David Simmons - Jucy
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How to Make Positive Change When Your Chips Are Down with Dave Simmons, JUCY


Covid was a time of flux for every business. While some businesses flourished and scaled to new heights, others were landlocked (literally) by lockdowns. So how do you future-proof a business, when the future is unclear?  
In this inspiring episode of Flex Your Hustle, Michelle Lomas speaks to Dave Simmons, Strategic Advisor at JUCY. JUCY was founded in New Zealand in 2001 by Tim and Dan Alpe, two brothers on a mission to make traveling and adventure accessible to everyone.

JUCY is a car and campervan hire business, iconic for their green vans and fun brandBut when Covid hit, the borders shut down, our doors closed to the outside world, and the devastation to the tourism industry startedAnd that’s where our next guest Dave Simmons comes in. The founders knew that they were in a unique situation, and needed to think fast. So Dave was brought onto the business to make sense of their current situation, drive necessary organisational change and help JUCY come through the otherside. And that they did 

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Episode Transcription

Michelle Lomas: Hey there, hustlers. Welcome back to the show. Today's episode is not the usual success story that we often hear on the show. It's fair to say that for most of our guests, their pivotal moment of growth that vaulted them to success was during Covid, buoyed by customer demand and increased online spending.

Michelle Lomas: Most brands with an e-com first strategy were able to ride the wave and vault them to the next stage of business. But my next guest, sadly, was the opposite. Jucy was founded in New Zealand in 2001 by Chris and Dan Alpe, two brothers on a mission to make traveling an adventure accessible to everyone.

Michelle Lomas: Jucy is a car and camper van hire business, iconic for their fun green vans and very fun brand. But when Covid hit the border shut down, our doors closed to the outside world and the devastation to the tourism industry began. And that's where the next guest, Dave Simmons comes in. The founders knew that they were in a unique situation and needed to think fast, so Dave was brought onto the business to make sense of their current situation, drive necessary organisational change, and help Jucy come through the other side, and that they did.

Michelle Lomas: Listen on for their unique story of transformation.

Michelle Lomas: Normally we have on the show a lot of founders and you are not a founder. So how about you introduce yourself and your background, where you've come from and. What you're doing at Jucy.

Dave Simmons: Yeah. Thanks Michelle. So yeah, you're right. I'm not a founder in the case of Jucy. I'm an, certainly an imposter.

Dave Simmons: I think I'm the gray head guy who's supposed to add a bit of maturity perhaps to to the business. But my, my background's travel and tourism largely in various marketplaces a as well as outside of that, but help work with companies to help drive growth fundamentally, understanding the customer and then connecting distribution channels with those customers.

Dave Simmons: I got involved with Jucy nearly three years ago as, that the businesses had some challenges as we as had Covid as to many tourism businesses, and got involved with some investors who put money in and had the opportunity to join this really super iconic tourism brand to help support a growth strategy or recovery, and then growth strategy coming out the back of Covid.

Michelle Lomas: Let's talk about recovery. We've had a lot of brands on the show, a lot of retailers who stepped into Covid, like everybody, a little bit unsure, stepped out really well.

Michelle Lomas: E-retailers, et cetera. We're gonna be interviewing a couch company soon who absolutely killed it during Covid 'cause everybody just wanted their comfy couches 'cause what else are they doing? But you're in the travel industry and it really hurt. That's when you joined to help with the recovery. What was going on at the time?

Dave Simmons: Yeah. So let me give you a bit of context for Michelle. Yeah, Jucy's 21 years old. The two brothers who founded the business have done an amazing job building a really strong iconic brand. The business had been through growth year in, year out, which had enabled them to get involved in all sorts of new innovation.

Dave Simmons: Had expanded the business into America. We were, Jucy who was involved in accommodation, had a cruise operation. So the brand had really grown massively and the momentum of growth had enabled them to get involved in all sorts of things. Covid came along and literally overnight the business came to a standstill.

