Skip to content

InnovaBuzz Episode #35 – Ossie Pisanu, Guardian Strata Management

Ossie Pisanu, Guardian Strata Management

Ossie Pisanu, Guardian Strata Management

In this episode number 35  of the InnovaBuzz podcast, Ossie Pisanu, of Guardian Strata Management talks about a recent technology makeover his company undertook and the huge impact that had on the staff, team morale and the ability of Guardian Strata Management to better serve its customers. This is a fascinating account and there are a lot of gold nuggets in the interview for all business owners; listen to the podcast to find out more.

Listen to the Podcast

I think that this whole instant gratification part of our society is to blame for businesses not taking time to educate their audience. It’s about giving first and getting back second. All the good marketers will tell you, provide value first and everything takes care of itself after that.

Ossie Pisanu

Show Highlights

Some of the highlights of this episode include:

  • Business owners often under-estimate the impact of technology decisions on people in the business and therefore team morale. If you knew what actually was going on underneath the carpet, so to speak, you’d may well be making different decisions.
  • As a service business we’ve got the fantastic opportunity to change both the quality of our clients, and the quality of life of our staff, by making use of the right modern technology e.g. in the past we’ve been restricted to holding statutory annual general meetings face to face, whereas in six months’ time, we’ll be able to have meetings by electronic voting, once new legislation allows for that to occur.
  • I personally have surrounded myself with the best, people that are two, three times better than me in certain aspects of what I’m learning. Surround myself with those people, its my “think tank”, my “mastermind group”.
  • Talking to customers, to really learn and understand their interests and needs, is fundamental to changes and innovation we undertake.
  • Sound, well documented processes are critical to having the business running smoothly.  It’s important to document what is really done, then from there, you can analyze and improve those processes.

The marketing principle behind innovation is not everything’s going to work. Be prepared to fail – it’s all about testing. And that’s the principle – test, test, test, test, fail quickly, so if an ad’s not giving you the runs on the board that you were expecting, then try something else.

Ossie Pisanu

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Ossie’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round. Watch the interview to get the full scoop.

  • #1 thing to be more innovative – Willingness to learn and do not be concerned about failure.
  • Best thing for new ideas – An automated order and quote management system, which is now running and undergoing iterative improvement so that we can share with other Strata Management companies.
  • Favourite tool for innovation – Workflow automation tools – InfusionSoft for sales and marketing, Microsoft CRM online for operations.
  • Keep project / client on track – Clearly defining the scope, and managing scope creep.
  • Differentiate – Do something that no one else does. Begin with one!

To Be a Leader

Ideas are ONLY ideas until you take action…….take action on your ideas!  (Version 1 of implementation is far better than version 0)

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Ossie via email: ossie@guardianstrata.com.au

Suggested Guest

Ossie suggested I interview Samantha Allford who runs a company called Traveling Frog with online bookings for bed and breakfasts on a future InnovaBuzz podcast. Ossie is particularly interested to learn howSamantha’s business model, where there’s no commission, works. So, Samantha, keep an eye on your Inbox for an invitation from me, for the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Ossie Pisanu!

Links

Full Transcript

Click to Read…

Intro:

Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz. Welcome to Episode No 35 of the InnovaBuzz Podcast – designed to help smart businesses with an interest in innovation and the Internet of Things become even more innovative.

In this episode, my guest is Ossie Pisanu of Guardian Strata Management who are a specialist strata management company based in Sydney that is passionate about customer service and has recently undergone a major “Technology Makeover” to revamp their entire technology to “catch up with the business model”.

Ossie talks to me about that technology makeover and the huge impact which it had on the staff, the team morale and the ability of Guardian Strata Management to better serve its customers. This is a fascinating account and there are a lot of gold nuggets in the interview for all business owners.

Let’s get into the Innovation Hive and get the Buzz from Ossie Pisanu.

Interview

Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz, and I’m really excited to have here with me on today’s episode of the Innovabuzz Podcast from Sydney, in Australia, Ossie Pisanu, who is the owner and director of Guardian Strata Management. So, it’s a little bit of an unusual guest in terms of some of the guests we’ve had in the past; we haven’t had a Strata Management company before. So, welcome, Ossie. It’s a privilege to have you on the Innovabuzz Podcast.

Ossie:

Well, thank you, Jürgen, and pleased to be with you.

Jürgen:

Now you’re here because Christie Hamilton of Benelds suggested that we invite you, so a big shout-out to Christie.

Ossie:

Thanks, Christie.

Jürgen:

Now, just for our guests, a little bit of background. Guardian Strata is a specialist Strata Management company based in Sydney, and they’re passionate about customer service. And the interesting thing for me when I was doing the research was that they’ve recently undergone a major transformation to revamp their entire technology, and I think there was a comment there where you mentioned catching up with the business model, so I’m really looking forward to hearing more about that today.

Ossie:

Sure.

Jürgen:

Alright, now before we talk about Strata Management and what you’re doing on your own marketing and with technology and innovation and all those things, let’s find out a little bit more about your background. So taking you right back to childhood, what were your ambitions when you were a child?

