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America's Preferred Home Warranty Outgrows Startup Mode, Embraces Innovation

Posted by Barney Beal, Content Director

Experienced executives know that young companies outgrow their technology. A few years ago, America's Preferred Home Warranty (APHW) found itself saddled with technology that just didn't fit anymore.

The Jackson, Mich.-based provider of post-purchase home warranties depended on multiple applications, including QuickBooks for finances and SalesNexus for CRM, that didn't talk to each other. This was nothing unusual for a company with just 25 employees and $7 million in annual revenue, but it wasn't tenable with the 40% year-over-year growth APHW was experiencing.

It also conflicted with the company's mission statement, which touts the role of innovation and technology.

APHW struggled with everything from accurately tracking sales and keeping up with growth to extracting necessary insights from the data its systems collected. The company didn't have a clear picture of how it was spending money, for example, making it difficult to determine appropriate price points in different markets.

"We didn't have the analytics we needed to make business decisions," said Mike Sadler, VP of operations. "We were really looking for what we call our ‘forever system’ to scale with us and not only help our business grow, but also to help us with innovations to enhance the customer experience."

Finding the Right Fit

APHW began its search by looking at the major warranty-management systems, but none of them offered the degree of analytics or scale that the company was looking for. Soon NetSuite caught its attention.

The company's unique business model, which lets homeowners pick their own service providers, did raise some challenges—but with help from NetSuite Professional Services, APHW was able to customize the implementation to fit its business, including integrating it tightly with RealPro®, the company's real estate agent portal.

The RealPro® customization has resulted in a number of new job-efficiency functionalities that agents had been requesting of APHW, thereby increasing customer satisfaction. It has also enabled the company to thoroughly parse information on the various agents and agencies it works with, letting it clearly see trends it might have missed before.

"Now we can see what's going on at an agency level," said Tim Henderson, NetSuite administrator. "That was a really quick win. We never had that sort of visibility."

NetSuite also opened the door to using Recurly, an application which helps to maximize subscription revenue. The software, which was incompatible with APHW's previous technology environment, has enabled the company to recover the 7% of subscription revenue that had been lost when homeowner credit card numbers changed.

Learning and Refining

Not everything went smoothly. Most notably, APHW learned a hard lesson about data quality during the migration, namely that it's imperative to have someone who's comfortable with that technology on staff to over see the process when moving data to a new system. Company leaders felt they could have shortened the migration significantly if they'd taken that step.

Additionally, APHW had to work through some resistance from employees, some of whom were reluctant to embrace the new system. But the change management efforts kept everyone engaged, and Sadler noted that not one employee left during the deployment.

Even when the go-live date came amidst the company's busiest air conditioning season in its history, with queues of up to 150 customers forming as employees toggled between systems, everyone stuck with it. Today, that queue is a distant memory.

As APHW has continued to refine its NetSuite environment, NetSuite's Advanced Customer Support (ACS) has played a prominent role, acting as trusted advisor as the company continues making key decisions on how to maximize its investment. ACS is helping APHW add capabilities, such as address verification, and it’s likely to lend a hand as the company explores how automation can assist with simple repetitive tasks, thus freeing up employees to engage in more valuable activities.

APHW relied on its core values to achieve its mission of delivering innovation enabled by technology. Just as important, it got a scalable new business management system that will grow as they do.