably find on Instagram, or Pinterest, or Tic Tok, or Facebook. Those all have a

different feel to it and different clientele. So if you are an ice cream shop and you’ve got music

going on, you’ve got certain culture or whatever, they’re trying to attract the audience. They

need to be who they are. They need to be authentic. They need to be transparent. But they also

need to be respectful of their audience.

Karl: [00:30:17] I’m also curious, just comment and maybe Rico as well. When you interact with

people online in a lot of your publications, in your content out there, have you found examples of

people doing it really well? Can you give us an example where you saw people blend those

different personas well online?

Lisa: [00:30:42] I can’t think of one person that comes to mind right now, but here’s what I see

as a trend. It’s people who are sharing their expertise. They’re generous and they’re humble. So

they’re out there, they’re being servant leaders. They understand what their customers need.

They’re very generous with it because they believe in the law of reciprocity. You know, if I give

to you and I’m giving freely, and it’s this valuable, imagine what you’re going to get if you pay to

work with me. I mean, that’s the message that they’re sending. So I think that is a great lesson

for all of us, is we are here to serve in our businesses. We’re here to serve our clients and one

way to attract clients is to let them see what you’re about. Let them experience you before they

pay you anything. I think that would be a good model to follow.

Karl: [00:31:41] That would probably be about 1% of politicians by my guess.

Lisa: [00:31:45] Yes. They don’t fall into that trend very easily.

Karl: [00:31:52] That’s fabulous advice. Well, I’d like to, if folks wanted to get in touch with you

and learn more about just marketing and ways that they could improve for themselves, what are

some ways folks can get in touch with you?

Lisa: [00:32:06] Yeah, absolutely. So I am on LinkedIn. It’s Lisa McGuire. I’m also

Lisa@LisaMcGuire.com. And they can also call 678-520-7660.

Karl: [00:32:26] Well, as we’re getting into fall and you’re starting to get busy with helping clients

grow. Are there anything you have coming up or what do you have coming up over the next

quarter? What are your plans?

Lisa: [00:32:36] Yeah, so I’m really excited. I am a StoryBrand certified guide, so I’m affiliated

with the StoryBrand company and they have a sector of their business called Business Made

Simple, BusinessMadeSimple.com. And so, it is a series of online courses. They really propose

it’s the same thing as an MBA only we’re going to save you $50,000 from that MBA. It’s a one

year subscription or when you’re licensed for $275. And they have courses on creating your

mission, marketing message, productivity, communication, scaling your business. So I am being

certified as one of their Business Made Simple coaches. So right now I’m in the process of

clients, coaching clients, or really business growth advising is what I do. I think there’s a lot of

coaches out there. And a lot of coaches end up being cheerleaders. This is not the case. I really

believe on providing frameworks and valuable tools that we can help make a difference in your

business grow. Whether it’s in revenue, whether it’s in culture, whether it’s just the business

owner growing as a business leader and becoming more proficient in what they do.

Karl: [00:33:50] Oh, that’s fabulous. As you mentioned when we started, a lot of people get into

business to do what they love and that’s their operational expertise and they started making

money there. I think the lesson is to transform or to grow into becoming a true sustainable

long-lasting business, you’ve got to evolve. And so the other pieces in the tool belt that you’ve

got to build is some financial smarts, some marketing smarts, how to recruit people, some HR

smart to really become a fully well-rounded business leader. And if there’s a way for them to get

it without spending $50,000 and taking a year or two off to get an MBA. I think that’s a good ROI

on investment. So thank you for sharing that.

Lisa: [00:34:36] Absolutely, yeah. Thank you so much.

Karl: [00:34:41] I want to thank Lisa McGuire, who is a business growth advisor and a marketing

consultant with Open Window Marketing. Thank you for your insights for sharing your

experience and to help every business owner figuring out little nuggets of things they can do to

improve their business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta

Peachtree, and we are going to continue to help business owners post this shutdown period of

the pandemic. Figure out their best way to grow their business, improve. We can do that by

helping them to franchise their business. We can do that by helping them to acquire their

business. And for those that are ready to relax on a beach somewhere, we can help them find a

buyer and help them get their business sold. So you can reach me at KBarham@TWorld.com

or you can visit us on our website at www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. Hey Rico, why don’t

you tell us what you’ve got coming up.

Rico: [00:35:39] Sure. First, I want to tell people that I totally enjoy talking to Karl off-camera

because I learn a lot from Karl, okay? I own my own business or businesses and, invaluable

insight from Karl and along with our other guests. I mean, Lisa has some good, great, valuable

insight here. And you know, we’ve done what, 40 of these?

Karl: [00:36:00] We’re up to 47. We’re going to hit 50 soon.