Ossie:

Well, as any good teenager would tell you, that at around the 12, 13, and 14 mark, you think you know what you’re going to be, but then you try it out and then you end up sort of being what you’re passionate about. So, I suppose in the early days when I was a teenager, I think when I started leaving school, back then, 12 wasn’t as … a high school certificate wasn’t as prevalent as it was today, and I only ended up completing year 10. And at that time it was a finance and accounting background that I was looking for. I had a little bit of work experience. So I ended up probably doing the first part of my career in the banking environment and landed an assistant accounting role in the early part of my career. But it quickly developed in my early 20s into a passion for technology. And so I went from accounting to essentially systems accounting, and spent the last 30 years really on the technology side of accounting systems. And that’s been pretty well the way it’s been, combining both accounting and systems, and playing with anything that’s new, implementing new things, trying to take an innovative view of continuous improvement at the end of the day to help make things easier for yourself and for your customers.

Jürgen:

That’s fascinating. And when did you get into the Strata Management business then, did you go through kind of a real estate training period?

Ossie:

No, I didn’t. I actually came into the Strata industry via technology.

Jürgen:

Okay.

Ossie:

I used to be the managing director of a technology company that sold high-end accounting systems to large corporates, and back about 15 years ago, CCH was one of our customers who wanted to develop an online Strata Management system back then, it was around about 2002 roughly – and we had the accounting piece to that solution. And after about three or four years, as that solution was developed, I actually ended up joining CCH and then a few years later, after that, started my own Strata Management company. So, I didn’t come from a real estate background; I actually came into it from a technology background into the industry.

Jürgen:

Okay, that’s fascinating. You came from a service provider to the industry and decided that you could actually run it.

Ossie:

That’s right. Exactly.

Jürgen:

So what were was some of the philosophies that you brought in and that made you decide …

Ossie:

And actually some of my colleagues say that I …. yeah, because I got, uh, probably a two- or three-year look into the industry and the business model for Strata industry is very solid. Firstly, it’s a recurring revenue model, which is fantastic, unlike an IT company, which they call it a heart attack industry because the sales are really blotchy – one minute you’ve got them, the next you haven’t. Whereas with Strata Management, it’s based on a management fee model, which is a recurring revenue model. There’s no debtors because essentially you draw your Strata Management fees from the trust accounts once a month. And you’re also creating an asset, which is saleable, and there’s a lot of movement in the Strata market in terms of companies that are small to medium being actually gobbled up by the larger corporations. So there is a level of consolidation occurring and has occurred in the market for the last ten years and will continue to do so.

Jürgen:

Okay, that’s fascinating. You raised quite a few interesting points there because certainly the recurring revenue model is something that I’ve been following a lot of people talking about that in the IT area, and in the marketing and web area, and as you say, the typical small business has kind of got ups and down where you throw a lot of marketing, get some business projects and then you stop marketing because you’re busy the work for the customer and delivering on the projects, and then you finish the projects and you say, Oh gosh, I don’t have any more business now, so I better go back to marketing. So you’ve always got this up and down wave, if you like.

Ossie:

Exactly.

Jürgen:

Alright. Now how long has Guardian Strata Management been going?

Ossie:

Ten years now. We started in early 2007. So our ten-year anniversary happens in six or seven months. You just prompted to remember to organize a ten-year anniversary party.

Jürgen:

Yeah, well that’s a big one, isn’t it?  So, I mentioned briefly in the introduction that you’ve had a pretty substantial makeover and transformation in the last twelve months, I guess. Would you like to tell us a little bit more about that, because that also has a lot to do with technology, doesn’t it?

Ossie:

Oh, actually, in fact, by virtue of its name, it was a technology makeover. Well, firstly, we’re sponsored by Microsoft in terms of the whole makeover. Our whole transformation was videoed by David Koch’s team – and, you know, that brought out a couple of emotions, I must say, along the road, and it’s all for everyone to see up on YouTube. I think we ended up getting about half a million views because I think it’s fair to say that we did open up the kimono. We, our intention was to, through our journey, assist other small businesses like ourselves to say well, you probably don’t realize the impact your technology decisions is having on yourself and your staff. So, if I look back and say, well, we put our hand up for an award, I never thought in a million years that we would win it. If I look back and basically what Microsoft told me in terms of perhaps the reasons why we were selected. One is we had invested in innovation previously, in terms of trying to utilize technology to make things better. But having said that, you know, we invested on the software side and let the hardware fall by the wayside. So, the makeover couldn’t have happened at a better time because, even with two weeks to go to go live, my server pretty well kicked the bucket, and it was just fortunate that we were able to resuscitate it and keep going until we went live with the makeover. So, I think our investment in innovation, in quality systems, because we’re also quality certified, came home to assist us in winning the award. Clearly we had a unique personality, which helped, in that we were willing to undertake the arduous process of actually going through a technology makeover. And it was pretty well … Every single system that we had and that we’d built over ten years got replaced essentially within a three-month period.

Jürgen:

So, when you say systems, you’re talking now software and hardware?

