Online services and platforms are already easy to us as they are, but how can they become far more efficient? You can push their limits even further by integrating a software algorithm that will save a significant portion of the user’s time and energy. In this episode, Jason A. Wood is joined by Greg Cummings, Founder of Power100. He explains how he and his team created an algorithm which ranks window and door companies and CEOs. This allows users to easily find the top-rated and most credible ones. Greg also shares the secret to their success: leading with heart and focusing on bridging gaps, not just making money.
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With Absolute Specificity #6 – Greg Cummings
I’ve got a great guest. This guy came to us via being a client of ours. He’s seen that side of specificity, but more importantly, we get his credentials on what he understands about marketing, which is always a great leg up on getting a conversation started. His name is Greg Cummings. He started a new company called Power100. Greg, welcome.
Thanks. I appreciate you having me. I’ve known you for quite a while now through numerous different paths in life. I’m glad to be here.
How this all came to fruition for you and your new company is interesting. My audience will dig this because we’re always talking about business. When we meet, he was a marketing director. What was your title at the window place?
Vice President of basically everything, customer service, customer-facing, sales, marketing, you got it.
The bottom line is my team interfaced with Greg. One of his many duties was to run the marketing. It was for a company within the window industry. He went through that iteration. That company did well, continues to do well, and then he got out on his own. He started a whole company surrounding that industry. Greg, I’m going to let you explain to our audience exactly what you’ve done, what you’ve come up with, and what you’ve put together.
At the end of the day, as an entrepreneur, I define an entrepreneur as somebody that goes out, identifies a gap, and then creates a solution that is not necessarily surrounded by dollar signs and profits. That is how I look at an entrepreneur. What did they create? What gap did they solve? 9 times out of 10, you see these massive success stories, everything from Amazon to Tesla. What starts as one thing morphs into something else.
[bctt tweet=”An entrepreneur is somebody who identifies a gap and creates a solution for it. They are not necessarily surrounded by dollar signs and profits.” via=”no”]
There’s a sheer gap in service or a gap in the business’ ability to do something. That’s what we saw. We started to fine-tune that on a regional level, and then we saw some success with that while I was with the window company. I said, “ Why not try to do this thing on a national level?” I ran some tests and worked on it on the backside for about a year developing algorithms, ranking systems, and putting lists together. It was a lot of work. It was about eighteen months of pure and utter data jamming, which I cannot stand. I’m glad my eyes are uncrossed at this point in the game.
I said the same thing about going through the whole process like going public. There’s so much administrative shit that has to get done, and that is so far outside of my skillset. Without a team of people, I would still be sitting in an office going, “ I want to go do this.” All of that is so difficult. Tell us what Power100 does. What’s the gap that the Power100 is filling in the window space?
Every single industry within the consumer home improvement space lacks a company that is 100% dedicated to solving and vetting them out. Everything’s a pay-to-play model, it seems. Even the good ones start off as a true thing like Angie’s List. It turns into this big pay-to-play and is pushed to the top. You know how that works. We developed an algorithm that ranks. We start with 7,600 window and door CEOs. Nobody ever thinks that there are that many window and door CEOs in the country, but there is, all shapes and sizes. Our algorithm quickly filters that out to about a third of that, and then we’re able to decipher from there with some additional algorithms.
The gap that it solves is being able to let a customer or a consumer know, “That company because of that leader is going to be a very good option for me.” We’re not lead gen. We’re not anything like that. We are a sheer platform to rank the window and door CEOs, not the company. Just when Tom Brady came to the Buccaneers, it was like the Bucs were at the bottom of the barrel, the laughing stock. Unfortunately, they always are, but I’m a proud diehard fan.
I also was in Boston for thirteen years, so I watched Brady through all his championships. When Brady came down, the Bucs went to number one, Super Bowl odds. It’s the same concept. We ranked these CEOs because if they go to a different company, then that other company is going to have the advantage at the end of the day, and it’s all about leadership.
Every company’s success or failure always turns on leadership. As we first started talking about Power100 and the possibility of us partnering together on a project to do some business together, I took a step back. Brittany and I had this conversation. It seems to me the industries that this approach needs are the ones that have lead aggregators as one of their primary thrusts of business. I don’t know if there’s a direct correlation.
You’ve got companies that don’t do anything but buy leads from Google, and then sell them into their own industry. Windows and doors, garage doors, HVAC, all of these industries where the consumer has no idea that when they’re filling out a form, they’re not talking to a window company. They’re talking to an algorithm in Texas that’s deploying form fill and content to them, and then that company is selling the lead, so all of the core competency value props of a company.
What makes a company good? Where am I going to get good service? It gets lost in all of that through a lead aggregation-type industry. In your endeavor, Power100 seeks to solve that by illuminating where the fantastic leadership in the industry is and where consumers can rely on that kind of company to do business with.
