The best way to keep your business moving forward is to tackle those things that need to get done, and that’s what I’ve been doing.
In 2006, Dan Roberge, along with two other partners formed Gnxcor, the corporation that created and supports Maintenance Care today. One of those partners is Dan’s long time spouse of 20 years, Laurie Roberge.
Together, Dan and Laurie work side by side every day to grow Maintenance Care to be one of easiest, most accessible maintenance software tool in the marketplace.
From the beginning, it was important for Maintenance Care to be fully self-funded to allow for full control over growth strategy and goal setting. Being self-funded took longer to get to a critical mass, but today, Maintenance Care is in a better position to dictate its growth opportunities and maintain a profitable balance sheet.
Where did the idea for Maintenance Care come from?
It’s a funny story actually. A friend of mine went to the bathroom in the office that we both worked in and plugged up the toilet. He was embarrassed to tell the receptionist, so he just wrote her an anonymous note about the mess he left…After that, we talked endlessly about how there should be some kind of maintenance request process online…this was about 15 years ago.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Because we are a small head office still, I do a bit of everything. Every day is different though because I usually focus my efforts on a rotation of things. Sometimes it’s full on Marketing day where I work on the website, or design marketing materials. Other days I help in developing more comprehensive reports for our work order software. I’ll spend some time on sales, talking to potential customers and even providing them with demos when needed. Then there’s training and supporting the staff, which is now forming to be most of my day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’ve always relied heavily on visuals to bring my thoughts across. For example, when we have a new feature in Maintenance Care that we are working on developing, I jump on to Photoshop and create screenshot after screenshot of everything that is involved in the workflow. Many times those screenshots become the foundation for how the system is developed.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Right now we are really starting to get into voice recognition technology like Siri and Amazon Alexa. That’s really exciting because as it gets better, it’s really going to free up our users away from their desks even more than the mobile app has.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am a compulsive doer. Total opposite of a procrastinator. When something comes across my desk, I need to get it done right away. I’ve been told by many that I do this to a fault and should probably take a beat once in awhile. But ultimately, the best way to keep your business moving forward is to tackle those things that need to get done, and that’s what I’ve been doing.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn to play poker better. I think I have always shown my heart on my sleeve. I show excitement when I get excited about an idea, I show displeasure when something happens that I don’t like. In business, it’s sometimes best to keep certain people guessing about your intentions. It can give you the advantage over a situation in some cases.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
It is becoming very unpopular to run a company like our parent’s companies used to run. Employees are now coddled and creating an environment for them that is better than the company next door is quite popular and looked upon as productive. I don’t necessarily agree with that. I am not a big fan of providing extras at the office as a means to attract better employees. I have actually found that the employees that I want in our company are the ones who aren’t interested by that type of stuff. Those employees who are motivated by their own sense of accomplishment and although it is not a common practice nowadays, I think I’d still have to lean a little old fashioned in this area.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Check my phone for emails 500 times per day. Just kidding. I would say keep learning about yourself. The most important thing I have been able to utilize in the growth of Maintenance Care are the lessons I have learned from the good and the bad things I have done. If you keep asking yourself if that was the best method or best way to approach the problem, you will keep evolving everyday in your decision making.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
I think tackling certain potential customers only when I was ready for them. I didn’t start off by going after the bigger players. I started with the smaller customers. Those that I could develop my skill set on and work out all of the issues. I grew to bigger customers when I felt I was ready and that is still true today with the sales people we hire. I always start them off on the smaller leads and only once they have hit certain milestones do they graduate to bigger opportunities.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early hiring practices were terrible. Like everyone else, I thought I could get my entire family working with me and it would be the best company because we all think the same. That was a big mistake. Friends and family have no place in business and I learned that the hard way, so now I make sure that doesn’t happen. We always hire people that have no other ties to us other than the work itself, that way we both understand where the relationship starts and ends.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I always thought that creating a software that connects to your credit card and debit card that provides you with digital receipts in your online account all in one place would be amazing. The itemized nature of the receipt would allow you to easily split the bill at a lunch meeting with your colleagues or even select specific items on a receipt that are part of your expense report compared to personal expenditures. The key would be to connect with all retail stores and somehow hook up your online receipt account to those paying machines. With the advent of Apple Pay and services like this, it has become less and less necessary, but there’s still a need for an all-in-one software that keeps your receipts.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I’d have to say dinner out with my wife. Since my wife is part owner in Maintenance Care, it’s always a productive way to get out and talk about the direction of the company, plus I love spending time with my wife.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Definitely Salesforce. The task management workflow for contacting sales leads is the foundation of how we operate on a daily basis. It’s also really deeply imbedded into our implementation process. Overall, Salesforce has provided us with the biggest value for our dollar.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Who Moved My Cheese” – It’s almost written in a child’s fable format. It’s not a long book, but it served me well in the philosophy of how I have helped run Maintenance Care. It’s about change and dealing with change, and the one thing that being an entrepreneur needs to be good at is dealing with change.
What is your favorite quote?
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. -Wayne Gretzky
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