What TV show would you like a guest role on and why?
Jeri Wambeek: Okay. Does it have to be a TV show, or can it be a movie?
Heather Smith: It can be anything.
Jeri Wambeek: Okay. All right. I would say I’m a big Lara Croft fan. I went paint-balling recently with my kids, and I could not be Lara Croft at all, but if I was in a TV show or in a movie I would be Lara Croft.
Heather Smith: Fantastic, I can see you pulling that outfit off at Comic-Con. Jeri, can you share with our listeners who you are and what you do?
Jeri Wambeek: Okay. Yeah, so my name’s Jeri Wambeek, and I’m the co-founder of WhichAddOn. So, WhichAddOn is a cloud integration company based in Sydney, but we help clients all over the world to work out which apps that they need to use, or which add-ons they can use that connect to Xero and QuickBooks online. We focus solely on the inventory market, so product-based businesses that are based in inventory, retail, E-commerce, that type of thing.
As a qualified accountant and tax professional you discovered Xero and the Xero ecosystem back in 2009. But it seems you quickly moved away from small business tax accounting into providing cloud integration services to small businesses. Can you describe that journey for our listeners?
Jeri Wambeek: Sure. I’ll try and give you the short version. So I trained, as you said, as a public practise accountant originally, and started my own accounting firm back in 2009. And, for me, that was pretty exciting because it’s when I found Xero that it actually enabled me to become an accounting firm. With three young kids under three at the time I needed to take my bookkeeping business another way. I then became a tax agent, and Xero gave me the ability to run financial statements and do what I needed to do, which, back then at 26, it was a really expensive exercise to go down and start a new accounting firm on your own. But with Xero that made it much more affordable, much more possible. So, not only did we have the ability to do that, but also to be able to run my business from my dinner table up until the time that I actually had my own accounting firm.
Jeri Wambeek: So, I had my own accounting firm for about a year. I don’t love tax returns. Once I realised that there was other systems out there and other exciting things I moved away from tax and actually sold my accounting practise, which was called Calculate Balance, into one of the large Xero Gold Partners at the time, Interactive Accounting, and they were a very forward-thinking, Xero Gold Partner that was just taking initiative in the market in everything including add-ons.
Jeri Wambeek: So, that was my first exposure to add-ons, back in 2012 when there was only 30 add-ons on the add-on marketplace. And that was my focus, really, was to go and work with that business. I stopped doing tax. Their tax firm took over my tax stuff, and I was working with them to set up their bookkeeping department, set up their training, and also to help implement add-ons for different Xero users that came along across their path. So, that was my journey to getting into add-ons in the first place. And then from there I actually was approached by Unleashed Software to be their core trainer/partner enablement support sales person here in Australia, as their second employee in Australia.
Heather Smith: Oh, wow.
Jeri Wambeek: And it was through 2012 to 2013 that I did that for them. So, that’s how I got into inventory, and that’s where inventory and even more add-ons became our focus. I then went out on my own after leaving Unleashed after a year. I then went out on my own to start my own cloud integration business. That later morphed into WhichAddOn when I met my husband, who’s the other co-founder of WhichAddOn. He came in the business from a… He has a CFO background, marketing, sorry, not marketing, management accounting. He does marketing too, but marketing and management accounting, and he loved implementations. He’d worked in franchises, being the main implementation and CFO from that side.
Jeri Wambeek: So, he loved the implementation side, I loved the training and the sales side. So, that’s how WhichAddOn became what it is today, because we’re both from that inventory background, both accountants by trade. And we’d got to pick the bits and pieces of our business that we were good at and loved until we then were able to grow the team, which has been happening over the last year. So, yeah, I’ve had a good journey.
Heather Smith: Absolutely. Can I pull back on something that you said there?
Jeri Wambeek: Sure.
Heather Smith: That, “I was running a bookkeeping business. I had three children under three, and I needed to up it into an accounting business.”
Jeri Wambeek: Yes.
Heather Smith: Now, that’s not normally the path that people take.
Jeri Wambeek: True.
What was it about the bookkeeping business that made you feel, “I needed to move up into an accounting business”?
Jeri Wambeek: Yeah. Well, in the bookkeeping business back then, and not only just because of the industry itself but more so my own confidence level, I’d come from a tax background, as a bookkeeper I was only charging $30 an hour back then. So, to see me continuing to charge $30 an hour, maybe $50 an hour max, because I was in Sydney, I could see that if I got my tax agent’s licence I was able to basically charge more and earn more by doing tax returns, and not having to be charging by the hour, which was the norm for bookkeeping back then. So, that’s the thought process as to why I went down the path of that with accounting.
Heather Smith: So, it was to increase an hourly rate there. I mean, look, that was interesting, because I was unaware of that. And I think bookkeepers listening in, it’s something for them to… Some of them have gone down that route, not with three kids under three, necessarily.
Jeri Wambeek: No, they’re not under three any more, thank God.
Heather Smith: No.
Jeri Wambeek: They’re a bit more helpful now than they were back then. Yeah.
Heather Smith: And I also think it’s interesting that you actually went and joined an inventory solution, well, you actually joined into solutions such as Unleashed, and I think that that actually is an opportunity that a lot of accountants and bookkeepers aren’t actually thinking about, that can actually benefit them. It doesn’t naturally need to be a lifelong employment role, but it actually can give them a lot of skillsets.