Not only that. We don’t even have links to the company pages. That’s how committed I am to saying, “We are not a lead gen source. We are a dictionary. We’re the beacon of light in the industry. You come to us as a resource.” Likewise, the CEOs come together through PowerChat podcast and through Power Groups, which is a small networking opportunity where 3 to 5 CEOs within the power rankings get together under NDA. They’re in non-competing markets as well, so they’re able to open up to work out some difficulties together. The philosophy that we have, and then there’s no exception to this rule ever is going to be that great companies have great leaders. There’s no exception to that rule.
[bctt tweet=”Great companies have great leaders. There is no exception to this rule.” via=”no”]
You used Amazon as an example. Anybody else or any other bookworm that wanted to start a platform to help avid readers have a resource where they could go find any book they wanted to and buy it, not have to go to the retail store to hunt and search for it, that’s what Bezos set out to do. With different leadership, they’re just a big book sales company. Just because it was Jeff Bezos who had a big vision and big organizational skills, it turned into the largest eCommerce platform in the world. To your point, that speaks to leadership.
Many of these companies rely on technology both internally and for things like marketing. One in proximity to this is the digital marketing space in terms of an industry, not in terms of my company versus somebody else’s, lacks a vision or a pathway that’s going to get companies to their defined audiences without pillaging consumer data and privacy and stepping on those bounds. What do you see going on in that space?
What I see after talking to hundreds of CEOs within this space particularly and reviewing thousands of CEOs and their companies is there is a gap. They are hiring somebody to do their marketing that doesn’t know how to sell their product, install their product, service, and warranty it. That’s the gap I fill. I get people asking me all the time, “You could do this for HVAC companies. You could do this for solar companies.” I’m like, “I don’t want to do that.”
I know windows and doors. I’ve studied it for years. I know this. Somebody can’t fool me as far as what they’re doing and if they’re doing it the right way. Going back to the marketing gap, what you were talking about is there’s a separation. I hire somebody to do my marketing. Good data gets good results. Bad data gets bad results.
If they’re not able to interact with their point of contact, it could be on the marketer’s side where the account representative is not competent. They’re just hiring them because they’re good at technology or they’re good at their system. They’re not good at being that liaison between the client and what needs to happen. The number one rule in business is the client doesn’t know what they want. That’s why they’re hiring a professional to assist them.
Take the lead, grab them by the hand, and say, “I need this.” How many companies can side you across their customer profile? Can they do it? Do they have the customer profile? There’s probably a minimum of three customers that they go after. I had individual profiles in each one that I slid across to Brittany when we worked together and we were able to have tremendous targeted success.
To your point, that is such a good point in the marketing conversation. Companies very rarely from an internal marketing perspective understand their high-likely conversion personas. They think their audience is a city or homeowners. They don’t understand the way it breaks down. This person is situationally dynamic-wise setup to maybe be in proximity to window purchase, but who wants windows right now? Who’s buying them? What’s that house look like? What’s that financial?
You’re right. As a marketer, we have always more success when we’re sitting across the table from a marketer. This is a generic marketing statement. You brought something up that I get a big kick out of in our industry. few people understand this. It is so commonplace when we go to talk to a company about their marketing that the marketing director and the chief marketing officer don’t know anything about marketing. They’ve been tasked to manage the marketing budget. What you get is a quasi-CFO who’s managing expenditures and trying to quantify ROI and understands nothing about the process of marketing, things like cost per acquisition and segmentation, none of that stuff.
How do they filter that out in the interview though? That’s always been a big point of emphasis. I’ve been asked, “Can you talk to this potential CMO for me?” I was like, “Yeah, I can, of course.” The first thing I do is say, “Tell me what you know about the windows and doors.” “I don’t know anything.” I’m like, “You can’t market this.” Marketing is a fancy word for sales. You got to know how to sell the product. It’s a softer word than sales. Sales is a bad word now. Everybody’s a marketer, but if you don’t know how to sell and position things, then you’re not able to communicate to your audience and give them what they want.
If you don’t understand your audience, you don’t understand potential objections. To drag everything back to sales, because that’s my core too as a sales guy. If you don’t know what the objection is, you have no chance of selling it. Marketing has to first never understand the consumer’s mindset toward the product before they can even begin to say intelligent things that are going to resonate with the customer. That’s a challenge for most marketers because they don’t come from that background.
I know Brit got a big kick at working with you because Brittany’s saying this, and I know you’ll appreciate this, “The biggest pain in the ass clients are always the best clients to work with because those are people on it.” They appreciate success because they know what that looks like. They help you evolve out of things that aren’t working because again, they understand what they’re doing. They know their industry and consumers.
The worst client to work with is the apathetic client because they’ll work with you. You don’t get the feedback. How important do you think it is to these CEOs that you’re talking to and that you’re assessing to get feedback from a platform like yours that puts it juxtaposes an entire industry? That’s got to be invaluable to these guys.
We’ve had some amazing conversations and there have been some key similarities between the guys and gals at the top. That is their commitment to innovation. These CEOs are not in their business. They’re working on their business, but they know everything that’s going in and going on in their business. Their first grab is always culture and their employees.
