Ashleigh Wilson is the founder and CEO of AuditMate, the first-ever elevator auditing system built to empower property managers and owners to get the full value of their elevator maintenance contract. Ashleigh is a self-proclaimed elevator nerd that grew up in the industry, saw a need for improvement, and created it.
How I Work, Episode 26 with Ashleigh Wilson (AuditMate)
Ashleigh joins Josh Becerra in episode 26 of How I Work to discuss putting people first and having empathy for your clients by focusing on people, then product, then profit. Ashleigh also touches on the importance of aligning expectations with deliverables. Plus:
- Shifting the power: increasing Transparency, Awareness, and Education
- Simplifying your marketing by using language that is accessible and digestible
- Resources on the Attention Economy and Radical Leadership
Listen on Spotify and all podcast streaming platforms.
Learn more about Ashleigh Wilson and AuditMate: https://auditmate.com/
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Transcription: How I Work, Episode 26 (Ashleigh Wilson, AuditMate)
Josh Becerra: Hi everybody. This is Josh Becerra from Augurian. Welcome to the next episode of How I Work. I’m super excited to have Ashleigh Wilson, founder and CEO of AuditMate with me today. Hi, Ashleigh.
Ashleigh Wilson: Hi, Josh. Thanks for having me.
Josh: I’m super excited about this conversation. AuditMate is basically the first-ever elevator and escalator auditing and management software platform. That is super cool. I know that when we were prepping for this, you were a self-proclaimed elevator baby. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about why you’re an elevator baby, how you got into this, and now you got this amazing software?
Ashleigh: Yes, thank you. I think when I still hear first-ever elevator and escalator auditing software, even though I built it, I still go, “What the heck is that?” [chuckles] It’s so unique. I was raised in the industry. My stepdad was in the elevator and escalator industry my entire life. It’s really all I’ve ever known. That and my dad was an entrepreneur. I had this best of both worlds between the door-to-door salesman, and then your blue-collar mechanic turned district manager. Then I joined the industry myself in my early 20s. I’ve been around elevators and entrepreneurship my whole life.
Josh: I know a little bit more about your story. You need to give yourself some more kudos. Talk a little bit about what you were doing in the industry before you started the software.
Ashleigh: I thought that I would be the first female president of one of the major elevator corporations. I was getting mentored by the US CEO, I was participating in global research projects. Reporting both to Switzerland and the US. I quickly found that customers were an afterthought. The skyrocketing profits in the industry were a direct result of customers not understanding their contracts and elevator companies just not doing their job. I left on the tail end of a global research project done portfolio protection that, it basically boiled down to, “Hey, let’s focus on people. Let’s do right by people.
Elevators are not canceling contracts. Humans are canceling contracts. We need to have a little more empathy for our clients, what our clients’ needs are, and what they care about because what we care about is different than what they care about. We’re really only focusing on ourselves here and the profits.
Josh: It seemed to be really good, right? It’s really high margin when you-
Ashleigh: Very high margins.
Josh: -don’t actually deliver on your contracts.
Ashleigh: That’s right. I had a CEO look at me and say that empathy could be a great competitive advantage in the industry. At that point, I basically put my hands in the air and I was like, “I cannot anymore. I don’t want to teach people how to professionally gaslight customers into not understanding more about their contracts. Let’s make the expectations align with the deliverables here and really have human connections and do our jobs.”
Josh: I think that’s awesome for a couple of reasons. First, you were fed up with the industry or whatever. Instead of just leaving and going into a different industry, you were like, “No, you know what, I’m actually going to solve this.” You’re obviously very values-driven. You’ve now figured out a way to help people get the most out of those contracts so that they don’t feel like they’re being gaslighted. Kudos to you.
Josh: When we talk about, obviously, values are really important. At Augurian, we have our core values, we try to live by them. Talk to me a little bit about how you’ve been able to translate that to building this values-driven company, taking your personal values, and then building up this values-driven company. What does that look like for you?