Jeri Wambeek: Yeah, definitely. Well, I went from working for myself, charging out at 30 bucks an hour to going and working later on for Unleashed and other companies that were charging me out at $250 an hour. And I still got paid well for what I did, but to go through that process and really see what we’re capable of if we step into a role like that, to see that we can go in and as you up-skill, for me, I went from bookkeeping, to then providing training, and writing training manuals, and all of these areas that we get to up-skill. And bookkeepers are very much naturally good trainers because they love the detail, they love talking to people, they love sharing and they love helping. So, that natural progression into training was really helpful. And you can still have a bookkeeping business, but provide that training. It just really takes confidence, is what I’ve seen over time. So, yeah.
Heather Smith: Yeah, yeah. I think it is a great opportunity for bookkeepers listening in to actually do that. So, you have talked to what WhichAddOn does.
Would you like to share a bit more with our listeners about what WhichAddOn does?
Jeri Wambeek: Sure. So, I mentioned how we obviously help people find the add-ons in the ecosystem and find out which ones. That’s obviously where the name comes from, WhichAddOn, which, I must say, it was a discussion between myself and Wayne Smith over drinks after Xerocon back in, I think, 2013, that we came up with the name WhichAddOn before I even met my husband. It was Wayne. Wayne and I, or Wayne came up with that one, so I have to throw that in there because he’s always digging at me that he loves… But he’s like, “You know who came up with that name?” I was like, “Yes, I do.”
Heather Smith: It does sound like a Wayne invention.
Jeri Wambeek: It does. Yes, it does. Yeah. So, WhichAddOn itself is not just about finding add-ons but also about implementing add-ons, providing the training and support for people to successfully find the solution and then implement it in their business and safely get through that transition, which can be such a painful one for so many people. When you’re taking an operational system like an inventory system from an old system into a new one it’s not just like the accounting, it’s quite a bit more complicated, because it’s the heart and soul of the business, the operational platform. So, it’s a pretty full-on process.
Jeri Wambeek: So, we implement solutions like Cin7, DEAR Inventory, MRPeasy, all apps connect up with Shopify. We implement n2 ERP which is an ERP system out of New Zealand. We implement LOCATE, which is out of the US. We implement a number of different solutions, and the different businesses fit different systems. So, we help them go through that process and then implement them.
What benefits do you see clients recognising from adopting automated integrated solutions and streamlining their workflow?
Jeri Wambeek: Oh, there’s so many, but I would first start to say once they get through that initial transition period and that steep learning curve of learning a new system that they’re dealing with, the biggest things we’ve seen are people being able to save time, really, a lot of time. We had a client recently move from… They were using Shopify and Attache, and they were manually entering data in, and manually reconciling bank accounts, and manually doing a lot of stuff inside Attache. They’re now using Shopify, DEAR Inventory, Xero, and a shipping company called StarShipIT. And all four of those apps connected together has just saved, I think he said the other day it was days of work for one particular person doing bank reconciliations, and another one doing the shipping. And so much paper being printed that they don’t have to print anymore. There’s just so many time savings.
Jeri Wambeek: So, that’s just the biggest thing is time savings, and then, of course, if you’re paying people by the hour time savings can also save money. And the other part is automating a lot of this stuff helps with cash flow. That’s a really big part of it, cash flow, because you can make decisions based on the information that you have because you’ve got realtime data. If you don’t have realtime data to make decisions from, because you’re waiting for a management report or some other information to come from your accountant once a month or once a year, it helps you have that realtime visibility into exactly what’s going on, which, when you’re dealing with stock, stock is money on the shelf. Literally, you might as well just go and put piles of money on the shelf. You can do that, or you can make sure that you keep on top of it and understand what’s going on in realtime.
How do you go about identifying what can or should be automated?
Jeri Wambeek: So, the biggest part, first of all, is understanding the business’s work flow. So, we can’t automate anything until we understand exactly what they’re doing manually. So, understanding them, a client, the business processes, is 100% the most important thing. And we go into a lot of detail in the beginning part of the process, because there’s a lot of solutions out there which will say they will automate a lot of things, but if that solution does not fit the way in which that business works or the result that they’re trying to get out at the end of it, be it a financial result, or the way they’re reporting, or the information they’re getting, it doesn’t actually solve the automation piece for them.
Jeri Wambeek: So, understanding the business workflows and what they need at the reporting level is most important, first of all. Then from there it’s just a matter of understanding the solutions that could work for them and how they may work, and working together with not just the person that wants the solution but also the whole team of people that’ll be using it, to help them understand exactly what needs to be done in the business every day to ensure that everybody’s onboard. Because you can put a system in and people might love the automation, might love the idea of it, but if they put rubbish information in, or don’t use it properly, and they don’t follow the training, then no one gets the result that they want in the end. So, it’s very much multi-layered, but I would start with workflows and then people training and then actioning those things to get what you need.
Heather Smith: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, I fully agree with that. So, every so often in the forum someone posts the question: my client needs an inventory solution, which one should they use? So, which one should they use, Jeri?
Jeri Wambeek: Oh, my standard answer is, “I need to know a whole lot more about that business before I can tell you.” And you’ve seen me answer that many, many times.
