When Ed Goldfinger is asked to relate a moment of strategic insight that he has experienced as a finance leader, he draws our attention to his CFO tenure at Zipcar, the car-sharing upstart that targets the short-term needs of its customers by being billable by the hour as well as the minute.
At Zipcar, Goldfinger would achieve the fabled CFO milestone of taking a company public. However, the biggest takeaways for him were related to the experience of growing a company widely recognized as an industry disrupter—and thus member of a cohort known as much for innovation in business modeling as for often startling deficiencies in benchmarking data.Read More
“You couldn’t point to any existing player and say that this was what we should look like over time,” explains Goldfinger, who notes that Zipcar grew from roughly $55 million to $300 million in annual sales during his term as CFO, a 6-year tenure that ended with the sale of Zipcar to Avis Budget Group in 2013.
Among the more sizable obstacles that Zipcar’s finance team faced was the lopsided rental habits of its weekly customers.
“There were probably 50 percent more rentals on the weekend than on weekdays,” comments Goldfinger, who reports that the spike in customer demand on weekends burdened Zipcar with growing numbers of dormant vehicles on weekdays.
He continues: “I invented a metric that we called ‘weekality,’ which was simply weekend usage over weekday usage, with the goal being to lower it.”
What’s more, Goldfinger says, the company introduced incentives to make overnight rentals more appealing to weekday customers and at the same time launched a “big push” into the business rental market by using promotions specially designed to attract weekday corporate customers.
Still, Goldfinger admits that few incentives were more effective than pricing when it came to striking a weekday/weekend balance: “We charged a lot more on weekends on a per-day basis because there was just no way that we could hit our revenue-per-car numbers if we didn’t achieve a better balance during the course of the week.” –Jack Sweeney
CFOTL: Tell us about Quantum Metric and the opportunity that the business is pursuing …
Goldfinger: The shift of activity between businesses and consumers has been to online and to mobile. This has been going on for years, and getting this experience right—getting the digital experience right—has been a journey for most companies. While some have done it incredibly well, I would say that there’s a spectrum of companies that have done it less well.
When I first joined Quantum Metric, I wanted to send a gift to somebody who’d helped me in the process. I just went online and selected the items that I wanted to ship, but when I got to the final screen where I was going to complete order and pressed the button, nothing happened.Read More
I pressed it again and then pressed it again, and I got no feedback at all. I just didn’t know, clearly, whether I hadn’t ordered this yet or whether maybe I’d ordered it three or four times by then. I kept clicking until finally I gave up. I ended up going about my gift-giving in another way, but somewhere out there, there’s a company that may have later realized that I had had that experience—or not.
By the way, since joining Quantum Metric, I have learned that this is called “rage-clicking.” What Quantum Metric allows a company to do with this is to have all of the answers about such customer experiences and more. They can know not just what the experience of rage-clicking was, but also many other customer behaviors that are showing friction points within the system—such as delays in responsiveness on the website, for example—which are causing people to just lose interest and move on. Our platform allows them to quantify how much revenue these things might be costing them and to prioritize remedies by identifying the things that will provide the best path to improve both customer experience and higher revenue.
Value Quote: “Only by looking at the data in a granular way can you really understand what’s going on in the business and draw the connections and the insights. There is an arc of evolution that spans from data to insights to actions to results. This is what I’m always striving for: How do we make data into insights? How do we make insights actionable? How do we measure the results of the actions? Unless we’re doing all of these things, the data doesn’t matter.” jb
Quantum Metric | www.quantummetric.com | Colorado Springs, CO