Ashleigh: It looks a lot like being human. For us, we have a few things that we say a lot around here. One is people, product, profits. We always put people first. It starts with, is it good for me? Is it good for my team? Is it good for my client? Is it good for my vendor? Then products and then process. These things go in that order. When we focus on people, profits come. I promise. I promise, when you do the right thing, they come. That’s really what I’m set out to disassemble, is that belief system. That we need to focus on profits to grow profits? No, focus on the right things. Focus on people and doing right by each other, and the rest falls into place organically.
I was just going to say that goes hand in hand with our North Star, which is be excellent to each other, and that’s internally and externally. AuditMate’s vision doesn’t really have anything to do with elevators. It’s that we believe that everyone should be treated with respect, dignity, and their best interest in mind inside and outside of our organization and really be a change maker.
Josh: I think you’re so right. The level of authenticity that you can have with your team and with your clients enables amazing things to happen. At Augurian, we have our why, The Simon Sinek why? How? What? Our why is to grow our people, clients, and company so that together we can do extraordinary things. We were pretty intentional about the order of that. It’s like, if we grow our people and we grow our clients, we know that our company will grow. We know that those profits will come and if we do those things together, we’ll do extraordinary things.
Totally aligned. I am totally vibing on the idea of just building values-driven organizations. I remember that you said at one point you had the opportunity for this significant leadership role, and you decided against it. What you said was, you don’t slay dragons from the inside.
Ashleigh: Dinosaurs. You don’t slay dinosaurs from the inside.
Josh: You don’t slay dinosaurs from the inside. What have you learned about being this industry change agent, this person who’s out there banging the pans together where nobody else is like, “Don’t listen to her?” What does it feel like to be that change agent?
Ashleigh: In the beginning, it felt like I was just an annoying fly. [chuckles] I’m an annoying fly to these big dinosaurs, and I just won’t go away, and I won’t die. You’re right. Like banging the pan. Really what I’m doing a lot of is educating the client. Educating the client on the value that they’re currently receiving and what they should be receiving, and that guess what? They hold the power. The clients have the power. They are the client.
In the elevator industry, for a long time, the elevator companies have held all the power because they hold all the knowledge. By bringing these things into visibility and by increasing transparency and by increasing awareness and by increasing education, people are like, “Oh, wait, this is my money. This isn’t your money this is my money.” It starts to shift that dynamic around. I don’t know that I’m doing much besides just really helping people see their power and educating folks.
Josh: Obviously, people who get connected into the software, now they’re receiving data that maybe they didn’t have before, so now they’re educated on what they need to hold their contracts to account on. This is a marketing podcast. I’m just curious, how are you helping to educate the industry, if you think about it in marketing terms? Are you speaking at a lot of conferences? What kind of things are you doing either online or offline to actually hit those goals for educating people?
Ashleigh: That’s the first thing which was really important from us from day one, you talk about elevators and escalators and you’re losing people immediately. You lose people at the end and they’re like, “Okay, I’m checking out, don’t care.” Speaking in layman’s terms, we talk a lot about sixth-grade reading level. The elevator industry uses insane acronyms. You’re using words that people are like, “Is that even a real word? What are you talking about?” For us, in all of our marketing and the way that we talked to clients was we get you what you’re paying for. We speak elevator but we work for you.
Really using this language that makes the industry and the content so much more accessible because the people that are managing elevator contracts are not elevator experts and they don’t want to be, they’re never going to be but they own the app.
Josh: They want to pay experts to come and do it.
Ashleigh: Totally. That was really the first thing was like, “Let’s strip out all of the pretentious [unintelligible 00:11:02] language from this, and let’s make it really simple.” For me, that’s one of the truest signs of intelligence is when you can take something that’s super complex and make it accessible to everybody. Then what are we doing? I used to shoot little quick snippet videos on LinkedIn of me just ranting about elevator companies. Podcasts, we do videos, a lot of cartoon graphic videos online, again, just to make it easily digestible and simple. Like, “We’re going to increase your maintenance. We’re going to decrease your costs. Here’s how.”
