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Looking back on the first year with SoCom

SoCom, an ERP software provider for the textile and laundry industry, is based in Krumbach, Germany. Their product has over 40 software modules, apps, and web-based solutions designed to provide consistent process management, and complete traceability of laundry items for their customers. SoCom has more than 350 customers across 18 countries in Europe and the Middle East.

In 2022, Wolfgang Faist, Chairman of SoCom, and Michael Wieser, a senior leader at the company who was promoted to CEO when joining Everfield, went to the market to explore options for selling SoCom. Wolfgang was ready to step back to the second line, and together with Michael was looking for a partner that would ensure the continued legacy of SoCom’s brand, customers, and existing team.

After many months of speaking with different acquirers and defining what they wanted the future of SoCom to include, they chose Everfield as their partner for further growth.


Setting the foundations 


Once the transaction closed, SoCom started the onboarding process to the Everfield ecosystem. Onboarding begins with an on-site meeting between an Everfield Strategic Business Partner and SoCom leadership. Michael met with Wernher Pikali, Strategic Business Partner for DACH at Everfield.

“From the beginning it was great because Wernher speaks my language,” says Michael. “I feel much more comfortable speaking German, and it's easier when there's no language barrier. Wernher was helpful from the beginning, and the whole team likes him.” 

Strategic Business Partners work with CEOs to plan for the company’s future growth aspirations and set the business expectations of what being part of the Everfield ecosystem means, including what was discussed during the acquisition process. This is done collaboratively, and involves setting a timeline for key projects, a five-year financial plan, defining ways of working together, gathering data to track and analyse, and setting up measures of success for each department. 

Departments are given business ratios that guide growth targets and business goals, and allow the company’s leadership team to make data-informed business decisions by looking at a few spreadsheet rows. These are set with the Strategic Business Partner, Financial Business Partner, and portfolio leadership team, ensuring everyone feels they are ambitious but realistic. 

“It's important to me as a Strategic Business Partner to really understand how SoCom is structured, the setting that they’re operating in, what their preferences are, and how they work with their employees, to make sure we can be the most helpful,” says Wernher. 

After the in-person meeting, Strategic Business Partners meet weekly with CEOs to discuss accomplishments, challenges, and areas where they may need additional help from the Everfield team.

Together with Finance Business Partners, a point of contact for all finance-related questions, CEOs receive financial and strategic advice about their businesses on a regular basis. Yannick Schmidt, Everfield's Finance Business Partner for the DACH region, supports SoCom with financial planning and reporting.

“I think it all starts by building a solid relationship based on trust, so we can really be helpful to each other,” says Wernher.


A relationship based on trust


Building a foundation of transparency and mutual respect between CEOs and Strategic Business Partners is what sets these working relationships up for long-term success. 

“Wernher and Yannick are like partners on my side,” says Michael. “I can ask them almost any question and they're helpful. They're partners, and it's great to have them.” 

Wernher believes open communication about business activities promotes strong collaboration. CEOs understand that Strategic Business Partners are there to support them, and always have their business’ best interests in mind. 

“I really value the relationship because of our transparent and honest interactions,” says Wernher. 

“We're very open and honest about things going well, but also don't mind speaking about problems. We can solve specific problems in an efficient and structured way, because we address them early on, and aren’t shy to give each other feedback. I think that's something that really stands out in our relationship.” 


Making data-driven decisions 


Having the tools to understand the business even better is something Michael highlights as having had a positive impact on how SoCom operates. 

“Since we’ve joined Everfield, our decisions are more driven by data than gut feeling,” says Michael. “That's very important to us.” 

Working together with Wernher and the Everfield platform team, who support portfolio companies on sales, marketing, tech, and product initiatives, the SoCom team can make decisions based on a deeper understanding of their business data. This helps them build processes for repeatable, sustainable growth. 


Building a sales team for scale 


SoCom professionalised their sales team within the first few months of joining Everfield supported by Wernher and functional Sales Lead, Filipe Bakaj. 

“We didn’t have sales managers before Everfield,” says Michael. “Most of the laundries who search for a new solution would call us and then we would start the sales process.” 

Filipe and Wernher worked with Michael to build an outbound sales team with dedicated sales managers. Within one quarter, SoCom had implemented a sales qualification process, implemented sales tools within their CRM, and started tracking sales activities. SoCom also defined the scope of the roles for relocated internal resources, created an international sales presence, hired new sales team members, and defined commission structures in less than six months. By the end of 2023, they had built CRM dashboards, and had a sales pipeline filled with accurate data. 

“What we have achieved in the last couple of months, building a proper sales and marketing team, that's incredible to be honest,” says Michael.

“You can't do it by yourself without reading lots of books, or watching several videos on how to structure and build a sales team.”

Everfield’s team builds processes and projects based on their experience of working across many European and international B2B businesses. This practical knowledge based on facing similar challenges in different scenarios is very difficult to find in books. 

SoCom also internally promoted a project manager who was passionate about sales to an International Sales Manager after a few months in an interim role. “It’s great that employees you already have also have chances to grow,” says Michael. 

Everfield also acquired SoCom Scandinavia, a subsidiary reseller focused on the Nordic markets. This increased their sales team headcount, and meant specialised knowledge and talent in their industry was retained within the business. 


Advice for other founders: success in a post-COVID business world needs a dedicated network 


Michael explains that in a post-COVID world, software companies are competing for talent on a global scale. “It was very difficult to keep employees and hire new ones,” he says. People living in Krumbach can now work for tech companies all over Germany, Europe, and the US. He says that an investor can help small and medium businesses hire and keep important employees.

Everfield supports portfolio companies with an in-house talent acquisition team, reducing their dependence on external recruitment firms. This includes giving them chances to learn and grow, and having the security of a long-term financial partner. 

“My advice is to go with an investor because the IT industry is not getting easier,” says Michael. “If you’re a family owned business, you are alone.” 

Having a strong network of peers who can share their own experience and approaches to solving challenges can help companies grow faster. Michael mentions that an investor can provide that kind of networking opportunity. 

“If you go with an investor like Everfield, we have many other portfolio companies at the moment,” says Michael. “We all face the same problems and can help each other. In the future, hopefully we will get more portfolio companies and can help each other grow.” 

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Henning Schreiber
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Henning Schreiber
Head of Acquisitions