As the pandemic’s economic effects began to take hold in mid-March, Revel Systems CEO Greg Dukat and his team were rapidly making changes in order to best support their customers, employees and partners. Revel is a leading FinTech company providing point of sale solutions for over 20,000 companies in the restaurant and specialty retail sectors—two industries especially hard-hit by mandatory COVID-19 shutdowns and shelter-in-place measures.
Greg and the Revel team took proactive actions that helped position the company for success despite the headwinds facing the industries they serve. In a recent virtual chat with Resurgens Technology Partners Managing Director Fred Sturgis for our Software Sessions video series, Greg shared the following three key aspects of the Revel response:
Seeing the deep impact to the restaurant and retail sectors, Revel created solutions to help their customers make necessary modifications to minimize contact and exposure risk at the point of sale, including contactless payments, online ordering and a standalone product called Revel Go™, which allows customers with a legacy on-premise point of sale provider to launch online ordering in just days.
The company also created stimulus packages to help retain current customers and attract potential customers during an uncertain economic time. The Revel Relief Program allows customers to defer some fees while volume is depressed. Greg and the team found that some prospects are also viewing this time as an opportunity to refresh their outdated technology while business is slow. They’ve created pricing and packages to allow potential clients to sign on with Revel now, and they have had success with many companies looking at these uncertain times with a growth mindset.
The Revel team established a bi-weekly “Open for Business” call with the entire company. These calls allow the leadership team to provide transparent updates, including the latest product and roadmap modifications, pandemic response measures and financial considerations. Team members serve as panelists to share their direct experiences and strategies for success as everything changes around them, which helps build camaraderie and sharing of best practices across the organization.
Over-communication has also been key for Revel’s relationship with its financial backers. They proactively established pandemic response strategies, including some difficult decisions around personnel and realignment of the product roadmap—making sure their financial partners were informed and on-board early-on. This open communication has served to further strengthen the collaborative relationship with their private equity partners.
Before the pandemic, Revel’s sales team had a traditional sales bell that team members would ring each time they made a sale. In order to keep up the excitement for a dispersed workforce, the team created a virtual “Ring the Bell” channel on Slack. Everyone in the company gets “Ring the Bell” notifications, letting them know the sales team is gaining traction despite the obstacles they are facing.
Additionally, kudos and acknowledgments of team members going above and beyond for clients are also acknowledged on Slack and company calls. It can be a challenge to keep the team motivated and excited while in isolation working from home, so celebrating wins is a critical part of maintaining momentum.
While none of us have experienced a pandemic in our professional careers, we have seen economic shocks rock our companies and industries before. Revel’s response has reminded us that resiliency is a key factor in a company’s ability to survive and thrive in challenging times. Despite serving two of the hardest-hit industries in this crisis, Greg and the Revel team are charging forward with adapted strategies to position the company for long-term growth. Our hats go off to them.
Revel Systems CEO Greg Dukat Speaks with Resurgens Technology Partners Managing Director Fred Sturgis
Fred Sturgis (00:00):
This is Fred Sturgis with Resurgens. As part of our industry speaker series, we're very fortunate to have Greg Dukat with us today. Greg is a longtime friend of the firm and a career software executive. Greg, tell us a little bit about yourself and your current company Revel Systems.
Greg Dukat (00:17):
Hi Fred, happy to do so. You know, my background is 15 years as a CEO, for both public and private PE-backed companies. I’ve had the good fortune of working with your leadership team on a wonderful outcome a number of years back. Revel Systems is a leading FinTech provider of solutions. They provide point of sale solutions for the specialty retail and restaurant industries.
Fred Sturgis (00:41):
Greg, Revel is such a fascinating company in this moment in time, given who you sell to. In light of the fact that your customer base is largely restaurant and retail, tell us about how the environment has impacted Revel and what are some of the things that you guys are doing to respond to the pandemic.
Greg Dukat (01:02):
Our segment has seen this very directly, you know. Before the pandemic, Revel was moving up-market in the mid-enterprise from a traditional SMB play and having great success. What we found when the pandemic hit in mid-March is that a number of our customers are struggling. And in some cases, in some markets, completely closed. So right away, we looked at ways we could provide solutions and support. We created the Revel Relief Program, which allowed them to defer some fees. We looked at our product roadmap to enable what we thought the business would need and require going forward from what we heard from customers. And then frankly, you know, our teams really dedicated time and effort to communicating more collaboratively with our customers—over-communicating. So, we knew the impact they were feeling and understood empathy for their situation.
Fred Sturgis (01:59):
It's a huge task, I'm sure, to try to pull off that level of transition in your business model with significant pressure on your customer base and therefore on your business, presumably. How did you pull it together? Operationally, I mean, what are some of the things that you've been able to do, especially given that we're all working remotely and of course your company's working remotely? And how did you affect that kind of transition in the face of those challenges?