Heather Smith: Absolutely. I just think we need to emphasise people need to ask more questions.
Jeri Wambeek: Oh yes, yes. Oh, look, there are so many intricacies, and even as I go through the process of training our operations team and our sales team, as people in our business grow, trying to share all the different intricacies of an app and why you would pick another app over another is so huge. You can learn those differences, but I’ve been in this industry now for 10 years. It really does come down to experience: experience implementing, experience training, to then be able to really understand what something looks like, just looking at a website and going, “Oh, it seems to do backtracking, and it seems to do this, and it seems to do that,” that doesn’t mean it’s right. You’ve really got to go through the testing process to make sure that it’s the right one, and really, really detailed. Run it for a week when it’s set up to check if it’ll actually fit your business’s requirements, that’s all your clients’ requirements in that case. It’s really important.
Heather Smith: Yeah, absolutely. Inventory is very complicated, and I highly encourage people who are feeling that their work is being taken through data, et cetera, to actually look at specialising in this area, because it’s complicated, but there seems to be a lot of opportunity in this area.
Jeri Wambeek: Definitely.
Heather Smith: So, why would an accountant or a bookkeeper consider working with a cloud integrator such as yourself rather than doing it themselves?
Jeri Wambeek: I think when it comes to the inventory side it really just comes down to how complicated it truly is. It’s taken us many, many years of doing this to actually get it right, and I can’t emphasise how difficult it actually is when it comes to, not only the information. Picking the right add-on in the first place is one side, but you can learn how to do that. You can test the bejesus out of it to work it out to see if you can get there. I think that that’s the most important part.
Jeri Wambeek: Then going in and actually then training people and more so supporting them. You can be great at implementing and great at training, but if you can’t provide the support ongoing, that becomes a big issue. And that’s what we found, especially as there was only two of us in the business for quite a number of years, that, yeah, we could do an amazing implementation, an amazing training, but if you cannot follow up with the support and you don’t have people available to follow up with the support it can really put a lot of stress and pain on all parts of your life, if you can’t actually handle that process.
Jeri Wambeek: So, it’s something that accountants and bookkeepers can certainly do. If you’re dabbling in add-ons initially I would say start with the easier add-ons. Start with the Receipt Bank, and Hubdoc, and Eazy Collect, and all of the add-ons that you can sink your teeth into implementing, training, and supporting people on the apps that are a little bit easier to use. And then, as you have different people, identify a few stars in your business that are really great, that love inventory. We used to call them Cloud Champions. Recognise the Cloud Champions in your business that love inventory, or that love job management, and love those parts of the business, and love systems, and love solving people’s problems. Those are the guys in your firm that you can encourage to develop into your specialist in those particular add-on areas.
Heather Smith: Yeah, I completely agree with that. Start with the easy ones and then identify Cloud Champions. And I’ve actually been thrashing this concept around in my head about: if you were an accountant you could actually go out and just be a Cloud Champion in a particular solution and just gig yourself, which is to rent yourself out to various people to say, “Look, I know Unleashed really well, and I can just come in and bounce in and bounce out as and when you need me,” because a firm may not need a 100% Unleashed champion, but they may well be able to have capacity for one day a week. And so, he only needs five clients to do that, if you work it out that way.
Jeri Wambeek: That’s it. And if integrations is not a core business of your accounting firm but certainly something that you want to offer, then that would be a great way of being able to get skilled-up people that can help in those areas. But it doesn’t mean you have to have an Unleashed job every week to be able to pay for a full-time person. So, I think that’s a great idea.
Heather Smith: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, well it also means you can very much be a digital nomad or free and flexible, using your brain but be working from anywhere.
Jeri Wambeek: That’s it.
Heather Smith: With the growing interest in small business cloud solutions across the world it seems to me that there’s a huge opportunity for people to actually start their own cloud integrator business such as what you have done. Would you agree with that?
Jeri Wambeek: Oh, there is so much opportunity out there. All I would say is there’s opportunity out there, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. It’s such a stressful business to be in at times. We often have a joke that it’s like building a house, and you could build the most amazing mansion, but the tap’s dripping. You can have a bad day just because the tap’s dripping, if some things aren’t going perfect.
Jeri Wambeek: So, it takes time, it takes skill, it takes commitment, but there is so much opportunity out there, because there’s just more and more people that want to get in the cloud. And people aren’t scared of the cloud like they used to be. Businesses aren’t scared of the cloud and questioning whether it’s safe to not have a server or not have a server. Everything we do is in the cloud, from social media, to banking, to all of those things. So, people aren’t scared of the cloud like they used to be.
Heather Smith: Yes, yeah.
Jeri Wambeek: But it’s interesting watching, actually, as the ERP solutions like NetSuite and others move into this space, as to the smaller business space as well as the medium business. It’s interesting watching how they’re tackling the space to try and make sure that those medium sized businesses jump straight to them and don’t try to go to Xero and others for a couple of years before they actually jump up into the bigger solutions. So, yeah, it’s really interesting to watch how it’s changing over time.
Heather Smith: Yeah. No, absolutely, I agree with you. It is interesting that these bigger solutions are actually reaching down to us, and I’m going, “What? What’s going on?” But, yeah, you do articulate that well in terms of they might miss out on a few years of income if they don’t go straight to them.
