Chad Counts on the 2015 ARA Trade Show and His CBCDashboard Solution
We recently caught up with the newest Hollander partner, Chad Counts of Counts Business Consulting and CBCDashboard, as he prepares to present at the Automotive Recyclers Association Convention. Chad, a former LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) in the non-profit sector, joined his father's consulting business where he helped create the CBCDashboard--a tool that helps businesses stay ahead of the game. Read on to learn more about our upcoming partnership, get a sneak peek into what Chad will be presenting at ARA, and how the CBCDashboard can help you maximize your business success.
Hollander: Thanks for talking with us today, Chad! We wanted to start off by learning a little more about you, your background, what you do, your education, where you’re from, all that fun stuff.
Chad Counts: Okay, so a little background on us— we’re a two-man team. It’s my father Robert and myself. We have two companies: Counts Business Consulting and CBCDashboard. They are supportive of each other and they both have the same mission at heart: to strengthen and provide support to recyclers as they are growing their business and looking for ways to improve their profitability and stay ahead of the curve of what’s becoming an increasingly challenging industry.
We do that by leading owners groups and profit teams, which is where a group of owners get together and they bench mark team performance against each other. We set goals and challenges on where we think they are weak and where they need to improve, as well as identify where their strengths are and enhance those to their benefit. We also do individual work for clients either on site or remotely, where we go through every aspect of the business--whether it’s production, sales, finances, management skills, training, etc. We are a one stop shop and provider of support for recyclers in the industry.
Hollander: That’s a great overview, thank you. Can you tell us how you and your dad went into business together?
Chad: Robert has been doing this for over 15 years now and it’s something that I got to see a bit growing up. It was more when I was in middle school and high school that he started doing this and I got to go to a few facilities with him in the summers to learn the business. I then went and received a Marriage and Family Therapy degree, so that was my training and my background, and got my license to practice in the state of California. I met my wife when both of us were working at a non-profit agency in California—and anyone who lives in California knows how expensive it is and how it's tough to raise a family on non-profit salaries. So, I decided to seek self-employment and work with Robert. He had a need because he was getting to a point where he had as many customers as he could manage. So, I came in about 5 years ago and started learning the business on the numbers side doing analytics. Being able to bring family and conflict resolution skills, as well as training and management skills into the fold, I am able to use that as my base of strength to start working with recyclers who are predominantly family-owned businesses, as a lot of the issues and challenges recyclers face tend to be with family or with key personnel in their operation.
Anyway, it’s been a joy to get to work with him. He lives in Texas, I live in California, so it was a great opportunity. I get to see him, my mom and my older brother much more regularly now. Since we have been working in this we’ve been able to launch the online version of our business, which Robert would never have been able to do by himself, but always had a vision of. It’s been fun making his vision come true, as well as exploring my own talents, my own gifts in terms of being an entrepreneur, being self-employed and growing and changing the business in a way that I see it working going forward.
Hollander: That’s a great story! You mentioned bringing your father's vision to life by creating an online business. Can you tell us a little more about that transition, how you have been doing it, and a little more about your product as well?
Chad: Sure. For most consultants, the biggest limitation is obviously time. You only have so much time in the day to service the clients that you have and particularly in our industry, most of that time has been required to be on site at people’s facilities because that was the only way to get access to the data and the people we needed in order to help them improve.
I just had a daughter about 4 months ago, it’s our first kid and we knew three years ago that going forward we wanted to have this business, but we wanted to do it in a way where we could be based more from home and provide more contact and more support to our customers.
So, going online was a way to do that. The databases are all there and the industry, Hollander itself, has a great open database that allows the user a great chance to understand their business better and see where there is room for improvement. So now, we have the opportunity that we don’t have to be right in their facility—they can give us a call if they're having some issue today with broker sales or “I think my buying numbers aren’t looking very good” and Robert and I can simply log into their account and within a few minutes we are there with them looking at the same issues. We can address it right then and there.
It’s a very powerful tool--we get much better access to our clients and it provides a much better service. Before, we were always limited to looking at one point in time of what was going on. Let’s say over a 6-month period, recyclers know that the business changes month-to-month and now we have a much cleaner, better look at the data from a day-to-day and a month-to-month standpoint.
So that is where we started. It’s taken about two and a half years’ worth of work to even get to this point, but now with an online service, we believe we can grow the number of clients that we can support and have access to which made so much sense for us and our customers going forward.
Hollander: Since you have been in business for several years now, how did you get involved with Hollander and how long you have been working with them?
Chad: We struck up a relationship with Hollander around three years ago at ARA where we first sat down with Chris Budion to discuss some visions that we had about our business and how he thought that might be helpful to Hollander and PowerLink. From there, we knew that a lot of PowerLink customers had been wanting more data and more reports that were easier to use and to access. So, we discussed that with Chris and he felt like that would be a good app for them, as well as working for AdHoc on their end, to provide a tool that nobody else had in the industry at that point.