Ossie:

Yeah, so I’ll give you … We’re a less than ten-man outfit. We’ve got seven or eight staff, so we’ve got 17 new PCs delivered, a server, a fantastic IT company called XCentral, which assisted us actually in implementing the hardware and some elements of the software. And I’ll talk to you about the software in a minute. So it was a full infrastructure. It was getting the best we could afford in terms of internet connectivity. We moved offices at the same time; it was just sort of a bit of a fluke that that happened. It just, an opportunity came up and we decided, you know, we’re doing everything else, we might as well do that as well. But the systems that we implemented that we didn’t have before … Well, we implemented Microsoft CRM, for example. We implemented a reporting tool from Microsoft called Power BI, which is a business intelligence tool. We implemented an internal communication tool called Yammer. Even though, there’s a facility called Skype for Business, it’s a little bit different to what we’re using today, but Skype for Business is pretty well business-to-business Skype communication. What else did we do? Ah, of course, Outlook, essentially the new version of Outlook. So we were the first in Australia to actually go to Outlook 2016 at the time.

Jürgen:

Okay.

Ossie:

So, it was a wholesale transformation of everything. And what I had to do at the start is not be wedded to the things I had created. To get the best out of it I had to say, you know, not getting into the Not invented here syndrome and saying, I’m open to any improvements you can make so that my life and the lives of our staff can be significantly changed by the introduction of technology, which is what everyone in the project wanted to achieve.

Jürgen:

Yeah, and certainly … Well, first of all, I’d like to just encourage our listeners to go and look for the technology makeover, so we’ll post links to that in the show notes today, because it is a fascinating journey, and like you said, you were very open. You laid everything bare there. The staff had direct access to the support team there, and there was everything documented along the path there as you moved forward.

One of the things that I’m interested in, you talked about switching to the Microsoft CRM system. Did that involve a lot of changes to your work processes, how you did that?

Ossie:

Well, let me put it this way. It has enabled us since, and I’ll come back to that question in a second, it has enabled us since to significantly improve our processes, and I’ll touch on the workflow capabilities of Microsoft CRM in a minute. So basically, we’ve used a task management system, you know, case management system, for quite a few years now, five or six years, so I come from about at least six years of managing Guardian … we’ve invested in different forms of CRM systems. I did many years ago … the first one of those was actually Microsoft CRM Version 1. I think at the moment they’re up to version 10. And that was about 10 years ago, when we first started Guardian. So, having been reintroduced into the Microsoft world big time now through the latest technology, the things that I see … and I use still quite a few CRM systems in terms of automation and things like that, and once again, I come from a technology background, so I think I’m well qualified to comment on this, is that Microsoft CRM has got all of the bells and whistles you need. You’ve got the ability to record all of your cases, which we do in terms of what our customers ask us to do. A lot of what Strata does is around due dates, you know, we’ve got to do gutter maintenance for buildings, we do insurance, we organize annual general meetings, fire safety statements, and the list goes on. But more importantly, the workflow engine that sits underneath it allows you to essentially put on autopilot the things that human beings would normally have to remember. So by way of example, one of the statutory requirements is to have an annual general meeting every year in the industry. And the way we’ve set it up is that we send out an email, say, six weeks in advance of the due date, saying AGM is coming up, an annual general meeting, and what extra motions would you like to be included, and actually schedule the annual general meeting so that no one forgets well in advance that something is due, certain things need to happen, and it’s not left up to an individual to remember to get these things done. It just happens. And I think that in itself, that one aspect of the system is what really makes it so, so good, and the other small thing, which is not such a small thing, is a lot of customer relationship management systems come with a set of defined fields, shall we call them, whereas Microsoft CRM allows you to expand on that to actually suit your specific requirements. So, all of that in total has really transformed our ability to be proactive with our customers, rather than reactive.

Jürgen:

Yeah, there’s a lot of really good points there as well, and you mentioned some small things, but they make a big difference, right. And more small things making a big difference everywhere, they’re going to transform the business. And also, I mean for me, what essentially is a mechanical task, such as being reminded to do something, can kind of free up people to actually then be creative and be interactive and be focused on the customer, whether it’s that annual general meeting and checking what needs to go onto the agenda, or whether it’s other services that you’re provided. But the mind is not cluttered, if you like, with ah, I’ve to go to remember to send out a reminder on such and such a date. So all of that can happen automatically, including reminding the staff about Okay, here’s the stuff that you actually have to do yourself.

Ossie:

Yep. Spot on.

Jürgen:

So, during that whole process … Yeah, I’d like to come back to that idea of what did it mean for the work processes and the work practices, because obviously particularly the CRM and taking away some of that repetitive work that is absolutely necessary, but doesn’t necessarily directly add value, what did that kind of mean for the business processes?

Ossie:

Okay, well one of the, I think one of the things that is, in particular for our larger clients who in the process of managing of Strata actually have regular meetings, one of the things that we’re able to produce for them, and I’ll say proactively, is an up-to-date task list. In CRM terminology, they’re called cases, we call them tasks, so that as they have their formal meeting to meet their statutory requirements, we’re able to give them, saying, Well, these are all of the things that you’ve asked us to do, here is the current status of all of them, and here’s the history of the interaction that we’ve had in relation to it. So they actually use that as their own action list to make formal decisions

Jürgen:

Okay, yeah.