Rico: [00:36:06] There’s a ton of sage advice out there that we’ve learned. So I’m always happy

to be on a show like this, where we get more because I’m constantly learning. I own my own

business marketing, MightyRockets.com and everyone that watches this show knows that. We

publish Peachtree Corners Magazine which is coming out again every six weeks we sort of wrap

ourselves around the next issue and we put this out six times a year. So the next issue is

coming out around the first week of October. And we’re going to have great backyard retreats.

We’re profiling five local backyards that we feel are exceptional for a variety of reasons. So

we’re doing that. We’re doing a pets and their people give away, and that’s going to be a pull out

in the next issue as well. And we’re going to have probably get 4 or 5,000 pictures of people and

their pets that have been submitting. So we have this contest going right now. So if you haven’t

entered, go to our Facebook page or to our website, enter it. All you have to do is submit a

picture of you and your pet. And, you know, tell us a little bit about you all. And then we’re going

to pick three winners at the end of that. So we’re doing that. We’re doing a bunch of other

stories within that publication. It’s going to be chock-full things as it usually is. And you know, I’m

still working with clients as well, doing some of their marketing online content and stuff. So if you

need to reach me and you want to be able to do some of that work and you need someone to

do it, MightyRockets.com is the place to go. LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com is the place to find

the magazine and our family of podcasts. And I just launched the CapitalistSage.com website

just to begin exhibits. So it’s shallow on content right now. We’re adding all the podcasts that

we’re doing, that we’ve done. So you’ll find some of that there. We’re going to be adding over

the next few weeks. So check that out, leave your name and email address. And certainly you’ll

be reached back out to it again.

Karl: [00:38:09] And if I can, I want to spark an idea in honor of the theme of today, marketing. I

think you’re still accepting ads. If somebody would like to do ads for the magazine, you can

reach out for that? So for people in Peachtree Corners surrounding area, if you want to increase

your visibility, traditional marketing methods also still work. But you can reach out to Lisa to help

you with your messaging and Rico, if you’d like to have an ad added.

Rico: [00:38:38] So if you do, our deadline is, well our deadline is September 22nd for the print

magazine for the October, November issue. But you know, we come out six times a year. Plus, I

mean, it’s not just print. You get exposure in a variety of places, you know, online on our

Facebook page on Instagram, on Twitter, on LinkedIn. So if you’re an advertiser with us and

you have that type of package, we’re providing some of that online as well.

Karl: [00:39:05] So if you didn’t get the message, post pandemic, your customers have changed.

You need to talk to them. So take advantage. Thank you everybody for joining us today on the

Capitalist Sage podcast, you’ll find us on all of your streaming channels. iTunes, Spreaker,

iHeartRadio, on YouTube, on Facebook. Just go and explore Capitalist Sage. And, you know,

pick up something, apply it, and we’ll be happy to continue to give you great episodes. Thank

you.

Continue Reading

Business

How did Brightree Successfully Work with Clients and Manage Employees During COVID-19

Published

on

Brightree's Liz Brown

How did Brightree respond successfully to the pandemic, how did they meet urgent customer needs and what initiatives did they put in place to support employees during this time? Brightree’s Liz Brown joins hosts Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini to discuss this and more. Recorded socially safe in the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia

Resources:
Website: https://www.brightree.com

Timestamp:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:27] – About Liz and Brightree
[00:03:38] – Initial Response to COVID
[00:05:54] – Employees Working from Home
[00:08:22] – Productivity of Employees
[00:10:24] – Adjustments on the Customer Side
[00:14:49] – Working Through the Summer
[00:18:02] – A New Hiring Process
[00:20:35] – Helping Customers
[00:23:15] – Leaders in Brightree
[00:25:27] – Going Back to the Building
[00:28:02] – Long Term Changes
[00:30:11] – Closing

Prodcast Transcript

Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors, and my co-host is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets Digital Marketing, and the publisher of the Peachtree Corner Magazine. Hey Rico, how are you doing today?

Rico: [00:00:50] Good Karl, how are you?

Karl: [00:00:51] Doing well, doing well. Why don’t you introduce our sponsor for today?

Rico: [00:00:57] Sure. Our lead sponsor is Hargray Fiber. They are a company in the Southeast that provides fiber optic technology and solutions that legacy companies and small businesses can use to be able to do the work that they do out there. They’re involved in the community and they are definitely out there. And they’re not the cable guy. So if you’re looking for fast internet connection, look for a company that can support you, not only in your office and your business, but also your employers that are working off site. Hargray Fiber is the company to go to. So visit HargrayFiber.com/Business, and there’ll be able to work with you. Thanks to them for being our lead sponsor. And I’m going to be playing engineer today. We’re going to let Karl and our special guest today work the half hour of Capitalist Sage.

