While technology can be a great tool for efficiency, Buckman cautions restraint and research when it comes to adoption.
Ken Buckman is a serial entrepreneur. Juggling multiple companies at once, Buckman – or "Bucky," as he's known to friends and clients alike – has learned to rely on technology to help streamline his organizations and make them more efficient.
Q: What devices do you use daily?
A: At Buckman's tradeshow company, TradeTec, the work required by the designers in his 53-person company require top-of-the-line Apple desktop and laptop machines to handle the memory-intensive processing of large files. To run all his companies from his home office, Buckman relies on a Microsoft Studio machine to help him keep on top of things. But, he admits, "about 35 percent of all I do, I do right from my iPhone X."
Q: What technology do you use to get ahead of your competition?
A: Buckman acknowledges he used to be "old school" when it came to technology, but he's seen the light.
"Once we implemented a fully customized Salesforce.com platform, we were able to process two times the amount of work with several fewer people."
Buckman points out that automated marketing platforms, such as Pardot, and integrations between accounting and quoting software and Salesforce have made his company more efficient with better visibility into the business. [Interested in accounting software? Check out our best picks.]
At one of his other companies, Rainy Investments, Buckman has hundreds of townhomes to manage. Without technology, Buckman's teams were spending significant time keeping on top of the day to day operations before he invested in an automated system to help out.
"We went from a nightmare of spreadsheets and manual management of rents and maintenance requests to a completely automated and low-cost online system."
The addition of technology into the business has paid off. For instance, background and financial checks used to be a time-consuming process.
"This used to all take days, but now takes minutes and can be done live at a prospect's first visit when they want a unit."
Q: Is technology a significant enabler for your business?
A: Buckman emphatically agrees with how much technology has helped his businesses. He's been able to automate tasks that were time sinks while running his businesses with fewer employees.
"It's allowing me to run a half-dozen different companies at once and feel like I have the capacity for more."
Q: Has social media influenced your business at all, from internal employee policies to the way you promote your company?
A: Social media allows Buckman to spread the word about his companies and their work in ways that he never could before, especially with younger clients and potential clients.
"TradeTec's Facebook presence went from zero to 5,000-plus followers in less than two years, and we post five to 10 projects a week, calling out client's hashtags. We not only get a lot of response from [existing] clients, but from prospective clients."
Q: Have you had to adapt your business because of security concerns brought about by the increased use of technology?
A: This is a question that Buckman discusses frequently with his CEO peer-to-peer group, Vistage. He agrees that there has had to be some changes to ensure his company's business continuity.
"We pay an IT firm more than before to constantly have our data backed up and replicated so that if something were to be hacked or destroyed we'd be back in business relatively quickly."
But he cautions that things like backups and security are still changing.
"This is still an unknown world. You can easily and foolishly spend money and get carried away."