Lock, stock and business hacks

Lock, stock and business hacks
Mark Engelmann
Mark Engelmann
    28 minute read

Mark Bowater, President of the Brisbane Chapter of the Entrepreneurs' Organization, and Owner of TopLock Locksmiths talks about the relevance of being part of a wider business network and surrounding yourself with like minded people. Mark also shares his journey from miner to locksmith, building a mining consultancy, exiting, then buying TopLock; AND now his innovative merger of companies.


Mark Bowater, TopLock Locksmiths

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Interview Transcript

Mark Engelmann: Welcome to this episode of the Go for Growth Show. My name is Mark Engelmann and I'll be your host today. I'm really happy on today's episode to have Mark Bowater, the owner of TopLock Locksmiths, a Brisbane based locksmith company, on the show. Welcome Mark.

Mark Bowater: Hi, Mark.

Mark Engelmann: Let's get straight into it, so along with TopLock Locksmiths you're also the President of the Brisbane chapter for Entrepreneur's Organisation. Can you explain to the audience what EO is and what is does your role in EO entail?

Mark Bowater: Sure, EO is an organisation for owners or founders of businesses, with revenues greater than U.S. one million a year. A global organisation with, I think something like 13,000 members now about 550, 600 hundred or something across Australia and New Zealand. So in the Brisbane chapter, which I'm president of, we have about 120 entrepreneurs as members and we have about 20 in what's called the accelerator programme. So that's a programme for businesses between 250,000 and a million turn over and it's about helping them to scale up and grow and ultimately get on to the millions.  My role is the President of the Brisbane chapter. I have a board of about 10 or so and we are all about running the chapter to effectively serve the members in terms of what members are looking for. There are no more products EO has learning events, forums, a global and regional learning events and so on. We're really about assisting with those and then also doing whatever we can do for our members to grow their business.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah, great. It's a pretty common story that you hear sometimes about business owners who might just be starting out and early on and they're sort of entrepreneurial life and often their network at that time consists mainly of people are employed in jobs not typically owning their own businesses or maybe even not that interested or knowledgeable about running a business and business strategy and that sort of stuff. So how does EO address that for entrepreneurs?

Mark Bowater: To some extent I think that's the biggest benefit, that's the real gain in EO. When I joined EO 7 years ago, I actually was living in Mackay at central Queensland at the time. I had been in business for about ten years by myself. None of my family have effectively run a business, none of my friends run a business and I didn't really have anyone to talk to. Whatever I did was through good luck, whatever.

I heard of Entrepreneurs' Organisation and I was like, "what's this?" I'd never even heard of them. And I went to look at the website and as soon as I read it I went, "that is what I've been looking for." Just fellow people to sort of bounce ideas off. A large part of EO is that whole people who have been through the same experiences as you before. I guess one of the cornerstones of EO is that we don't give each other advice because everyone's willing to give advice. I get advice from people all the time, but they're not people who’ve necessarily been through and had their house on the line and those sorts of things.

So EO is about experience sharing. And you'll be amazed when you're in business and you have employee issues and cash flow issues, all those sorts of things everyone else has been through the same issues. And so the depth of experience sharing you can get from other members of EO who have been through those issues is just extremely useful. And so that really is a large part of one of the benefits of EO.

There's a lot of people now who call it their tribe basically. I've found my tribe. A bunch of people who sort of think like me. Can't sleep at night. They wake up at 3:00 in the morning in a cold sweat about something. We're all the same. We all do that, and we can relate to what someone else is talking about. I certainly think of it as my tribe, that's for sure.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah. Cool. And so you've already shared a couple of examples of how EO has helped you. Have you got any other examples to share about how being a member of EO has really helped you with your business?

Mark Bowater: It totally changed my life, I suppose. Changed my life positively. I'd been in business for about ten years. I probably didn't really understand the value of personal growth and personal learning beforehand. I mean, I like reading books, but I wasn't really into business books and those sorts of things.

EO has five core value. One of the core values is thirst for learning. I have just started reading business books and just the learning out of those business books, the leanings from going along to EO learning events. The Brisbane chapter probably has 15 to 20 learning events a year which range between business speakers, personal advice speakers, there's family events, Christmas time, so loads of things, but just the range of speakers that I've seen, and I guess my knowledge I would suppose about business has just grown massively.