Karl: [00:01:49] Sounds good. Thank you, Rico. Thank you to Hargray Fiber for continuing supporting both the Capitalist Sage and the community throughout Peachtree Corners. Today it is my honor to have a guest on that can help talk a little bit about her experience and her company’s experience over the past few months as we’ve dealt with this pandemic. Liz Brown is the vice president of customer satisfaction at Brightree, a local software company located right here in Peachtree Corners in Atlanta Tech Park. Liz, how are you doing today?

Liz: [00:02:25] I’m doing great Karl. How are you? Thanks.

Karl: [00:02:27] I’m doing fabulous, thank you so much. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about what Brightree does?

Liz: [00:02:35] Sure. At Brightree we’re focused on technology innovation, and we ensure that we provide a stimulating, supportive place for our team members to work while helping our customers run better businesses as they deliver high quality patient care. So we’re actually an industry leading cloud-based healthcare IT company. We provide solutions and services for thousands of out of hospital care providers. And we just recently located our headquarters to Technology Park in Peachtree Corners, December of last year. And with that move, we reinforced our commitment to innovation and collaboration amongst our team. In light of this year’s events, we’re proud of how we’ve executed on that commitment and ways that we’ve helped us keep Brightree a fulfilling, supportive, and stimulating place to work while providing opportunities for local collaborations. So at Brightree, my title is vice president of customer satisfaction. I manage our implementation and customer support teams. But I also lead our facilities teams and we developed a pandemic response plan for Brightree earlier this year.

Karl: [00:03:38] So I’m curious to ask, when the pandemic started, what was your response and your feelings about it and how did you approach it? You and Brightree approach responding to some of the challenges the pandemic brought?

Liz: [00:03:53] So first and foremost, our priority was, and has always been the health, safety, and wellbeing of our employees. We needed to figure out how we could ensure their safety while continuing to keep our customers operational during the time when care and services for our customers was arguably the most important thing ever. So to address it, we really quickly transitioned to work from home, in almost four days actually, and implemented new work streams and strategies that would help our employees excel in the working from home, but also keep the continue of customer support up and running. So some of the things we did, so for example, our executive team started daily huddles on the very first day. And we added in the site leaders from our remote offices to ensure there was an open line of communication as we rolled out our pandemic response plan across Brightree. We use these meetings to raise barriers or concerns that came from the employees. We had employees, for example, who didn’t have internet at home, and we needed to address that. But we also used it to address any concerns that might’ve come from our customers so that we could tackle them swiftly and promptly. And it was from these daily huddles that we have the executive team. We also established an employee engagement team. So we pulled together a group of 20 employees across the company, one representing each department. And they worked with me and our people team leader really closely to provide sort of real-time insight and the pulse what was going on in the day to day amongst the team. And we met with these folks twice monthly and made sure that our pandemic plan that we had in place was working for them, but also that they were engaging with the rest of the organization. So we could get that real-time feedback and direct path right back to the executive team, where there might be areas that we had to address for health, safety, and wellbeing. And we encourage those employee engagement team members to collaborate and create collaboration events with their team. As we all transitioned to working from home.

Karl: [00:05:54] Can I ask a question about, as employees transition to working from home, the informal interactions that people had in the office, what were ways that you were able to help at least close the gap from that, just, you know, working together, the huddles around the coffee. Are there things that you’re able to do to help with that?

Liz: [00:06:17] Yeah, so we did, we established sort of some fun events. So first off we established office hours. So utilizing zoom, which we all had to adapt to, we opened up office hours on Friday afternoon from one to five, and it was an open zoom where people could really just drop in. Like you would’ve dropped in before you might’ve walked by somebody at the coffee machine. You might’ve walked by somebody in the hub getting, you know, a glass of water. Now you just dropped in and everybody knew it was open. So that they could just engage with each other. Over time those became more, a little bit more formal and more fun. So there were happy hours. There were wine tastings and people came up with ways to engage with

each other from home over zoom, of course. But it did sort of try to mimic that whole drop by, how are you kind of thing.

Karl: [00:07:05] Another follow up question on the employee side is, as people had to deal with childcare at home and different work environment, the remote schooling and all of that, were there things that you found people innovated and came up with to navigate the new norms that was happening throughout, you know, March, April, May when this first started?

Liz: [00:07:28] Yeah. And, I’ll tell you, so you know, the wellbeing of the employees was one of the most, was forefront in all our decisions in how we operated and, you know, being that we’re a customer facing organization, what we did is gave the employees the opportunity to manage their workday. So to your point, people with middle-school children had to figure out how to help them get on Zoom to make sure they could get their homework done. But then there were people who were having to adapt to childcare and eldercare and how could they get that done and also get their work done during the day. So we gave them the opportunity to set their work hours so they could adapt both managing their wellbeing from a work perspective, but then also keep those commitments they had to their family. And I think that worked well because when they had those, you know, flexible work hours and were able to adjust their schedule, they could feel like they could balance and get everything done during the day.