Dave Simmons: 95% of the business is international, and cash flow stopped and that created some challenges. So it's certainly put a huge weight on the business, let's say. And it was super, super painful. Lots of great people had to be let go from the business.

Dave Simmons: Huge amounts of uncertainty in terms of what that would look like. And ultimately it needed to be recapitalised to drive growth out. What it provided was a really interesting opportunity to actually take a fresh look at how we wanted to grow back. As with any growth story, often, you keep saying yes to things and you're not necessarily focused on process and you just gotta layer more people into manage different processes and whilst it's growing and the businesses make money, it actually doesn't matter that much. And it's only when things stop that actually a lot of that inefficiency.

Dave Simmons: And yeah, inefficiency both from a process perspective and from a cost of distribution perspective starts getting exposed. And so Covid really gave the business the opportunity to take a step back and go, how do we want to drive the business moving forward? And let's use this opportunity to reshape the platform to position ourselves to really sustainable, profitable growth as we come out the other side. And what that involves was a number of things.

Dave Simmons: It started, we started looking at how, what our product is and how we distribute the product, how we price the product. Particularly in pre-Covid we had nine different price structures in place, to cater for different channels and different markets, et cetera, et cetera. We said, listen, let's start by simplifying this.

Dave Simmons: And so we simplified it right down to one price, price point, and we said, let's embrace technology and drive dynamic pricing. And that meant that actually for a lot of our distribution partners, our traditional distribution partners in Europe, They weren't able to work with us on that basis because they didn't have the ability to integrate our technology.

Dave Simmons: They didn't have the ability to embrace dynamic pricing. But with the strength of the Jucy brand, we said, let's do it anyway. Because actually, fundamentally let's back ourselves that we can drive direct business if need be and work, to drive that alongside the trade business.

Dave Simmons: And let's focus on that simplification and the efficiency. And so that then brought our focus back to going, okay, that's cool. How do we then drive that growth on the direct business? And how do we do it in a really cost effective, targeted way? Which created the opportunity for us to look at affiliate marketing.

Michelle Lomas: It's a real measure of a business, I think how they work through a time like that, isn't it?

Michelle Lomas: You know, It's all great when things are going successfully, and you've got great success globally, but when the chips are down and there's no end in sight, Covid really, there was no end in sight. Travel restrictions really hurt. Real testament that you guys would come out the other side with kind of this, kind of revamped product and I guess new look and feel and new way of working.

Michelle Lomas: What were some of the things that you implemented during that time that were maybe a little novel? Maybe the team were like, wait, what? What tech? How's that gonna work? I know there's quite a few, right? You really had that time to think about the things that you could experiment on and try.

Dave Simmons: Yeah and listen, I can't stress enough how painful it was as a business people. It was a long time. Like we kinda look back now and it feels like it all went by in a flash, but when you were in the middle of it and you didn't know when the end was, it was really tough. For people that had been in the business for a long time, to remain motivated and to see what a long term could look like. But to your point, like Jucy's are really in it, and it's always been built on innovation, it's always been built on energy and entrepreneurial spirit, and we were able to harness that a little bit and challenge ourselves to go what do things look like?

Dave Simmons: As one example, probably the biggest single change was this idea of embracing technology for distribution. And that might sound like an obvious thing, but actually in the travel industry, technology through distribution channels has. Been pretty clunky for a very long time. Almost a hundred percent of our bookings that were sold through trade partners were touched by humans at some point in time, travel partners in Denmark or Germany, they'd see our product on our, on a website, on our, one of our websites.

Dave Simmons: They'd see a rate. They'd email us overnight and to the call centre and say, guys, can we make this booking for these dates at this rate? Someone in our call centre would email them back and go, actually that vehicle's not available on those dates. Can you can do these dates?

Michelle Lomas: It sounds so inefficient.

Dave Simmons: Yeah. And this is only three years ago. And this is not Jucy. It was. It was across the industry.

Michelle Lomas: I thought that the industry must be far more advanced than that and centralised booking systems and...

