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June 24, 2020 | 29 Mins Read

DSL: How COVID-19 Has Accelerated Our Pace of Change

June 24, 2020 | 29 Mins Read

DSL: How COVID-19 Has Accelerated Our Pace of Change


Reeve Bunn, President of DSL, talks with Sarah about how COVID-19 has accelerated the company’s pace of change, how he promotes an innovative culture within the 104-year old company, and how he stays focused both personally and as a leader on what’s most important.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we are going to be talking about how COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of change at DSL. This is a common theme we're hearing in how this crisis has really picked up the pace within companies of evolution, of embracing change and of taking new steps and next steps of innovation. I'm happy to welcome to the podcast today, Reeve Bunn, who is the President of DSL. Reeve, welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast.

Reeve Bunn: Thank you, Sarah. I appreciate being here, and looking forward to it.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. If you don't mind can you start just by telling our listeners a bit about DSL's business and then we'll get into the conversation?

Reeve Bunn: Yeah. Well, you hit on my favorite subject right off the bat. Yes, of course, happy to talk about DSL's business. DSL stands for Dairy Supplies Limited. We're in Western Canada, the four Western most provinces of Canada, and we're in the commercial food service industry. We sell service, install, warranty a restaurant and convenience store equipment, and have been doing so for 104 years now. I've been around a long time, seen a lot of things change, and certainly, as per your lead in, a company that's pretty well established like ours, this has been a good wake up call for us and a good jolt, and excited to talk about it.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. I think that sentiment is shared by organizations really across industries. Even those that don't have the same deep, rich history that DSL does. It seems to be a pretty universal truth in the folks that I'm talking to right now, is that, if there are positives of this situation, one of them is that it's really breaking down some barriers to change in organizations that needed that, and even in those that didn't. Even in the most innovative business, I think there's always some pockets of resistance to change, or some areas that you just get a little bit stuck in how to prioritize innovation or those sorts of things. I think this is accelerating change in a lot of areas. Certainly excited to talk about some of those.

Sarah Nicastro: One of the things I wanted to touch on is, as you've been leading DSL through the COVID-19 crisis, you have three key areas of focus and in a very particular order for specific reasons. Tell our listeners what those key areas of focus are, and why the order is so important.

Reeve Bunn: Yeah, absolutely. As this all started, our leadership team very quickly hit on, how are we going to work through this crisis and be consistent about our approach, consistent in our decision making, and really hit on what factors are coming into our decisions? It's easy to just hit the panic button and feel like you are making knee-jerk reactionary decisions given what headline you read on the news that morning. We said, well, we've got to ground ourselves with some common pillars here that we can continue to go back to throughout this crisis, however long it may be. First and foremost, we said, nothing is more important than the safety of our team who are out there in the face of this, in our customer's businesses, and out there providing service to those customers on their premise and onsite.

Reeve Bunn: That was our number one focus was, okay, decisions are going to be grounded, first and foremost, in employee safety. That led us to, very quickly, create a preparedness guide for all of our employees that we were revising throughout the course of the past three months, three and a half months to ensure that they were working in as safe of a way as we possibly could have them working. Secondly, we wanted to be very mindful of both the health and the safety of our customers. Being mindful of that, it ties into a lot of the core values that we have, but being mindful of that, we jumped right into getting really creative about what kind of solutions can we put in front of our customers, anticipating what their challenges will be, anticipating what their needs will be and help them through this.

Reeve Bunn: As a customer here at DSL, we had a bit of the opposite experience with one of our longtime vendors, and we've been a customer of theirs for a decade or more. We very quickly, day 31 of the bill being due, we very quickly got the, You are on hold, notice. That was one of those wake up calls to me and to the rest of us that we're not going to be that company. At the other end of this, we're going to be the company that our customers come back to us and go, "Wow, you went above and beyond. You did more than some of your peers that are our other vendors." That was the position we wanted to be in at the end of all of this. That allowed us to quickly pivot and to say, how can we help these customers through this? What can we offer them that's different?

