“There's over $5 trillion in annual revenues in retail. One in 4 jobs in the United States are supported by retail… And so we wanted to engage that segment and help them be more effective” Vaughn Peterson, CEO of The Cambeo Group.
Alan: Welcome back I'm here today with Vaughn Peterson, he's the CEO and founder of Cambeo, Welcome to today's show.
Vaughn: Alan pleasure to be here
Alan: So Vaughn, for the listeners here can you give me your background- how you got to where you are today?
Vaughn: Sure, I guess I've always had a passion for change and improvement. And that's been on reflection in my career as well as my education. I studied organizational behavior in graduate school and loved applying that in large corporations and small. I worked in a fortune 100 company in senior HR roles. And I've also done that is an external consultant. I've worked with again fortune 100 clients as well as the small clients. It's all about positive change, helping organizations and people improve and that's really been my passion for decades in my career.
Alan: So when you when you finished school did you immediately launched into your own company or did you start with another?
Vaughn: Yeah great question I started out in a corporate role in human resources, organization development and human resource roles. And I did that in the US, I'd I also had a role leading a larger human resource organization for a telecommunications company in Asia Pacific based in Hong Kong. In that environment it's all about and is growing effective organizations. We were growing rapidly when I started with this company we were about $1.5-$2 billion and ten plus years later we were $20 billion. It was like a rocket ride. Everything we were doing was all about growing effective organizations, developing leaders, helping employees are onboard but really achieve their potential and I've carried that theme through my career and that ultimately led to the founding of Cambeo.
Alan: So was it over in Hong Kong that you had your inspiration for Cambeo?
Vaughn: It started, but it became a little bit following that. I've been involved in high tech companies my whole career and I was a at a point my career when I was ready for some change. I'd been involved in some high tech startups and started to reflect on, do I want to keep making VC's money or maybe I want to found one myself and have a more active role in that. And as I reflect on Cambeo, I felt like we had the opportunity to bring best practices that I had used as an internal consultant and an external consultant. And bring those into a SaaS based software offering that would allow virtually any company to improve, to look at how they're doing organizationally and how their people are doing and that was really the genesis for it.
Alan: When you're when you're thinking about, ok I'm going to do my own company I imagine your wife had a few things to say.
Vaughn: Yeah, she did. It's a huge sacrifice and a lot of risk initially it's, she said, 'hey are you sure' but she's really become passionate about the vision. It's been a journey, we've been at this now for over 5 years now. And in those early couple years there were times where she said, 'hey you know you're probably making less money than when you came out of school' and so you're really making some sacrifices but it's been worth, and we're seeing a lot of success and growth, and it's exciting to impact companies, it's exciting to be a part of of your program the american dream. We work with clients. A lot of our clients are in retail. And they're pushing, and they're driving for that american dream, some are large and some are more small. Some people have put everything they have into a franchise or a couple of stores and if they fail they lose it all. And to be able to help people succeed is very gratifying.
Alan: So Vaughn, I seen to take a quick break, I'm visiting here today with Vaughn Peterson, he is the CEO and founder of Cambeo, we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back I've been visiting here today with Vaughn Peterson, he is the CEO and the founder of Cambeo and Vaughn in the first segment we talked about establishing your background, the inspiration to move into doing your own company, but I want to jump back to the vision.
Vaughn: At a very high level our vision is to improve the quality of life. That's sounds so huge and enormous but its very relevant for us from this standpoint. We spend more than half of our waking hours in organizations and at work, and if we can impact that, if we can help organizations me more effective be more attentive to their employee base, if they can help people reach their potential if there can be better communications and a better culture, all of the sudden dramatic things begin to happen. People are coming to work excited, they're engaged- employee engagement is one of the biggest challenges facing our country and the world. Roughly 70 percent- according to Gallup- of employees in the U. S. workforce are unengaged or actually actively fighting against their employer. And so the ability to begin to change that and to help organizations not just engage their employees but help them succeed. It's a powerful opportunity.
Alan: So when you're looking at the elevator pitch, who is your target client?
Vaughn: Our focus is on retail, distributive retail organizations. And the size of the company is...
Alan: It can be as few as maybe 10 or 20 stores it could be hundreds of stores, and our definition of retail is brought it could mean a banks or hotels or restaurants or general merchandise. But our goal is to help them overcome what we often referred to as a retail mindset. We chose retail because one it's one of the largest segments of the economy. There's over $5 trillion in annual revenues in retail. One in 4 jobs in the United States are supported by retail. There's over 15 million people employed in retail and yet there's very little focus on that segment. And so we wanted to engage that segment, help them be more effective and our model is to help them identify which stores are really performing well, how are people doing? Are they are they performing well, who's struggling identifying important tasks and when you identify all of that information it creates valuable data that you can then begin to look at ways to improve it. And we have a learning platform and then helps them improve but the real power of what we do is bringing the human capital information and fusing it with their financial information and then creating predictive analytics. So we can not only just measure store employee performance we can tell you which things you're doing are going to drive revenue and increase profitability. We've had one client increase their profitability by over 200 percent in one year, it was it was dramatic, not everybody is that significant in the results you are getting but when you put focus on organization and people, wonderful things happen.
Alan: Would you say you have AI built into the Cambeo software?