Karl: [00:08:22] One of the great things I thought that I saw happening and your, Brightree is a great example of this, companies, corporations had dabbled in this for years. Employee suggestion boxes, they’ve done an install. What the COVID pandemic did, it kind of forced us to make a decisive action, to help people be more able to work and operate from home environments, flexible work schedule. There was always the critique of it in the past that you couldn’t get the same productivity out of your employees, if you let them have more freedom and flexibility, but we were forced into it unfortunately this year. How have you seen the productivity impact on employees during this pandemic? Especially after that first initial wave where we were all in shock of course, but how did it normalize?

Liz: [00:09:14] So I will tell you this, it’s one of the things we’re most proud of the entire Brightree team is our productivity has really been consistent from the day we moved home until today. So yes, we do manage our organization by KPIs and metrics, and we haven’t seen those falter and I think it was providing the employees the flexibility in their schedule. And being able to give them that opportunity to have that wellbeing and being able to take care of themselves and their family, that they were able to maintain the productivity. And we also haven’t seen any dips from a customer satisfaction perspective. You know, we’ve been very consistent. We do use the net promoter score, NPS scoring with our customers, and it’s been extremely consistent since March. So I think by putting the employee safety, health, and wellbeing, first and foremost, you know, I run a customer support organization and I always say, happy employees makes happy customers. And we tried to follow that mantra as we moved to working from home so that everyone felt, you know, not only safe, but they could work and do what they needed to do in the time that they could do it and be productive for the company.

Karl: [00:10:24] So you’re in an interesting industry in space where, a lot of your clients and customers are in the healthcare and healthcare based businesses. And this pandemic, we all know absolutely hit right smack dab into that part of our economy. What were some of the things you have to do to adjust on your customer side, your customer facing interfaces, to adapt to this pandemic year?

Liz: [00:10:50] So, the same way we sort of went right at it from an employee perspective, we out of the gate do the same thing with our product management team on the customer side. So we very quickly engaged with our customers. One-on-one conversations with the salespeople had. We also held, peer to peer community groups. We also engage with our customers through coffee talks and we very quickly, you know, we established by a mantra that we use, which was ask, listen, act. And we used it both for our customers and employees. So in the very beginning, from a customer perspective, we were asking a lot of questions. You know, examples might include how are they getting PPE? Because our customers needed to have PPE, you know, and were they able to get PPE? And we actually had forums in which customers in certain cities were sharing with each other, you know, best practices around how they were actually acquiring PPE, which we all know was in a shortage in the beginning and giving each other resources.

But what we did from a Brightree perspective, sort of after asking is then we sort of hit it from a product perspective. We are a product technology company and we very quickly rolled out product updates so that we could support them as customers. That was everything from COVID 19 diagnosis codes, giving them the ability to confirm a delivery with a photo instead of a signature to enable social distancing. We developed a COVID 19 impact analytics dashboard, which we made available to our customers at no charge. So they could get a better understanding of their operational and financial standing amid the pandemic. And we also created, as I said, forums. So they could engage with each other. Sometimes, you know, our customers learn a lot from each other, especially ones that were regionally situated. And from that, we were able to support them both through our community, but also through other customers.

Karl: [00:12:46] I think you highlighted a couple of things there that was really insightful for first small business owners or large business owners in when dealing with an emergency or a shock to the system in the way that we had to this year, but that interactions and leveraging your touch points with your customers. Can you tell me a little bit more about those forums? When you couldn’t get people together physically, how did you use technology and the tools that we have today to create a safe and friendly environment for customers to communicate with you?

Liz: [00:13:21] So within the Brightree product itself, we have an online community. A community forum on which customers can engage with each other. And we had a lot of information that we could share with the customers. And then the customers were able to share with each other. So first and foremost, we very quickly got out in the community forum the necessary information they needed to be able to respond to the pandemic and continue patient care. But then we also added some engagement activities. So we had coffee talk webinars where customers came together themselves, a customer would come and they would talk about a key issue or strategy that they were working on. We also have an executive advisory board,

which is made up of 15 to 20 key customers that we engage with usually twice a year. And we started engaging with them once a month, you know, Zoom being our platform. But we brought them together to understand, you know, what their evolving needs were so then we could feed the rest of the customer base. And we found that through engaging either through the coffee talks, through the EAB, or sales going back on one-on-one conversations, we’re able to engage with the customers, understand their evolving needs, and then very quickly be able to act against those and meet them, whether it’s through a product or a service or just some level of support. Sometimes we had to find resources for them that they needed to be able to service their patients. And we were able to make that happen for them through the community.

Karl: [00:14:49] I love the blended methods and I think one of the key takeaways from that is, no matter the size of your business, varying the ways that you facilitate two way communication, not just one way, but through the advisory board, you’re getting feedback on tough topics.