And in terms of life changing precepts, I had a minor in engineering business when I joined EO. My consulting business, had me around 25 consultants or so, and I was actually at an EO global learning event in New Zealand and we were playing a game of golf, myself and one of my EO mates who was at same university. As we walking around playing a game of golf, we were talking about what the perfect business looked like, and we started listing a whole pile of criteria. First off, there's no employees, because they're just hard to deal with sometimes. And the second was no difficult customer relationships that you had to maintain, because that's hard work, as well. And then other things like earns revenue 168 hours a week instead of just 40. We came up with about 15 criteria for the perfect business. Then I looked at my current consulting business, it ticked about two of those boxes and that was about it.

And until I joined EO, I always sort of thought to myself, "should I do something different? Should I change business or something?" And I'd always sort of thought to myself, "Why stop doing something that I know and that I have 25 years experience in or whatever to go and do something that I don't know?" That just sounds illogical. But it was that day, playing that game of golf that the seed was planted that in the scheme of businesses, a professional services business is hard work. And there's a lot of boxes that potentially it doesn't tick.

So that day, I began the journey of selling my consulting business that had I not joined EO never would have went across my mind. Would've continued to say to myself, "just keep doing what you're good at." That's it.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah, yeah. And like you said, it's not really scalable is it? And it's often those sorts of professional services business often are a result of the founder or the owner-

Mark Bowater: Correct.

Mark Engelmann: And it's often hard to take a backwards or a sideways step out of that business isn't it?

Mark Bowater: Very hard for you to not be the central cog that everything rotates around. That's one of the things I found myself in as a founder of the business and the person that long term customers were used to dealing with and so on. They don't want to deal with anyone else, they want to deal with you. And even just peace of mind. Overseas on a holiday or something like that and there's something happening. Some client's supposed to get some report or scheduled by a date and it hasn't happened. I was half way up Mount Fuji, climbing Mount Fuji, standing in one of the mountain lodges, sitting there with my laptop doing a schedule at 10:00 at night while everyone else is sleeping talking about getting up at 2am in the morning to  get up with the sunrise. It's things like that. I'm thinking to myself, "why? What am I thinking? Why am I doing this?"

Yeah, from a professional services point of view, it's hard to get out and get away from that.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah, and I guess in some respects that's also the difference between a business owner and an entrepreneur, in that an entrepreneur is somewhat who's interested in business and interested in growing and scaling businesses but not necessarily working within the business I guess.

Mark Bowater: Correct. One of the first things that I suppose I wanted to know was ultimately as an entrepreneur the aim is to make yourself redundant. The business runs without you. I like the whole concept of choosing whether I go to work today or not, or choosing exactly what tasks I'm doing. So yes, that concept, making yourself redundant is one I can address.

Mark Engelmann: Yes. Yes. My dad always used to tell me about Chooseday, you can choose whichever day you like to go to work. Every day is Chooseday.

Mark Bowater: Yup. I like that concept. I'll remember that one.

Mark Engelmann: Nice. So I've also connected with you on Facebook, Mark, and I love how you use it as a platform to engage with your network and conduct market research on various different tactics that you've been thinking about and looking to use at TopLock. Have you always been that consultative as a business owner or has EO developed that in you, do you think?

Mark Bowater: I certainly don't think I've always been that consultative. I've certainly have never thought that I've had the solution for everything and that I know everything. You can learn from everyone. I definitely try and do that. I guess I have always seen Facebook as a tool with some use to some extent. So in my consulting business, supply and demand. There was plenty of work out there but it was very hard to find engineers. There was an extreme shortage of engineers. So I actually used Facebook as probably one my primary recruiting tools for a number of years, where I personally, with my personal profile, would just make friends with Mining engineers around Australia or anywhere and effectively cultivate them to some extent via Facebook.

And It's amazing you would just see posts on their about something they weren't happy about at work or something like that and you get these insights and then I would just say, "hey, if you want to change your job or whatever ..." So it was my recruitment tool rather than Seek, for example, for a long time.

With TopLock, with my locksmith business, different dynamics. Employees are not so hard to find, it's not so much of a recruitment tool. But it’s certainly a good market research tool. I just tend to use it for different means. You can get information from Google analytics and all those other sites but sometimes that doesn't really give you the personal insight that you need. It's just numbers and so on.

I like to sort of see some of the comments or some of the reasons or the feedback that I get from a post. Because one of those fascinating things that when get inside an industry, I mean, I'm not even a locksmith, but I have now been involved in the locksmith business for four years. I now know so much more than I did before. And so I don't necessarily think like Joe Blow down the road about my house or my business or something anymore, because I know the sort of the security solutions I should be thinking about. SO it helps me to get back to basics to some extent just to read some of the feedback that I get from some of my questions.