Reeve Bunn: So, we came up with a whole bunch of really creative, I think, really good customer programs that tried to make life easier for them. Then lastly, our third key decision pillar was around business continuity and business health. That meant we got to look inwards and we got to go, what do we need to do to sustain the business for the benefit of the many? You're making tough decisions around projects, putting them on hold, you're making tough decisions around costs, you're making difficult decisions in some cases around staffing. So, what do we need to do to ensure that we continue to move forward and that the business continues to be sustainable and as successful as it can in these circumstances?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Very good. One of the things that stood out to me as you were talking is, when you think about the order of those things, obviously safety and health has to be paramount. This is a global pandemic, and that needs to be prioritized and handled with the utmost care. But what I really like is, as you were describing those pillars, how you prioritize the consideration of your customer's businesses over the consideration of your own business. Obviously, both areas of decisions are important, but before you got to, okay, and how do we focus on our own business continuity? Before you were at that point, you were discussing, how do we become creative in how we serve our customers to make sure that their businesses are protected as well? I give you kudos because I think it's a very well thought out list of objectives in terms of the order of importance.

Sarah Nicastro: The other thing I think is important, and it reminds me actually of a conversation I was having earlier today, where we were talking about, let's just say transformation in general, right? It doesn't matter if it's transforming because COVID-19 struck, or it doesn't matter if it's transforming because we're introducing a new technology or a new service offering. Just any transformation. The point that was brought up is that all too often, companies will focus on the plan instead of the objective, and get caught up in a lot of the detail and the how, versus are we just meeting the objective? I think the fact that you recognized, okay, for us to navigate this huge wealth of change, we really need to be clear on what do we need to stay focused on, what are our objectives? Those are critical to us. The, how we do that, can be flexible.

Sarah Nicastro: That's very good, I think, and hopefully, has kept you guys pretty well in line through this. I know that different pockets of the world are being affected differently by COVID. But I know that, generally speaking, restaurant industry has been one of the more impacted spaces. Those customers really do need that support. I think that your mission to be remembered as a company that was there for them, to help them after all of this, is a long-term smart move. Go ahead.

Reeve Bunn: Sarah, you made me think of one other comment. You're right about how the how in the execution can evolve and change because of the situation being rapidly evolving. I even go back to the number one pillar we had talking about the safety of the walk through that, we very, very immediately, of course, you're thinking about the physical well-being and the physical safety of our people that are out there in front of customers, or handling deliveries that have frontline type roles. Then, as it evolves, and as you learn more, you become very conscious of the, either mental or financial wellbeing of those that aren't necessarily even on the front lines, that are performing other roles are in a position that they can do so safely and remotely from their homes, but you go, okay, well, there are other needs to meet here that also fall under this umbrella of employee safety and wellness during this time.

Reeve Bunn: How do we ensure some of those people? That evolves into, well, what can we do on the mental health side? How can we communicate enough so that our team knows what's going on with the business, what's going on with our customers. So, we're doing this via video., and I feel like I've never been on video so much in my life because that evolved into twice weekly. I would do an all staff video that I'd record and send out. Could include QA, could include updates about any of those three pillars and what's going on. I have a feeling like our whole team is probably sick and tired of seeing my face, but it was one of those things of, you learn that part of that how for safety is over communication in 100 different ways. You're right, in that the tactics have evolved and have changed along the way, but the pillars remain the same.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Those tactics are going to continue to evolve as recovery ramps. There's really no firm variables right now. Everything is very fluid. That how, that plan has to continue to morph, but having those pillars to hold true to, and to keep you focused on what you've determined is most important for the business is a really good guiding post for seeing the company through. You touched on this a bit as you were describing some of the ways that DSL has become creative in helping customers through this time. But even prior to COVID-19, DSL had introduced what you refer to with customers as all in one, or what I would refer to as a contract based approach to service.

Sarah Nicastro: You've been on this path and you've recognized the need and opportunity to do that. You've seen some increased interest in that program and in those offerings as the situation has unfolded. I'm hoping you can share two things. The first would be, just discussing about overall for DSL. Why is it important to embrace this outcomes based service approach? Then secondly, how has that interest of all during COVID, and how have you been able to ramp up or rely on some of those programs to help your customers right now?