You’re doing it in informal settings, and then you’re leveraging your sales team and your account management teams. They have one-on-one conversation in multiple ways. I think very often small business owners, they’ve fallen in love with social media in a way of blasting out one directional information. But this year showed where creating a community forum where people can facilitate two-way communication can happen in the digital way, as well as the old fashioned pick up a phone or today a Zoom and get online and have face to face or real conversations with people. That’s very, very wise approach to do that. And you can probably see some success with that. I’m curious, I wonder, from a business standpoint as you started going through the summer, a lot of businesses were stuck in neutral if you’d call it during the pandemic. How was it for you in continuing to execute the plan you walked into the year with?

Whether it’s on hiring, whether it’s on market share. Were you able to continue to grow and

execute throughout the pandemic?

Liz: [00:16:23] So on both fronts, we were extremely fortunate. So from a hiring perspective, we actually were able to hire throughout the pandemic. Absolutely. And we even had our intern program this summer, which I know is quite unique. So we were able to bring in remote interns. So they got the opportunity to do work in a remote environment. We brought those in, in our marketing and sales team. And, you know, we all had to figure out how to be agile and find new ways to support the new hires in our environment, in this in-home dynamic. And we did that. As part of our onboarding process, we put in place a mentor program. So when you think of a mentor, sometimes people think of it as your boss. And we actually took a different approach.

We asked the hiring manager to pick someone who would be that person they could go to, to ask questions that you don’t normally want your boss to know you don’t know the answer to. But somebody in this remote time that can sort of steer them through the halls. Even though they were virtual halls, right. That they could, you know, very quickly reach out to on teams because they’re in a meeting and they don’t know who this person is that they’re, you know, somebody who’s asking questions, so they don’t know what is. But somebody who’s just there for them all the time as if they were there in the office. So we had to try to figure out how to simulate that environment from an onboarding perspective. So yes, we were very grateful and very thankful that we continued to hire. And actually from a business perspective, we were extremely busy.

Our customers were very busy and we were very busy along with them and from a business and

financial perspective, we’ve done quite well. Yes, we were able to grow through the pandemic and very appreciative of that.

Karl: [00:18:02] That’s fabulous. To hear what, to hear another company that’s, you know, faced with a crisis, still figured out how to pivot on, how do adapt quickly and that’s one of the things that great companies often are able to do. I am curious about, as you were talking about hiring through that, I remember a time when the hiring process involved, someone coming in having an interview with 12 people on a team for a full day and then they go home. And so there was an element and a premium put on for hiring managers and teams to see the person, they were looking for certain things. How has 2020 change people’s thinking on what’s important in the hiring process, interviewing. And were you able to do anything to change that process that you think you might want to keep even beyond this season of the pandemic?

Liz: [00:19:05] To be honest, we actually have, we initiated a process with our parent company Resmed, gosh, probably six months ago. We actually utilize a product called Hire View. So as part of the original, as part of the first level of hiring, the hiring manager provides questions to the recruiter. And the actual applicant has to, through Hire View, which is a zoom like product, present the answers to those questions, right? So you sort of get that in-person feel, the hiring manager gets before the interview process even started. And once they pass through the hire review, Then we’ve been using a team interview process in person for all of our interviews. So we’ve started to use that as a best practice across the company. Where we bring in, let’s say for example, in my area professional services, we’re hiring a new manager and that new manager, once they’re on board is going to work with a lot of different departments in the company. So I select a person from each one of those departments and they work on a team interview and each person has a role and responsibility on that interview and they participate as a team. So we learned, and we figured out when we moved to working from home, we could do the same exact process with Zoom. And it worked just as well. So the interview candidate was still engaging with all the same people that they would have if it was in person. And we found actually it worked quite well. So it was, that was a good, best practice. And we’ll continue to use it if, you know, at some point in time, hopefully here very soon we’ll use it in person. And if not, we’ll continue to use it virtually.

Karl: [00:20:35] I’m curious if you follow that same thinking with your customers. I’m sure when you’ve, find acquiring customer there’s some process of onboarding them, especially if you’re implementing technology. How have you adapted, based on the social distancing constraints where you might’ve walked in and jumped on someone’s computer, are there things that you were able to figure out to help with that part?