Ossie:

…as part of the formal meeting or to give us instructions to move forward because it might be, for example, a quote that we’ve asked them to approve and we haven’t heard back from them, and they use the formal meetings to actually then give us instructions to issue a work order to a contractor to perform some works.

Jürgen:

So, you’re actually adding value to them in helping them get organized as well, which is awesome.

Ossie:

Yeah, because with most of … well, I can’t comment for a lot of Strata managers, but there’s not a lot of them that …Strata managers actually are of the customer relationship management system mindset, and they’re mode, I would suggest, is looking at emails and seeing what’s outstanding, rather than having a systemized way of recording your interactions with your client, what’s closed, what’s opened. And from a value-add perspective, and you touched on it before, those are the visible things that really make a big difference to the lives of our customers. Things like reminder systems, they’re regarded as a given, they’re the invisible things that are regarded as a given by our customers. What they want to see from a Strata manager is how can you help me proactively in reducing the workload on what otherwise are volunteers, because most of our customers who are on executive committees managing their Strata plans are all volunteers; they’re not getting paid for this work.

Jürgen:

Yeah, and you touched on something there that I’m very passionate, and always have been very passionate about, I mean I’m a systems junky, systems and processes junky, and I’m also a technology junky, but I keep telling people that all those things are there as tools whereby we can help our customers, and be better at serving our customers. So I think you mentioned customer-focused systems, which I think is a really great term.

Ossie:

Absolutely.  So, was there any other aspect of the makeover that you’d like me to touch on, Jürgen?

Jürgen:

I guess, yeah, tell us a little bit about the impact it had you personally and also the impact on your staff personally, because one of the things that struck me in looking at those is you kind of went into it saying, you know, we’ve got technology here that has some issues and there are some gaps there that need to be addressed and some upgrades in terms of hardware and maybe software. But it ended up being a lot more than that, didn’t it?

Ossie:

Yeah – and you know what, there’s a couple of us, well either on camera or off camera, I’ve got to say, shed a few tears. So I would say for any owner of a small business, the thing that I under-estimated is the negative impact my technology decisions were having on my staff. Not always do you know that because of your technology decisions that your staff is getting up at 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning so they can get onto your system when there’s the least amount of load so they can have a, get a productive day out of the systems. So that bit of it I knew that some staff were actually logging on outside of hours, but I didn’t know the extent. And actually before we got selected for the makeover, Renee, who actually shed some tears during the makeover as well, when she was asked, you know, what would the makeover mean for her and the positive effect that it would have potentially, she was hugging the Microsoft staff like you wouldn’t believe. She actually started crying because she was experiencing a lot of pain beforehand. So, under-estimation of owners like myself in terms of our decisions, if you knew what actually was going on underneath the carpet, so to speak, you’d probably be making different decisions. That’s point #1.

When we did go live, which was in April 2015, a year ago now, then when everybody, the morale in relation to the technology upkeep was chalk and cheese to what it was before, and it was actually better than I expected it. So here I was walking around the office saying, Ah, you’ll smiling and you’re upbeat, and I honestly, I’ve got to tell you, I thought it was a put on, I go, Oh, you’re just smiling and happy because, you know, you want me just to see that you’re happy. I didn’t actually really believe it, that they were as enthusiastic as they became. So, it’s interesting on the one side here I am under-estimating the negative and under-estimating the positives. And that was the big learning curve for me, at a personal level. And for the staff, because they then weren’t necessarily had the ball and chain around their ankles, they’ve driven a lot of the process improvements in terms of some of the facilities that we got, like Power BI, which is a business intelligence tool, which has allowed us to be used to be very proactive in … And I’ll give you a quick example in a minute of how we used it. They actually created the reports, I suppose, in there that allowed them to do their job better. They were driving it, it wasn’t always me driving it, which it was in the past.

And just to give you a quick example of how we’ve used the business intelligence tool is in Strata, if we don’t get utility-type invoices like water bills or, you know, gas and electricity bills, we don’t have an easy way of knowing in the past when we didn’t get them. So we use the tool to say well these are the invoices that we’ve got in the system, we’re supposed to receive the next one within three months of the old one, tell us when that doesn’t happen so we can request copies and stop getting disconnection notices, which makes us look a bit ordinary in front of our clients. And that is just a really simple example, you know, another small engines swing big doors, as you mentioned before. As an example of what was something that didn’t really look the best in terms of the eye of the customer and we plugged it with a very simple report that we’re able to do with this tool and we weren’t able to do that before.

Jürgen:

Yeah, that’s great. Now looking through those videos, I was actually moved, I have to tell you that. And to me the transformation in the people, it came across as very genuine and very sincere, and I think it was evident that that had really occurred in the business. I mean, it’s impressive when you get somebody, your staff are obviously all very dedicated and very passionate about the business because otherwise they wouldn’t kind of go to the lengths that some of them described in terms of putting up with systems that they were struggling with. But then the transformation that occurred, you could sense that on the video, so it must have been awesome to be part of it.