Reeve Bunn: Sure. Well, I think on the first part of the question, in terms of why this philosophy, in our opinion, works and why our customers seem to like it, is that, at the end of the day, it aligns the service providers values and outcomes with the customers. All of the other pieces side, which there are many other great pieces of a program like this. Just that piece alone, it brings you onto the same side of the table, and you're all striving for the same thing. I don't say this under the guise that I think that service providers are perceived generally being on the other side of the table, but you do have competing interests when your model is a more traditional one. If I get compensated to come out and spend my time servicing you, in a backwards way, I have an incentive to come out and service you more.

Reeve Bunn: Obviously, that's not what the customer wants. They want you to service them less. When you join them on the other side of that table, and you say, "Listen, I'm absorbing the risk here just as much as you are, and in the same way that you don't want me in your business or in your restaurant, because I'm in your way and that means that you have a problem, we don't want to be there either, because now I'm not getting paid any more for that." You can open up all kinds of different conversations, in our experience, than you would otherwise be able to do. It leads to things like, how can we help you, customer, become a better operator? How can we spend more time training your employees on non-repair related functions of the things in your business that we support?

Reeve Bunn: All of a sudden, the dynamic shifts, and the feedback going both ways dramatically improves. That's been our main eye opening aha, and there are many others. I think that the ability to just add in more pieces that are valuable to everybody is way different. You can bolt on pieces of a solution that, if you were doing time, you'd be thinking they're sitting there thinking, okay, well where's the revenue model in this, whether that's a new technology or whether that's an app, or whatever it could be. Well, now you've got the platform to incorporate it into the same system, the same revenue tool, and kind of have it all work out.

Reeve Bunn: I think it requires a lot of internal maneuvering and you've got to have good data to build a good program, but once you do so, it's shown to be pretty beneficial to us. Then to the second part of the question talking about in the current environment, what happens and what has happened to us, well, again, it has given us this added layer of flexibility. We were able to speak to our customers that are part of our subscription model program or our outcome based program and say, okay, well, let's talk about what the landscape looks like for you, what kind of state is the business in right now, and then how can we just tweak the program for a while to meet whatever needs you have? We're not locked into some rigorous rigid contract.

Reeve Bunn: We've got flexibility. Ultimately, the program's designed to meet your needs, and your needs are different right now than they were three months ago, or than they'll probably be in a year and a half. We could pivot really fluidly and really quickly. The programs just morphed. Whether that was the intervals of a maintenance package, whether that was the amount of equipment that was running in the store, whether that was the specifics around the payment term of the subscription, we're able to just maneuver these buttons in creative ways that lets everybody succeed.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's a really good point. I've been talking with some other manufacturers that are navigating this crisis. Right now, companies don't ... they don't want to invest in new equipment. They're in cost savings mode, and they want to figure out, no, we'd rather invest in service because we'd rather keep what we have going as long as we can until we see what's coming next. Where for some of those organizations their manufacturing revenue has dropped, but their service revenue is increasing. We did a podcast a few weeks ago with Park Place Technologies, which is a company that provides IT services. They quickly recognize like these big capex expenditures and these big long-term contracts and these huge decisions, these are going to be put on hold, so let's just app quick and be nimble and start figuring out what do our customers want and need right now.

Sarah Nicastro: I think that's important. To your point earlier on, when you referenced the supplier you were using that treated you in that way, it's something you'll remember for a very long time. Yes, this is a hard challenging time, but it is ultimately, temporary. If you can just adjust for now to serve your customers in a bit of a different way, it gives you an opportunity to build and nurture that relationship so that as things normalize, you're in a good position to evolve that and grow that over time. You've seen increased interest in that program, both in evolving it, but I would assume possibly also companies that weren't leveraging it before becoming more open to doing so. Is that correct?