Jeri Wambeek: Mm-hmm.
Heather Smith: So, for a cloud integrator starting out, because I really need to highlight to people that really you’ve very much been a pioneer in the industry and that you’ve gone out and done some of these things, and I’m sure potentially you’ve sat there and gone, “I’m the only person I know in the universe who’s currently doing what I’m doing. But what am I doing?”
Jeri Wambeek: Maybe, yes. I might have had that thought a few times!
Heather Smith: Yeah, and that’s pretty sensational that you’ve gone out there and done that. And potentially, like me, it was like, “I really like doing this, so we’re just going to keep doing it, and hopefully it all works out.”
Jeri Wambeek: Yes.
Heather Smith: How would you suggest to someone else they get started or, potentially, what would you have done differently? So, we have gone down the route of saying, “Look, focus on a small, easy app then focus on a bigger app.” Is there anything else you’d add to that?
Jeri Wambeek: I think being an expert in your solution of choice or solutions, obviously pick a niche, if you don’t just pick a solution. Before we were talking about accountants adding on add-ons to their other services. If you’re just going down the path of being a cloud integrator directly, you would pick your niche as to what your inventory industry should be. And don’t be afraid that picking a niche means that you’re stuck in that niche all the time because, of course, you can add more niches onto that later if you need to.
Jeri Wambeek: For example, we never used to look at inventory forecasting, and we never used to look at the shipping software, and we’ve expanded our niche. We’re still within inventory, but it’s such a big market to be able to expand in those different areas. So, if you’re picking job management or something like that, pick one or two solutions, or say, two solutions that you know really well. Because unless you’re actually being able to explain to a client that’s asking you for help what the differences is between this and that, it’s very, very difficult for you to provide value to them. You need to provide more value to them than what speaking to the software directly would actually help them.
Heather Smith: Yeah.
Jeri Wambeek: So, being able to know a couple of different solutions. So, start with one or two solutions and become an expert in those solutions. That’s what gives you the initial stepping stone. Then it comes down to, “Okay, well I know these solutions, but what’s the point of having all this information in my head? How do I actually share with people?”
Jeri Wambeek: I even spoke to a gentleman in Canada the other who’d just started doing this. We were having this very similar conversation. It was, “Okay, well now you know those two solutions, go and write about it. Go and actually put your website up and write some blogs,” because no one else writes blogs about DEAR Inventory or Vend or other solutions, not much anyway. And not really good quality just: this is exactly how to do what you need to do. That’s how I got started-
Heather Smith: Yeah, absolutely.
Jeri Wambeek: … was writing out exactly how to do it, not some other fluffy article about Vend’s benefits, or DEAR’s benefits, or whatever it is, but tell people that you know what you’re doing in that solution and share it. So, become an expert of the solutions, don’t just keep all the information in your head. Write about it, and then if you don’t have any actual clients doing it initially, go find family, go find friends, ask them if you can go through the process with them, and set up the inventory solution for them, even if they may not use it. I don’t know, it depends on how good their friends are. My first clients were my family. Going through it and setting up their businesses on what it is to be able to help them with those solutions, so you fully understand how it works in real life. That’s the part that takes you through that successful path to being able to help clients ongoing.
Heather Smith: Absolutely, thank you very much for that. I completely agree with the writing about it, and if you are thinking about writing about it and feeling unsure about writing, engage a copywriter who can interview you, and you can get it transcribed, and you’ve got all of the text, you’ve got all of the SEO there. And it’s not too hard. If you can talk about it, then get a copywriter to help you write it.
Heather Smith: So before, you mentioned a few inventory solutions. Can we just go back, circle back to them, to just briefly, I’m not expecting you to give me an in-depth analysis of each solution, but I’m sure listeners hear them and they’re interested in, look, maybe what industry’s they’re suited, maybe what’s some nuances about them.
Jeri Wambeek: Sure.
Heather Smith: So, you ran off Cin7, MRPeasy, DEAR, Shopify, n2 ERP, is there just something that you could talk to on those?
Jeri Wambeek: Sure. So we’ll stick with, let’s just say, DEAR Inventory versus Cin7 versus n2 ERP for a second.
Heather Smith: Okay.
Jeri Wambeek: So, Cin7 is that middle one there. Now, Cin7 is quite a powerful inventory solution, and it’s considered one of the world’s most, or definitely our region, Australia’s most connected inventory solution. So, it has a huge amount of integrations available to it. Now, the biggest benefit for them is that they connect and have their own inbuilt 3PL and EDI connections.
Jeri Wambeek: Now, what that means is, for those that aren’t in the inventory space, 3PL is third party logistics where you can actually connect Cin7 to your third party warehouse. So, you don’t have your own warehouse, you pay someone to be your warehouse. And you can actually connect your inventory system, Cin7, to their system. So, what that means is as soon as an order comes in and the stock is available you can send off a picking slip, basically, to the warehouse, electronically. It automatically lands in their system. They pick it, pack it, ship it, and then send back the details to your system. So, it’s automating that connection between the 3PLs.
