Daniel Fritz, SmartVault’s Director of Products, chats it up with Dawn Brolin, CPA CFE, about the importance of setting personal and professional goals, plus provides insights on how to help your team work like a well-oiled machine. He also shares how SmartVault’s passion for creating happier and more productive accounting professionals is at the core of their commitment to creating the ultimate document management solution for your tech stack.
Daniel’s Story and Motivation
Daniel begins the conversion by sharing his experiences as a new graduate, and how his first boss, Nancy Ward, was the catalyst to help him actively pursue his personal and professional goals. He talks about his current professional goals being improving his team and scalability. He also shares that he finds joy when those around him also achieve success, and love what they do.
SmartVault and Going Paperless
Dawn discusses her admiration for SmartsVault’s ability to secure and hold important tax documents, and how many accountants operate completely paperless now.
Daniel also talks about how SmartVault’s goal is to go completely paperless, and how they are on the cusp of doing so. Daniel shares that over 1.5 million CPAs use SmartVault’s services, and how they had over 13,000,000 documents that were uploaded and processed through their service.
Dawn also expresses her appreciation for SmartVault, as they are alway striving to integrate with new programs and software, and their growth as a company has never been static.
SmartVault’s Integration, Current Changes, and Company Growth
Daniel begins by talking about how SmartVault has completely redesigned their entire billing system to allow them to bill in local currency. He also talks about DocuSign’s new subscription based model that is more affordable than their DocuSign counterparts. And lastly, he discusses revamping their UI in their web portal and other programs.
Dawn also shares how SmartVault makes communication between her and client easy, and makes sure she can do her job efficiently and efficiently as a practitioner.
Daniel adds how SmartVault becomes your central document depository; practitioners and clients are able to access all of their documents quickly and securely.
Importance of Outsourcing and SmartVault’s Flexibility
Dawn also talks about how important it is to outsource tasks to companies who specialize in them; you can’t do everything in accounting, so stick to the things you like doing, and outsource the ones you don’t.
Daniel talks about the flexibility of SmartVault, and how they take into account what their clients want and need. They also keep in mind that accountants aren’t the only clients they serve, and are always striving to make their program more accessible to businesses of all types and sizes.
Today Not Tomorrow
Daniel talks about his experience as a salesman, and how many relationships he established back then, he still has today. He also shared another former boss’s valuable advice of TNT, today not tomorrow, and shares that SmartVault strives to maintain that value as well.
Dawn agrees with Daniel, and expresses how important it is to implement knowledge you learn in your firm today! Not only will this allow you to help your clients gain success, it will also help you achieve your personal goals.
SmartVault and Their New Developments
Daniel talks about SmartVault’s past operations, and how they needed someone on the inside to directly oversee new product development. They onboarded Daniel to try and implement these changes, and he shares how they have scaled their team from just 2 developers, to now 7 developers, and a team of 15 people. He talks about how they made small changes at the beginning of 2020 to cut ambiguity and increase efficiency.
He talks about how they are so close to developing a well-oiled machine, and now they are focused on slowing down, taking their time, and implementing more automation to make their workflow more streamlined.
Daniel’s Personal Motivation
Daniel credits his wife for his personal motivation, and shares how her intellectual guidance has been crucial for his success. He also talks about being inspired by his Dad’s work ethic, but also the devotion to his family.
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Dawn Brolin 0:01
Hello everyone and welcome to the DM Disruption. I’m the host Dawn Brolin. I’m a certified public accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and the author of the designated motivator. We’re here to help motivate you to take your practice to the next level.
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All right, well, hey, everybody, welcome back. My name is Dawn Brolin, the host of DM Disruption. Also the author of the Designated Motivator and the Designated Motivator for accounting professionals. I’m also a Certified Fraud Examiner. I’m also a mom. I’m also a volunteer assistant coach, I could go on for days, but it’s gonna be more fun to talk with our today’s guest, who’s going to be Daniel Fritz from smart ball. Now if you know me, you know I love smart ball period. Okay, it does the job it needs to do for me and my clients and I love it. So Daniel Fritz, I could tell you what I would have to intro you. This is the Wizard of the Wizard of Oz. And smart ball. This is the guy and you want to talk to if you ever see this guy at a conference, grab him, nail him down and talk to him. Because he’s brilliant. And he wants to hear what you want to know what’s coming down the line for smartphone, all that stuff. Daniel knows it all. So Daniel, thank you so much for joining me today. How are you doing? And I’d also like to say Shazam, Team rolling. There we go SmartVault theories. Let’s take this thing.