Reeve Bunn: That is correct. Yes.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think, it's funny how it parallels what we were talking about at the beginning in the sense of, those customers don't care so much about the plan. They don't care so much about the how, they care about the what. When you start talking about an outcomes-based model, they just want whatever that outcome is. If it's X percent uptime, or whatever those pillars are for them, they just want you to deliver on what matters for their business. I think that, for the companies that can start to brainstorm how to make that happen, like you said, it's a lot of onus on you to change your business internally to meet those demands. But I think it's very much the future of service.

Sarah Nicastro: I think it tends to get very oversimplified in discussions because it's like, okay, outcomes-based service is the way the industry is heading, so get on board. It's like, yes. Okay. I think we're all pretty much agreeing on that, but there are layers, and layers, and layers, and layers of change that a business like yours has to make to ultimately evolve to such a model. I guess that leads us to the next question and back to the title or the theme this episode, which is, you've been on this journey, right? This isn't a new journey. You didn't just decide to start doing this or going down this path, but it has accelerated it for you.

Sarah Nicastro: I think that that is a shared theme. One of the things you said to me when we spoke last, that I really like is, you said it's inspiring how fast we can change. I like that quote for a few different reasons, but tell us what you mean by that. Tell us how you've been able to be agile and nimble and what lessons you've learned as this has unfolded.

Reeve Bunn: Yeah. Well, and your world is pretty comfortable. I would say we've never been a complacent company by any stretch, but you start to think that there's a lot of different things that you can do at any given time. Then you get into early March, and all of a sudden, all of the non-necessities go away, your focus becomes ... it's laser focused. The speed at which you start to do things, it's quite amazing to step back from it and look at it, and say, in the normal course of business, what we just did in a week, we probably would have, for a lot of the right reasons, done that over the course of a couple of months, let's say. All of a sudden, in a way, it reminds you of what you're truly capable of, but I think, ultimately, people that are in roles of leadership, you got to take that away as that's the job here going forward is, what are we putting aside and not doing is just as important as what we are doing.

Reeve Bunn: Because when we do direct our energies and our efforts behind something, if we truly do it, boy, oh, boy, we can do it really well and we can do it really quickly. Now, what slows us down is these things that we take on, on the periphery, that stuff around the edge that sometimes internally we call it shiny things. The things that are not necessarily the most important things for the business. They seem neat, they seem like they might be a small win, and before you know it, you're consumed by 15 of those things and you aren't getting anything truly done, even the stuff that's really, really, really important. So, the Stephen Covey motto, first things first. If you focus in, it's amazing what you can do.

Reeve Bunn: I'm sure there are so many organizations that have been reminded of that over the course of the past few months, but that is very inspiring. That is an amazing thing to take away from all of this, is the power of the organization to truly move when it sets its mind to it. You can move a mountain pretty fast, way faster than we all probably thought we could have back in January.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I agree. That's why I like that quote so much. This situation has forced companies to change. I think that's very uncomfortable, but like you said, it really gives you confidence in what you're able to accomplish. I think that that's a lesson that's going to stick with people for a long time. I think that really, truly, from a service perspective, I think that, as recovery from this begins, we're going to see huge spikes in innovation and evolution and digital transformation, and all of those things, because some of this ... resistance is one thing, de-prioritization, distraction, all of those things that have kind of held that progress back, I think a lot of that is being pushed to the side, and companies are seeing that they can and why they should. I think it'll be quite interesting to see where things go.

Sarah Nicastro: But as we talk about being nimble, and agile, and knowing that you can change faster than you thought you could, it isn't just about speed. I want to talk a little bit about what else that entails. It's not just about moving fast, it's about being creative, it's about being customer focused, it's about being internally aligned. What are some of the key aspects or ingredients, if you will, that DSL has been able to put together to be able to move quickly in adapting to these circumstances, but in a very strategic way?

Reeve Bunn: Yeah. Well, and I think this comes down to really what underpins the business before you're in crisis mode. I think you don't wake up in a crisis and figure out how to become innovative or figure out how to understand customers' needs. It's got to be there beforehand. My answer to that question, Sarah, would be falling back on, ultimately, what's the purpose and what are the values in the company? We've got a very set purpose, and we've got core values that have been established for a long time. We weren't going into a crisis trying to figure those things out and trying to go, okay, well, now what are we going to do about this? We could go into the crisis pretty self-assured of what our steps would be because our core values have always been that we're customer-obsessed, we're innovative, we find solutions, we're good teammates, and we have fun.