Jeri Wambeek: The other one is EDI. So, EDI is electronic data interchange, and that’s all about Cin7 being able to connect to Coles, and Woolworths, and Bunnings, and Target, all those big guys, where they are requesting to buy stock from your company. And those orders, when they place an invoice in Woolworths’ system, for example, those orders automatically land inside Cin7. So then you can pick them, pack them, ship them from there. And there’s a number of conversations that need to happen between you and Woolworths along that road. That’s what EDI is about. And that’s automating that whole process, because the connection is actually set up there. So Cin7, for us, as soon as EDIs or 3PL is mentioned, Cin7 is the app we go to, because it has the EDI and the 3PL inbuilt, and the team’s there.
Jeri Wambeek: So, what we find with other apps like DEAR Inventory, for example, can provide EDI, but they use a third party software. And if anything ever goes wrong, not that we’ve actually had this happen, but we know things can go wrong in EDI just because it’s just real life, when you’re dealing with Coles and Woolworths. But if anything goes wrong and you’ve got two apps in play, you’re going to have one app pointing at the other going, “Oh, that’s their fault. They updated the API, and they didn’t tell us,” or, “They did this,” or, “They did that,” or they’re not talking. And you end up having this argument where the client’s standing in the middle going, “I just want to sell my stuff to Woolworths. What is happening? What’s happening here?”
Jeri Wambeek: So, where possible, we don’t try and add-on add-ons for the sake of adding them on. It’s about actually bringing together everything as you can. So, Cin7, as soon as 3PL and EDI is mentioned, unless there’s any other major requirements that don’t fit, Cin7 is a good fit for that type of client. The other thing that it’s very, very good at, compared to anyone else in the industry, is fashion. So, if anybody has size, colour, style matrix, shoe sizes, clothing, anything to do with fashion and different sizes, or different units of measuring flooring and other things like that, that’s where Cin7’s strength is, in that side of it. So, that’s a little bit about Cin7.
Jeri Wambeek: When you look at n2 ERP, n2 ERP is the next solution up from Cin7 in this space at the moment. And its benefits are it has its own inbuilt CRM. So, it has the CRM already built into it. So, you can set sales budgets, you can manage all of your support tickets and other things inside n2 ERP, as well as the other things that I just mentioned that Cin7 can do. They also have their own EDI and 3PL development, so they can do it in-house. However, they’re a New Zealand based solution, as is Cin7, but they haven’t actually built that many connections in Australia yet-
Heather Smith: Oh, okay.
Jeri Wambeek: … because they haven’t come to Australia. It hasn’t been a core market for them. They’ve been in New Zealand for a long time. So, they will slowly build up to that level.
Jeri Wambeek: The other reason why we love n2 ERP is that it has its own inbuilt finance module. So, it can handle over 6000 invoices a day. They’ve got clients already doing over 6000 invoices a day. Now, those that don’t understand Xero’s, Xero has a soft limit of 1000 invoices per month. And we had clients recently that were big providers to Harvey Norman in Australia, and they needed Cin7. They wanted Cin7. They already have an EDI connection to Harvey Norman, but then they had over two and a half thousand invoices per month. And, for them, they were way too big for Xero. They were even too big for QuickBooks online.
Jeri Wambeek: So, we had Cin7 all ready to go, or we were planning to put Cin7 in and demonstrating that to them, and then we went, “Hang on a minute. That’s way too many invoices. You don’t fit that.” Now, Cin7 doesn’t connect to any bigger accounting systems. So, n2 ERP is the only option for them, because they have so many invoices, but n2 ERP then has to go and build their EDI connections to Harvey Norman. They have one in New Zealand, but they need to build it in Australia and that whole process.
Jeri Wambeek: So, in that particular case, with n2 ERP you can start with a business that fits all those requirements. They could have maybe 1000 invoices or maybe a little bit less, and we would put them on n2 ERP, and n2 ERP has a Xero integration. But if they ever outgrow Xero we can turn the Xero integration off and just keep using N2’s finance module. We just might lose some native bank feeds and you have to import the bank feeds, and you might have to use KeyPay or some other payroll app to be able to do that. But that’s where n2 ERP fits in that space. So, before I continue and talk about DEAR I’ll see if you’ve got any questions.
Heather Smith: No, that was very interesting. That was like, you know a lot of detail about those things.
Jeri Wambeek: I do.
Heather Smith: And it’s interesting, I think, highlighting the fact that if it doesn’t happen you go back and talk to them and say, “We need this. Can you evolve?” And it’s never going to be on the website.
Jeri Wambeek: Yes.
Heather Smith: You have to have these relationships, these human relationships, with these organisations. Yes.
Jeri Wambeek: Agreed. Agreed. So, the only other app I mentioned, well, two others I mentioned, was DEAR Inventory and MRPeasy. I’ll quickly mention MRPeasy. MRPeasy is a manufacturing solution out of Europe, and it’s very focused on manufacturing. So, I was in a warehouse in Wollongong last week, and they make playgrounds from bits of plastic and bits of metal, completely from scratch. And around the work station they’ve got the cutting station, they’ve got a lasering station, they’ve got two assembly stations, a woodwork station. So, in their business they need to know exactly where any part or any product is at throughout, from the raw material all the way through to the manufacturing process. And they also need to know when the product is being made at that place, what it turns into and the costing, so the actual start and stop timers of: this is how long it takes for that guy, at that station, to do what they do. It’s not just about bringing a product in and selling it out.