Ossie:

Oh, absolutely it was. Yeah, and thank you because it … the reason why it came across that way, and I suppose emotional is the word, is because there was a lot of emotion along the way, and we were encouraged to be authentic, because that’s the only way, I think, in terms of the really … outcomes that everyone wanted to achieve from this whole process is to how we, as a little small cog in the world, have the … being able to affect people’s lives by saying, Hey, look at the impact it’s had on these people, both positive and negative, and learn from the exercise.

Jürgen:

Alright. So, what do you consider the biggest challenges in your business today, then, and how are you addressing those?

Ossie:

I think the, out the back end of it, I think the let’s call it best-of-breed systems. We’ve still got different systems that do different things. And you don’t, for me, you don’t want to move away from one system that does something very, very good that you can’t replicate with let’s call it another system. And the biggest challenge, which fortunately in the technology arena, and I’ll touch on this in a second, is synchronizing data across systems. So, if we take a customer data as one, we’ve got essentially two or three different places where we store customer data. Okay. Master file information like names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses, simple as that. So, our challenge, and you know, we are making inroads into that every week, every month, is to investigate the tools that allows that data to be synchronized pretty well in an almost real-time basis so that no matter which system you’re looking at in terms of customer data, you’re looking at the same information. That’s the biggest challenge. Fortunately, with the tools that are coming out in the market these days, and they have been available for quite a few years, the facilities that over the last 20 or 30 years that were available to big businesses for many, many years are now being made affordable to small business. And that’s the beauty because to the outside world, my company would probably look a whole lot bigger than it is because of what we’re able to do internally, but it’s only a seven-person company at the end of the day. But we can act bigger, we’re a very agile company, and it’s only been made possible by the tools that we use, and it’s only been made possible by investing in the integration capabilities to make sure that we don’t fall apart at the seams by having different customer data in different systems. So that’s the biggest challenge, and we’re working on that on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.

Jürgen:

Yeah, that’s a really good point, and I guess you raise there – how you can appear much bigger than you actually are to the outside world, and some of that, I’d turn that turn around and say, Well, it’s about you can deliver a whole lot more value than perhaps others of your size because you’re leveraging, cleverly leveraging advanced technology and good systems and so on. But as you say, the challenge of making sure that the data is, first of all, it’s sound data and then it’s integrated and the same on wherever you access it from …

Ossie:

Exactly

Jürgen:

… is certainly critical to that.  Alright, so in terms of your sales process, I’m interested in learning a little bit about that. How do you get about making yourself known in the marketplace and getting new business on board?

Ossie:

Okay, well it’s interesting, you talked about this particular subject, but this is my passion, actually. I probably about five or six years ago, when we were probably around two or three years, I think it was, about 2009, 2010, I made what is now a wise decision of going hell for leather in adwords advertising, Google adwords online advertising, and starting to really get deep in learning the online marketing principles, things like landing pages and keywords and all this other stuff. It can get all very technical. So, basically I’ve invested heavily in making sure that I’ve been in the top three results for the keywords that I want to bid for in Google, and having a, I’ll call it a sales process behind it, and I’ll tell you what system I use, there’s no issue there, to have a follow-up system. Because with a long sales cycle like Strata Management sales are, it’s not going to a website, hitting the “buy now” button, putting in your credit card details, and it’s done. Try looking at a three- to six-month sales process is what we have to … And then when you’re selected, you’ve got to wait 90 days before you actually produce one cent because it’s a 90-day termination clause normally with picking up new Strata plans. So, the way we do it to pretty well utilize adwords to, for people who are looking to change because they might not be happy with their current provider, being present when they search for Strata Management or Strata managers or whatever, and talk to them in terms of what’s in it for them, what they want to see out of our offering, rather than just tell them all about us. They don’t want to hear that we’ve been around for 10 years and that we’ve won this award and that award. All they want to know is what we can do for them, okay. And we use InfusionSoft, which is where I sort of became friends with Christie, so once again, a big shout-out to Christie, and developed basically an email sequence of about 20 or 30 emails which educates, first and foremost, our prospective clients, on what Strata Management is all about, how we’re different, how they could – irrespective of whether they were to select us, for example, how could they manage their Strata better, irrespective of who their Strata manager is. And in my view, if you provide sufficient information to customers or prospective customers, there’s no hard sell involved, they normally ask you, they’ll say, okay, when can we sign up. That normally takes, in some cases, at least three to four months. And, you know, we also interact the normal way, phone calls and they respond to my automated emails as well, because it’s all automated. The beauty about that is I also get involved obviously in the day-to-day of managing my business, and if I didn’t have a follow-up system like InfusionSoft, the fires that are burning are always going to take priority, whereas I know that the engine’s always going, the marketing engine, and it’s been the secret sauce for me in acquiring, well, what was it, about 200 customers in 10 years. I think that’s a pretty good feed – and being able to do it with no sales people. My sales person is called InfusionSoft.