It goes back to Enterprise. I grew up as an Enterprise Rent-A-Car kid right out of school, moved up, ran the ranks quickly, and had a good career. The biggest thing that they taught me was, “If you take care of your customers and employees, profits are always going to follow.” I’ve taken that with a grain of salt, and then I put in the backside of it.
I say, “If companies and CEOs can grow off of a geographical standpoint and provide charitable contributions, then they are run soundly.” I combined all of that together. That’s the high level of the ranking system, by the way. At the end of the day, when these companies have these three different pillars, they’re able to be very successful and those similarities traject them to the top.
I can see what an advantage that would be. I put that to my own industry if somebody had an objective perspective on CEOs, but understood the industry dynamics and challenges and could go in and say, “Here’s the top 100.” Whether you fit that mold or not, seeing what characteristics are present in common with all of the top players in your industry could be phenomenal in terms of self-development and trying to gear yourself to be more successful in a given industry. What’s the play here for Power100 in terms of market acquisition moving forward? What’s the goal? Is it the monetization of a platform? Is it to expand into product offerings? What’s on the horizon?
We got a couple of things that are going on launching in June and July 2023. Every July, a new list comes out, and then we shred the old one. We don’t live in the past. There’s no history of where you were because we live in the present. Are you successful? In this space, you’re dependent on your teams that are installing the product to give you that shining light. What you had in 2022, you might not have in 2023. We want to make sure that we shred the old list and we put the new list in play.
That’s coming. July 4th, 2023 is when the top five drop. We then have a little on July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. We release a little bit each time. We are introducing Power Chats come June where I’m going to be having conversations with these leaders about what works, what doesn’t work, their story on their way to the top, what’s worked for them, what hasn’t, and also their charitable contributions and different things like that.
What platforms are you going to share that on?
We are planning on having those podcasts anywhere that we can, but I don’t even want to go down the traditional Apple Podcasts and all that stuff because we’re doing video. The short answer is we’re not sure. They’re trying to convince me to do multiple channels. I just want to put it on YouTube and keep it on our social media, click to go.
I’m not interested in gaining this huge following of whatever from everyone else. I’m only interested in working with the top 100 CEOs and improving their company, and then continuing to evaluate the rest of the field as other companies move up. We got Power Chats, new power rankings, and then Power groups are going to be coming. We are going to be bringing in 3 to 5 CEOs from non-competing markets under an NDA. They’re going to be able to get very tactical with different solutions. That’s what’s coming. We’re excited.
As far as monetizing this whole thing, we are looking for sponsors. We have three sponsorships also that are going to be going on July 1st, 2023, and we’ll be running a year-long campaign with them. The whole principle of it is the same as with the Power100. I want people to get to know the CEO and the leader of all these companies. At the end of the day, there is not one great company that you don’t know the leader of. That holds true. You go to your favorite restaurant. You know the owner. I’m positive about it. You go to a random restaurant. You don’t know the owner, or maybe you do and that’s why you go to that restaurant. I got a buddy that follows chefs around and groups of ownership.
When you’re a small company, it’s easy to meet and talk to all your clients, but as you grow, you lose that. That sales pitch changes from, “We’re a small company. You get everybody you want,” to, “We’re a big company. You’re safe.” What I want to do is give this blanketed solution where the CEO still has that voice straight into everyone’s ear, and they get to know the CEO, whether you’re a sponsor or you’re one of the CEOs on the rankings. That’s the goal.
I love your perspective on shit. You know our company’s history, growth, and all that a little bit, but for the first time in my career, we’ve evolved into this company where my team will be talking about a client and describing an issue. For the first time in my career, I’m going, “Who’s that?” “They’re a client.” I know the name. You’ve got this whole business development apparatus, and that’s why leadership is so important. You’ve got your internal team that’s executing.
If you’ve got great leadership and people that are in it for their people to help accelerate their growth, then it’s okay that I don’t know every single client that does business with specificity because of the tools and the ideology that you garner, and then you pass on. If your team is trained well, good, and cares, then that leadership gets carried through.
In the industries that you’re in, the home services field, that is such a tough industry because there are so many specious players in those marketplaces. We’ve all had not our own nightmare stories of contractors not showing up or taking ten times longer. It’s so hard for the consumer to figure out who’s legit in this business. Starting with leadership is a fantastic idea. I wish you all the luck.
I appreciate it.
Where can people go check you out? What’s your website URL and contact info? How do you want people to reach out to you?
If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, booking an interview if you’re on the top 100, or even if you’re on the honorable mention, we do have an honorable mention list that’s about 250 CEOs as well. If you’re on one of those, you can go to our website, Power100.io. Fill out a contact form there. We’ll be able to get in touch with you there.
Our show goes through all the channels in Apple, Spotify, and all that. We wish you much success. Thanks for taking the time for coming on. Let’s do this again in the near future and get our progress update here in a couple of months where you’re at.
Sounds good, Jason. I’m looking forward to it.
Greg, thanks a lot for the time. I appreciate it.
Take it easy.