Liz: [00:20:59] Yes. And that was one of the first things that actually my department in professional services had to adapt to very quickly. So one of the first things we do when we onboard a new customer is we go onsite and we do an operational workflow analysis and design. So we had to really quickly pivot and determine, you know, figure out how are we going to now do that remotely. Because what we’re doing is we’re going in and talking with all the key business leaders about how they, in a future state, want to utilize our technology. And it’s very

much a sort of in-person engagement. And in the March, April, May timeframe, you know, really through the summer, that was not something that we were equipped to do, nor was our customer. So we needed to create a virtual environment in which to do that. And those went very well. But I will tell you, as we went through the rest of the implementation, there was a point in time where the customer said, this has all been great, but now we all need to get together. So we had to figure out how to do that. And I will tell you, starting about a month, month and a half ago, we started to do it. We have a very specific protocol and policy and we need to work very closely with the customer. So that, for example, you know, from a social distancing perspective, when our consultant goes in that they’re able to meet the requirements that we put in place, because again, the health, safety, and wellbeing of our employee was most important. First and foremost, the employee had to volunteer. There was no asking anyone to go. They had to totally volunteer. And because, you know, our consultants are road warriors. They’ve been home for quite a while. So we had a few volunteers very quickly, but they were very appreciative of, we put in place our own pandemic guidelines for in-person meetings. And we had to ask the customer to abide by that same protocol. Now, being that a lot of our, you know, our customers do patient care, so they’re also in healthcare. They very much appreciated it. So I would tell you, in the last two months, we’ve probably done six of those. And they were very important because they were that end of the process for the customer coming up on our technology and they needed that in-person contact. But it’s, you know, ensuring the health, the wellbeing and the safety of the employee was as important as for the customer.

Karl: [00:23:15] I think one of the things that’s becoming really apparent in my conversation with you today is to implement all these things. When I know sitting in January of 2020, most of the world would not have realized what had happened. It takes really strong leadership to do that. What’s some things about Brightree that makes its leaders able to respond the way that it did this year?

Liz: [00:23:44] You know what I would say, we’re extremely agile and we’re extremely adaptive. We’ve got an excellent executive team. We all work very well together. We’re all very strong leaders in our own domain. And you know, we care about our employees and we care about our customers, right. So we came to it, you know, I know I keep saying it, health, wellbeing, and safety. But it wasn’t only for us, but it was also to ensure our customers can continue doing what they needed to do, which was provide patient care. So, you know, the Brightree executive team, we handle a challenge very well. We’re extremely adaptive and we did turn on a dime. We literally turned on days. And we sent everybody home and we had our policies and procedures in place. Because you’re right. In January, imagine we had just been our office for 30 days. We were all so excited. We’re in Peachtree Corners, we’re in a brand new building. We have this extremely beautiful building, great collaboration area. We’re all so excited. I mean, everybody was really pumped. It brought new energy to the company. And then with, you know, unbeknownst to us in three months, the whole world’s going to change. But I will say we brought that energy home, not to say there wasn’t in the month of March, you know, a total assimilation. You know, everybody at home now, like, you know, your routines totally changed. Your workdays totally changed. But we put forth the effort because we knew our customers were doing direct patient care. And everybody was looking at the news and everybody didn’t know

exactly what was going on. So we needed to continue to do what we needed to do and be strong, you know, stay strong as one of our mantras. And we did that for not only our employees, but also, you know, for our parent company Resmed and our customers.

Karl: [00:25:27] So with the beautiful building that’s been right here in Atlanta Tech Park, have you begun to think through the strategy with the vaccine, multiple vaccines on its way? How you start thinking about bringing people back into the building? And what are some of the things you might keep from this year going forward? And what are some of the things that you definitely want to get the team back together in the building?

Liz: [00:25:50] We actually already started coming back. So, I guess it was about a month ago we, you know, there’s a portion of our employee base that really would prefer to work in the office. So we have a very, you know, we have a very large office, but we set, we did a very soft open and set the opening at 25 people at a time. And one of the first things that we needed to do was figure out, you know, again, how can we do this safely? And we know that there was some mainstays that had to be there, social distancing, you know, health checks, you know, how are we going to make sure that somebody who’s coming into the office should be in the office? How are we gonna know who’s in the office and when they’re in the office? And if in fact we ever had an issue from a COVID perspective, how could we do contact tracing? So we partnered and actually bought a new technology from a company based in Alpharetta. I love that it was local called Mathtitian and they gave us the ability to implement the solution that gave really all the facets that we needed. So for example, today, if an employee needs to go in, they schedule themselves and they schedule when they’re in the office, they’re sent through the technology, either SMS or an email, a prescreen health at a station that they need to do before they can come in. And once they’re approved, then we know where they are. So we can schedule them, they can do their pre-screen. But then we also that enabled contact tracing for us. And then by working with Mathtitian, we could develop our floor plans so we knew we had physical distancing. Whether it’s, you know, these two people sit in and the workstation is at least six feet apart. Or if there’s a group that wants to go in a conference room in which seats would they sit, so we make sure there’s physical distancing there also. So we’ve started that process. Like I said, it started a month ago and it’s been going well. You know, we’ll see as time goes on and as the months go on, one of the important factors, you know, we look at is health and safety. So we’re checking the metrics and we know what the metrics are for the Atlanta area, for the Gwinnett County and Peachtree Corners area. But we, you know, keeping that employee safety is the primary goal. We’ll continue to evolve the plan as time goes on.