Not overcomplicating or inundating or this over and above like “We’re here when you need us.”
Josh: I love that. I feel like sometimes as marketers, we get so in our heads about things and start using the acronyms and speaking at this high level and it just all gets lost in translation and so then, you’re not going to hit your goals. I like that you’re thinking about what are the easiest ways to just connect with that audience and speak to them in terms that they’re going to understand and appreciate. Because nobody likes to get spoken down or feel like they’re getting spoken down to or something like that, right?
Ashleigh: Totally, absolutely.
Josh: One of the things that you hit on was really pitching the benefits. I love that you’re saying, “We can just reduce your costs and make sure that you’re getting the right maintenance. What other big benefits are you seeing that resonate with your current customer base?
Ashleigh: I often say we save you time, money, and headache because there’s so much frustration into managing an elevator vendor that you’re spending just copious amounts of time. It’s not just time because you’re annoyed the whole time. [chuckles] The time, money, and headache is something that I love saying just because we’re reducing so much frustration and taking work off of our clients’ plates.
Josh: I think what’s brilliant about the software then is that you’ve been able to pinpoint where are those opportunities where time savings can actually– where we can streamline things, where we can make things more efficient or easier so that the software takes care of the thinking and you may get a notification or log into a dashboard and that’s all you need to do? I just think it’s really smart.
Ashleigh: Thank you.
Josh: One of the last questions that I always ask people on this podcast is where you’re getting your inspiration from, any authors, thought leaders that you’re listening to that I should be listening to. What are some of the things you’re either reading or listening to that you think the audience might like to hear about?
Ashleigh: Current book on my nightstand is Deep Work. I’m always fascinated in looking into the attention economy. We’re talking about the instant scrolling and the dings and the bangs and all of that and being able to truly just connect and get into deep work. One, I think that’s good for building software because we need to know what’s actually valuable. Not this surface-level crap. Getting into the deep, the nitty gritty. It’s also just really good for mental health. How can I work in alignment with my own equilibrium to be the best leader that I can be?
Then as far as who I love, both Brené Brown and Glennon Doyle. The idea of brave leadership, courageous cultures, creating environments where people can be authentic, where being diverse is not enough. You must be radically inclusive and with radical inclusivity comes– Brené Brown says great leaders heal thy self. You can’t be a great leader unless you’re taking a look at your own and your own biases and the things that we’re unconscious of.
We have to be conscious of the way that we view the world, which that’s just what we’re given. That’s just how we were raised.
Josh: You just have to own it.
Ashleigh: Then it’s our job as adults to break it down and to take a good look at it. Then Glennon Doyle to me is just the way that she speaks about being human and doing hard things and just really being open about mental health and the differences in humans. She’s a major introvert. What does that look like? How are we a leader of our families, of our companies? Also taking into consideration how we operate as humans allows us to have compassion for how other people operate as humans.
Josh: I love all that. At Augurian, we have a book club we read Dare to Lead [crosstalk] earlier this year together and there’s just what I love about the way that Brené Brown, the frameworks or the things that she brings is it’s more of just, “Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself. This is who you are and we’re all imperfect. We just have to own the fact that we come from our experiences, those aren’t always good. They don’t always model the right things and we need to just own that that’s our experience and that we’re imperfect and that we just need to be real enough with one another, have the candor and the grace with one another to be able to have hard conversations.”
Which I think sometimes in business, in teams, with clients, people are unwilling to go there. That level of vulnerability is hard to achieve in business. I think it’s super cool that you’re pushing on all those edges.
Ashleigh: Thank you.
Jos: That’s probably all the time we have for today but Ashleigh, I want to say again, thank you so much for being here. We love your values-driven, fight against the big corpse attitude and wish you the best of luck.
Ashleigh: Thanks so much. I appreciate it.