But in terms of the consultative side, no, I think EO has definitely helped with that. I will consult fellow EOers with questions just all the time now. There's a chapter of 120 and I pretty much know the 120 of them personally so I can talk on the phone and ask anyone a question at any one time. Just last week I had a potentially significant business issue and I probably spoke to seven, six or seven EOers on the day. Gave them a call. They didn't necessarily have had that experience before, it was something that was relatively unique, but you know, I could still get some thoughts from them on what they would do in that scenario now.

I think back to when I first joined EO and I probably really hadn't got the hang of it to some extent I made decisions and did things that cost me a hell of a lot of money that I look back now and think to myself, "Geez, I had a whole pile of EO mates, why didn't I ask someone? Why didn't I get a second opinion or something?" I just look back now and think about how stupid I was to some extent. So I endeavour to try not to make the same mistakes again if someone else in the EO has already made that same mistake.

Mark Engelmann: Yes, yes. No, that makes complete sense. You were telling me the other day that you've recently partnered with another EOer and that you've sort of merged your businesses together, which gives you the opportunity to play to your strengths and your own interests. Can you tell me about that?

Mark Bowater: Yeah a bit of lateral thinking I suppose, to some extent. I'm always one for looking for opportunities from a different perspective and so on. So I'm an engineer I love numbers. Put me in front of spreadsheets, I could just do those sorts of things all day. So I have a general operations, finance processes background but don’t do sales and marketing, it’s just not me, I'm not a salesman. I'm probably ... I'd rather go to the dentist than make cold calls or something.

I've made some fairly good friends in EO and there's another EOer who I've been friends with for about five years, and she owns a marketing business and she loves sales and marketing. She hates numbers and hates processes and so on. We sat down and started having some discussions about while I have strengths in one are, she has strengths in a different area and they're complementary. And maybe we could do something that's smarter with that.

So we started a process where we would actually spend a couple of hours a week in each other's business. I would come in and sort of set up a cash flow for her or get decent break-even numbers or those sorts of things. And she would come in and help us in sales and marketing. That was going rather well actually, so we sat down and really that’s just the beginning of the journey isn't it? Why don’t we just ramp it up from me. So we sort of discussed the concept of, "alright, let's effectively throw all our businesses in a pool work out some ownership arrangement, so on and so on," and then Belinda now looks after sales and marketing across all of the businesses and I look after operations and finance.

We now have four businesses in a pool that we are 50/50 owners of and I don't have to do sales and marketing stuff anymore and I love it. I just work with my flow, which is numbers and analysis and process and operations and managing people. I enjoy doing paperwork so that suits me fine. She loves it because she doesn't have to do numbers anymore and administration and bookkeeping, all that sort of stuff.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah.

Mark Bowater: She's just in charge of sales and marketing across the four businesses. Something a bit different that without something like EO for example the concept would never have even entered my mind. The wonder is that she's in marketing, she's creative, she's very different from me.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah.

Mark Bowater: So I think it works pretty well. We definitely have a fairly good aligned set of values. That's something that's critical for the relationship work is to have the same values. I'm not saying ... I wouldn't say we have identical wants and goals but they are aligned wants and goals and aligned values. It just makes it easy to some extent. I've had partners in business previously before I joined EO and I can look back now and understand why it didn't work that I didn't necessarily understand at the time. And some of it is around values and long term goals. Those are things that I didn't have the wisdom at the time years ago to have those sorts of discussions and clarification. Yeah, from my point of view, we're about six months in-

Mark Engelmann: Yup.

Mark Bowater: We own about four businesses now. The long term aim is just to continue to scale those and add more opportunities as we see and between us, have the skill set to take a run at them.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah, fantastic. That sounds really exciting. I'd like to stay close to see how that all works out because I've never heard of anyone doing that before so that's quite new to me.

Mark Bowater: Yes. I know some other EOers who have gone into business together.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah.

Mark Bowater: Founded something new sort of and have said a number of examples into that.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah.

Mark Bowater: But not necessarily take their existing businesses-

Mark Engelmann: Yeah.

Mark Bowater: And ... not merge them, but effectively put them in a pool under the elements and so on...

Mark Engelmann: Yeah.

Mark Bowater: and go, alright let's just change the dynamic of what we do. So, yeah, I will be interested to see how it works out.