Reeve Bunn: Those are the five things that have been up on the walls here for a long time. Even to add a layer to it, when I say a long time, I would say those are the things, even if they weren't spelled out, that have been underlying values in this business for decades or even generations, well, Well, well before my time here, or most of our current staff's time here. We were innovative in the 1930s or in the 1920s, in that time in context. I think it's ultimately about, you're going to react to the situation based on the type of company that you are. In our case, the ability to react in a customer-centric way is driven by the fact that we see ourselves as a customer-centric business.

Reeve Bunn: Whether we're in crisis or not, that's just part of what we think about all the time. Naturally, when you jump into, and you fall into crisis mode, that gets enhanced. You turn the dial up a few notches, but we're fortunate in that we weren't coming to this blind, or we weren't coming to this going, okay, well, now, how do we figure out what our customers want? We were intentionally thinking about that all the time, or if you turn it to the innovation and technology side, we're not coming into this crisis thinking about, okay, now what technology do we implement to help us through all of this? Or what innovation do we come up with that makes us better? Well, those are things that are part of our roadmap, all of it.

Reeve Bunn: Again, yeah, maybe you move on and faster. Maybe you set some of the lower priority pieces there to the side, but you're still working on many of the same things that you were doing before. It's probably the old adage of the preparedness piece. If the foundations were laid before you were in this situation, I think the odds are that you probably have a higher chance of success as you go through it.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's a good point. But what's interesting to me about DSL's story, and I want to be clear that I would say this prior to COVID-19 as well. This is not specific to how you've navigated these particular challenges, but the way the business carries itself, even prior to this. A lot of 104 year old companies really struggle with a culture of innovation, genuinely struggle. Their history can oftentimes be their biggest, to recognizing some of the opportunities we've discussed today and progressing the business forward. I think that it's a pretty common challenge that I see. One of the things that's really interesting to me is that DSL prides itself so much on innovation as a key trait and as something that the company lives by.

Sarah Nicastro: I'm just curious, how and why you think that is, and perhaps, how that's been embedded into and fostered in the company culture, because it's something that is very easy to say, but really difficult to do.

Reeve Bunn: Yeah. Well, I think it's a bit of the tagline of the times. I think any anybody that you meet and that you talk to about the business that they work in or the business that they run, you'd be hard pressed to look somebody in the eyes and have them tell you they don't think they're innovative or aspire to be innovative. In our case, I go back to what I was saying a few minutes ago. It's fortunate, on the one hand, but this business was innovative in 1920, it was innovative in 1950, it was innovative as it came out of the second World War. We totally shifted the industry we serve altogether in the 1960s. We have this ingrained in us, in this business, which is a very lucky thing. But I think in terms of how do you try to foster that and how do you maintain it and make sure that it's genuine, I think one big part of it is that we're sort of trained to be very afraid of failure.

Reeve Bunn: I think that the two go hand in hand. If you want to really position yourself as a company that's innovative, you are just not going to get it right all the time. You're going to get it wrong, you're going to make mistakes, and you can't have one without the other. You've got to be okay with not everything working. That's hard for some types of businesses and some leaders. It's expensive to make mistakes, it takes up resources and time, it loses focus, it's hard on the ego. You got to be willing to make mistakes. We make mistakes all the time. We tried a lot of stuff, not all of it sticks, not all of it works, but you've got to maintain that zest and that desire to keep trying.

Reeve Bunn: Then the second thing I think that helps in that is what we're forever trying to do, is when a big idea hits our field of vision, and you start to think about, how do you get there? That's always an intimidating and nerve wracking long rope, kind of like this. If you sit there and say you're going to run a marathon tomorrow, it's really hard to run a marathon tomorrow. If you sit there and start training for it and you figure out how you're going to run a mile tomorrow, you can probably run a mile, and then you can run another mile. It's about taking that objective that you have, that innovative goal that you have and starting to work it backwards, and say to yourself, well, what is it is the easiest first step that we can take?