Vaughn: There are some elements of that when we get into the predictive where we're able to say, hey these things will actually drive this amount of revenue... We have a case right now that we're working with us, where we were able to identify through their assessments that we do through our productivity suite, that simply giving their shoppers a shopping basket when they're carrying 3 or more items, would result in $6.22 a day per employee in increased revenue. Now that doesn't sound like much. But for that company, it's $1 million in a year. So if I hand you a shopping basket, that's $1 million opportunity if I do that 95 percent of the time versus 75 percent of the time. So we're taking human capital issues that often people think are just soft and bringing a hard edge to it in terms of revenue and profitability, but again ultimately we're we're impacting quality of life. Because it's not just about money. It's also about the experience people are having in their work, in their companies.
Alan: I'm visiting here today with Vaughn Peterson, he is the founder and the CEO at Cambeo. We'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back I've been visiting here today with Vaughn Peterson we've been talking about Cambeo and the vision that you have for the retail industry, I want to spend a few minutes on some of the challenges in retail because you have the corporate culture but then when you hire the individual employees how do you get their mind set to convert over from this is just a job to an actual career?
Vaughn: Great question you know one of the things we often refer to in Cambeo is something we call the retail mindset. That's exactly what you're talking about. An employee who says, 'Hey this is just a retail well cares, it's not a significant job'. And then you have a customers, we're all guilty of going into a retail establishment with very little expectation that we'll get a quality service experience or get the help we need. And even owners of these companies executives of the companies will say to us. 'Who do you expect we can hire this is just retail.' And and our contention is retail is is a huge important part of our economy, it's a vital service and and providing a great benefit to our society and it's not just a retail. An employee who can be outstanding in a retail role that can juggle responsibilities, that can merchandise, give great customer service, they can deal with with difficulties and complaints, a customer who's unhappy, who can sell, who can up sell, if you can do those things, wow. That sounds like a great great time recipe for success in a lot of jobs. And you know what there's great people where ever you go. And you can hire great people, even in retail. So for us, we want eradicate this retail mindset and really change the way that retail supports and services their clients and customers and the way that employees engage in it, even away executives treat the culture and the opportunity that their stores can provide.
Alan: So walk me through the process of Cambeo, I'm a new client so how does this first start?
Vaughn: So we start off we have a software as a service offering, it's best considered as a productivity suite. We begin by looking at and things like that tasks, task management. Hey there's things that we need down every day and we have tools to help them measure that we have the ability to measure the organizations, how are they doing on leadership how are they doing on processes how are they doing on customer focus ect. And see which stores are performing which stores are struggling. You know it's one thing to look at the numbers. It's another thing to see the inputs. What's really driving change and that's what we're able to bring to them. We also look employee performance. We also provide tools to them to train on deficiencies so that they can continually improve. For us it's all about a model of continuous improvement. And then we take that data as I mentioned earlier, merge it with their financial data, and we can begin to predict what activities are gonna drive success. Every person and every organization, every business in the world wants to know, what are the things I should do to ensure that I get a good result, and we're helping them to identify that. So that's in essence what we do and we're able to do that with predictive validity that really has an impact on was these companies.
Alan: You know it's interesting, as companies grow they don't necessarily grow in a perfect curve going up, but it's usually in a stair step. As an organizational behavior consultant, when you're dealing with the organizations, and you're walking through a company that is on track to scale, will your software help them understand at what point they need to hire to build out the organization?
Vaughn: Well what we do, when you identify strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes you identify, hey we have the right people in place or not. Or we don't have enough, so yes we can. We had a client recently and that was one of their challenges. In one store, not enough people. In another store, maybe too many or the wrong leader and so we we can help these organizations really identify and pinpoint down to a store level and even an employee level, changes that they need to make to improve their performance.
Alan: How do you get the change in the organization, in other words, what if the problem is the CEO of itself, the visionary.
Vaughn: That can be hard but sometimes having the data helps that leader to change. We've had many of our leaders say, 'Cambeos tools are powerful. Better put your flak jacket on. Because you're gonna get some feedback that maybe you didn't expect'. Maybe people were are afraid to approach and say, we've got some real problems here. So when people have clear visibility on what's going on, then they can make change and then you can repeat that process again and again and that's what we're about- really providing a finger on the pulse for executives, people at a regional level, a store manager and then even the employees to see, how am I performing how's my store performing but it it engages everybody in getting that positive result that everyone wants.
Alan: So in the process of getting the software you also provide the service and being adviser?
Vaughn: We do, we provide, we don't just throw software over the wall and say good luck. We're there with them as a team member, I've founded and ran a management consulting firm for a number of years, that's something I'm very comfortable doing and we have a phenomenal team a Cambeo. So we're there side by side with our clients to look at those results and say, what do we need to do to drive change. And we are there if they want to call us, do some on call consulting it's not an extra charge, we say 'Hey this is part of what we offer is really being a true partner in helping you succeed.'
Alan: What's the typical timeframe for expectations an organization should have before change will actually be realized?
Vaughn: Great question, it varies some organizations take longer than others, we've seen some change within a month or 2. They start to see some of the revenues go up because they've used to some of the training we've offered on customer engagement. We see some that in over a period of months begin to see that change, but invariably we see material changes within 6 months to a year.
Alan: I'm visiting here today with Vaughn Peterson, he's the CEO and the founder at Cambeo and for people that want to contact you, how would they go about finding you? Cambeo.io is our website. So c-a-m-b-e-o.io and that's the easiest way, and they would have a link there, so Vaughn thanks so being on today's show.
Vaughn: Thank you for having me, it's a pleasure.