Dave Simmons: still pretty clunky. And so what we said is, listen, we're gonna go API first and foremost, we're gonna move, we're gonna work with distribution partners that are willing to integrate the API and book on either online, through our online booking engine that we've developed for trade agents or through the API.

Dave Simmons: And we went from having a hundred percent of our bookings being booked offline through trade partners to 97% of our bookings are now being booked through the API, which is seismic from an efficiency perspective.

Michelle Lomas: Wow. Yeah.

Dave Simmons: We're back doing similar sorts of volumes that we were doing pre-Covid, but with about a third of the staff. Within a head office environment. And actually it's a far better experience for our trade partners. It's a far better experience for their customers and everyone's winning. So yeah, that, that's been huge. And we did that with, really limited development resource, within head office, but just really good, innovative in New Zealand, we had the same in a sort of numbering wire mentality.

Dave Simmons: It's let's just get it fixed and get it sorted. And we had a couple of guys who just rolled their sleeves up and worked really hard to ensure that technology platform was fit for purpose and could meet the needs of those travel partners in market that had embraced more of a digital kind of distribution ideology, let's say.

Michelle Lomas: So smart. What were some of the things you did away with? Apart from the clunky booking system, was there a moment where you went, you know what obviously you're looking at the whole business and going, this is our time, this is our chance. So what else was there that you kind of went, this has got to go?

Dave Simmons: Probably the biggest thing in there Michelle was the, uh differential rate structure. So having lots of different rates going to different travel agents and into different markets. We'd have a, the site, you might have that vehicle behind me there. For example, the our Jucy chaser, that product would be one price in Germany at one time of the year. Be a different price in Australia, it'd be a different price On our website, it'd be a different price, whether you book through a wholesaler in Germany versus a travel agent in Australia. So there's a huge amount of complexity that had been built up over time, and probably the biggest single thing we did was just rip that all up and say we're gonna have one rate.

Dave Simmons: It's a dynamic rate. If we've got it on our website, you can have it as a trade partner through your website. But you have to book it online. So those two key things were really fundamental around simplifying the rate structure and then really driving this idea of digital first and API first, and that, that's really been a big game changer for us, for sure.

Michelle Lomas: Mm-hmm.

Michelle Lomas: That simplification changes so much in terms of resourcing of structure and the simplification, I should say, for the customers as well.

Dave Simmons: With without doubt. And probably one of the biggest challenges as we went through that Michelle is A having confidence in the brand and the strategy. But also having the discipline to say no. And that's super, super hard in any growth environment. Like we had a lot of old historical partners who came to us and said, you're only kidding about this kind of API thing, aren't you? You are gonna enable us to book offline again.

Dave Simmons: It's nope. And they go, you'll change your mind. Surely.

Michelle Lomas: Nope.

Dave Simmons: And it's nope. And some of the saying no was really hard, cause some of these partners had been giving us, big seven figure sums of business pre-Covid and we were like going, no, it's not how we want to build back.

Dave Simmons: So having that confidence in the strategy and the real kind of belief that it had the ability to deliver for us. Then gave us a confidence in discipline to say no. So yeah, those was, that was probably for me, the really and getting the, I, I had a hundred percent confidence we could deliver it, but getting confidence around the business to join us on that journey.

Dave Simmons: That was an interesting kind of exercise, but, yeah, to the point where in, in Berlin last week, we were sitting down with some very large distribution channels, let's say. Who were some of these guys saying you'll change your mind and they now know that we're not. And. We're now actually saying to them, it's you guys that now need to change.

Dave Simmons: And if you don't, then you're probably staring at another Kodak moment perhaps, but yes. Yeah, so a lot of fun in that regard.

Michelle Lomas: The Flex Your Hustle Podcast is made possible by the team at Commission Factory.

Michelle Lomas: Commission Factory's the largest performance and partner marketing network in Asia Pacific, pairing tens of thousands of meaningful and scalable partnerships. If you are listening to this show, you might be looking for ways to find and activate successful connections that drive revenue for your business. Well, Commission Factory works with everyone from e-commerce brands to influencers, big digital editorial titles and cashback communities, right through to the latest apps and software that help customers convert, and they aggregate all those partnerships in the one place.