Reeve Bunn: How can we test it? How can we do our, in lean startup terms, how can we do our minimum viable product here? That becomes far less intimidating and far less scary. You can start the path to validation before you sunk in a million dollars into a new software or whatever big leap you have to make. Go, well, how do I test it for $5,000 before we go and spend a whole bunch of money on it? Then the last, I guess, exercise that I think is a valuable one when you're facing these decisions about jumping into something or trying to continue to innovate is just really being clear and getting on the table, what it is that you're afraid of and what it is that could go wrong. I think a really good snapshot of this, someone who probably a lot of people have heard of, Tim Ferriss, has a Ted talk about an exercise he calls fear setting.

Reeve Bunn: To butcher it and paraphrase it a bit, essentially you put that big decision or that big scary thing that you want to move towards on the wall, and then you quickly list out, what is everything that could go wrong with it? What are all the thousand ways that it could not work? Then if that were to happen, have there ever been people anywhere in the history of time that have mitigated that type of a challenge or that type of a failure. As you build out your worst case, it's pretty clearly in your head, and all of a sudden, as you worked through that, you go, okay, well, even the worst case, isn't really so bad. You can overcome it, you'll learn from it. The odds of the worst case happening are relatively small.

Reeve Bunn: It's just that little bit of encouragement and self-validation about how you can try things and move forward without all of the barriers and the obstacles and the weight that generally come with things that are deemed as innovative. Those are the types of discussions, and those are the types of things we try to do here at DSL. You're right. It's easy as you get established. You can sit and rest on your laurels, but we're forever chasing that next thing. You'll pay a price for that. There's a cost to trying to be on the leading edge of things, but if you really believe in it, then you're willing to pay the price.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I was smiling to myself. I was just thinking back to in my very early years of being like in an editor in chief role, when I first started doing a lot of public speaking, I was terrified. I remember one time sitting in a conference room talking to my mentor, and he said, "What's the worst that's going to happen? Really tell me. You get up on stage, and what is the absolute worst thing you could say or do, and then what's going to happen as a result of that?" I just sat there, and he's like, "Even if you completely bomb, it's going to be over in 20 minutes and you're going to move on with your life." You know what I mean?

Sarah Nicastro: I was just thinking back on that experience. Also thinking about that, from a leadership perspective, how important and powerful it is for you to be normalizing that fear and modeling the behavior that like, hey, it's okay to have ideas that don't work, it's okay to try things that fail. I do it, you can do it, the whole company should do it. Because innovation doesn't happen if Reeve Bunn is the only person being creative. It really does have to be something that everyone within the company feels empowered to do. The other thing I was thinking about as you were talking is that, like you said at the beginning, it's very much a buzzword, a tagline like many other things.

Sarah Nicastro: The difficult part for me, as a journalist, with these buzzwords and taglines is they are overused, but they're also important. There's a true definition of them and there's meat behind it, but then they get overused to the point where they're kind of these watered down terms. The other thing I was thinking about, as you were saying that, is, I think companies also tend to focus on innovation in one area. Oftentimes, that's technological innovation. What's the new tool we could use to transform everything or what-have-you? I think when you look at a true culture of innovation, it's happening in every area of the business. Particularly related to today's conversation, when you talk about a journey towards outcome-based service, like we said, you're fundamentally changing the whole business.

Sarah Nicastro: You need someone that's going to come to you and say, "Hey, Reeve, have you ever thought about ... what if we just did X, Y, Z for customers?" You know what I mean? It could be something completely different than what you do today, but you need to hear those ideas, or you're never going to disrupt, you're just going to incrementally improve. It's just some interesting things, I think, for listeners to think about related to common traps, I guess, of throwing the word innovation around. I don't know if you have any thoughts on that.