Jürgen:

Yeah, that’s … I mean, you’re talking my language now. There’s a lot of things there are in that little answer there. So, I mean, it’s fascinating to me, and I wonder why that people still don’t get it, what you’ve just said, that when you offer information and educate people and you say, you can systemize that and automate it to some extent with tools like InfusionSoft, and there’s lots of others around that will do that, but educating people and building that relationship without sort of saying, well, buy from me now, it’s more about how you can improve this aspect of which I’m experienced in, I have some knowledge in, and I’ll share some of that knowledge with you now. And then over time, people come to like you, come to trust you, they learn from you, and they say, okay, it’s time to pull the trigger, and it’s almost a no-brainer decision for them.

Ossie:

Yeah, I think, in answer to your question, I think that this whole instant gratification part of our society is to blame for the first bit. It’s about giving first and getting back second. So, all of the good marketers will tell you, you know, provide value first and everything takes care of itself after that.

Jürgen:

Yeah, that’s right.

Ossie:

And all of the books and God knows I’m probably going to offend a whole heap of authors now about, you know, hard sells, soft sells, you know, never had to do that and I’ve probably sold probably more than the average person in terms of all sorts of different things. Always adopted the same view – give them the information, help them with the comparisons, and there’s no need for all that other hard-selling tactics. In fact, that’s what, for Australians, that’s actually what turns us off the sale. Whereas in America it’s probably a little bit different, but here in Australia it’s quite a different process. So, I agree with you, it’s been the absolutely secret sauce. I’m glad I made that call. And more recently, with the advances in technology, I’m spending all my time now pretty well updating my sales sequence to include, let’s call it different mediums. The main one is Facebook. Where in the old methods you’re used to pretty well, the way I used to send the message out, I mean let’s take that back a step.  With InfusionSoft, if you ask a few questions at the start of your sales process as to whether they are a self-managed prospect or an existing Strata manager, you can then talk to them because you can talk to them differently based on how they interact with you during the sales process. Number 1, okay. That is sort of like decision diamonds in terms of the whole email marketing sequence. What’s, what the beauty of the facilities now that are coming to market, and Facebook is an example, is depending on what actions they take, and we would classify prospects as cold, warm, and hot, I’m going to talk to a warm and hot prospect differently in terms of the ads I’m going to show them via Facebook than I would a cold, okay. So we are tracking that interaction, and we’re showing the right ads at the right time in the right place. And so if you, I don’t know if you’ve gone to my website or accessed my Facebook page or anything like, Jürgen, but you’ll probably see I’m starting to stalk you now. Because my ads will start showing up everywhere. But that’s not the point. The point is not for your ads to show up everywhere and be what I call a PITA, and if anyone wants to know what PITA means, a pain in the ass, it’s about showing the right ads at the right time so that we can add value to the interaction as to what they see rather than keep just showing the same thing all the time. It’s about getting them, moving them along the sales process. So if they’re at Point A, how do you get them to Point B?

Jürgen:

Yeah, you’re right. The technology has gotten so much more powerful, so… And the analogy is, like in real life, you know, if somebody comes into a store, let’s say, a physical shop front, and they’re interested in shoes but not clothing, so you wouldn’t talk to them about clothing, you’d, you know, once you knew that, you’d talk to them about shoes, and if they’re interested in boots not general shoes rather than sandals, you certainly wouldn’t be talking to them about beach sandals, so, yeah, that’s essentially what the technology allows you to do. And also there’s potential for savings there. I mean the way the Facebook ads now are configured, you could target it to an audience that you know from their Facebook profile or Google profile that they fit into your particular category and you can target it at times when they’re likely to be online, so it’s really fascinating.

Ossie:

It is, and I’m really enjoying just exploring that at the moment, and in fact, we probably spent the last month doing that. And I’d say probably in a week or so, we’ll go live with our first ad in that space.

Jürgen:

Right. So what do you see as the risks of pushing the boundaries like that and being sort of at the forefront of innovation?

Ossie:

Yep. Good question. The marketing principle behind innovation is not everything’s going to work. So, be prepared to fail because some things that you’re going to float are just not going to have the legs. So, even in presenting advertisements to clients, no one really knows at the end of the day, otherwise we’d all be billionaires, what’s going to hit the mark with your prospects. It’s about, it’s all about testing. And that’s just the principle – test, test, test, test, fail quickly, so if an ad’s not giving you the runs on the board that you were expecting, then try something else. And innovation is the same. I’ve got to say, before going on to Microsoft CRM, I went down another road. We didn’t fully understand what it didn’t do, we knew what it did, we didn’t find out until we went live what it didn’t do. It was causing my staff and my clients absolutely hell for a two-month period, and I had to pull it. I had to swallow my pride, say that I got it wrong, and pull it, rather than keep batting our head against the wall. So, you know, there’s an example. I tried something new, it didn’t work, pull it, and do not keep going with something that has failure written all over it. In fact, it’s the smartest way you can tackle either marketing or innovation.

Jürgen:

Yeah, that’s a really good message, a very strong one there. And I guess I … my business coach says to me, There’s no such thing as failure, there’s only feedback, so you know, you try something and it’s not giving you the result you expect or you want, then that’s feedback that something has to change, so obviously you’ve got to figure out what are the causes and what are the symptoms that need addressing and then you make the changes.

