AZP Multifamily, a property management supply company, was the brilliant idea of Dave Schlecht back in 1987 which he started from his home garage with ony a few products. Known then as AZ Parts Master, serving area apartment owners, the company grew quickly and in only three years the company was ready to move to a five-thousand-square-foot warehouse in Glendale, AZ. Soon they expanded their customer base to cities and municipalities, and began providing custom fabrication to meet the customized needs these new customers required.
That kind of growth can mean only one thing – Dave had tapped into an industry that was being sorely underserved and was doing so in a way that inspired loyalty and referrals. This gave him an early, solid foothold in a big and growing industry (Acumen Research indicates the North America MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Operations) market is expected to reach $758.1 Billion by 2027. That rapid growth, with a number of strategic acquisitions has made AZP an important regional supplier to the MRO industry.
Always a customer service-driven company, AZP was also an early pioneer in the same-day delivery service. Today the family-owned company operates local warehouses in 9 states serving 13 major metropolitan communities, adding new markets every year. Some refer to the business as “Home Depot on Wheels.” Scaling an online counterpart would take some planning.
AZP’s North Star has always been to be a customer-service driven company but they also wanted to leverage cloud technology. Embracing modern technology could ensure they not only continued to meet the needs of their customers, but could also anticipate their needs – which in today’s supply-chain-challenged environment is a crucial advantage and an approach that serves to strengthen loyalty and increase referrals.
AZP understood that an opportunity for large gains in efficiency and customer satisfaction could be achieved by increasing online engagement and delivering the kind of personalization customers valued. They wanted to make things easier for the customer, allowing them the convenience of online ordering vs. engaging with a sales person. In the process, however, this family-owned company didn’t want to lose the uniqueness of their businesses – their reputation for superior customer service and expert support. They partnered with TechFabric to help them realize their digital transformation goals while preserving their personal touch.
One of the most obvious upgrades needed was a partial website redesign that included the homepage so that it would be obvious to an MRO customer upon arrival what AZP did and confirm they were in the right place. More importantly, customers were having problems with simple things like placing an order, and if your goal is to be more like Amazon in your targeting and personalization, you need top notch algorithm development. That’s where the real work began.
When a customer logs in, the website recognizes the visitor right away and the “recommendation engine” will surface the data on past purchases and alert the customer which items may need replenishing based on what they know of item longevity. The entire “buy again” function is highly personalized. The visitor might even get a message saying, “Hey (first name), looks like your front office is running low on toilet paper.” It might also include a special limited-time marketing promotion.
Data - storing it, quickly accessing it, and not only surfacing actionable insights, but using those insights to personalize the user experience, is foundational to every transformation conversation. Having access to the right data for decisioning has a profound impact on strategic planning as well as customer satisfaction. Getting this right, and developing efficient supporting processes result in time and cost savings for both the business and its customers. Power BI provides all of the functionality to create rich, interactive data visualizations from the P21 ERP and multiple other data sources to share important business insights across the company.
AZP wanted to increase their reporting capabilities. They not only wanted to look at their core business data, they also wanted to be able to marry that with other data from other systems they use. The data warehouse supports their goals of increasing their digital equity by cataloging and understanding their analytics as well as adjacent data—it’s a data scientist’s playground. For example, while it’s nice to have information about a specific property like where it is, and how many units it has, AZP would also like to know if the property has a swimming pool? If so, is that pool chlorine or saltwater? Now AZP can better support their customers by knowing when to offer pool equipment, and if so, what kind. With these kinds of deep insights, AZP will soon know when they last ordered and calculate when that customer might need to resupply. Ultimately, AZP will be able to plan their marketing campaigns for re-order both by time-to-restock and seasonality before the customer runs out.
Property managers really do value this level of personalization. If AZP can help them replace a $15 part before it fails causing a $15,000 expense, their gratitude is often expressed in loyalty and referrals. This level of personalization and customer care is at the heart of AZP’s business philosophy and it makes the life of the property manager a lot easier when someone knows as much about their properties as they do. It’s super-fast for them to open up their phone, query their account, find the part they’ve bought before, buy it again and receive it same day as AZP ships out twice a day. And if they need to talk with a human, that’s still easy.
When TechFabric engineers begin feature discussions and ideation on dashboards, they first seek to understand, through personal interviews, research and feedback loops, who the dashboard is for, how they will use it, what data is primary, secondary, not important, etc. Ideating is fluid. For example, while ideating the executive dashboard some features were deemed as something the c-suite would not want to see every day; but it would be quite useful for sales, so the section was moved. KPIs for all dashboards can evolve as needed.
Not everyone needs the information the President or COO needs, but when the C-Suite need it, they need it in an easy to consumer format that presents the most important KPIs in seconds as they are frequently on the go. The executive dashboard was built for an audience that is fluent in KPIs and needs to see cash conversions, where sales are vs. goal, how the company is doing YTD, be able to compare to same time last year – all of this data easily available and optimized for mobile since that’s the device being most often used.
Because sales look at things from a variety of vantage points, the sales suite includes 9 dashboards. The kinds of information provided includes data showing how the company is doing this year, this month, last week, where are they are relative to goal, and who is selling the biggest margins. Another will allow them to drill down to see which items or customers have had the biggest up or down shift lately. A big part of digital transformation is breaking down the silos where valuable information is stored and turning that data into actionable insights for specific audiences.
Marketing wants to understand trends and how people are using their website. They want to see how often their promos were used, understand web traffic and shopping tendencies. Like the other dashboards, assembling required KPI data required several data sources but through the dashboard pulling from sources like Google Analytics and order data in the ERP, marketing will have a more complete understanding of how specific customers who placed an order on MyAZP actually got to the AZP site. Marketing will now have a more complete picture than ever before.
What all of these dashboards have in common is that they provide key performance data at a glance, and deliver actionable insights that contribute to continuous improvement and greater growth for AZP Multifamily.
There are two important questions that Marketing and Sales like to ask: what is the company’s total market share in (specific region); and what is our market opportunity and where?
A data warehouse is a great place to store a lot of information that doesn’t change all of the time. In addition to relevant regional data already owned by AZP, a pipeline can be created from any number of data aggregators in the real estate market and access industry data for the entire nation if desired, and it can all be stored until needed. This achieves two important things: first, AZP can get accurate numbers for those two questions marketing and sales want answered; and second, when it comes time to consider new markets, AZP already has the information they need for decisioning with company leadership.
AZP knew at the start how much value they could elicit from the data they already had and continue to do so as they surface and better understand their existing data. The get excited about the fact that when they start leveraging all of the other sources of data, they will deliver an experience such that when customers visit the new AZP Multifamily website, it will feel like a whole new AZP.
AZP and TechFabric continue to build upon the early successes, using agile approaches to seek out and connect information in the data warehouse for greater ways to influence how products and services are presented the result of which is continuous ideation and improvement.
For this project, AZP and TechFabric feel like they’re just scratching the surface.