Jeri Wambeek: So, MRPeasy is perfect for that type of business. And some people come to me thinking that they want that type of detail, but then they don’t really want that type of detail in just a normal business. They just have inventory, so manufacturing to that level of detail doesn’t become so important. But for someone like that the other day, that’s really important.
Jeri Wambeek: Then DEAR Inventory is the other app that fits on the spectrum. And DEAR Inventory is really suitable for people that have a smaller to medium sized business. They may have some E-commerce like connections to Shopify, and WooCommerce, and things like that, but they don’t have a huge amount of connections. DEAR is great for maybe three or four different connections, but I probably wouldn’t push it past that. Their Shopify connection works well, but it only syncs every hour versus Cin7 we can make sync every five minutes. There’s the little things like that which just make a difference. One customer has 100 orders an hour, you don’t want them coming in just at the top of every hour, you want them coming in every 15 minutes, so you can deal with them at least.
Jeri Wambeek: So, little things like that make a difference. But DEAR has its own inbuilt POS, as does Cin7. It has its own inbuilt B to B, a little bit prettier than Cin7’s. So, sometimes we’ll pick that. And it’s just a nice, simple solution to use. You’re forced through a nice workflow inside DEAR to do what you need to do. But then when it comes to customizations, DEAR doesn’t customise much, but Cin7 can customise things for you. So, it comes down to those. If you want just a straight solution out of the box that just works well every time, you don’t have a huge amount of volume, then DEAR’s a really nice fit for a small team that’s growing.
Heather Smith: Absolutely. I think you’ll have either terrified people from ever even going into an inventory client, or some people will have listened to that and absolutely loved it and will be fully onboard, which is great. It is interesting the nuance of how often it syncs, which is a question I would have never even actually contemplated: are you going to sync every five minutes or every hour? And sometimes there’s even a cost implication of frequent syncing.
Jeri Wambeek: Exactly.
Heather Smith: So, thank you very much for sharing all that insight.
Jeri Wambeek: No worries.
Heather Smith: Do we need to talk about Unleashed, as you worked with them as well?
Jeri Wambeek: Sure. Unleashed is one of those apps that has been around a long time, and they have a good set of clients and features as to what they have. We don’t actually implement it directly that often these days, not because I’m at all a disgruntled employee, I loved those guys and what they do. A lot of people go, “Oh yeah, it’s just the line,” but it really just comes down to features.
Jeri Wambeek: They’re really focusing on their B to B at the moment and improving their B to B, and anything they do release they try and look at it and re-engineer it in a way that’s actually going to be even better than what’s actually out there. So, they’re focusing on their B to B at the moment. They don’t have as many connections as Cin7. They don’t have the ability to do fashion. They’re like DEAR in terms of the way they use third parties to connect to things. So, it just doesn’t have the features there compared to the others.
Jeri Wambeek: So a lot of the time, when we put them up against each other, we can’t say, yeah, Unleashed is going to be a better option, because there’s just other solutions out there which have added features faster than they have. So, for people that are already on it, there’s nothing wrong with the solution, and you can add a lot of add-ons onto it to help it improve in the areas where it hasn’t yet built on. But that’s the limitation. So, when people are coming to ask me from scratch it’s just simply for that reason, that other solutions have more inbuilt into them without having to pay for extra add-ons than what Unleashed does.
Heather Smith: Yeah. It seems that you’ve frequently said the number of connections is something that you’re valuing in there. And it is interesting how, now, when we look at something in the ecosystem we’re like, “Okay, what else do you connect with? What are you open to?”
Jeri Wambeek: Yes.
Heather Smith: And sometimes it’s interesting because some of the solutions actually work best in a silo, even though we keep going, “Integrated, integrated, integrated,” we actually don’t want them to double up. But that is interesting. I’m going to ask you a side question, which you may not know the answer to, but it’s a question that I’ve never seen answered in the forums.
Jeri Wambeek: Sure.
Heather Smith: Have you come across a solution that works with a butcher?
Jeri Wambeek: Oh, are we talking about weights?
Heather Smith: Weights, yeah.
Jeri Wambeek: Yeah. No, I believe, and I’d have to double check for you, but I believe n2 ERP can do this now. It was brought to me not that long ago. I’ve been asked a couple of times. The biggest issue with butchers is the ability to connect to the weight system, so the weigh scales to pick up the quantity. And there’s actually a full certification process that the apps have to go through to actually get the weights happening, which I’m sure you’ve seen before.
Heather Smith: Yeah.
Jeri Wambeek: So, we’d have to check with n2 ERP. I’m pretty sure they would at least look into that side of it. But other apps, we’ve tried with Cin7, we’ve tried with DEAR, I think Vend was looking at it a period of time, but they didn’t solve it either. So I put a butcher, they were more sort of a manufacturing butcher in New Zealand, on DEAR a few years ago, and they were literally taking whole pigs and making them into salami. And we were following that whole process. So, I have dealt with butchers with DEAR, but then I believe in the retail side they still kept their basic system or they were just typing it in. But, no, the weigh scales company would probably be able to help us better with that one. So, I haven’t found an exact solution yet.
Heather Smith: No, it is interesting, because it is interesting how we have come so much, and there’s 800 solutions, and we’re drowning in apps, but then this core retail business doesn’t seem to have a go-to solution. That if you and I don’t know, there’s not a go-to solution that we’re shouting about. But hopefully if we put this out someone will be able to say.