Daniel Fritz 1:51
Thanks a lot, Dawnn. Yeah, super glad to be here. It’s really, really kind of you not only to have you on the show, but also those kind words. Yeah, absolutely. We’d love everything smart vault, everything you have you see me at a conference, let’s talk like we can talk for days. You know, security and smart vault is completely built into my DNA. I joke with my my team members all the time that, you know, I one time yelled at my product manager. Why didn’t you do that? Well, you never told me this I know I told you to do they found out that I totally told him to do that in a dream. So I live eat sleep and dream smart ball every single day of the week. So here’s somebody that says I absolutely love smart ball. Nothing on this planet makes me happier. So thank you,
Dawn Brolin 2:29
I’m your girl, Dan, I love SmarVault, it what it does for me and my productivity level is through the roof. My profitability is even further and adjust, you know, I’m able to do my job for my clients, which is all I just want to do is get it done for them. So it’s great. But you know, we had a great conversation last week on a totally separate call. And we talked a lot about where, where your motivation comes from. And you had some awesome stories of, you know, a former company that you worked for, and how you had some management or some so other people in that company that really just fired you up and motivated you and I want to hear all about that.
Daniel Fritz 3:04
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I have to give a shout out to my very, very first boss, Nancy Ward. She truly took me out of my shell, I was this, this kid, honestly, right out of school. And she brought me the first time we ever sat down, I worked completely remote. This is back, I worked for an EHR company called Sage. And people today will know that is Greenway, one of the biggest EHRs out there. And anyway, Nancy sat me down. And she said, look, the most important thing to have is to keep you motivated as a salesperson is to always have a personal and a professional goal. And, you know, just kind of trick for anybody ever interviewing with me? That’s a question I’m going to ask you. Because I think it’s really important that you stay motivated, both personally and professionally. And, you know, the very, it’s funny how things change over time, because whenever I first heard that, I thought, Oh, well, I want to get engaged to my wife now of nine years, Sam, and then my professional just like, Look, I just want to be as good as the person that I was replacing, because she was on that sales trajectory path before me. And you know, it’s funny how it evolves. Because now here at Smart ball, my personal goal is, you know, I want to pay off a little bit more debt because I want to get a boat, but it’s gonna take some time. Yeah, no, we talked a little bit about your, your awesome Grady White over there. But uh, on the professional side, for me, it’s all about my team and their scalability. Because I, they, my team hears me talk about all the time that we want to become a well oiled machine. And there’s an old video out there of either Secretariat or one of the other famous things in the guy back in like the 50s or 60s just saying, like, look at this incredible machine that’s going down. And that’s, that’s what motivates me, is it seeing we’ve got some new devs that have joined on our team and just to see those guys contributing? see them having impact on what we’re doing. That’s just so exciting to me. Because when I joined, we were such a small team, under invested and no one really knew what they wanted to do and how they wanted this to be a vision. And it’s it’s been great to see that growth because one of our more experienced developers told me a couple, like, about a month or two ago, he just said, we’re working on hard problems early in the morning 745 before most people are in the office, and we’re sitting there going back and forth. And he just at the very end, I was like me, I really appreciate you, Jacqueline, this thing, thank you so much for the extra effort here. He’s like, man, I just love my job. And that there’s nothing that beats that as far as like satisfaction, because you can work anywhere. But you know, getting to work on the cool stuff that we’re doing innovative stuff that we’re doing the SmartVault is is awesome.
Dawn Brolin 5:52
That is awesome. I was just talking to a room Mather with ultimate ultimate quest. And they do a lot of education for CPAs. And he told me a story about how so if you’ve listened to this episode already, it’s okay. If you haven’t, you want to listen to it. But anyway, he was wonderful. And he talked about how he went into this customer. He’s his former CPA, and he does practice now. But he saw the sign on the wall. We walked into this executives offices at TGI M. And it goes right along with what you’re saying. And usually we say well, tgi fridays, Friday Hello, yeah, maybe they said, right. Like, that doesn’t make any sense. Like who knows that. And he said, That’s exactly the point. What the guy wanted to do was create a culture that the people that worked for him and worked at that facility would want to come in on a Monday morning, and they were excited to come back to work because it was a place that they love to be. And that’s exactly what you’re saying with your guys. And just being able to, you know, create that culture. And like you said, it’s a, it’s a well oiled machine. If you think about a CPA firm, if there’s any other place, and he’s a well oiled machine, it’s at a CPA firm, because we have compliance deadlines, we have security, you know, things are requirements we’ve got to pay attention to so we have to be as much of a well oiled machine as anybody else. Right. And so that’s, again, one of the things about smart vault, allowing that and having that secure portal for your clients to be able to jump in and grab what they need whenever they need it. You know, we started charging people for paper copies of their return. We said, you know, we send them their quote, and we have little checkboxes optional. paper copy, 20 bucks, that’s 200 bucks, right?
Daniel Fritz 7:29
That’s right, there you go.
Dawn Brolin 7:30
I might have had one person check that box this year. And that’s it.
Daniel Fritz 7:36
That’s the goal that we’re completely going for honestly, the paperless revolution that’s been trying to happen across multiple industry, I’ve worked in the healthcare industry, I’ve worked in the tax industry, I’ve actually, there was a small stint where I worked in the entertainment industry.