Michelle Lomas: You'll love how easy that makes managing it if you're tired of paying for clicks and impressions. Commission Factory is a pay on performance marketing platform where you pay only when tangible sales are generated, not just eyes on the page. So it's low risk and easy to manage your bottom line. So to all you digital publishers, influencers, online retailer and marketing agency folks out there.

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Michelle Lomas: I have to dig in. You said that the kind of internal education in getting people on board was challenging. I have no doubt organisational change, whether you're moving to a data-driven organisation, a tech-driven organisation from one that feels a little bit more, dare I say, analog can be challenging.

Michelle Lomas: There's people who don't get it, don't understand it, can't see the value. People get scared that they might lose their jobs and in this case, maybe some people did. What was that like and how is it today? Yeah, really

Dave Simmons: interesting question. Michelle, and this was a really unusual situation because when I came into the business it'd almost been like a nuclear bomb had been dropped of it on it.

Dave Simmons: Like a lot of people had been made redundant. People in the organisation that didn't have any reporting lines 'cause their boss had been made redundant, their boss's boss had been made redundant.

Dave Simmons: So there was an element of shell shock to be honest. Yeah. But again, there was this real kind of commitment to want to bring the business back stronger.

Dave Simmons: And whilst there wasn't any international trade, it was really easy to make these changes and and get alignment about it. Everyone wanted internally to work simpler because we didn't have the people to actually do some of the clunky processes. So actually simplifying the processes was almost a matter of need to fit in with the amount of limited resources because business wasn't coming back strongly. We couldn't bring back people anyway, so there was a natural constraint that enabled us to embed that change. I think there was probably always a question mark around whether we could hold that line as borders reopened and we started looking to reach out to our international partners.

Dave Simmons: And say no to some of those guys. But what I think we'd seen in the meantime was a real growth from some of our more digital orientated partners who'd filled the gap anyway, that had been left by the bigger analog partners to use your phrase. And we'd also had huge success in growing our direct business in a really cost effective and controlled way, which had also given us that confidence, if you like, to stay focused on the road ahead.

Michelle Lomas: Yeah, it's like simplicity for necessity's sake. And if there's no other option and this is how you have to operate moving forward, I guess it does make it a lot easier.

Dave Simmons: It was the ultimate burning platform. It's in many ways, let's say it was far easier to drive change with those circumstances versus a large established business that's going well. And trying to drive change within that, it's certainly a lot harder.

Michelle Lomas: Glad to hear you guys are doing well today. And obviously you pulled through that period. A lot of other travel companies obviously didn't, so real testament to you guys just knuckling down and okay, how do we just do this?

Michelle Lomas: How do we figure this out? You've obviously made a lot of changes from a booking perspective, from a customer experience perspective, but I know a really big thing that you brought into the business as well was affiliate marketing and in general performance marketing and how do we get smarter about the dollars that we're using.

Michelle Lomas: I know this is your passion place, so I wanted to get the business conversation down first. And now let's talk about performance marketing side.

Dave Simmons: Without doubt, affiliate marketing has been a huge part of our sort of recovery strategy. Super. My journey with affiliate marketing goes back probably 25 years in the UK.

Dave Simmons: And some of those early affiliate platforms started coming into the travel market and they were very quickly embraced. And obviously in the northern hemisphere in those markets, you've got big scale.

Dave Simmons: I then moved back to New Zealand 10, 15 years ago, and was involved with a national carrier based in New Zealand, let's say.

Dave Simmons: And at that time we started looking at exploring affiliate marketing, but there just wasn't frankly, there weren't really any sort of maturity or scale in the market, and then in this part of the world, I'd lost touch with a little bit. I, when I joined Jucy, we'd just started having conversations with Commission Factory at that point in time, and it was like, holy smoke, this is great.