Mark Engelmann: And it's interesting when you talk about business partnership and you were saying it's not just about what skills are people bringing to the table, but it's also about aligned values and I guess having that underlying level of trust, you probably don't have that level of trust without being in an organisation like EO, because you've already spent years building a relationship with Belinda and building that level of trust and understanding each other's values.

Mark Bowater: Yeah, correct.

Mark Engelmann: You don't really get that opportunity outside of those sorts of organisations do you?

Mark Bowater: No because in the EO is about not discussing the 95% of life that you can discuss with anyone, anywhere, any time. We talk about the 5% that you don't necessarily discuss with anyone else. There are very much the highs and lows sort of a business and that requires a high level of confidentiality and trust to have those discussions. By default, when you've been in EO with someone for a few years there is just an extremely high level of trust. From my point of view the values alignment is just ... I don't have any lack of confidence in anything that Belinda does and sort of agreeing paths forwards and decisions around the sort of decisions that you have to make in business and the tough decisions from time to time. I just have a very high degree of confidence, because of the background, that it'll all be fine.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah. Cool. So let's rewind a little bit. One thing that always fascinates me about talking to business owners is where they came from and why did they make the decision to leave employment and start a business.

Mark Bowater: Yes.

Mark Engelmann: Because I know that a lot of the listeners on this show probably aren't business owners and they probably are working in jobs that they may or may not be happy in and often toy with the idea of going out on their own and starting a business doing something. So it's always good to hear the stories that business owners have about when they made that change in their life and what sort of triggered it and what happened.

Mark Bowater: Yes.

Mark Engelmann: Can you tell me about that?

Mark Bowater: Yeah. Sure. I actually just studied civil engineering at college and started working the main road straight out of university. I had thought about doing mining engineering when I was in school but I didn't really know much about it and I just sort of left it. I heard about the mining industry and effectively how the high the wages were. I actually didn't mind the whole concept of living out in the bush somewhere. I actually never experienced that from Brisbane anyway. So I thought, jeez, why don't I go and work out in the bush somewhere and earn double the wages that I'm on now. I did that. I got a job in the mining industry. Spend probably about ten or 12 years or so in various roles in mines in Queensland and Western Australia working for companies such and was busy climbing the corporate ladder to some extent in terms of the mining world rather than sort of a head office in Sydney.

In the back of my head, I always sort of envisioned that one day I might go into business but it was never a priority. It was just a one day. I was busy. I enjoyed the challenges and the work of working with mine sites. I was working at a mine site and I was staying in a camp and it was about an hour and a half from home and I had sort of young kids, they were one and three. I was away sort of three or four nights a week, coming home sometimes midweek. I got to the point where I just went, the family life doesn't match the work life. I was living in Mackay at the time and working a mine a couple hours inland. So I thought to myself, I need to make a change so I'm actually just going to get a job, a mine engineering job in Mackay. I assumed there would be a consultant company there or something that I could just get a job with and be home every night.

And my assumption that there would be a consulting company there was because the base land from Mackay is just a small part of the mining industry in Queensland so I thought there would be a consultant just on its doorstep. I grabbed the yellow pages at the tie, had a look. There was none. I just went, well that doesn't work because that was my plan. I was just going to get a job with a consultant in Mackay. And I don't want to move to Brisbane. And I went, shit. Maybe I should start my own. So, it was more just that I wanted to make a personal change. There was no significant business drive at the time. In fact, working at the mine sites, I'd always had a very lowly opinion of consultants so there was no drive for me to go start my own consulting company.

But the day I started it, the day I turned up and did my first job, I just loved it from the very beginning. The variety of work. I would turn at a mine site and have to go along to a meeting or something and they would say, oh Mark you can take the minutes and back from my previous job I would think, ah shit I don't want to take minutes. Who wants to do that?

Mark Engelmann: Yeah.

Mark Bowater: But I would turn up and I would think to myself, you want to pay me x dollars an hour to take the minutes? Fine I will take the minutes. So, no task was boring, every mine site was different. There was just so much to learn versus being at the one mine site five years and finding some tasks mundane and repetitive. No task was mundane when you were changing mine sites. So I loved it from the very beginning. I think I always new when I started that I was going to scale the business though. I think there was just something inside me that was a drive. It didn't take me too long to realise that being a one man band consultant in the mine industry meant that I was still doing a lot of travel-

Mark Engelmann: Yeah.