Karl: [00:28:02] Well, I tell you, all the things that Brightree’s done now going to help their employees adapt of customers, figure out how to be more successful through this year. I’m glad to say that, you know, we’ve got a company locally that’s leading the way in helping figure this out. It’s such a tough year. I’ve got a last question if I could ask, you know, when everything that went through this year, both professionally and personally, that most people have gone through, is there something that you implemented or did this year that might’ve been caused by the pandemic that you think can live beyond this? When this is all said and done, and the pandemic

has gone away and we’re all vaccinated. Are there things in the business that you’ve changed that you think have a long term future within your organization?

Liz: [00:28:51] I think we’re going to look at the opportunity that we gave the employees to work from home and have that flexible work schedule and have that, you know, focus on wellbeing and balance. That will absolutely continue. I mean we’ve heard it loud and clear from a, well, we do pulse surveys with our employees every six months. And that came through loud and clear. We’ve done two already, cause we did one right after the pandemic. But, you know, reinforcing wellbeing and balance. Not that it wasn’t in the forefront of our culture before, but I believe that that will continue to be on the forefront. And then the level of communication. So I talked about in the beginning, you know, the daily huddles. We also had town halls and we had those every week for quite a few weeks. And we’ve moved now to, you know, once a month, every other week or once a month, depending on the time period. And that level of communication, maintaining that. Because that gives the, you know, the engagement level with the employees without a doubt. But I think some of the, you know, the other aspects of our culture, you know, agility and change and you know, the care that we give for both our customers and the service excellence, those will all continue. But I think we’ll look at that flexibility for the employees so that they can, you know, live their best life. And also, be the best they can be for Brightree.

Karl: [00:30:11] There was one thing that became apparent. Although this year we had to physically distance for safety, I think Brightree and your team and the rest of the organization did a great job of actually keeping people together. So I don’t know if this term social distance really meant the same. I think communicating people keep people connected. We’ve done a better job probably as a society. You definitely would put it in your business, even though people may be physically distanced you were able to shrink it a little bit and keep people at least socially connected throughout this. Which is fabulous. Well, I’d love to thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy schedule to chat with us on the Capitalist Sage. I’d like to thank Liz Brown, the vice president of customer satisfaction at Brightree right here in Peachtree Corners  for your insights and sharing your experience. There’s a lot of companies that struggled through this, they implemented some of the things you’ve had. Some didn’t. But what you’ve highlighted and shared with folks that there’s a different way to think about adapting. And I know a lot of people took a turtle mentality and just kind of, you know, hunkered down. But there’s ways to find innovative ways to continue to live your mission in your organization. And thanks for sharing that with us today. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Rico and I have the pleasure to talk to local business leaders and owners, here in Peachtree Corners and surrounding areas, to talk about things that can help any business owner, whether it’s a small business, a large corporation or anywhere in between. It’s really been a pleasure to share insight from folks that are having success in doing that.

Transworld is our business and we help consult. I work with small business owners when it comes time to make those important decisions in life, around exiting their business, whether it’s selling or growing through acquisition. So we are an M and A firm and business sales firm that helps people with doing that. And so you can always reach out to myself or anyone on my team to schedule a consultation. You can always find us at www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. Rico, why don’t you tell me a little bit about what you’ve got going on over the next couple of weeks?

Rico: [00:32:31] Sure. I’ll keep it short here, but we’re working on Peachtree Corners Magazine. The next issue, Faces of Peachtree Corners is the feature story. Along with some of the things that we have in there. We just finished the photo shoot here at Atlanta Tech Park last night for that feature. So we’re doing, yeah, magazine’s coming along. We’re on deadline. We’ll be done in about two weeks and that’ll be out the first week in December to everyone. In the meantime, you can go online at LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com to find out more information. In fact, one of the stories we have on there was the internship program at Brightree and how that worked. And that was a phenomenal story I thought. It did really well. Good to see companies out there like Brightree doing that type of work too. A lot of these kids didn’t have internship opportunities after COVID started. So, not very good for some of them because they looked forward to doing it and that becomes sometimes a job entry point for these students. So good thing they were able to do that. As far as what I do, social media marketing content work, curation, video production, photography, you can find my work at MightyRockets.com or look me up on LinkedIn, Rico Figliolini or Mighty Rockets. Either way you can find me. So, and let’s not just forget our lead sponsor Hargray Fiber again, who is a major lead sponsor for not only Capitalist Sage, but the other programs that we run, the other podcasts that we do in the city. So all good. And I appreciate Liz for being with us also, for being part of the show this episode, it was really good. I learned a lot as well, so. And I apologize. Most people didn’t know when we started this, there were technical difficulties getting this off the ground, but we finally got it through and I appreciate Liz’s patience with that. Thank you Liz.