Dave Simmons: We, there is now a matured kind of environment that we can grab hold of. And so we, embraced it with a view of really treating it as a distribution channel as opposed to a marketing channel. The thing I love about affiliate marketing is it's, for us in the travel sector, it's a straight commission based model, which is very consistent with our traditional trade channels, let's say.

Dave Simmons: And when you start treating affiliate in that way in that same sort of mindset, then it just, it's an open ended kind of pathway. And so that's how we embedded it. We brought it into the business initially in December, 2020, I think it was. And it was a big learning curve. It was a really steep learning curve in terms of going okay, so we've got it in here.

Dave Simmons: How do we now optimize it? To that point, we actually brought in some external support a dedicated agency based state side actually, that we'd happen to run across who were really awesome in terms of helping us accelerate our growth. Real quick, embedding it, the whole kind of strategy of affiliate into the business on our side as well as helping to leverage into wider networks.

Dave Simmons: But you, again, it was, it took us six months to start really getting some momentum as you'd expect. Yep. I guess with any kind of program. But then as soon as we'd started getting a couple of things in place, it really took off. And the ability for us to treat it as a cost of sale and embed it as a cost of sale above the line, if you like.

Dave Simmons: Just changed the mindset for everyone. It took a little while to get the finance guys to understand that it was okay to put this marketing thing, through as an above the line cost of sale. And to treat it in the same way we'd treat a travel agent. And then once we got that in place, and man we haven't looked back and it's now without doubt our single largest source of traffic from a business turnover from a distribution channel perspective.

Michelle Lomas: You just said something so interesting there that, I sometimes raise this with different business owners and they never think of affiliate as the cost of sale. They always think about it in their marketing mix. And yes, it operates in a very similar way of marketing.

Michelle Lomas: There's messaging, there's brand, there's like your positioning, et cetera, partnership. But it's only coming off your bottom line. So it is a cost of goods sold and therefore should be treated differently in a different budget. How did you do that? So for the people listening, if they have to go through that same conversation with their finance team, what's the trick?

Dave Simmons: Apart from bullying the finance people to just do it? The, listen, I think it's just understanding the model in terms of, for us it's a straight commission based model. There's a variality of the sort of variable component to it, obviously based upon the various publishing platforms that we hook into. But fundamentally, it's a straight commission that I, you can forecast on a fairly accurate basis on a monthly play in terms of what that percentage is gonna be.

Dave Simmons: So long as you can have real confidence about the attribution, which clearly, platforms, Commission Factory enable you to get really tight on attribution anyway. Then we will say, Hey, listen, here's a direct cost of variable cost associated with this transaction.

Dave Simmons: Therefore, it's highly justifiable to put it above the line in that cost of sale.

Michelle Lomas: It's a no-brainer.

Dave Simmons: It's conversation. Yeah, absolutely. And without any shadow of a doubt at all if you treat it as a marketing expense, you're probably only gonna get 20, 30% of the value out of affiliate activity.

Dave Simmons: Yeah. There's no question in my mind if we treated this like an affiliate as a marketing cost and go, this month we're gonna spend $5,000 on it. Why would we cap it if we're still selling?

Dave Simmons: Like the-

Michelle Lomas: Yeah,

Dave Simmons: I'd say, we wouldn't do it with a travel agent or an online travel agent. If they're selling and we're paying them more commission, we're going, Hey, fantastic.

Dave Simmons: These guys have had a record month and we've paid them more money. Embrace the same thought process for affiliate, treat it like a distribution channel, and celebrate when revenue's coming in and if that means you're paying a little bit more, great. But it's it's a whole lot more cost effective than a lot of other performance marketing environments where there's a lot more variability and yeah, less control over that cost of sale.

Michelle Lomas: And to your point as well, like you said, it does take time. There's a, there's. Learning that is involved with, affiliate marketing, and if you do cap it, you say, oh, I'll only dip my toe in the water every month with a certain small budget. You're not really, you're limiting yourself really, you're not allowing yourself to test and learn and try new things.

Dave Simmons: A hundred percent. And there's no downside in testing, right? There's, it's not there's. Heavy fixed costs associated with putting any new program in. It's all a variable cost, so there's no downside of having it uncapped because you're only gonna pay more if you've got more revenue coming through.