Dawn Brolin 7:53
Oh, we don’t get to hear about that!
Daniel Fritz 7:58
But uh, but you know, everyone wants to go there, everybody wants to be paperless. And here at SmartVault, that’s, I really feel like we are right on the cusp of truly getting there and just like you don, you’re able to go completely paperless. But you know, as we as we release some of these features, yeah, it’s just hey, person, we need these documents. And then you guys take those documents, put them through your well oiled machine, Don, and then provide them right back out to the portal. I mean, that’s, that is completely paperless, the idea that the only piece of paper is just getting sent down from the employers from the banks and all those things that you have to just take a picture of, you know, and that’s where we’re adding a lot of efficiency and usability when it comes to smart ball because we want your clients which we have about 1.5 million clients of our CPAs it’s Marvel 1.5 million that are using this I think some of the crazy stats, I should have grabbed some of those stats before I jumped on but we had over 13 million documents uploaded I mean, I mean it’s it’s crazy that the amount of documents we play with and just making that so much easier for the for the team members for you guys to deal with makes it to where to truly is paperless. And that just there’s there’s no like, yeah, you’re at your office, you don’t have the just file cabinets of old documents. You guys are like “No, it all on SmartVault, we don’t have to worry about it.”
Dawn Brolin 9:26
Exactly, you know, and I think that one of the things i i made beat a dead horse and it’s just too bad because my podcasts and I can’t if I want to write like cry if I want to. It’s my birthday. Who cares? So one of the things that I just want to hammer down into people’s brains two things. Number one, having applications are awesome, but they’re even awesomer which is a word. They’re awesome. Okay, if they integrate with each other, they can talk to each other. The second thing that I say about applications are are they growing? Are they forward thinking? Are they always looking for the next better way to do something or better technology? To solve a problem, and that’s why I choose Smart ball, they’re always on the path of improvement. And they’re always, they’re always thinking of open API. I think, for example, liscio is a great example, the way we’re integrating with carbon assert, and other software’s. And I think that that’s so important. So you obviously, a lot of things coming down the pike, some new release is here in the last couple of months you guys have put out there. Tell us about that stuff.
Daniel Fritz 10:25
Yeah, so some of the most recent things that we’ve done is that we are completely redesigned our entire billing system, we don’t want to be experts in billing, we want to be able to bill in local currency we want to do like ACH payments, and all of these things. And so we had to completely just break part of our software that’s been there for 14 years and plug in something new, we have a new way of using DocuSign, you can now just use it as a subscription model, use as much as you as you need. And it’s just a per user per month cost. That’s, by the way, what’s more affordable than our DocuSign counterparts. And the biggest thing that we’ve done in the last about three or four months is changing up the UI. So the UI was very dated, especially in the web portal. And what we’ve done, we’ve actually added something called Request docks. So you as a CPA can just type in Hey, Fritz, I need some documents from you, it takes if you know what document you’re looking for, I can create a template of 1520 documents that are recorded in about a minute, if I’m just typing down, I need this because they’re free text fields, you put in whatever you want in there, and they’re like, Hey, Don, I need your W two, I need your 1099, I need your IMTS, I need all of your DIVs. And I need a picture of your dog, I need a picture of that great wine, because I love boats. And you can say that the required ones that are in there. And so you get to that point. And you say like, Alright, I’m going to name this just, you know, prints this template real quick, because it took me a minute to make. And I just pull over and I say alright, Fritz, and I can add a little message in there. So usually I need these things. And then when you’re done, the little submit button in the top corner will light up. Because that was really important, because you talked about, you know, being innovative and things sometimes the smallest pieces, I have to quote my she’ll be embarrassed if I give her her name, but my lead QA person, she really talks about the last 5% all the time, she’ll kick something back in the tabs. You know, we have her her name proof code is what what the developers strive for at this point, and we want to make sure that she doesn’t kick it back. But she talks about the last 5%. And that that submit button is it’s just one of those things that just makes us just that, you know, just ticks it because you can have it to where your clients could upload documents, and they could just hit it. Well, what if they didn’t miss? They didn’t upload a couple of them? Mm hmm. Well, then you have to go through the whole wringer again, where is it? The button is not even clickable. It’s it’s it’s just a blue button that has the dark black letters of submit in it. And once you have uploaded or said, Hey, this, this question doesn’t apply to me that for the last required question, that thing lights up. And that’s the that’s the difference of having a team that really thinks about how that inner interaction should occur. So we don’t even allow people to make the mistake of like, Oh, crap, I didn’t answer that. Last question is, Hey, I can’t Why is this not working? Oh, I didn’t. And I got a scroll down. There’s more questions down here. And that saves time on your your end? It’s key.
