Your Ability to Handle Pricing Conflicts Can Make or Break You
Corbin Smith
How you handle pricing conflicts with customers will define your business. Think about it: If things blow up with a customer who thinks you’re gauging them, it has the potential to create a ripple effect online and in their network that could sabotage future business. Being an all-star in handling disputes and conflict between your team and your customers is like a badge of honour. Happy customers will leave positive reviews, and frustrated customers will have their problems resolved before they ever have the chance to air their grievances online. This is serious stuff, with a huge impact on your bottom line. Over 20% of the 1,000 reviews we analyzed in the restoration industry mention pricing conflicts, and even 1 negative review online turns away 22% of new prospects. The good news is that billing and collections don’t always have to be a minefield: the processes and culture you implement in your business around money issues can be a game changer. The Catalyst Behind Pricing Disputes To understand how to handle pricing conflicts, it’s important to know the reasons a customer's fuse might run out, exploding into a frenzy of complaints. Over the course of our research for our recently released e-book “An Analysis of Over 1,000 Bad Reviews”, we found that 20% of all reviews mentioned feeling overcharged for work conducted. Of this 20%, there were crystal clear reasons why customers got upset: Surprise or hidden charges on a final invoice Disparities between work expected and work conducted Dishonest representation of labor or materials provided 68% of the time, one of these three issues were cited as a primary reason for a customer's negative review in this category of our research. If your heart rate has increased slightly due to flashbacks of angry customers complaining over issues similar to those listed above, we’ve got good news. Here are some solutions you can use right now to help dam the flow of any future pricing disputes. Explain Price Changes Proactively and Honestly There are times when the quickest “sell” for a restoration business is to brag to a customer how quickly a job will get done. Not only quickly, but cheaply as well. Common sales phrases are things like, “This job will take us no time at all”, or “We can do this job cheaper than anyone else on the market”. While these things may seem true at the time, they don’t leave any room for unforeseen price inflation on materials, hidden damages that require additional equipment that isn’t seen on first walkthrough, or any other aspects of a job that create “hidden charges”, on a final invoice. Using this sales approach can be a short term gain, but in the long run, it will only set you back. The better, more successful approach is that of the “5-Star Restorer”. Being open and honest with the customer from the start of the job will reduce the likelihood of pricing disputes when it’s time for the final invoice. Continuing with the sales examples from above, better phrasing would be explaining to the customer from the start that although it may be a simple job that usually takes very little time, there are often hidden damages we can’t see that require different equipment, so we can’t guarantee a price right now. If the price does need to increase, be proactive and tell the customer immediately, and if it doesn’t, a customer never left a bad review for paying what they were promised, but at least they knew there could be a possibility. Those who take the “5-Star Restorer” approach are more likely to see returning customers and an increase in leads because of a more consistent positive review chain. After all, research shows that 84% of people trust what online reviewers have to say, so people really do choose their services based on online reviews. Take Photos, and Lots of Them Taking photos of everything you find and see at the outset of a job will give the customer a better understanding of the work that will be conducted. If this type of communication is overlooked, when that final invoice shows up on the customer's doorstep, you run the risk of them being furious when their expectations don’t match reality. For example, if a job requires a basement to be completely restored after a flood, you will estimate it at a certain price point. As the job progresses, you might start ripping up floorboards and carpet only to discover you’re running into dangerous molds that need to be removed before the job can proceed. There is absolutely no way to estimate that for the customer. Taking photos of the mold, and showing the customer immediately will help them understand exactly what the extra work entails, and understand why the price is going to increase. Avoid Bonuses Related to Profitability and Margin As a business owner, it’s easy to tie compensation and incentives with profitability and margin as a way to get your employees to perform better. The higher the profits, the more money you have to pay your employees, right? Wrong. This is a dangerous culture to nurture within your organization because it encourages your top level employees to find ways to weasel their way into a higher salary. This is done by stretching the truth behind labor and materials needed to complete a job, so the profits and margins after the job will be higher than what it really should be. Customers will catch on to this. They will see that they are being duped into paying a bit extra after witnessing what was required on the job from start to finish, and how employees spent their time on the job site. If that’s the case, your business will likely be on the wrong end of a bad review. Instead, focus on customer satisfaction. Project managers who consistently receive positive feedback from customers, whose jobs are finished smoothly without hiccups, should be compensated higher. Doing this will avoid any dishonest representation of material and labor as a way of inflating profit margins. Handling pricing disagreements poorly can cause an onslaught of 1-star reviews. Start implementing some of these tactics in your organization and you will see an increase in happy customers once the final invoice rolls around. If you want to learn more about pricing disagreements and other common ways restoration projects fail leading to 1-star reviews, check out our eBook at https://www.fivestarrestorer.com/. Also check out KnowHow, for step-by-step processes that will help your restoration business provide more consistent results every time. Start getting work done right, and book a demo with our CEO here: https://tryknowhow.com/.