Michelle Lomas: Yeah.

Dave Simmons: I would love to have a conversation with the CFO if if they said no to that. In terms of mate, do we wanna grow the business and drive sales here or not?

Michelle Lomas: It could be to your point, maybe a lack of understanding of just how far and wide affiliate marketing goes. And you mentioned something earlier which was so healthy and so smart in terms of, it's just a channel with untapped ability and you need to think of it more the transactional aspect rather than the things that go in and the things that people constantly think of first when they think of affiliate marketing, like influencer marketing or rewards or cashback.

Michelle Lomas: So why don't you tell us a little bit about some of the areas in which you're leveraging affiliate marketing, because I know you guys really have tapped that for, all the great resources and tech that you can.

Dave Simmons: Yeah. And it's still a journey of discovery. I keep being amazed, I like to think, I know a little bit about the environment, but I keep getting amazed at new partners that come to the surface that keep bringing new things to the table. We started in a very traditional sense, in terms of looking at platforms that could deliver eyeballs that were aligned with our kind of notion of kind of our target customer.

Dave Simmons: And there was certainly a pile of environments, platforms that we partnered with. None of us actually knew who they were, but we were recommended to do it. And sure enough, they started driving volume into us. And you go, Hey, that's cool. And subsequently learn more about it. So in the first instance, used in a very traditional sense, and then as we started exploring further opportunities, and again, working really closely in partnership with our advisory guys. Yeah, they started actually bringing other ideas to the table around onsite optimisation technology, and that was just a massive eyeopener for me. I'd never really thought about technology solutions being delivered through an affiliate framework, and it was just a massive sort of light bulb moment where we went, do you know what, there's a pile of things in here that we'd love to trial, but we just don't have the bandwidth within our technology environment or indeed traditional SaaS models where you'd pay a subscription fee to get access to some of that technology.

Dave Simmons: And as a result, we hadn't been doing them. And then we started discovering these things through the affiliate environment. Chatbot being a really interesting one. We had a traditional kind of SaaS based live chat model on the site and that particular technology provider was trying to upsell us to additional functionality on that.

Dave Simmons: And then we discovered a solution through Commission Factory that said, Hey, listen, we'll develop a chatbot for you and be focused purely on helping you drive sales. And we'll pay you a commission of sales, charge you a commission based upon sales generated off the chat as the last point of contact on the onsite journey.

Dave Simmons: And it was almost like there was nothing to lose. In fact, there wasn't anything to lose. So we went, yeah, let's give it a go. And it just took off. And this is an environment, this is a time when we had really limited cash flows. Borders were still closed. We didn't have a lot of resource internally.

Dave Simmons: And, within the space, about three months, this chat bot that we put onto the site became a massive contributor of revenue. And it was something that we'd never have been able to do, if we were looking at it through a traditional lens of, let's go and do an evaluation of different SaaS platforms and let's or develop, tools in internally and let's justify, monthly budget of whatever to support a chatbot.

Dave Simmons: This just changed the whole game in terms of, it's there is no downside. The partner's gonna do the setup. And we can learn. And so much so it was such, it was a massive success for us within a, fairly short space of time. And then there were other sort of tools like onsite optimisation where again, if we had more bandwidth within the dev team, we might have done some of the things internally.

Dave Simmons: But there were bigger issues that we had to have the limited tech resource that we had internally, we needed to have them focused on. So the ability to bring site exit carts and a number of other little triggers that we were able to play with to drive optimisation onsite was just awesome. Like, uh, and again, we gathered heaps of learnings from that, as we've worked with more of these partners, they've begun been able to bring more things to the table as well.

Dave Simmons: So we've used it both in terms of bringing traffic into the business as well as helping us to off optimise the traffic that we get onto the platform.

Dave Simmons: And again, all the while on a variable cost basis. So it's been it's a super exciting environment to be involved with.