Dawn Brolin 13:29
Oh, it’s key. Right. I mean, revisit. I mean, I don’t know how many times Tracy historically, just be like, she’s like, I think everything’s there. And then I go in, I’m like, nope, they don’t even they give me zero information on their for rental properties, I have nothing like what. So having this ability to ask and request that information and have that go right into their smart vault folder without us having to deal with it. And knowing once they submit, it’s that we do have everything that we asked for. Right. And that’s, that’s a time saver, and it’s for the client. Here’s the thing, people, this is important to know, how you’re reacting or how you’re how you’re communicating with your client, the way you communicate with the client, the easier you make it, the more they’re going to love you. They don’t want to be bogged down. Nobody wants to deal with this crap or deal with it. They don’t want to do it. They don’t want to have to deal with taxes. Like, oh, God, here we go. Another year goes by which it seems like it goes like that. And it’s back again, tax season returns. And so for the practitioners who are listening to this, just think about your workflow and how you’re communicating with your clients. We just implemented liscio a great tool to use with clients, right? I mean, if you if I’m if I’m doing that, if powerful accounting Inc, is sending requests and having communications through liscio and working with smart ball and they’re everything that they need is at their fingertips in a lot of ways, right? Especially on their phones, they want to have things on their phones. If you’re not doing it, they’re going to find somebody who is absolute right and I don’t want to take your clients I have enough of them. I love I love Almost all of them and many of my clients are listening, not sure which way you go, hopefully, you’re going to in the happy development section of our client list, right. But that’s the key is the is the interactions that you’re going to have with your clients has to be has to be workable. I know that clients say to me, they thanked me for smartphone, you know, they thanked me because they don’t have to ask me for a copy of their return. It’s right where they’ve always live, which is in SmartVault from day one. Right?
Daniel Fritz 15:28
Yeah. And that’s in that right, there is one of the really big benefits that you know, you you sometimes run into a lot of people, it’s like, oh, well, I, I have that. And I printed it out, it’s here and I haven’t physically in like my safe at home. Whereas the SmartVault, digital copy, fullback, you know, fully protected every single alphabet soup of acronym from sec to FINRA, to GDPR. All of those acronyms, you’re covered. Because we we have that in there, we have a complete audit log that you can see everything that has happened that document from the beginning of time. And and that is so key, because when we talk to some of these accountants like look, no smart vault truly becomes your central document repository. This is the brain center. Yes, you have those tools, which awesome. I was just on a phone earlier today with Chris from Liscio. Love Chris girl, well, yeah, me and him are doing a Happy Hour, in a week or so. But like, that’s the thing is like, you know, to the point of the whole, like billing thing we talked about a minute ago, we don’t want to be experts, smart nuts. You don’t have to be good at everything, to make money in this world. And then that’s something that I learned whenever I was working in the entertainment industry, the software I sold was, was very niche. And there was like this very specific kind of person that would pay a lot of money for it. And so that’s how I feel about smartphones is like, look, we are the document storage location, we don’t need to be this beautiful app that liscio is the communicator they are 1000 times better than we are at client communication. And we own that, that’s why we decided to integrate with them and said, like, Chris, you don’t want to be I sat on the phone with his CTO, when we were first talking about the integration. And he just said, I, I don’t want to build a document storage solution on this, right? He’s like, we want to stay in the UI on the front end where it’s beautiful. And and we said like, look, we could never compete with you in that world. But we’ve got a document storage system that is, you know, the equivalent of Fort Knox over here. Why don’t we just connect those and then we’ll just kind of like, hey, you need a document storage system. Oh, you need some communities, go to Liscio is very similar to the like you said, with Karbon, the conversations that we’re having with carbon are going to be the very same thing that practice management with Licio. With us that starts that best of breed. In that way. You’re not in this like locked ecosystem, because when you try to be good at everything, you’re good at nothing, you’re mediocre at best. So yeah, that’s definitely where we want to go.
Dawn Brolin 18:06
Well, that’s one of the messages I’ve been trying that part of this the purpose of the podcast, right is to take motivation, put it into action. And one of the things that I look at is when you like we have a reassess your firm mentality. And so taking, and we’ll have this up on our website, at some point is to take an assessment of your of your firm, because at the end of the day, exactly what you’re saying, Dan is, really, what are you good at? What do you love to provide for services? What are the things what are you doing right now that you don’t like to do? You know, I know for a long time you know, when you first start your firm’s we’ve talked about this many times, you’re like, you’re kind of like an accounting whore. I know, that’s not really the right term to say in business, but you are, you will do anything to make money, you’re gonna you’re gonna take on payroll, you’re gonna take on sales tax, you’re gonna take on, right up work, you’re gonna take on tax returns, whatever it is that you’re just going to take on all these things. And then he makes eventually, after you’ve fallen on your face enough times to say I suck at this. It’s okay to say that, by the way. And I did that I was like, I don’t want to do payroll, I don’t want to be a payroll person. ADP, you’re my full payroll HR solution. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to worry about it. You’re doing it. You’ve got a great partner program this great line myself up with that smart ball. Okay, smart ball. I want to duck storage. I want the best doc storage, I can find smartphone. I think I’ve out of all the apps I use besides into it because I started with QuickBooks back in 1999. But I think smart ball is the application, the solution that I’ve had the longest, you know, because you you go through your firm’s growth pattern, and you’re like, Okay, I’m gonna try, you know, this app, or I’m gonna try Google Docs or on the truck. And then you come to this one, you’re just like, Oh, my God, this is my lifelong app forever. Yeah. And that’s what you do you go through over time, but then you get this well oiled machine. And you’ve got things integrating, and everybody in the firm knows, we do the same things, every single client, we onboard, every single one of them matter what we’re doing the same way. And guess where they always start. So number one thing, SmartVault, because what we do is we create this potential clients folder, right? Because not everybody’s a client automatically. It’s kind of like what we do with keep, we put that you know, person into keep. And then once they upload their, their prior year return, we use quotient, we send them a quote, they accept it great. But they have to upload their prior return, the number one thing they have to do is upload their prior returned a SmartVault. So guess the first app they deal with with us, the very first app is SmartVault. That’s how it’s done.