Jeri Wambeek: Exactly. Someone will build it.
Heather Smith: I’m Butcher In The Cloud!
Jeri Wambeek: I like it.
Heather Smith: Yeah. Can I ask you what are some of the automation tools that you’re using in your own business?
Jeri Wambeek: Sure. Okay. So, in our own business we use, I guess obviously we’re a very service-based business, so it’s different to what we’ve been talking about so far. But, no, we use a number of apps in our business as you’d imagine. We use Gmail, is our base for our emails.
Heather Smith: Wow.
Jeri Wambeek: Yes, Gmail’s amazing. We use Asana for all of our project management and that side of things. We use SupportBee for our support tickets, which works really nicely with Asana and Gmail.
Heather Smith: Is that spelt like a little bumblebee?
Jeri Wambeek: Yes. Yes. Yeah, exactly, like a bumblebee, yes.
Heather Smith: It’s SupportBee with a double E?
Jeri Wambeek: Yeah.
Heather Smith: Yeah.
Jeri Wambeek: Yeah. We use Drift on our website. It’s a WordPress website. We use Drift, so that captures all of our conversations and all of our live chats that we have. So, if anyone has any questions in support or in sales they can contact us on there. What else do we use? We use Better Proposals for our proposals. It’s not fully linked through to anywhere in terms of the way that it can link through to Xero, et cetera. But, because of the way that we do it, it’s a very project-based business, so we have staged payments.
Jeri Wambeek: We use Eazy Collect, which has the ability for us to finance our payments for the projects as well, to go through the financing. There’s been some really amazing things happening there. And we use Copper CRM, which is our CRM solution that connects with Gmail. It’s called Copper. I just found that a few months ago when my sales team was growing from one, being me, to now two.
Heather Smith: Okay.
Jeri Wambeek: Copper CRM links through Gmail, and it just brings everything all into one place. I’ve found that better than HubSpot and some of the others that just were great for a certain point when they were free, and then they were very expensive for the next stage. So, yeah, that’s most of the apps we use.
Heather Smith: Yeah. Oh, that’s an interesting one. I’m excited to hear of a new one.
Jeri Wambeek: Yes. And the whole Google Suite. We use Zoom. Actually, you know what? A really exciting one I found recently, I don’t even know how. I’d gone, “There’s got to be a better way of doing this.” When you do the recordings in Zoom, which all of the meetings that we have are online, because we work with people all over the world, there’s an app called Splain, and you just hook it up with Zoom, and it automatically puts any of your recordings that the Zoom Cloud Recording does, into your Google Drive, and just automatically chucks them in there. It’s amazing.
Jeri Wambeek: It was like the fourth time I went looking for it, and I don’t know if it’s new or what, but it works amazing. So, yeah, it takes your Zoom recording and puts it straight in there. So, we can then save it straight into our client’s file instead of having to manually take it out, and upload it into Vimeo, and all that stuff. So, yeah. No, there’s always new exciting apps.
Heather Smith: No, fantastic. Fantastic. And to that point I would like to emphasise to people listening in, is that you do work with clients all over the world. And I know I recently introduced you to someone in Burlington, I think it was.
Jeri Wambeek: Yeah. Yes.
Heather Smith: But could you just talk for a couple of minutes on how you’re actually able to work globally, so we can encourage other people to embrace these global opportunities that are out there?
Jeri Wambeek: Sure, definitely. So, I remember the first time I ever remember truly working globally was when I first started my cloud integration business, and I had my three kids in bed one night. When I was at Unleashed initially, and I was working with training a couple of PwC accountants in South Africa from my dinner table at 11 o’clock at night. I remember back then just having that moment of just awe when I got off the phone at 11 o’clock at night going, “I was just training a couple of really high level accountants in South Africa on Unleashed. This is just amazing. From my dinner table, while the kids are asleep!”
Jeri Wambeek: It’s just amazing how this business can change your life. It truly does. Then later on one of my first cloud inventory clients was actually a family in Fiji, and they needed a property management app, and back then I was just working in all sorts of apps, because I was learning all the different apps. And, yeah, I was putting a project management app and Xero into this large family in Fiji. Anyway, so yeah, it’s so exciting how we’ve worked with so many different countries all over the world over this time.
Jeri Wambeek: So, right now how do we work with people everywhere? We do it on Zoom. So, we have connections, the Zoom calls with them, webcam, and just talk to them. We obviously have to schedule our day, so that we can do early morning calls and late night calls for people outside of Australia. So, that’s one part of it, but the other part of it is actually our team, there’s 20 of us that work at WhichAddOn now, it’s not two of us anymore, and most of our team is actually overseas. But my husband and I are the only two in Australia. So, our lead operations manager and training expert is actually in South Africa. He travels around different areas in Europe and Asia. But he’s in South Africa, so he manages the operations. So, he can handle a lot more of the unfavourable timezones than we do for UK, and the US, and Canada. And then the rest of our team members are also based around Asia, and we have one in New Zealand, one in the UK as well.
