Inn-Flow’s Founder and CEO, John Erhart, appeared on the leadership podcast series hosted by Walk West’s CEO, Donald Thompson. This episode examined Inn-Flow’s success as a startup where Erhart indulged listeners on Inn-Flow’s purpose, company culture, and commitment to constant improvement.
Erhart began the development of Inn-Flow software to meet the needs of his family’s hotel business, CMC Hotels. With his background as a hotelier and software developer, Erhart describes himself as a “product CEO” and used his dual expertise to chase an opportunity.
He recognized the need for a hotel-specific software platform to fill the gaps other software left, and solve other issues confronted by owners and operators. During its inception, Erhart centered Inn-Flow’s functionality around three core values.
“When I developed Inn-Flow, I was trying to solve three main problems that all hoteliers have,” Erhart explained. “The first one would be visibility. Visibility in terms of real-time metrics to see your entire portfolio. Visibility of every department in a hotel from a single location. The ability to use those analytics to drive decisions and to manage any opportunities.”
“The second was process control. Inn-Flow is more than just a bunch of different applications; it’s a management system. It’s got checks and balances built-in so that owners know that their system and processes are being followed at each property.”
“And then automation. There are so many manual processes in other applications, and outside these applications, you worked in spreadsheets. Hospitality is all about service. If a GM is stuck in their office working on spreadsheets and data entry, they’re not providing service to guests. Inn-Flow’s design is to simplify the processes and automate recurring tasks.”
Thompson identified that this flexibility as a technology platform is what makes Inn-Flow a “thought leader” and “best of breed” among its competitors. Erhart’s decision to create Inn-Flow as a SaaS model is closely tied to his character and drive as a hotelier and technology expert.
“The SaaS model was always more appealing to me because it’s kind of a commitment to constant improvement,” Erhart shared. “Your client has the right to walk away at any point – they’re not locked into a five-year deal where they have to pay for upgrades. The expectation in the SaaS model is that you’re going to have a product that is constantly evolving and providing the customer with new and better ways of getting their work done.”
During the interview, Erhart told a story about Inn-Flow’s first trade show. After signing on new clients, he decided to stop sales and make room for feedback. He wanted to concentrate on implementation and support and identified that Inn-Flow’s success would hinge on how users interact with the platform.
User response remains a valuable element to Erhart and remains a cornerstone of Inn-Flow’s overall development strategy.
“We get very excited when clients come to us with feedback,” Erhart enthused. “We meet once a week as an entire company to talk about the feedback we’ve received within the week, and which one of those items we can elevate and add value to our clients. We then push those through the development pipeline.”
Erhart continued, “We’re an agile development shop, so we make a point of being able to identify improvement and push them out. The support team gets excited to show and explain how these new features can solve some big and small problems that our clients were having.”
Inn-Flow’s mission is to use the latest in technology to solve challenges common to the hotel industry, improve efficiency, and drive performance. Inn-Flow has worked relentlessly to achieve its mission and continues to be a platform that supports and elevates hoteliers.
Stream the full podcast here to learn more about Inn-Flow. Erhart discusses other topics including his strategies behind using offshore labor, making key hires, marketing changes, company culture, and continued growth as a startup.