Daniel Fritz 20:46
That’s the way to do it that. And you know, as those as those things go through, you know, you mentioned all those different things that we can do. That’s because we have that flexibility, when it comes to the folder structure, because you’re just in your case, Don, you’re using that as a potential client, and then you probably apply some more templates to it. But as you think about those things, it’s the flexibility of smart bolt is really where a lot of that value comes into play. Because, and honestly, that kind of makes it harder on our side, you know, not harder, just a little bit more fun, if you will, because you whenever we make a change to the software, we have to consider not just what it’s done once, even though she has like 90% of the roadmap locked up, like she knows what she wants. But for those other 10%. You know, we have to think about it. And that’s really prevalent in the way that we did some of the new files and folders, you know, when we released this new look and feel to it, there’s now a breadcrumb instead of this, you know, 1995 windows tree on the left. I you know, it’s funny Don is to laughing about that we literally had a design that was skinned and beautiful. And it took me and me and Danya to say like, Guys, no, there’s some times when you just have to let something die. And we just and the funny thing is, is that one of my CSM people they came over, and they just said they were just concerned. Like, they trust us. We know what we’re doing. We’re talking to enough customers. But she was very much like, are you guys not sure about this one? Because you just get so used to it. But that’s, you know, we really thought about it and said like, look, yes, accountants work that way. But a plumber, a potential pool company that could definitely benefit from smart vault, they can, you know, get those quotes from quotients. And kind of run it the same way, hey, we’ve got these bids for some pools. We need XYZ documents from you because and we’re going to provide you some documents cuz you got to give that to your HOA to make sure that they’re not going to tell you to rip up the hole in your ground. And, and it’s a those are some of those just that flexibility. But when you’re talking about like, hey, yeah, we use this this way. It’s just it’s so unique to hear. But that’s what we that’s the innovation. That’s what makes our life fun. Is saying like, how are we going to make this work? Yeah, we’ve got, you know, of our 7000 customers and our 1.5 million guest users. We, yeah, how we’re gonna make this because the big Yeah, the big majority of about 5000 of them are accountants and say, like, we’ve got to break that mentality. And that’s one of the things that whenever I came in, I really instilled on the team like look, kind of like you said, you reassess your practice, like we kind of had to reassess how we did development here. And I had had a couple great mentors through the years that taught me valuable lessons in that realm. But what we ended up on is just like, hey, no, we’ve got to consider that and we have to stop pump the brakes. And hopefully, you can’t see too much more back here. It’s a little insight into my mind a little bit, but we we will whiteboard everything. I’m, I have two whiteboards here, I have an entire wall that’s on the other side of this. That’s just it’s a whiteboard wall. And awesome. We’re always thinking about how’s this gonna work, we got to make sure it works for Dawn, but we also have to make sure that it could work for the potential landscapers. Bang, right that wants it to do, because if we just narrowed our focus, and we only did tax, you know, there’s a lot of great tax programs out there that are just that. But if you think about it’s like, they’re really rigid, it’s like, well, what if I’m a CPA, but I also kind of do this other thing, right, it would really be really hard to enforce one of those to do something.
Dawn Brolin 24:29
Right. Yeah. And that’s, you know, one of the so, you know, we talked in the beginning and you mentioned briefly that it was Nancy Ward was the name of the of the lady right. So I remember you telling me about some other like tidbits of that of that company that you worked for and and some really great stories there. Like, what other kinds of people were around you that you just loved and…
Daniel Fritz 24:49
Oh, just you know, when you’re a young sales guy, you you really get to kind of like meet a lot of people and just all my different teams. They had profound effects on me. And I still keep those relationships going today, some of the other big throughout the years of me being out and about. One of the best quotes that I learned early on was no matter who’s copied on the email, the truth doesn’t change. That was one of one of the best. And then bajas Dan was my boss. When I was at Azalea, I was the VP of product, and he really, he really instilled on me and I absolutely love Baja. He instilled upon me, TNT–today, not tomorrow.