Michelle Lomas: Incredible to hear just how one relationship as well can really stretch the gamut of your business. It's not just about marketing and the pool of customers, it's about that conversion as well.

Michelle Lomas: And there's so many tools and technology out there that you know these affiliate marketing companies like Commission Factory work with that can really help accelerate that converge cuz that's what they focused on. They're focused on sales, they're focused on conversion. Like how do we get these customers in?

Michelle Lomas: How do we convert? That's the only way that the businesses make money. So it makes sense to be leaning into that, and just going let's try it. There's no real risk. There's probably a bit of work involved, but also if it doesn't work, we can try something else. But you know, These guys, if they're so focused on making those conversions happen, because that's their remuneration model, it makes sense 'cause you're all in the game together.

Dave Simmons: Without doubt. And I think there's a real internal benefit, a cultural kind of benefit from, embedding that affiliate thinking, if you like. And again, that cost of sale thinking to the business. There's no doubt that people within the Jucy team have benefited enormously from engaging with some of the various partners that we've brought on, and the real sharpness that they've brought around conversion and optimisation, which because that's what they live and breathe and their whole revenue models are based upon that.

Dave Simmons: There's a real sharpness to the thinking that you don't often get, let's say from internal teams. So that exposure to that, those sort of engagements has definitely helped bring a real edge to other work that we do across the business. Particularly in other performance marketing areas, bringing a real sharpness and edge to how we critique what we are doing in paid search or SEO or social, for example.

Dave Simmons: That's definitely flowed back from what we've been doing in the affiliate space. No, no question about that.

Michelle Lomas: From an affiliate marketing perspective, how does that fit into your marketing teams or your agency structures? How's it all work? Even from a reporting perspective?

Dave Simmons: So it's really tough one, to be honest, Michelle, because there's just not people in the market who understand affiliate marketing.

Dave Simmons: Yeah, we've had a, some really good internal resource that's been really keen to learn. And they did a great job. I think we've supported them really well. They've been out to various conferences internationally and affiliate conferences to learn more about opportunities, et cetera, et cetera.

Dave Simmons: So we've been through a bit of an upskilling process internally. Our existing marketing agencies, again, they've been learning from what we've been doing.

Michelle Lomas: I love that.

Dave Simmons: And that's why we actually, found some specialist resource based out of the US that worked, has worked with us for the last two, two and a half years and have become a really tight strategic partner to help us optimise and to accelerate those learnings fundamentally in the affiliate space.

Dave Simmons: So that was certainly probably a big reminder or a learning affiliate for me was going actually the maturity of affiliate marketing in this part of the world. Certainly New Zealand probably a little further ahead in Australia. Yes. We just don't have the capability and the knowledge. And so as a result, those sort of conversations about position it as cost of sale versus marketing budget.

Dave Simmons: There's not the maturity and the confidence to actually understand what those conversations look like and the potential of it. Yeah. It's something that we're confronting at the moment in terms of if we want to continue to really ramp this up to another level, how do we actually get resource internally to help drive that further. Do we need to look off shorter recruit people with that specialist knowledge because there's not a big market of of affiliate marketers in New Zealand looking for jobs at the moment, it'd be fair to say.

Michelle Lomas: I worked in the States for a while, and the affiliate marketing like you said, is much more mature over there.

Michelle Lomas: I was working in a digital performance marketing agency and it was always part of the mix. There was a separate team, there was, without a doubt, no question that affiliate marketing was part of brand success story. Where I do think here there's maybe still trepidation or just think people are unclear and what they don't quite understand, they're hesitant to step into or they step into the things that are familiar.

Michelle Lomas: Coupons and things like that, which, there's so much more to affiliate marketing and so much more to be leveraged. So we need young people getting excited about it. So they start becoming the experts and leading the next generation of really smart marketing leaders to, to really embrace it.

Michelle Lomas: Because every business needs to grow. And if you're only paying on a sale, it's just a no-brainer. Honestly.

Dave Simmons: Couldn't agree more. Michelle, and if you talk to marketing managers, everyone knows the phrase affiliate marketing, but if you then scratch behind that, and go, so talk me through some of the various platforms and the opportunities.