Mark Bowater: A lot of work out at mine sites so I hadn't really hanged the dynamics at home being away a lot. So fairly quickly it sort of became a decision of well if I stay as a one man band forever, I'm going to be travelling forever. The only way for me to stop that was for me to have engineers working for me doing the travel. I think after about year I brought in my first employee and knew that wasn't going to be enough. I could see that I would probably need at least five or something like that before I was spending most of my time at home.

So initially the driver was the personal side more so than anything else. I think over time I sort of came to develop a real drive to some extent. I have a definition these days, my own personal definition of a business owner or an entrepreneur and that is that for me, an entrepreneur sort of eats, lives and breathes the business. They think about it all the time. They wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it and have got to jot down some notes or whatever. Whereas, I think a lot of business owners have effectively bought themselves a job to some extent.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah.

Mark Bowater: It's still eight to five and they go home and they switch off.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah.

Mark Bowater: I never switch off. And in fact, it's one of the things that I really enjoyed about business is that it's given me the flexibility. I will probably still get the same number of hours in a week that a lot of people do from a work point of view, but it doesn't have to be eight to five. The kids have got something on at school or whatever, I'll just start early that morning and I'll finish at two and head to the school, you know? Or I'll just sit down at the computer at night time and work. I just work whenever I want.  

Mark Engelmann: Yeah.

Mark Bowater: So I love that. That's one of the things that I love from the point of view of the point of my own business is that I'll still get the work done, I enjoy it. I just love doing it. I just get to do it when I want to do it rather than someone else telling me. It didn't take me too long to start to get this entrepreneurial consumption. I was somewhat consumed by my business, and I enjoyed thinking about it.

Once I'd started to scale it was a bit of a case of why stop? To some extent. I just kept scaling, and I opened up a business office and a Mackay office. Got up to about 35 employees in total before I sold the business.

Mark Engelmann: Yup.

Mark Bowater: And having decided to sell the business and do something else, it was then a case of what. And it's interesting because I've always heard people talk about the journey and so on. Being an engineer and a numbers man I've always thought the journey was a load of crap to some extent. It was about the end result.

Mark Engelmann: Yup.

Mark Bowater: I was only ever interested in the outcome and the end results. The first time that I actually started to notice and become interested in the journey was when I sold my mining business. And I thought, what am I going to do now? And my first question was, do I leave the mining industry or do I stay in the mining industry? And my second question was do I start something new again or do I buy something. Because the concept of going to work for someone was not even an option that I even thought about. I spent about a year or so on those two major decisions. In the end I decided variety was the spice of life. I'd spent 25 years or so in mining industry. Let's go and do something different. So I decided to get out of the industry and I said to myself, "My logic and time up, I’m too old to do a start-up. Let me just buy something." So I decided I was just going to buy a business and like all business owners I just thought, "I'll by a cash cow and money will roll in and it'll all be good." So that was the dream anyway.

Once I'd decided to buy a business, I then approached it from a fairly open-minded point of view. I didn't have anything in mind, what I did was I just had things that were not on the list. I knew I didn't want anything to do with food, because of the hygiene standards and all those sorts of things. I knew I didn't want anything to do with alcohol because of the licensing and regulations and everything. I didn't want anything to do with sort of management rights or any of those sorts of things. I didn't want to a newsagent with seven days a week, working 13 hours a day or something like that.

All I had was a list of businesses that did not even make the list. Then I just started looking. I actually just started trolling websites, brokers websites and every business was an option. I probably considered 50 or so, something like that. Not in detail, just reading the the information memorandum, those sorts of things. In the end, chose to end up settling on a locksmith business that was about a kilometre and a half from home. So when I bought it, that was just a bonus as I traveled in the city, so this concept working a kilometer and a half a way, nowhere near the main road was just fantastic.

And it's funny, because when I was considering buying a business I said to my wife, "you know that guy in TopLock? You know we should mystery shop them." And she said, "I already have. I used them. We had just moved into the home a year and half ago. I got them in to do the work." I went, " Oh, were they any good?" She said, "Oh, fantastic." I went oh, great. And it was only a week or two later and for some reason I was looking at my keys for my old office in town, my mining business and sure enough there was TopLock written on the side of the key. So they had actually been our locksmith as well. So they were our locksmith both business and private. It was a funny because I just thought, "it's meant to be."

Mark Engelmann: It's meant to be.

Mark Bowater: Not that I meant it's meant to be. So I decided, the more I looked into the locksmith business, the more I liked about it. Some of the aspects around recurring revenue and those sorts of things and mentally it didn't tick all 15 of my ideal business criteria, I think it probably ticked about eight to ten or something like that. But it was certainly a leap from my consulting business.