Reeve Bunn: Well, you saying that I give full license and credit to our IT manager, Edward Lipin, who you know a little bit, Sarah, but he's forever reminding us of that very point. A good technology will not solve a bad process and will not solve a lack of innovation that it’s trying to fix. You could buy the world's best technology, and if you don't have the pieces behind the scenes working, you're just going to drag your awesome technology into your poor process and the technology. Yeah, I think that it's easy to put technology up as this silver bullet that solves all ailments. Really, I think it's more of an accelerant. If you have the wheels spinning and you're doing the right things and you're running a good business, technology can help pull, volts you to the next level.

Reeve Bunn: If you're in a position where you've got some of those underlying challenges, it's not going to be a saving grace that's going to change your habits, change your processes, change the beliefs and the feelings of your team. All that stuff is still going to be there when the new technology, the switch turns on and you're using it.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. Yep. Okay. Last question for today. I've really enjoyed asking people this question over the last couple of months, which is, what have you personally learned, or what are you personally taking away from this crisis? What's the biggest lesson as a leader that you've learned on a personal level in leading DSL through these times?

Reeve Bunn: Yeah, and I don't think this is going to be anything that's going to surprise anybody, but I've been reminded of just how important, clear, consistent communication is. Just seeing its ability to either put our team at ease, or if it's lacking to amplify the stresses that our team is already feeling, I think what we touched on early in the conversation, I think a huge takeaway is the responsibility of a leader to drive the focus of a business. Again, what people are able to do when the rest is cleared away and they're very clear about what's important to work on. Then I guess on a different level, maybe a more personal level, just the awareness to not get so caught up in it all.

Reeve Bunn: I think that the ability to just step back and avoid the bombardment for a while, to look at the bigger picture of things. I think I've seen on your LinkedIn profile, I think I've seen you post a few stoic quotes in recent months. Not to get into a philosophy discussion, but that type of thinking and those types of beliefs have been something that I've thought a lot about in these last few months. All this has happened before and more. We aren't the first people in humanity to deal with this, and we'll come out the other end. It's important for us as leaders to be a voice of calm, to be a voice of reason, and ultimately, to care for our people at times like this. I would say those are a few things that definitely have jumped out at me and have really stuck with me over the last few months.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. It's a very chaotic time, and to your point, you do have to figure out, how can you step back a bit and keep perspective? That's the thing I've tried really hard to do, not to put my husband on blast, but he doesn't listen to my podcast anyway. The other night he said, "I just want to go on vacation." I said, "Okay." I do too, but our family is healthy, our family is safe. We've both been able to stay gainfully employed throughout this situation thus far, and we have a roof over our heads. So, we have a lot to be grateful for. We'll get a vacation again at some point. Of course, he doesn't appreciate that at all.

Sarah Nicastro: I'm not saying that I always have that perspective. I'm saying, when I catch myself in those pity me, boo hoo moments, I bring it back to remembering how much that we do have to be thankful for and what's really important. I think that's critical to do. As a leader of a company, in your situation, going back to where we started with those key focus areas and being able to remember, how do we take care of our people? That is most important for all of us.

Reeve Bunn: Yeah. You saying that, maybe this is a better way to say it, but where can you direct your energy that is within your realm of control? There is just so much going on out in the world right now, and it can absorb all of your energy. You could read a new news story about any of the things going on in society every five minutes and be the chicken with its heads cut off, it's running from one direction to the next. Just remaining focused on what is it that I can impact, what is it that I can control, and the stuff that I can't, I just got to set that to the side for a while.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Don't expend your energy on it. Because it's a finite resource, especially right now. Everyone is up against things that we're just not used to dealing with. People are trying to educate their kids at home while they're working, and health concerns, and all of this stuff. You can't waste that precious energy on anything other than what is most important, whether that's in our personal lives or whether that's as a leader of a business. You have to pick that path and pick those critical elements and learn how to let the rest of it go. Well, thank you very much for being here and for sharing today. I really, really appreciate it.

Reeve Bunn: Yeah, it was my pleasure. I really enjoyed the conversation. Thank you.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. You can find more content on many of the themes that we've discussed today by visiting us online at You can also find us on LinkedIn and Twitter @TheFutureOfFS. The Future of Field Service Podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more about IFS service management solutions by visiting As always, thank you for listening.