Jeri Wambeek: So, yeah, our team’s based everywhere, so they cover all the timezones. And it took a lot of time initially us getting used to… We would constantly be working because our workers were constantly working and coming online at different times. So, we had to learn how to switch off and go, “Okay, we’re not available in this time or after this time. It might be your breakfast time, but it’s our bedtime.” So it takes time, but it’s a very exciting way just to help people all over the world doing what you do. Everybody has the same problem.
Heather Smith: Yeah.
Jeri Wambeek: Everybody has the same problem. US is a little bit different to us, and they just move so much faster, and their volume is so much bigger. But Canada, UK, here, New Zealand, everybody’s experiencing the exact same problems in business. And you can talk the same talk, you maybe have to change your terminology sometimes, the way that they say things compared to the way we say things: lots versus batches and other things that come up. But other than that everybody’s got the same problem all over the world trying to manage when it comes to stock.
Heather Smith: Yeah, absolutely, and I completely agree with that. And I’m completely doing that as well, and I encourage other people to contemplate it.
Jeri Wambeek: Yes.
Heather Smith: But what it does mean is you can niche very heavily, but there’s going to be an audience available to you who will find you if you do that blog writing about what you’re actually working on, the SEO will go out there and find you your clients. Thank you so much Jeri-
Jeri Wambeek: No worries.
Heather Smith: … for sharing so much information with us. I have just a couple of, what’s it, a couple of more questions.
Jeri Wambeek: Okay.
Heather Smith: First of all, can you share with us any of your plans or goals for the next five years?
Jeri Wambeek: Oh, wow. For us-
Heather Smith: You don’t have to share all of them, just the-
Jeri Wambeek: No. No, no, no! No, oh, look, to be honest a lot of my biggest focus at the moment is working out how to get work-life balance back in life, to be honest.
Heather Smith: And that’s an important goal.
Jeri Wambeek: There is so much work and so much opportunity. All my time is spent studying now. I literally study people, and productivity, and time management, and those things like that. So, all of my time now is spent… I got to a certain level. I used to train on this to other Xero advisors if you remember back in the day when I had Fast Track Your Xero Journey. That was when I first learnt how to really make sense of your time and money as you grew your confidence in business, which has led to a lot of other Xero bookkeepers becoming trainers and other things, which has been amazing to see.
Jeri Wambeek: So, for me now it’s like, “Okay, now I’ve hit that level it’s now time to up-level to the next part, as you now have a team of people, and a bigger business to manage, and lots more people that want your time, and lots more opportunities because marketing’s working and all those things.” So, for me, it’s actually working out how to replicate myself. That would be the biggest thing. For WhichAddOn as a business, we just want to be able to help more people all over the world but more so not just helping people through our business and our implementations, but my husband and I have quite, I don’t know how to explain it, but a big heart for helping people in areas that we can’t. And right now we’re at the point where we’re no longer… Previously, we were both single parents with lots of kids and trying to run a business, and we now have a solid business of doing what we do, helping people. And we want to be able to pass that on.
Jeri Wambeek: And so, for us, a big part of that, we really want to get that to a point that our kids can travel with us, and work with us, and we can go and help people in different areas. That’s actually our long-term goal as we move forward. If you keep on trying to work at the pace that we all work in, and you don’t have a family at it. So, now it’s a matter of tweaking it back to go, “Okay, we’ve got a good foundation. How do we grow the team from here? How do we replicate ourselves? And then how do we then go and start helping more people in areas that we’ve never had time to do?” So, that’s our plan.
Heather Smith: And we should be walking the talk of: we’re implementing automation to free up our time, and we need to walk that talk as well.
Jeri Wambeek: Exactly. Exactly. And it comes back to opportunity. There is just so much opportunity out there once you get yourself out there. It’s not the fact that you can’t say no, it’s just simply there is just so many opportunities. It just keeps on coming. When things start working it takes time to get momentum. You and I both did videos, and blogs, and all these things in the beginning that, like you said, we were probably going, “Is this ever going to work?” And then now it’s to a point where the opportunities are so large that it now becomes a time of managing those things. So, it’s an exciting time, that there is so much opportunity out there. It’s very exciting.
Heather Smith: Thank you so much. Jeri, how can people find you? And can you also mention the magazine that you have?
Jeri Wambeek: Sure. So, the best place to find both of those things is at whichaddon.com, so W-H-I-C-H, like: which add on? And whichaddon.com is where you will find the magazine that we do. So, we do a monthly magazine just sharing different stories about the apps and the different clients that we’ve worked with over the period of time. We do comparisons. We introduce new apps that people might never have heard of. We’ve found some exciting ones for the next issue now that we’d never heard of until we came across accidentally or people find us. So, we share that, and that’s a monthly magazine.
Jeri Wambeek: We don’t do anything else other than that at this stage. We’re probably going to be starting some more webinars soon just because there’s so much to share, you just can’t write about it enough. And in terms of finding me, the best place to find me is on the website. I literally have a little chat box down the bottom, and that comes straight to me and one of my other team members. So, if you have any questions for me just chat to me. If we’re not available online, we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
Heather Smith: Thank you so much for spending so much time with us today. We really appreciate it, and I’m sure the listeners will have really benefited from the talk, and from you sharing your insights.
Jeri Wambeek: Cool.
Heather Smith: And I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you soon.
Jeri Wambeek: No worries. Thank you so much for having me, Heather. You have a great day.
Heather Smith: Cheers.