Dawn Brolin 25:36
I told that story, Dan! you told me that one last week. I told the coach, I told the coach on Friday, I said I learned a new one today. Go ahead, keep going with that, I love that.
Daniel Fritz 25:47
And that was the thing is like I was the VP of product in you know, we were in a rural health care, really underserved areas. So you have all the big monolith hospitals in downtown’s and the medical centers and everything like oh, this massive Hospital, a lot of people forget about the random little hospital that’s three hours away from anything, right. And, and that’s what Azalea provided and you know, they’ve gone on since since I got wooed away to come over here to smart vault. They’ve gone on they’ve they’ve acquired a couple companies. But the thing is that always was instilled in me why bajas like let’s do make the change that they need today, not just wait on it. So we had several instances where, you know, healthcare is always changing, but it’s like, oh, this new customer, we only had about 40 or 50 of these smaller hospitals. But we were constantly changing that. And just having that as a as a motivation behind me is, you know, he’s like, Look, man, like your wishes what it is, but we can take an action, let’s take that action today, not tomorrow. Because we’re just kicking the can down the road, we’re never going to get anything done. And so we we use that mentality here at Smart vault as well. We try to be as efficient as possible and like, hey, if we find something like QA, find something, we’ve got to take that action today, and not just kick it down the road, because someone’s going to find that bug, someone’s going to find where that doesn’t, that that error message doesn’t describe what you have had, you know, what mistake has been made.
Dawn Brolin 27:16
That’s, you know, so T N T. Today, not tomorrow, if you want if you’re listening, if you’re listening to this podcast, I’m telling you right now, if you take nothing away from this conversation with Dan, today, is today, not tomorrow. And that means in your firm, we go to conferences, we watch webinars, we listen to podcasts, we read books, we do all of these education, and then you know what we do with it? Nothing thing. And you just have to say, What am I going to implement today, I’m not going to wait until tomorrow, I’m going to implement this one solution for my firm, because it’s going to help my firm, it’s going to help my clients, it’s going to make me happier, it’s going to make them happier. And with all of those little things, you will be more profitable. You can go buy yourself a great 22 foot Grady White like hey, go that’s or whatever it is that you want to do you want to spend more time with your kids at games or whatever, you know, and that’s something dandy or the culture at Smart ball people. It’s smart ball that work with you. You were talking to me last week a little bit about, you know, you grew from a very small number of developers. And now you’ve got quite a few more which one body is a big number, by the way? You get one more developer that’s like, Oh, my goodness, two more hands. And one more brain. I’m in! So tell me about that.
So yeah, when I joined the team, we were we were being overseen by the smart vault is owned by a company that’s actually traded on the London Stock Exchange called Get Busy. And so we were we were being they was kind of being run by those guys. But they weren’t here in the business. That’s why they decided to bring me in this looked like they wanted somebody who has, you know, kind of done that before, has a decent track record, and whatnot. And so that’s, that’s what I came in, and it was me and another product guy. We have one QA person. And actually we only had two developers when I first started because one of them was on paternity leave it so there’s about five of us. And now we have we are about 15 people strong. We have scaled the team. The QA team is now three different people. We have a content writer on staff, I have two product people that help just build this engine. And then not to mention the seven developers and we have a couple more openings that we are we are actively hiring. We have two people that run our development operations area. So we’ve we scaled from this tiny little group. And all of that was we kind of had to sit down and I sat down with my team. I said, Look, guys, we have to do development differently. And I was telling you no dumb we talked last week I kind of mentioned is like look at what you remember changing. It was these little changes for the last couple of years in smartphones, like they move to AWS and then they just kind of just worth, you know, just plugging in just time and just saying like, hey, let’s just get these couple of things. And they made an investment the the board made an investment and let’s let’s have this smart ball could actually grow gangbusters over here. And that’s honestly what we’ve done. So we had four really small releases in 2020. During the pandemic and everything I instilled my processes we have a way that we like tickets to be written for our development teams so that we cut ambiguity and increase efficiency because even us, one of the six pillars of Smart Vault is BSU, it’s about blow shit up and that’s on. And, and the thing is, is that that’s I kind of just reiterated that, you know, some of these guys have been doing this my right hand guy, Himashu has been a smart vault since the beginning doneness.
Daniel Fritz 28:58
I love that guy. He’s just like, teddy bear, you just want to hug him.