Dave Simmons: You get these blank looks on your face, they're kinda like, yeah maybe not. That is without doubt the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for affiliate marketing platforms like Commission Factory to actually build an awareness and an understanding of the opportunity.

Dave Simmons: And it's gotta start with the young marketers going through and making it part of the normal kind of conversation.

Michelle Lomas: Certainly, I like that thinking that you say around thinking about it in the context of how it's run, how it's measured from a COGS perspective, really thinking about it more as the platform itself for not, all the different places we can be in, not influencer marketing, not publisher marketing, et cetera, but just thinking about it as a new way of running business and what are all the things within our business, be it our customer experience, our website, where affiliate marketing can really impact the business.

Michelle Lomas: So it's a refreshing wave of looking at it, and definitely something I think that most businesses need to be looking at in the future.

Dave Simmons: The one thing you gotta promise me is that you don't share this with any of our competitors. Cause I'd hate for them to learn the secret of how awesome affiliate marketing is.

Michelle Lomas: Too late!

Michelle Lomas: It's in the can it's free. We're gonna send it everywhere. No, I mean, look, they probably will listen. Will they have the speed, and the tenacity like you guys did? You obviously really knuckled down and you really embrace change. And doesn't matter how many good ideas you have on the table, that it's the mindset.

Michelle Lomas: I'm really happy to hear you guys are doing well and what a tremendous change and a tremendous story.

Dave Simmons: We're really, really uh, I guess in a privileged position to have such a, strong, iconic brand. Yes. You know, Jucy is such a strong, iconic brand and-

Michelle Lomas: So iconic

Dave Simmons: Campervan space. So the ability to leverage that and particularly with the audience that it reaches and connects into.

Dave Simmons: It's certainly given us a really strong platform to deliver, good outcomes in this space, for sure.

Michelle Lomas: All I have to say is the green van and everyone should get a visual in their head of, oh, I know those guys. The green van guys. Yes, they're the green van guys. Yeah, very iconic Green Van. I'm gonna plan my New Zealand road trip soon and it's going to be Jucy or nothing because there's no way I can get shots of my car that I hire and it's, with beautiful New Zealand backdrop and not have a Jucy van. It's just iconic.

Dave Simmons: That would be absolute disgrace Michelle, but I know someone can probably help you.

Michelle Lomas: How is the business going today?

Dave Simmons: It's been amazing. We've had a huge Summer season. We've welcomed back. Yeah, thousands of international guests into Australia and New Zealand.

Dave Simmons: We've had record months in terms of trading. Yeah. Even from sort of October, November, we were experiencing kind of record sales and pickups. And, certainly created some challenges for our operational guys, no doubt about that. Kept them on their toes, but it's just neat to be in a position where we can welcome international visitors back and and enable them to explore all things that are awesome about Australia and New Zealand.

Dave Simmons: Yeah, business is in really good shape at the moment. And yeah, we've got a great platform now to continue to drive robust, sustainable, profitable growth as we move forward.

Michelle Lomas: I'm really happy to hear it onwards and upwards to great tourism season next year as well. Absolutely.

Michelle Lomas: Dave, thank you so much. Appreciate, your openness and sharing all that great info and inspiration.

Dave Simmons: Great to have the opportunity to chat with you, Michelle, and anything to help spread the word of the joys of affiliate marketing.

Michelle Lomas: We have another exciting episode coming up. Here's a sneak peek.

Sam Viney: We are really fortunate that we've got two people who can understand the commercial side of the business, obviously translate that into our performance media. And then quite frankly, the rarest part of that skillset and the one that both of them have is being able to communicate that back to the non-digital marketers within the business.

Michelle Lomas: If you aren't already, don't forget to follow, so you don't miss an ep. And while you're there, why not drop us a rating and review? We'd love to hear what you think. Flex Your Hustle is made possible by the great team at Commission Factory and produced by Ampel. I'm Michelle Lomas. Keep hustling and bye for now.