Karl: [00:34:20] Thank you Liz and everyone at the Brightree team. Have a great day.

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Business

Peachtree Corners Deploys Cawamo’s Industry-First AI Camera Tech For COVID-19 Safety and Security

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cawamo sample
Camawo sample of camera function capabilities from press release.

Peachtree Corners – the nation’s first smart city environment powered by real-world infrastructure and next-generation connectivity – announced the addition of revolutionary artificial intelligence-powered camera technology from Cawamo at City Hall – aimed at increasing public safety and preventing the spread of COVID-19. The international firm’s proprietary technology enables existing cameras to determine if someone is not wearing a mask or a group of people are not observing social
distancing guidelines, immediately alerting city personnel.

“As further reflection of our smart city leadership, our work with Cawamo to customize a COVID-19 monitoring system for City Hall shows how technology is helping to solve modern problems, while also prioritizing privacy,” said Brandon Branham, chief technology officer and assistant city manager of Peachtree Corners. “Our highest priority, and the aim of a smart city concept overall, is the safety and security of our residents and we firmly believe this technology will help us maintain important public safety protocols as we work to slow the spread of the virus. Allowing us to instantly convert existing cameras into smart cameras also shows promise for wider deployment across the city, in addition to within workplaces in the near future.”

Feature rich platform – combining artificial intelligence, cloud and edge computing

  • Accuracy: Combined onsite edge and cloud AI technologies work together to generate high-quality,accurate alerts with virtually zero false alerts
  • Universal: System can be installed on any existing camera or DVR/NVR
  • Privacy: Object detection done without facial recognition – no personal identifiable information used in COVID-19 monitoring
  • Cost-Savings for City Government: Cawamo offering municipalities free COVID-19 monitoring service with purchase of onsite equipment

“As the first cloud-edge video analytics company to develop mask and social distancing detection technology that connects with any existing security camera, we are thrilled to be helping the City of Peachtree Corners keep its citizens safe using the already-installed security cameras around the city,” said David Yakov, CEO of Cawamo. “Peachtree Corners is a premier smart city known around the globe for its dedication to the development of emerging smart city technologies, so it was a no-brainer for it to be the first city in the United States to deploy the technology. We are honored to be providing mask and social distancing monitoring for the city and hope we can expand our footprint and help other municipalities, businesses and organizations with the same level of protection.”

For more information or to schedule a briefing with city leadership, contact Judy Putnam, Communications Director at jputnam@peachtreecornersga.gov or 770-609-8821.

Source: City of Peachtree Corners and Curiosity Lab of Peachtree Corners Press Release

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Business

Recognition for Advancement in Homeland Security Technologies, for Peachtree Corners company and others

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liberty defense logo
Liberty Defense Logo from their site.

The Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation is announcing awards for two collaborative projects totaling $1.5 million to develop advanced homeland security technologies in the areas of threat detection and 3D mapping. The BIRD Homeland Security (HLS) program is a joint initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the Israel Ministry of Public Security (MOPS).

“The BIRD HLS program gives us the opportunity to bring some of the best U.S. and Israeli technology companies together to address our broad homeland security needs,” said DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology William N. Bryan. “These strategic partnerships will develop innovative solutions that will enhance safety and security around the globe.”

The 2020 HLS awardees include:

  • Liberty Defense Technologies (Peachtree Corners, Georgia) and Levitection (Haifa, Israel) will develop a detection solution based on electromagnetic imaging and artificial intelligence to detect threats and concealed items in wide-open areas.
  • Hivemapper (Burlingame, California) and Ception Technologies (Jerusalem, Israel) will develop a fused air and ground 3D mapping system.

Dr. Eitan Yudilevich, Executive Director of the BIRD Foundation, said, “BIRD HLS attracts innovative American and Israeli companies and encourages synergistic partnerships to develop solutions that will fulfill critical homeland security needs in both countries. We look forward to continuing our work with DHS and the Israel Ministry of Public Security and to the next cycle in 2021.”

Since 2016, DHS S&T has partnered with the MOPS on the BIRD HLS program to seek solutions to advancing first responder technologies. This year’s call for proposals included six additional areas for U.S. and Israeli collaboration:

  • Cyber crime
  • Critical infrastructure and public facilities
  • Safe and secure cities
  • Border protection
  • Unmanned aerial systems
  • Advanced technologies for first responders

The BIRD Foundation is a unique U.S.-Israeli partnership that accelerates cooperation between U.S. and Israeli companies, academia and other research institutions in a wide range of technology sectors to foster strategic partnerships between companies in both countries for the purpose of joint product development.

DHS S&T focuses on providing the tools, technologies, and knowledge products the nation’s Homeland Security Enterprise needs today and tomorrow. 

Source: News Wise

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