Alright, well this has been really fascinating, Ossie. I really appreciate you sharing all of that with us so openly. I think it’s time we moved onto the Buzz, which is our innovation round, and it’s designed to help our audience, and they’re primarily innovators and leaders in their fields, with some tips from your experience. So, I’ve got a series of five questions I’m going to ask. Hopefully, you’ll give us some really insightful answers that are going inspire everyone to go out and do something awesome as a result.

Ossie:

Okay, let’s give it a go.

Jürgen:

Okay, so what’s the #1 thing anyone needs to do to be more innovative?

Ossie:

Well, I’ll go back to my previous answer. Willingness to learn and do not be concerned about failure.

Jürgen:

Yep, that’s a good one. Willingness to learn, don’t be concerned about failure; treat it as feedback. Yeah.

Ossie:

Yep.

Jürgen:

What’s the best thing you’ve done to develop new ideas or new services?

Ossie:

As in a particular innovation or ….?

Jürgen:

Yeah, in your business.

Ossie:

Yeah, look, I think probably in terms of the impact on what is already happening in our business is an automated work order and quote management system that we’ve developed specifically on how the Strata Management system works. We’ve been, have implemented a Version 1 of that system and are ready to go live with Version 2, and I’m, in my honest opinion, the Version 2 of the approach will revolutionize the way the whole industry actually interacts with contractors and their customers as it relates to getting work done at their buildings. And just from an industry perspective, we’re not going to be holding it internally. Once we get it working and, you know, bug free and all that sort of thing, we’re happy to provide that approach to other Strata Management companies, once again with the principle of, you know, making sure that the industry gets stronger.

Jürgen:

Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s a great approach to take. So it sounds like also you’ve got a philosophy of continuous improvement built into that as well, so….

Ossie:

Yeah, that’s correct, and it’s more than words. We’re the first company in the Strata Management industry that’s been quality certified. In 2014, to ISO9001 certification. So, it’s not just, you know, saying the words. It took me three years to get there. And it’s because those quality disciplines actually helps you have less hassles.

Jürgen:

Yeah, yeah, that’s right. Alright, what’s your favorite tool or system for improving productivity and allowing you to be more innovative? So, you’ve mentioned a whole range of them ….

Ossie:

Well, yeah, look, look, one part of it … Well, first I think it’s workflow automation tools, and I would say InfusionSoft on the one hand in terms of the sales and marketing aspect, and from an operational perspective, absolutely Microsoft CRM online.

Jürgen:

Yeah, okay. And you’ve certainly spoken about the impact both of those have had on your business, so I could expect they would be the answer. Okay, what’s the best way to keep a project or a client on tract? And that might be the same answer.

Ossie:

Yeah, well, it’s different. I suppose my answer these days would be different to, well, maybe not, maybe not. It’s an interesting question. Look, the first words that come into my mind and it relates to how we bill our clients, how a project should be run, even if it’s an IT project, and it’s the same answer as if it’s a construction project, it’s about defining the scope, and managing scope creep. So, I’ve had a lot of history in being able to deliver projects, whether it’s construction or IT projects, on time and on budget, because if you get the scope right up front and manage to approach a plan and certainly really play hardball on the scope creep, because you have to otherwise the other two will blow out, either cost or timelines, that’s my answer, it’s around management of scope.

Jürgen:

Yeah, that really rings a bell with me. There’s been a lot of discussion on one of the forums or one of the mastermind groups that I’m involved in around scope and scope creep, because it usually is, like you say, when things get out of hand with the customer, it usually comes back to that not having the expectations clear up front, and if they are reasonably clear up front, not sort of sticking to them.

Ossie:

Yeah, and look, I can give you a quick example. I was at a meeting where I pretty well had to get on my high horse with a customer. They were going to blow $350,000 if they weren’t going to take into account what I was telling them in terms of if you don’t go down this road, the chances are that you’re going to blow the budget, blow the timelines. Now, fortunately, they did listen. They have decided to go down the road that I’m requesting that they do, not that I can force them to do that, and as a result of that, I’m really, really confident that they’re not going to burn the money that they otherwise would have.

Jürgen:

Alright. What’s the #1 thing anyone can do to differentiate themselves?

Ossie:

Do something that no one else does. Unique selling proposition means no one else does it. And if you can just figure out one of those, just one, that in itself is enough for differentiation. I mean, obviously you’d want more than one.  And so when I started Guardian, no one was offering no lock in contract approach ten years ago, so when I started Guardian Strata, I said, What can I do that is exactly the opposite of everyone else? Let’s start with that principle first. Now, you might not end up with that, but from a mindset issue, if you start with that as a starting point, you’ll more than likely create your differentiators than, you know, being the run of the mill, you know what’s different about me sort of thing.

Jürgen:

Yeah, that’s great advice. So, turn something on its head.

Ossie:

Yep.

Jürgen:

And, of course that’s what leaders do, isn’t it?

Ossie:

Yeah, so … You know, I’d like to think that, you know I know what I don’t know. I probably … either people probably think, you know, I’ve got leadership qualities and all those sort of things, but I also know what I don’t know, and so I’ve just got a thirst for knowledge. I’m a bit like you, I think, Jürgen. It’s just, I just want to know more, and I want to know more. And that drives your improvement, just the thirst for knowledge.