Greg Dukat (02:38):
Well, the first thing is in rearchitecting the roadmap. We created solutions that were going to help our business partners and our customers succeed in this new model. So, it was contactless payments. It was online ordering. We created a standalone product called Revel Go, which was online ordering where they had a legacy on-premise solution, and they could start off with online ordering in just merely days, whereas their legacy provider did not have that capability. We also created stimulus packages. So, what we've found and what we've learned is some people are viewing this as an opportunity—an opportunity to, knowing that their technology is outdated, and while things are slow, they want to refresh their technology. So, we've created pricing and packages to allow them to get new technology. And we've sold, really surprisingly, a lot of new business with people with that mindset.
Greg Dukat (03:33):
And the stimulus package has helped. Communication is key there. So, we have created avenues. We call it the “Open for Business” call we have every two weeks with all of our folks, all team members. So, we communicate very heavily there. We take staff members and have them be panelists and have them talk about things they've learned and done through the pandemic. Strategies they've found that are really successful to keep them enthusiastic and excited. And, you know, it's hard working from home. It's very different than working in an office. So, we found that to be really helpful for people to kind of learn from others and collaborate with others. And then we use technology tools. We use things like Slack and others to promote good deeds, kudos and people kind of going above and beyond. And that has helped drive collaboration. And then my favorite channel on Slack is our wins, announcing wins constantly. So, we have that going on all the time and we call it “Ring the Bell.” And we had, in our sales team, we had a traditional “Ring the Bell.” So, they go right to the site and we're constantly getting “Ring the Bell” notices, and everyone's connected to that.
Fred Sturgis (04:46):
I love it. Yeah. Keep, keep “ringing the bell,” even in this environment. That's great stuff. You've got a long-term capital partner here. Any comments about being in a situation like this with a partner versus not? I mean, what's different about it, and how has it helped? You've been in all kinds of businesses with different types of investors.
Greg Dukat (05:16):
Yeah. Another great question. So clearly, we enjoy a wonderful partnership with our private equity backer. Their style, knowing you for many years, Fred, their style is a lot like you and your staff and your team. Highly collaborative and open. But what we found is being transparent. We had to make some very difficult decisions around staffing. We made some surgical moves that we had to make in this difficult time. We went to them right away. We did not delay. And that's the recommendation I have for anyone who's been through this. We made some very difficult decisions. We re-crafted the roadmap. We put these stimulus packages in place. We put the Revel Relief Program in place. And we went to them very early and said, these are the strategies that we're deploying to get us through this very difficult time. And they were very collaborative and very proactive, and happy that we were in front of it and happy that we were, you know, looking at solutions to get through this and not sitting back and waiting for things to happen. And that collaboration and teamwork and mutual respect are really important. As, you know, as companies either flourish in good times or go through difficult times together.
Fred Sturgis (06:30):
Certainly, none of us have ever been through a pandemic, but we've all been through, those of us who've been around long enough, you know, financial crises and businesses that worked and not some that didn't work. And so, I think it's really a truism that you learn about a partner in times like this, how steady they are. And so, knowing your partner, I know that they've got a long-term view. I think that makes a huge difference.
Greg Dukat (06:56):
Right. I couldn't agree more.
Fred Sturgis (06:58):
If you look forward and you look at how your industry's changed, and inevitably your business will evolve and change, what do you see as a positive to come out of this? How do you turn something that's happened into positive change for your company, your employees and even your industry?
Greg Dukat (07:19):
There are a number of positives. It's still, as we all know, it's still a bit of a challenging time. I think we're not through all of this, but we continue to work forward. I think the first one is really finding out what kind of partner you have in these difficult times, and I couldn't be happier with the relationship and the communication and the trust that we have together. And I think that's important as you get to know someone. I think too, for us, my troops have rallied beyond my expectations, and I've just been so thrilled and proud of the team, just rallying together while being separated. The other thing that we've learned is, it might be counterintuitive, but we were actually working toward this up-market strategy. And what we found is this is an opportune time to actually accelerate that in some ways. There's some great talent in the market that are available today, that six months ago had jobs and weren't available.
Greg Dukat (08:22):
So, you’ve got to be careful of course, with all that going on, but we've really accelerated some of those things we're doing. And then last but not least, we continue to look at ways where we can help our customers succeed through this and help them with initiatives. We've introduced several new products—a kiosk product that's being rolled out in a major customer. So, it's that kind of thing that is helping our customers succeed in this very hard time. To even have people come into work where it's scary times for folks, or where they can't get there. So, we continue to look at all those things. So, I've just been really pleased with our team, our partner, and we're going to continue to, what we call “pan for gold.” We’re looking at all kinds of ways to help our business succeed. And if we help our business succeed, we're going to help our customers succeed. And our partner will succeed through this process as well.
Fred Sturgis (09:17):
That's great, Greg. Well, best of luck to you. I know you'll come out of this a lot stronger and thank you so much for taking the time with us today.
Greg Dukat (09:24):
My pleasure, Fred. Thank you so much.