It’s been a great working relationship with the Hollander team. They have been so open to questions and always looking to improve and provide better training and better access to their clients, which is along the lines of the same vision we had in terms of our online tool. So we really felt like both visions for PowerLink and CBCDashboard were one and the same, and that was to give recyclers better data, more access to their data and a simpler way so that they can be more effective on what is becoming an increasingly data-driven industry and that they would have all the tools they need to grow and thrive going forward.
Hollander: We want to move into talking a little more about what this upcoming partnership is, how that might change things, and what you are most excited about.
Chad: Sure. I think absolutely we are most excited about having the Hollander Team on board, being a two-man crew, Robert and myself. We needed a little more horsepower in terms of being able to interact and engage potential sales contacts. The Hollander sales team already has great relationships with those great customers and they know which ones are looking for more reporting or looking for more access to data and we felt like that was a really clean fit for each of us.
Additionally, we’re obviously most looking forward to increasing our sales space and increasing our client base through Hollander. With more access to more clients we will get a better idea of what their needs are and looking through enhancements and continuing to find ways to give customers better information in a timely fashion when they need it. It’s also been great working with the tech team at Hollander. We are able to bring ideas to the table for ways that existing reporting can improve.
Hollander: Can you tell us about what you'll be presenting at ARA?
Chad: We have two presentations this year. One is titled “Know What is Driving Your Business." This one will center around the key performance metrics that we see at the fastest-growing and most successful companies. So, from a buying, inventory, sales and even employee efficiency standpoints, this is going to be an opportunity to make the industry more aware of what the benchmarks are. I think a lot of recyclers can be siloed and unaware of what other recyclers are doing. This can be a big blind spot.
Our second presentation, “Three Things You Need to Do to Service," will look at three main points in terms of employees, inventory, and increasing sales—especially in the current climate where we've seen the scrap and metal prices fall flat. This has been a big buoy that has kept many recyclers afloat in recent years and now that that lifeline has started to fade, these three things are becoming increasingly important. We'll discuss what business owners need to buy, how many people they need to process, and the importance of minding other profit centers (broker sales, warranties, freight and core sales), as well as realizing the opportunities that you should take advantage of.
Hollander: Speaking of what auto recycling businesses might want to take advantage of, can you tell us more about your Dashboard and its different components?
Chad: We offer set reporting with PowerLink. We can tell if there is a problem in any facet of a company or organization. We make sure expenses are in order with what we are spending on our employees, with the purchasing, through buying and inventory, to make sure we are, first, buying the right product, buying enough of it, and that it’s moving in a timely fashion. Second, we look at income and sales activity to make sure that not only sales people are closing and getting enough sales, but that they are getting the right amount of profit and right margins. Third, we look at production and financials to make sure that our biggest cost area, in terms of operations, is being used effectively and financially. It’s the bottom line look. Many recyclers know they are busy and know they do a lot of sales, but if we are not making money then what’s the point?
We have the best snapshot and look at profitability cost and expenses in the industry, I think we make that tool much more usable. I think many recyclers don’t rely on their PNL and some of their financial tools as much as they should because they are not as accessible. We also provide anyone in the management team daily updates which alert them to the progress in sales, as well as getting them context, for whether those sales are ahead of last month or ahead of last year. We also give them the other key data points, which include vehicles purchased, vehicles inventoried, vehicles processe. We make it really simple for a manager to look at his email once in the morning to see if there are any major concerns going on in the operation that need his immediate attention.
We provide that information every day so they don’t take their eye off the ball of the key performance indicators. We have those online tools as well as graphically, in Excel and PDF form, so they can save or review specific employees. We really have all the data points that they could want and all the data points they would need to know if there is an issue going on. We're also available as a lifeline if they have something going on or if they are not sure what these numbers mean and how they need to change them. We provide that support as well with just a phone call or an email-- either way, they have access to us to continue to support their growth going forward.
Hollander: We understand you'll be bringing some of your software to the ARA show, can you tell us more about that?
Chad: Yes, we are presenteing the CBCDashboard software at ARA, so anyone that wants to come by the booth and get a live demo is invited to stop by.
Hollander: To wrap things up, would you like our audience know anything else about your business, what’s upcoming at ARA or something that they could incorporate into what they were doing in their business?
Chad: The biggest thing is that if bussinesses are not seeing sales increasing and they are not seeing their profit margins growing, they don’t have to settle for that thinking "This is the business environment and this is the issue we are facing." There are plenty of recyclers out there that are growing their business and enjoying very good profit numbers, and we want anyone listening to know that they can be in that group and we will happily assist them in achieving those goals through CBCDashboard and through working with us in any fashion that they think is beneficial. That is the main takeaway I would say. Secondly, I think Hollander is being incredibly innovative and open-minded to what their customers and clients are looking for and continuing to find ways to improve their offering so that it continues to be the best in the industry. We are pleased to be involved with this partnership and continue to look forward to enhancing this offering, as well as enhancing ours as well.
This concludes our blog post with Chad Counts. To learn more about him and what his company is doing, please visit http://www.cbcdashboard.com.