Jürgen:

That’s right. Yeah, well, I’m in … I was reminded just today, a couple of hours ago, about one of Einstein’s most famous quotes, which is “The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.” And the more I realize how little I know, the more I want to learn, so, yeah.

Ossie:

Yep, that sounds like me.

Jürgen:

Alright. So what’s the future for you and for Guardian Strata Management?

Ossie:

Look, I want to … Now the next steps is actually to take advantage of the technology we do have, and you think to yourself, Well, okay, you’ve got it all. Well, yeah, we’ve got all of the technology, it’s just a question now of how much of each piece of technology are we actually utilizing. Because too many times organizations will implement a piece of technology, and before they implement 15 or 20% of the current capability of the existing technology, they’re out chasing the next shiny bullet, you know. So, this one has got these features; I want to change from this to that. And so hang on; have you explored all that this one’s got to offer before you start moving on. Otherwise you’re in a continual chase mode, rather than a consolidation mode. So, I think we have absolutely all of the tools we need. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to explore more options. And it’s taking advantage fully of what we’ve been blessed to have as a result of the makeover.

Jürgen:

Okay, and where do you see the Strata Management industry heading?

Ossie:

Well, that’s an interesting point because, for example, one of the things that’s happening in the Strata Management industry, there’s a legislation change that’s only six months away from becoming law. And one of the areas, I think we’ve got the absolute opportunity to change both the lives, quality of life of Strata managers or quality of life of our clients, because in the past we’ve been restricted to holding statutory annual general meetings face to face, whereas in six months’ time, we’ll be able to have meetings by electronic voting, for example, so the new legislation allows for that to occur.

Jürgen:

Okay.

Ossie:

Which means, just to give you an example. For a Strata manager that starts normal working hours 9:00 to 5:00 and then has to go out to a night-time meeting at 6:30, which lasts an hour and a half to two hours and then go home, they’re not getting home until 10:00 at night. Which, you know, you back that up one day after another, which in some cases you do, by the end of the week, you’re knackered. So, just using that one little piece as an example, if we take advantage of what the legislation now provides for, we could change the lives of our customers and ourselves because no one really wants to sit around for an hour and a half to two hours when we can get it done in five minutes by another means. Because people currently have trouble even getting home from work, if they’re working in the city and they live out in Castle Hill, before 6:30. So, there’s all the stress of getting to the meeting, going to the meeting without having dinner, sitting and not every Strata meeting goes very cordially, I’ve got to say. There’s an hour and a half of let’s say either  productive or non-productive discussion, and then, you know, you’re sort of back in your unit at 9:30, 10:00 at night, and it’s time to go to sleep.

Jürgen:

Alright. Finally, then, what’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give to any business owner who wants to be a leader in innovation in their field?

Ossie:

Yep. I’ll say it like this. Solution … Good solutions are never, well, are never from the one brain. You, I think touched on, Jürgen, a little bit that you’re part of a mastermind group. I think when two minds are together, it equals three. I call it one plus one equals three. So, I’ve, I personally have surrounded myself with the best, people that are two, three times better than me in certain aspects of what I’m learning. Surround myself with those people, and call it a think tank, call it a mastermind group. You mentioned earlier on in this call that you’ve got a business coach. All of these type of strategies help you think differently and come up with ideas. And the one piece of advice I’ve got to give in terms of ideas, they are only.

Wrap Up:

Well I hope you enjoyed meeting Ossie as much as I enjoyed speaking with him.  He was very generous and transparent in sharing what Guardian learnt through the process of their technology makeover.  There are a lot of good tips for all businesses in the interview.

All the show notes for this episode will be at innovabiz.com.au/ossiepisanu, that is O-S-S-I-E-P-I-S-A-N-U, all lowercase, all one word, innovabiz.com.au/ossiepisanu, for all of the links and everything we spoke about in this episode .

Ossie suggested I interview Samantha Alford, from Getudigital and Go2 Travel on a future InnovaBuzz podcast. So, Samantha, keep an eye on your Inbox for an invitation from me, for the Innovabuzz Podcast, courtesy of Ossie Pisanu!

Thank you for listening to the InnovaBuzz podcast.  We’d love you to review this podcast, because reviews help us get found and your feedback helps us improve.  You can review us at iTunes or Stitcher and while you’re there, please subscribe so you’ll never miss a future episode.

Until next time, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz.

Remember, if you don’t innovate, you stagnate, so think big, be adventurous and keep innovating!

Innovabiz Smart Website Blueprint

Listen to the Podcast

Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is a transformational marketing strategist, podcaster, speaker, the chief innovator and founder of Innovabiz who partner with innovative, exceptional business coaches and consultants to enable you to acquire more leads and more business by reaching your ideal target prospects with your message, so that you will achieve growth and be able to make a difference to more ideal clients. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, as well as on Innovabiz' Twitter, Facebook, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Tales of Marketing Transformation Show and his personal Photography website.

Leave a Comment





Can we help? - 10 min Zoom Call

Want to start a project?


Important This site makes use of cookies which may contain tracking information about visitors. By continuing to browse this site you agree to our use of cookies.

Scroll To Top
X