Pets For Patriots helps our military veterans and endangered dogs and cats find meaning and life together. Their organization works with multiple parties including donors, veterans, shelters, veterinarians, volunteers and press people. They have multiple business processes which needed to be captured and managed within Salesforce.com.
Beth Zimmerman, the Founder and Executive Director of Pets For Patriots took some time to reflect on our work together in Salesforce.com. Here was the interview:
Salesforce Success Interview With Beth Zimmerman
Question: How were things using Salesforce.com previous to us working together?
Using Salesforce was extremely challenging. Our configuration was extremely complex, but we had no idea how to do anything about it. We felt “owned” by our Salesforce setup, rather than liberated by it to help us do great things. We had to enter a lot of data in duplicate, which not only wasted valuable time, but caused a lot of errors.
|Don D.||Where were the gaps for you? I believe you were the administrator, correct?|
|Beth Z.||Yes. And because it was so complicated, I couldn’t imagine how to bring in other users and train them in our process; it was so Byzantine. And the errors – minor, but preventable – were stacking up. We had no visibility into what was working, where we were in our pipeline – nothing. We were flying blind.|
|Don D.||When you started with Salesforce.com, what was the vision you had?|
Good question. Although we had nothing to input initially, we knew that to achieve our vision of being a nationally operating organization, we needed a strong CRM to help us scale and keep track of all the relationships that matter to our cause. So I envisioned Salesforce as the place where that information could live, be easily captured, organized and ultimately that we could make real sense of it to drive our decision making. I think I also thought it had more intelligence, more ability to trigger various steps in our still-evolving process, and never imagined that we would spend so much time in the weeds being managed by it.
How was your process still evolving?
|Beth Z.||We were a new charity and were doing a lot of trial by fire; we weren’t sure what approaches would work, so we were just tossing mud against the wall to see what would stick. For example, the way we recruit veterinary partners has gone through a few iterations, and even included at one time sending faxes directly to the doctors (gasp!) and following up with a phone call from a veteran/volunteer. We’ve moved beyond that approach, thankfully. But overall, I saw it as something that would make our lives easier – particularly mine, since I’m so involved in everything we do as an organization.|
When you engaged me to help with Salesforce, what was the experience like to help drive your process?
|Beth Z.||It’s funny, because I remember one particular call with you when I was staring at a blank page (figuratively); I couldn’t say what the process was that I had been doing for well over a year. We had a process, but it was so second nature I was unable to pick it apart. You simply took the lead, and helped me articulate the process in a way that it could be documented and shared.|
|Don D.||As you walked through the strategies and implementation, I can imagine your business became clearer?|
|Beth Z.||Once we were able to start documenting our process, you helped us pull some of the complexity and unnecessary steps out of it. Yes; seeing enabled us to get rid of steps we didn’t even realize were either duplicative, unnecessary or outright unproductive. It made it much easier to be able to train volunteers and use the process as a way to discuss our outreach approach and culture.|
|Don D.||You have a fairly complex operation. How does the new customization help support this going forward?|
First, it took out all of the unnecessary complication, so it takes fewer steps to accomplish our goals. We can now more easily focus volunteers on specific aspects of our operation, where before we had no way to do that. And with a new set of customized reports that are tailored to our fairly complex operation, we can distill the most salient pieces of information and make decisions about what’s working or not working in our charity.
I think this gets to what I think is one of the greatest distinctions about you: the ability and interest to understand what we do in order to help us do it better, through technology.
|Don D.||Thanks, Beth. That is very kind of you. I enjoy working with you and your organization. If you had to speak to someone in your situation with Salesforce.com and whether they should do business with me, what would be your advice?|
|Beth Z.||Without hesitation, work with AscendWorks. In fact I’ve already made a referral to one of my favorite and most trusted clients, and I make referrals very sparingly. I think many businesses would find it hard to believe that there is this company out there that really can “get” what they do, and bring clarity to their processes and operations through a very astute use of various customizable, yet off-the-shelf technologies.|
|Don D.||Thanks, Beth. Any closing thoughts?|
It’s totally cliche, but there is that peace of mind factor. I remember that I wasn’t sleeping well for months leading up to us hiring you. Once we decided to move forward, I actually had my first full night’s sleep in a very long time. True story. And as we continue our partnership together, I’m still sleeping well!
|Beth Z.||Quick closing thought: I would say to a business leader considering hiring AscendWorks that you might not completely understand everything he’ll do for you before you sign on the dotted line, but take a little leap and you won’t be disappointed.|
About Beth Zimmerman, Founder, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Pets For Patriots, New York City
Pets for Patriots, Inc. is the inspiration of Beth Zimmerman. Growing up, her family adopted dogs from local animal shelters, and she experienced firsthand the transformative love of a companion pet. Her parents instilled in all their children a deep sense of patriotism and an abiding respect for those who serve it.
Beth developed a keen business sense through more than 25 years of corporate and entrepreneurial experience, including her current responsibilities as a small business owner. In founding Pets for Patriots, Beth is committed to give the most vulnerable shelter pets a second chance at life while enhancing the lives of our veterans and service personnel.
In addition to her roles at Pets for Patriots, Beth is principal of Cerebellas LLC, a strategy consulting practice she founded in 2003. Although Beth is not permitted to have dogs in her residence and is allergic to cats, she remains fiercely dedicated to saving their lives.