Yes, absolutely he is he’s absolutely been instrumental in my success. And I, I owe a lot of that to him. But I also feel like we’ve kind of taught him because it’s really fun. The first year we hear you’re the new guy in town, you’re like, Oh, we’re gonna do it this way. He’s like, No. And now the funny thing is, is here we are about two years later, and he’s just like, we can’t do that. Because we haven’t followed the process. We’re not doing these things. And this is gonna turn into a mess. Yeah. And that’s what the evolution is now seeing. We have structured feedback sessions, we have customer validation, we have this massive multi page document that we put in this work. So that structure to say like, okay, we’re thinking about doing something, let’s write an executive summary about it. What are the market requirements? What is the cost? Like, what would this if we decided to do this thing? So I’ll give a little bit of a insight here. One of them is a document approval workflow, like, what if I wanted to say, in your case, Don, you want to Tracy to approve something, or trace or vice versa? Tracy is like, I want to send this out, but I need Don’s approval. Hey, assign it to don don. And you get a little notification. Hey, Tracey assigns you this thing do you approve or deny? That’s one of those things that we’re considering right now. So we have to go through what competitors. And the best part about it was like I brought that up, I hamachi. Just said there’s no way we have enough time to do that. Now, now that we have gotten into that we have scaled from those two developers, we now have seven developers. And it is very much a it’s still just me and him honestly, for the most part writing those. My next guy, my new guy starting next week. Oh, great. But that’s, yeah, give us a little give us our little bit of our lives back. But that’s the thing is when you’re writing those and you just create like I said that well oiled machine, we’re not quite there. I always tell my seems like we’re almost there. We’re on the path. And I think everybody can see that. And we were having conversations around like pace right now. It’s like, let’s, okay, guys, let’s tap the brake. We’ve been like pedal to the metal, we need to calm it down a little bit. Make sure that we follow these processes and what is realistic, sure, we can sprint and like really get a thing, but we should calm down. And and just take our time, let’s make sure that we get these efficient, efficiently out, let’s make sure that QA does the right thing. We’ve kicked off automation. It’s all these really cool side initiatives that we’ve been wanting to do for so many years before I even got here. But now like we got there, we have the process. We have the personnel like we’re scaling to that. And so we’re really close to that like Okay, now we can calm down, get our pace, add a couple more people to where we’re not ever in crazy. 12 hour day mode. Like a CPA is during tax season, right? It’s just like, hey, no, like, this is now life. This is my, this is my job. And we’re doing some really cool stuff. And that’s what’s so exciting.
Dawn Brolin 33:54
Yeah, that’s awesome. And, and so, you know, I want to bring it in a little bit personal for you right now. Right? So we love smart ball smart ball. It’s my favorite. I can’t I love them enough. But I want to I want to hear from Dan the man Where’s gonna be Dan, man. And through your just Was there somebody in your life? Like for me? It was my dad. I mean, that’s a lot of a lot of girls will say that. Right? So was there somebody in your life outside of your professional world that that really helped you help? You know, guide you?
Daniel Fritz 34:24
Oh, absolutely. It’s my wife. 100%
Dawn Brolin 34:26
I knew you’re gonna say that. I knew it. Oh, yeah. To meet this woman. She sounds like an angel.
Daniel Fritz 34:32
She is She is brilliant. She is hard working. And she has it the priorities. Right? And I’ll take her word from whenever like we got married almost 10 years ago. My brother was the best man. He gave a speech and he kind of mentioned like the positive things that happen to my wife and just in his species like oh, yeah, no, like this has just been a godsend. She’s here and in honestly like she’s the biggest cheerleader but she’s also just so many intellectually smart that she’ll listen to me and like, what do you think about this? And should I should respond and just kind of give that guidance? Like, no, you can truly do that. No, you’re being a little crazy. Yeah, sometimes it works. So, um, but yeah, like with her, it’s, it’s she’s always the one that is just right there to give you the right a bit of motivation. You know, I’ve made a couple switches. And she’s just like, No, let’s just go for it. Like, this is an opportunity. Like, let’s let’s do it. Especially when I jumped to smart ball. I was like, I don’t know, like, do you think guys like I’ve I had left health care before. And she says, Look, every single time you’ve done something different, you’ve learned it, and you’re, you’re more excited about this than you have been on any of the other changes. And so she was very much a cheerleader through that entire process. So she’s her and then, you know, my dad is I have to say, my dad as well. He goes my pops in there. Yeah, so So pops. You know, he, he was an engineer, so he always, and he’s as Black Belt Six Sigma kind of guy. And he really showed that, you know, work is for work and life is for life. I mean, he coached my basketball team, which I’m terrible sports, by the way.
Dawn Brolin 36:19
That’s okay. He needs to be typing. We don’t need to be out there hittin’ things.
Daniel Fritz 36:22
That’s right. And so but but he really just kind of, there’s something that I like to mimic myself is, you know, he was always there. He’s like, look, he never missed a band concert. He never missed a competition or something that we were doing. And my parents had, like, kind of two families is kind of how I look at it sometimes because I had me and my older brother. But we were in college. My brother was in college, when my youngest sister was in first grade. Wow. And they and they were two years apart. So like, my parents kind of had two families about 12 years apart. That went through that. And it’s just he was always there. Every single thing his priority was always family. He was, you know, he also he’s the kind of guy I could just call him. What do you think about this? You know, what should we do here? And he’s just, he’s just a brilliant guy. But yeah, it’s just like the family that people that are around you. He was a grown up. He was he had four kids on a single income. And it’s just, it’s just awesome. Pops. Pops is in general, awesome. So definitely a motivator for me.
