How I Launched A $185K/Month Employee Time & GPS Tracking App
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Dean Logan, the co-founder, and CEO of Labor Sync. Labor Sync was founded in 2009 along with my father and CFO Al Logan and CTO Joe Burger.
Labor Sync is a mobile application that provides business owners with the ability to track the time and GPS location of their mobile workforce. After extensive testing, our product officially launched in 2011.
The amazing thing about Labor Sync is our expansive global presence for such a small company, only 12 employees! Our product is available in over 17 languages and used in over 100 countries.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
As a roofer and family business owner for 17 years, I faced the ongoing struggle of keeping track of my employees, job order costing, processing payroll and ultimately losing money due to the mismanagement of time.
As an end-user, I knew I needed a product that could streamline these processes but couldn’t find a single product on the market that met the needs of my company. At that point, I realized that if I am struggling with these problems, surely plenty of other business owners with a largely mobile workforce are facing the same issue. Thus, Labor Sync began!
My father and I partnered with IT guru Joe Burger and beta tested within our own roofing company, Complete Roof Systems (CRS), to see how this technology could help us save both time and money. Joe had his own company and was a tenant of one of our roofing clients, she introduced me to Joe and we immediately hit it off.
I wasn’t happy with our current IT network administrator so I hired Joe on retainer to maintain CRS’s network. Once the recession hit, I, Joe and my father were talking about how we were going to prepare and where we could save money. That’s when we realized that our timesheet inaccuracies were killing us. We came up with the idea to better track time and ultimately what Labor Sync is today. Joe believed in Labor Sync so much that he closed his company and worked for free for over a year to see this idea come to fruition.
After just one year of use, we saved $104,000 across 45 employees. That’s when we knew, this was the real deal!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Joe took the role of CTO based on his extensive background in tech while I took on the role of CEO with my background in business management.
We wanted to design a very simple user-friendly interface to allow anyone to easily use the application regardless of education level or native language. This meant using universal symbols (i.e. green means go, red means stop, etc.). Learning from the leader in tech, we made the interface very similar to Google products and therefore easily adaptable.
We were spending a lot of time and money designing features that it turns out our customers didn’t even use. Now we ASK our customers what THEY want. Our customers are truly the best place to get new feature ideas.
In the beginning, the product was so simple and easy to use but we found that getting companies to adopt the technology was a struggle. At the time, the business use of cell phone applications hadn’t quite taken off yet, so getting potential customers to be ok with purchasing and paying for phones for employees each month became cost-prohibitive and created a major obstacle with sales. As the use of business mobile devices grew, the use and adoption of Labor Sync took off.
The entire business is self-funded with an investment of $2 Million to date on product development, legal services, payroll, etc.
Describe the process of launching the business.
In early 2011, we launched on Android. Before each launch, we tested extensively within our own company to be sure the final product was fine-tuned and met all business needs. Once we worked out the kinks we would release to Android for approval and make available to the marketplace. In the beginning, without funds for advertising or marketing, we had some users from our exposure as a new application in the Google Play store. In late 2011 we launched with iOS but received the same response. The types of companies that we attracted were mainly in the construction field but we quickly grew our user base through word of mouth.
Shortly after, we engaged with marketing agency DSMfor PR and advertising. They brought attention to Labor Sync through articles in publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, etc. However, the real initial growth came with face-to-face advertising. This is where the development of the Sales team started and a heavy presence at trade shows and other face-to-face marketing opportunities.
While attention was growing, we realized very quickly that a lot of money was being spent on travel, displays, etc. and since our product comes with such a low monthly cost, the initial short-term return on investment didn’t make sense. We scaled back and picked smaller, more cost-effective venues and shows for a more targeted approach. However being a global brand, we still had a hard time reaching the masses.
Now, 100% of our advertising is online which is how we are able to reach customers across the world and grow into the global company we are today. This is where I learned one of my first big lessons from starting a business...what you thought was right, doesn’t necessarily play out. As a business owner, I had always thought that a large traditional paper advertising presence with plenty of face-to-face interaction was the magic formula for everything. But when it comes to the world of tech, that’s just not true anymore.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We keep our customers engaged by continuously enhancing our product and adding new features, refining design and increasing functionality to make sure our product is always operating at the highest level.
We rely heavily on keyword searches to reach our target audience. Members of our Sales team also participate in outbound calling by looking at the locations of our current customers and expanding in that area -- we’ve had great success with this tactic. The majority of our customers are coming through our pay-per-click campaign but the rest typically come from word of mouth or other referrals which aren’t as heavily tracked.
Our customer service is unrivaled. Being a global company, we average only three minutes in a 24-hour period without any usage. Because of this, we need to be available to our customers almost 24/7. Our customers can reach us via phone or chat messages where you can receive instant assistance.
For non-business hours, we have an advanced online system that can answer simple questions or can put you in touch with a highly-responsive team to answer more detailed questions within hours. We really try to follow the old Zappos mentality where success comes from putting our customers first… and yes, I’ve read the Zappos book cover to cover!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Currently, Labor Sync is profitable and since our shift to 100% online marketing we have seen accelerated growth and our future potential is outstanding.
Our business operations run solely on business developers and customer support. Every employee of Labor Sync is involved in customer support. From the CEO down to our interns, everyone is trained to be a representative of the company and able to assist customers - it’s all hands on deck!
Talk to people in the industry and see what they did. Take advice, get social, ask around.
In 2020, we plan to launch a software update with new features and enhancements with a plan to embrace AI to create a system that can tell you when something is wrong, rather than you having to discover any mistakes your employees are making. For example, the goal is for the system to notice when an employee’s regular schedule is shifting and alert you to these changes to ensure they are intended.
Another goal is to have an online community for users so that companies across the world can chat and compare labor costs, struggles, and more while producing anonymous data from the app to share important stats on each industry.
Our mobile website will expand into the languages and metrics of areas we target advertising. For example, ads seen in Mexico will calculate potential monthly costs and savings in pesos rather than the US dollar. Labor market research will continue to find what our product needs to cost in each currency to be competitive in the respective climate. Currently, the website is only available in English, however, the mobile app currently adapts to 17 languages.
In the future, we would love to add modules as separate applications to communicate with Labor Sync such as tools for payroll, invoicing, scheduling, CRM, etc.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
As I discussed before, one of the biggest learnings was being ok with the shift from traditional advertising to a 100% online presence.
Another big lesson we found was that we were spending a lot of time and money designing features that it turns out our customers didn’t even use. Now we ASK our customers what THEY want. Our customers are truly the best place to get new feature ideas.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Some of our favorite tools include:
- IntercomCRM and support
- Grasshopperfor phone calls
- Heroku, Google Cloud, and AWSfor hosting our platform
- Trellofor project management
- Google Hangouts for meetings and demos
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
As an avid reader both for personal and business growth, the two most influential books I’ve read and regularly consult are:
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I’ve found that you tend to do what you think is right based on your experience with a totally different company. But what I’ve learned is, you don’t know what you don’t know until you know.
Talk to people in the industry and see what they did. Take advice, get social, ask around. Don’t be afraid to take the risk to get out of your comfort zone.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are currently looking for skilled software developers for 100% remote positions.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Labor Sync has provided an update on their business!
Almost 2 years ago, we followed up with Labor Sync to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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