Insider View

Kanchan Java

General Manager, Charter

Hometown: Toronto, ON - Canada

Years in the industry: 5

Favorite Book: Anything by John Grisham

Dealer Group’s culture in one word: MERITOCRACY

If you’re considering selling your software business, it’s crucial to partner with a buyer who not only grasps the intricacies of the software business and dealer industry but also has a track record of nurturing and growing successful, enduring businesses.

Tell us about your journey with Constellation Software.

I joined Constellation in 2017 when I stepped into the role of Director of Mergers and Acquisitions. Prior to that, I spent seven years working in Corporate Development, Acquisitions, and Strategy for a private equity company in the logistics industry.

Software was a new vertical for me, but the skills I developed in evaluating small businesses and engaging in roll-up strategies in my previous role proved invaluable. They gave me the discernment necessary to identify and secure three significant deals — Customer Insight for Homebuilders, and c-Systems and Charter for the Dealership Group. I was able to do this all within my two-year tenure in mergers and acquisitions.

After a pause for maternity leave, I returned with a drive to broaden my expertise, stepping into an operations role. As the Director of Operations Improvement for our OPE group—which encompassed c-Systems and Charter—I was involved in several key projects. My team and I improved support response times, elevated our Net Promoter Score, transitioned to more efficient quoting and ticket support tools, and established a cloud team dedicated to the reliability of our services.

With the strategic decision to streamline Charter's management, I eagerly pursued the chance to guide this transition. My journey came full circle in April 2022 when I was appointed General Manager of Charter, ready to leverage my experience and strategic insight to drive the company forward.

What was your biggest challenge when you became a General Manager, and how did you overcome it?

When I became General Manager, my initial challenge was building a strong management team. We had a renewed focus on growth, so it took some rallying and new additions to the team to get everyone aligned on this new goal.

Equally important was mastering the art of quick decision-making. I’m naturally inclined toward doing a lot of analyses, but as a GM, you aren’t always afforded that luxury. I had to quickly learn how to gauge the significance of each situation and determine the level of analysis needed to act thoughtfully but decisively.

How successful is Charter today relative to pre-acquisition?

Since joining Constellation, we’ve made a lot of investments in Charter – investments that would have been significantly more difficult for an independent business owner to make on their own, especially one considering selling or transitioning towards retirement. Leveraging the Constellation name, we’ve also been able to hire a top-tier management team that’s now steering the company.

In terms of technology, we’ve shifted from outdated data centers to Azure Cloud services that represent a more robust and sustainable solution that our customers can rely on. This transition necessitated the assembly of a specialized cloud team dedicated to enhanced monitoring and service stability.

Research and development have also expanded under our wing. Today, we have the largest R&D team in Charter's history, fueling enhancements in user experience, functionality, and manufacturer integrations. Our latest software release has notably revolutionized the rental module, marking the first major update it has seen in years.

On the customer support side, we've pioneered an online knowledge base to help customers find the answers they’re looking for and share them with their team. And finally, responding to a longstanding customer demand, we're on the cusp of enriching our dealer management software suite with mobile applications, ensuring that Charter's offerings not only meet but exceed our customers' evolving business needs.

What’s the biggest benefit of joining a group of companies like Constellation Dealer Group in your mind?

You become part of a fabric of success that's been woven from the best practices and collective experiences of over 800 software companies.

It's a win-win for employees, too. They get access to new opportunities for growth and development that perhaps wouldn't be available otherwise. We're talking about career trajectories that intersect with some of the brightest minds in the industry.

With the Dealer Group, there's also access to capital that's imperative for strategic investments in the business to fuel its growth and innovation. Lastly, and this is crucial, there's a commitment here to never sell. The relationship doesn't end post-acquisition; it deepens. We believe in sustainable growth with a vision for long-term success and stability for everyone involved.

What’s your favorite part of being part of the Constellation Dealer portfolio?

There are unmatched opportunities for growth and learning at every turn. I’m certain that my career transition from M&A to Operations to General Manager is unique to the ecosystem that Constellation has created and would not have been possible anywhere else.

It’s definitely tough doing things you’ve never done before – stepping into roles and tasks that are completely new and push you outside of your comfort zone. But it’s precisely this environment at Constellation that has given me the confidence to strive for excellence and continuous improvement. It’s an empowering experience that encourages not just business growth but individual growth as well.

What advice would you give to a software business owner in the dealer industry who is thinking about selling their company?

If you’re considering selling your software business, it’s crucial to partner with a buyer who not only grasps the intricacies of the software business and dealer industry but also has a track record of nurturing and growing successful, enduring businesses.

Constellation Dealer Group never sells their businesses. We hold onto acquisitions to maintain the original vision and mission of your business. This way, your family legacy can live on while ensuring lasting opportunities for your staff and minimal disruption to customers.