Dawn Brolin 37:31
I love that. That is that’s yeah, I mean, in those for us, for those of us who have lost their father, since which I’m one of them. You know what my whole mission is? Listen, I’m gonna work as hard as my dad taught me to work was a guy who was he worked for Pratt Whitney was a tool and die guy. I still have his tools and probably the problem. At this point, I’d love to give them to a kid to start out with in that world. But you know, he just he had guys behind the lions when they had Strikes Back in the day. You don’t see a lot of that these days, but Strikes Back then he was like, I’m not crossing the picket line. I’m not crossing against my guys. I’m not going to have them see me go home to my family while they’re here here picketing for their jobs or whatever, whatever the case was. Yeah. So he taught me Listen, you do whatever you know, is right. That’s right. If you if you it’s funny, you said that about the truth in an email, right? But it’s just yeah. Right. So if you’re, if you put out an email to your guys and say, hey, you know, whatever, whatever. And then they see you driving across the picket lines. They’re like, well, that email couldn’t be true, because look at your drive across, but whatever I mean, I’m using as an example, but that is, you know, your word is the best thing that you could possibly have. You say you’re gonna do something, you do it and and I’m not saying I always hit the mark on that, because I don’t I do the best I can. You know, life is an etch a sketch. I definitely believe in that, that every day you get up in the morning and you start drawing all day. And you’re like, oh, that didn’t come out. Very good. Well shake the thing. Go to bed and get up in the morning you starting over again, anything giant and I think that’s the purpose of sleep, to be honest, it’s kind of like a reset button, a reset button, wash your brain out, get rid of the crap that happened. And you know, we can all only do the best we can do. And that’s why the motivation part of life is so important to me because you know, yeah, I have crap days I have days where I’m just like, Oh, God, I can’t do this again, or whatever the case may be, which also is a really good indicator that probably shouldn’t be choosing to do it. That’s a whole nother conversation. There you go. Right so yes, I agree. Yeah, I reassess it’s like almost every morning like i Yesterday was terrible because of this or yesterday was great because of this. Then I can say okay, well I know what I need where how I need to shift today. I spent all day on emails yesterday I felt so unproductive where now today I come in I do four or five tax returns. I feel great. Because I feel like I’m doing my real job right. So right I definitely find that to be the case but but it’s been awesome having you on Daniel we try to keep these within 30 minutes and otherwise Okay, great. Yeah, ah, people check out they don’t care anymore. And we want them to hear our message because really, at the end of the day, you know, smart ball happens to be a visionary as well. Okay. And like I said, The the, my whole selection of the apps that I support, and that I use every single day, have to be visionaries. They have to be trying to do better every day just like we are. And really, you know, approachable is another kind of a key thing where it’s like, if you can’t get a hold of somebody in support at some kind of an app for an app, we got a problem. You know, I’ve got a couple that I had worked with. And I’m like, I can’t I’m not getting the support I need. What I love about smart ball is they’re on it. They’ll send you out, Hey, listen, we know this isn’t working right now. We’re working to fix it. Like you guys are proactive rather than reactive. True. Yeah. And I found that you know, because you can go to your website, and it’ll even just say, hey, SmartVault’s down, which has I mean, that might have happened twice in the last–
Daniel Fritz 40:45
Dawn Brolin 40:46
Eight years. I don’t think it’s gone down. But it’s it’s just that ability to find out what’s up and be able to approach them and work with people on their team. So responsive and awesome. So you know, that’s why smartphones definitely in my starting lineup will always be part of my starting lineup, because I just don’t see anybody else outpacing these guys when it comes to document storage solution. So, but I want to thank you so much for taking your time. Daniel, you’re fantastic to talk to!
Thank you, Dawn, and thank you for being such a champion of SmartVault. Yeah, you know, we’re all of us here we live and breathe it. Really excited to see what the next couple years are gonna bring. We’re gonna make it innovative and be that visionary.
It’s gonna be awesome. So and then we have another release coming up here in the next couple to three months. Daniel, we’re gonna have you back. We’re gonna talk all about it. We’re gonna you know, get people to understand even better, and just love smart vault. Smart vault smart people. Daniel, you’re my people. Danya shout out to you girl. I love you man. Daniel, you’re my girl. Danny Buchanan fan was smartphone I think since the beginning if not close to it. Yes. phenomenal person. Rachel Montana. Rachel pay, all those guys. Yeah, all everybody. It’s smartphones. Just love you guys. And again, thanks so much for being here today, Daniel and talking to you soon. All right, take care. You better take care.
I hope you enjoyed this podcast. Feel free to visit DawnBrolin.com in order to motivate you to improve your practice. Wishing you all the best. Have a great day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai