Among the many SaaS CFOs with whom we have spoken, few have listed their finance leader priorities for us as simply and concisely as did Jonathan Sides, CFO of Fleetio, a Birmingham, Alabama, software company that helps companies to track and manage their fleet operations.
“My personal defect is always wanting to take on more—without realizing that I should actually be giving away my LEGOs and finding people who can do things better and faster than I can,” explains Sides, who labels his first CFO priority as “Always be hiring.”Read More
According to Sides, between 60% and 80% of Fleetio’s workforce lived in the Birmingham area prior to the pandemic—but now the percentage of local employees has dropped to less than 50% as the company has actively recruited more remote workers.
Next, he advises CFOs to work closely with the company’s investors to help them to understand the challenges that a company may be facing.
“The only way that they can help you is if they have the unvarnished truth,” comments Sides, who notes that investors will typically have three responses: “They’ll say, ‘Don’t worry, this is normal’ or ‘Don’t worry, we know how to fix this’ or ‘Good luck, we know that you know how to fix this.’”
The third and last priority that Sides lists is “Achieving work/life balance”—an area, Fleetio’s CFO tells us, with which he has long struggled and that in the past has led him to take some inspired action.
Back in 2014, prior to joining Fleetio and having just completed a 14-year tour of duty as CFO of another Birmingham SaaS firm, Sides scheduled a “gap year” for which he and his wife bought “one-way air tickets” to kick off 12 months of travel during which they lived in 12 different countries.
Still, all roads eventually led back to Birmingham and, of course, the SaaS model. –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Fleetio … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Sides: Well, our quick pitch is that we track, analyze, and improve fleet operations. What this means in a practical sense is that our customers are service companies—like HVAC, construction, and transportation firms—spread around the U.S., Canada, and the rest of the world. They use our software to track where their vans, trucks, drones, bikes, mining equipment, and so on are, what maintenance needs to be done on it, and which assets need to be sold off.Read More
These are pretty capital-intensive resources. If you think of just, say, the simple white van that you see rolling around the neighborhood, you realize that it’s used quite a bit, has a lot of equipment on it, and can break down. If it breaks down, people can’t get to job sites.
For tracking these assets, your choices have been paper, Excel, doing nothing, or perhaps using some sort of legacy system. With Fleetio, we’re able to pipe in a lot of data and make tracking and managing much, much easier for organizations that were never designed to manage fleets to begin with. We’re just a means to an end—that’s what Fleetio does.
As you grow, you start to realize what certain customers may ask in the redlining process and just try to take note of it. It might be like, “Oh, yeah, we do need to address this point.” Maybe it’s a practice that we have in place—support levels or something else—but it’s just not itemized in a subscription agreement. Our customers would love to see it, though, and, frankly, it makes our lives easier if they do see something and go, “Okay, such-and-such would actually work better for us.” So, one of my priorities is that I need to get back into the customer contracting life cycle and make sure that everything’s operating better there.
“Focus on the big needle movers of building company value, surround yourself with highly competent people, and do what you can to help them.” –Jonathan Sides, CFO, Fleetio
Fleetio | www.fleetio.com | Birmingham, AL