Product Update: New Languages, User Tags, and Privacy Options
Corbin Smith
Our customers have told us over and over - the easier they can communicate with their colleagues, the more often work is done the right way. Along that note, the product team here at KnowHow has been hard at work creating new ways for teams to share information - and the right information - with each other. Here are three new features we launched this month that will continue to change the way work gets done in the restoration industry. New Language Translation Options Restoration teams come from all different backgrounds, and speak all different languages. We wanted to ensure that every member of your team has access to the information they need to get the job done right, with no language barriers. That’s why we’ve added even more translation options to any process in your hub. Users now have the option to translate processes into Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Russian, Hindi, and Portuguese. Assign Tags to Specific Users We’ve added the ability for managers and admins to assign tags to specific users in their hub. This allows you to designate users by their department, location, or any other relevant tags you'd like. In addition to keeping your hub organized, look for additional functionality in the future (including the next feature below 👇) that leverages this ability. New Privacy Settings It’s important the right employees are viewing the right processes, so we’ve added new privacy settings to help with this. Process creators can now adjust who can view specific processes as you’re building them out. On the final step of the process builder, click the “Advanced Setting” drop down, and you will see a few options. Select the “custom settings” option, and you can select who your process can be seen by. Anyone that does not meet the parameters you select will never see that process. We're relentless in our pursuit of finding new ways to optimize how work gets done the right way in the restoration industry. If you're not yet a KnowHow customer, you can book a demo and find out why customers love KnowHow so much they're ordering KnowHow t-shirts for their staff. Want to continue to grow as a restorer? Read our e-book "Delivering 5-Star Restoration Experiences: An Analysis of 1,000 Bad Online Reviews in the Restoration Industry" Check out our podcast based on our e-book, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and anywhere else you get your podcasts Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, where we're sharing new product updates, customer testimonials, insights from our industry-leading research, and more.
The Most Common Problems in the Restoration Industry (From the Perspective of Your Customers)
Corbin Smith
If you had to guess, what do you think would be the most common reasons a restoration project fails? Delays? Bad customer service? A final invoice that comes in too steep? These are common answers from a restorer’s perspective, but a customer might have a very different opinion on the same subject. If you want to be a 5-star restoration company, it starts with knowing what’s important to your customers. In our analysis of over 1,000 bad online reviews of restoration companies in the United States, these are the two biggest pain points customers encountered when a project went off the rails: Poor Communication From the perspective of customers, failure to communicate well came in as the number one problem in the restoration industry, with it being mentioned in nearly 40% of all 1-star reviews we analyzed. When examined closely, there were three types of problems that consistently emerged, leading customers to take their grievances online to Google Reviews to settle the score: Employees not showing up at the agreed upon time Turbulent hand-offs between restoration and remediation teams Customers calling with concerns or complaints being ignored These derailments are especially dangerous because customers are already in a fragile state of mind when restoration services are needed, so it’s understandable that if they are ignored, not kept up to date, or stood-up at an appointed time, they would be frustrated. One horror story in particular had a customer describing being stuck in a hotel for months, unable to get any updates on their situation, or when they would be back at home: "Once our kitchen was gutted for mold treatment our house sat for weeks with no activity. Our contact was not reliable, he would push out dates and lie - I was in a hotel from August until December." Situations like this are a lose-lose for all parties involved: the customer grows increasingly anxious, and the business’ margins get eaten into, and to cap it off they end up with a bad review - a permanent “black mark” online, to showcase how they treated this customer. The good news is, if your business is suffering from bad communication practices, it’s not too late to improve your online ratings. Here are some tangible steps you can put into practice to avoid being plagued by communication-related 1-star reviews: Set expectations throughout the company that phone calls and emails need to be returned ASAP. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable: teach your staff that a quick phone call or a 5 minute conversation with an angry customer is much more effective in the long run than letting the customer sit on their frustrations. Monitor and take action when staff aren’t adhering to customer satisfaction procedures. This can look like a quick conversation with staff, or weekly lunch ‘n’ learns with the team to get everyone on the same page as to what healthy communication looks like. Poor Workmanship Customers complaining about visibly poor workmanship was another one of the most common problems in the restoration industry, being mentioned in almost 30% of all reviews analyzed. This is a consequential complaint, as customers are spending thousands of dollars to get their personal property fixed, expecting it to be done right. Here are a few of the most common contributing factors that led to customers complaining about poor workmanship: Finished products that deteriorate after only a few weeks Jobs that were clearly left incomplete Negligence on behalf of the staff Oftentimes, the breakdown happened towards the end of the job when it was time to finish off the last 10%. In our analysis, we saw that once the majority of the work had wrapped up, staff and managers tended to lose focus and not bring things over the finish line. Over the course of our review, we also saw multiple examples of staff getting lazy, cutting corners, or simply not knowing the proper way to do things and leaving it up to guesswork. Whether intentional or not, these all led to the same result: a 1-star review complaining about poor quality workmanship. However, like almost every problem that comes up, poor workmanship does not have to be your business' downfall. If you’ve already fallen victim to these reviews, it’s never too late to start implementing the proper processes and guidelines your staff can follow to turn things around. As we say in our e-book ‘Delivering 5-Star Restoration Experiences’, “Instead of viewing it as an indictment, view it as found money: low-hanging fruit (e.g., returning a phone call) that could begin to drastically impact your business’ professionalism and customer satisfaction”. Here a few simple things you can implement today: Create step-by-step processes employees can follow that defines what “done” looks like Don’t let individuals with poor work ethic define the culture within your company. Hire people that are driven and up for the task of delivering 5-Star experiences Define expectations at the outset of the job Send out a trusted manager at the completion of each job to sign off on the work, and make sure everything is 100% finished Implementing these few simple tricks into your business will help turn you into a 5-Star restorer customers can trust, and keep turning back to time and time again. Looking for more tangible ways to start eliminating 1-Star reviews? We recently released a first-of-it’s-kind e-book that breaks down our 1,000 bad review analysis into an action-packed, hilarious, and informative read. Restoration business owners and employees alike will take away countless lessons and tips to increase lead generation by improving your online review presence. Download the e-book at https://www.fivestarrestorer.com/
3 Reasons Project Delays Often Go from 'Inconvenient' to 'Disastrous'
Corbin Smith
Project delays are common in every industry, but the impact they can have on the customer experience in the restoration industry varies. We wanted to better understand how many 1-star reviews online were due to delays, and we were surprised to find that nearly 17% of all 1-Star reviews left for companies on Google were due to frustrations over project delays; a significant portion of the 1000 reviews we analyzed. Chasing New Jobs Before Finishing Existing Ones The most common reason customers complained about project delays was situations where companies wouldn’t finish what they started. In our analysis, we found customers frequently took to Google to express frustrations about a company starting a project, only to blow off the customer for jobs with bigger pay days. It’s extremely tempting as a business owner to get distracted by the allure of “bigger whales” that seem to have the greatest return for your business. In reality, it’s mission critical to keep every customer in the pipeline happy, because 1 bad review can drive away 22% of new prospects. This means that making a single, higher paying customer happy in the short term can be a good pay day, but if it’s done at the expense of smaller customers, in the long run you’re actually suffering a major loss. These bad experiences were exacerbated by the fact that the business rarely provided reasoning as to why a customer's project was put on the backburner, and instead the customer was left in the dark about when their life would be back-to-normal. Most of the time, customers were quite understanding if a business was honest and upfront with them about any delays, but when they were left in limbo without explanation, their frustrations were sparked, and a bad review seemed inevitable. Construction Dropping The Ball Most Restoration projects aren’t finished without the help of a construction team, either inside or outside the organization. Over the course of our analysis, we found that most of the time, restoration companies took the brunt of a negative review that was targeted towards the construction division. From the perspective of the customer, the restoration business they hired owns the outcome of the