Gil Priel and Eli Tene were about to take on not one, but two significant challenges that would literally reshape the way that their business would be run. The fellow principals and managing directors went into the effort with their eyes wide open to the inevitability of bumps along the way.
“It’s not going to be seamless and it’s not going to be smooth,” says Priel, who shares the title of principal and managing director with his partner, Tene. “But we didn’t do it overnight.”
The partners wanted to take a number of different companies that they owned and combine them into one organization under one brand name: Peak Corporate Network. Once that was done, they wanted to implement a customer relationship management system to bring clarity and order to the process of helping clients of the 230-employee company buy, sell and manage their real estate.
“As time went by, we really felt our clients wanted to have our service,” Priel says. “The fact that we had the different companies was just confusing. It was tough to sell.”
The key to a successful transition in both the brand change and the CRM implementation was the attitude with which the partners brought it to their employees.
“It’s important to embrace them, empower them, educate them and make them part of the process,” Tene says. “When we’re changing this atmosphere, people need to understand it’s a partnership between the leadership of the company and the people that work there. That makes the process much easier to go over and makes it much easier to get everybody to work through this in the best interest of the company. That was a challenge we’re still going through.”
With the move to one brand, Priel says the tough part was getting people to look beyond their specialty and push other areas that were now part of their company too.
“They resist the adjustment because they are used to doing things in a certain way and they are afraid that change can reveal weakness,” Priel says. “They have to start thinking and talking about everything that we do together as a big company. They can’t just talk about their specific service.”
When you engage your people in regular dialogue and portray change as being something that you’re going through too, you make it more palatable.
“It’s something that leadership must be part of,” Tene says. “You can’t just implement it without support. It needs to be reinforced from senior leadership.”
As for the implementation of the CRM system, Priel says similar principles apply. Implementing change comes down to helping people feel comfortable with it and helping them see the benefit of it.
“You need to start with baby steps,” Priel says. “Like anything else, what do you need from me? You need to come to those people who need to work with the CRM and you need to show them what it means for them. Why it’s good for you to use. As long as you can explain that and show it and make sure the training process is painless and something they can understand, it should work.
“The initial reaction is, ‘Oh my God, I’m being monitored, where before I wasn’t.’ That’s your hurdle. You say, ‘Yeah, you’re being monitored. But you’re going to know yourself when the last time was you called on this guy. Why has his business gone down this year compared to last year? Maybe you need to go visit him more often.’ It’s being able to prioritize channels and clients and it makes everybody’s work so much easier.”
There may be some people who can’t make the transition to what you’re doing and you need to be ready to accept that. But if you take the mindset that you’re all on the same team working toward the same goal, you’ll stand a better chance at achieving success.
“We see the results,” Tene says. “The sales are jumping.”
How to reach: Peak Corporate Network, (818) 591-3300 or www.peakcorp.com
Don’t give up
When you’re taking on major changes in your business, you’ll undoubtedly face a situation where someone isn’t ready to do what you need them to do. You’d be a pretty cold and heartless person if you just cast them aside without checking first to see if they could help you in other areas.
“Some of the stuff we’ve implemented has shown us that someone might not be right for the position they are in,” Priel says. “So we think and we strategize about how that person has a lot of qualities. Where can we utilize those qualities? We’ve had several people where we’ve moved them from one company to the other or one division to the other and they have succeeded. We’re trying to set people up for success, not for failure. Before we ever fire someone or lay someone off, we think about where he could be useful. What strengths does that person have?”