Mark Engelmann: Two boxes.

Mark Bowater: Yeah. So I bought a business and then just got on a very steep learning curve about locks and the processes inside a locksmith business and all those sorts of things.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah great. Okay, so we're coming to the end of the interview, this is my second last question. What's your number one tip for business owners and entrepreneurs looking to grow and scale?

Mark Bowater: I think it's been a while to sort of really learning this to some extent, but my man number one tip is to get out of your own way to some extent. I remember, one of my hardest days in business was when I put on my first employee, my first consultant, because I was worried .. every time he went to a mine site I thought to myself, "this guy is carrying my reputation. He could go out there and he could be an idiot. And it would undo all of my hard work." And then the second one was difficult but it was a little bit easier. It got easier as I put each other person on.

Ultimately I think, to me, the real learning was that, I've always been sort of one of, you know, you want a job done right, do it yourself, because you know exactly what you want versus trying to get someone else to do it. I guess what I realised over time is that, that "if I want it done right, I've got to do it myself" will get in the way, because you've put on an employee to do that job for you. And they might only do it 80% as well as you might do it, however, that 80% is good enough because it frees you up to think about where can I be putting my time that is a better return on investment of time.

A return on investment of time is something that I think about all the time from the point of view of I've got x hours that I'm going to put into work, where can I put that that gives me the best return overall. So stuck in that mindset of it's easier, I need this done right, or whatever, I'll do it. For me, it just holds you back from the point of you're putting someone else on it and you put in your time into something else. That's a difficult thing for a lot of business owners to do is to relinquish that level of control to some extent and trust someone else to do that job that you've always done and that you feel is critical in the scheme of things. So my number one tip is get out of your own way and be ready to relinquish control.

Mark Engelmann: Yes. Very important. Last question. Have you used any new technology apps or services recently that have really assisted you in saving time or growing and scaling.

Mark Bowater: Essentially I love technology. I wouldn't say I'm an early adopter and I love apps, but there are so many of them around these days. It's almost like there are too many platforms. If you take communication from point of view, we use Skype internally within the company for a long time just to reduce e-mails and that sort of stuff and we recently changed from Skype to Google Hangout and that was my IT guy who said, "oh, we should do this because it's better than some." But there's WhatsApp and there's Slack. There are just so many platforms, so many choices and people are wanting to change all the time. My guys sort of going, "oh we should switch from this to this." And I just sort of push back on a lot of that. I like using the technology, but let's sort of try and maintain some consistency to some extent.

I think the one technology thing that we have done two and a half years ago at TopLock was an enterprise management system. So software for running the whole business virtually. We put in Simpro there was software there when I bought the business but it was very outdated and really only had half of the information that you needed. So we went down the track of evaluation of a lot of options because there are so many options. And decided on Simpro and the thing about the enterprise management systems is that if you're going to do it, they are a lot of work to get it right. They are labour intensive from the point of view of what you have to input and track and everything to make sure that it's right, because if you don't it does become a bullshit in, bullshit out exercise.

Undoubtedly it's increased the labour requirement of having a system that's right, but the payoff in terms of more professionalism, more consistent service, etc. that we can provide our customers because of the things that we know. So a customer can ring about a job or something and my service guy on the phone can instantly call up the job, see the history and all those sorts of things. So just the level or professionalism you can provide versus looking like you know nothing about nothing is a massive payoff.

For me, being a massive numbers man, a lot of my business decisions are made around numbers so I will sit down and do some analysis on the numbers of different parts that we sell or stock that we carry and how many days does it take to turn over or things like that. For me, that sort of information is absolutely essential from a business point of view. I hate trying to run a business without having the information at my fingertips to make decisions and sometimes they're major decisions. A gut feels good but subjectivity is a dangerous thing sometimes. Because you can ask your guys but they will always remember the one time that something didn't work so that becomes their answer, "oh yeah that doesn't work." They forget the 20 times that it did work and so on. I much prefer objective data so something like an enterprise management system for us has been critical in the scheme of things.

So that's the one bit of technology that we have done. I'd sort of love to put others internally but it's a case of the time to evaluate them and decide on whether it really is worth it or not.

Mark Engelmann: Yeah. Great. Well thanks for your time Mark. That was my last question. So yeah, thanks for your time and we'll catch up soon.

Mark Bowater: Okay, thanks, Mark.

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