project, even if delays that occurred were the fault of the construction team. “Their mitigation business is excellent and does great work--please note that this review does not apply to them. Their construction division caused a 2.5 month delay in the reconstruction of my home [...].” Unfortunately, that 1-star review is still left on your business's website, and will still negatively impact your business’s standing in the eyes of potential customers. It’s important to keep in mind that project managers should never take their foot of the gas after the restoration component of the project has been completed. Holding yourself, your team members, and any other divisions taking over the project accountable to ensure projects are completed on the timeline promised can mean the difference between a 1, and 5-Star review. If delays do occur, which they often do, it’s important to remember to always have an open and honest line of communication with the customer. Overpromising on Timeline One situation we saw repeatedly in our research was customers complaining that they were promised a timeline at the beginning of the job, only for the restoration company to come nowhere near completing the project in the timeline promised. In some situations, businesses would promise a timeline that was overly ambitious as a means of securing the job. Customers, not knowing what an accurate timeline would look like, happily chose the company with the shortest time to completion. As you could imagine, this ended up doing far more damage to their business than it did good. They closed another sale, but they also made every future sale more difficult as the story of them over-promising and under-delivering remains visible for every potential customer down the line thanks to a 1-star review. In other examples, companies would suggest a reasonable timeline, only for poor project planning to derail their estimates. Customers told numerous stories of companies that ended up facing issues ordering material, renting machinery, and arriving at a job site unprepared as a result of poor planning. While less egregious than deliberately overpromising, the impact on dashed customer expectations was the same, as was the power of the 1-star review they were given. Key Takeaways If your business has been hit by any of these 1-star reviews in the past, it’s okay- you definitely aren’t alone. Fortunately, we came up with a few tangible takeaways you can use going forward to start giving you a 5-star presence online. Communicate, communicate, and communicate again: We can’t stress enough the role good communication plays in creating a 5-Star experience for a customer. Talk to customers, and be honest about why delays are happening. Take ownership if it’s your fault, customers will appreciate the integrity. Under-Promise and Over-Deliver: Don’t let a closed sale allow you to say things your team can’t commit to. Be honest about the timeline, and plan on over-delivering. After all, nobody ever left a 1-star review because their expectations were exceeded! Plan until you need a new pencil: Write down everything that needs to get done, who needs to do it, and when it needs to be done by. Make sure everyone has visibility on where your project is at all times. Failing to plan, means planning to fail. As Tim Hull, Director of Operations at Violand Management says, “The most effective way to ensure that a project gets completed on time and on budget is to put in the work on the front side”. Don’t let the reputation you’ve worked so hard establishing be tainted by unnecessary delays. With intentionality and clear, established processes in place, you have the ability to become a Five-Star Restorer. Want more guidance on how to become a Five-Star Restorer? Listen to the Five-Star Restorer podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.
3 Ways Your Contractors Can Kill a Potential 5-Star Review
Corbin Smith
Most restoration companies, if they’ve been in business long enough, have been subject to an angry 1-Star review. No company can hide from scorned customers leaving reviews online when they feel they haven’t received the service they felt they deserved. We analyzed over 1,000 bad reviews left on Google for restoration companies across North America, and the lessons we uncovered prove that any one factor can nuke an otherwise good experience, but also that almost every issue is solvable. One of the most common reasons we found customers were inclined to leave a bad review was "contractor drama" - a remarkably negative interaction between a customer and a frontline worker. Whether they’re officially members of your team or just sub-contractors, they will have a massive influence on a customer's positive or negative experience. Moral and Ethical Concerns On The Job Site One common factor from our analysis was customers reporting moral and or ethical concerns about a contractor. This includes accusations of theft, substance abuse, intoxication, and even stories of a spouse cheating with their contractor. Yikes. Whether these reviews left on Google are true or not is somewhat irrelevant: either way, it’s still visible to the public eye and reflects poorly on the business. For instance, this review shows just how important it is to vet your contractors before they even start the job, and have well-defined processes for employee conduct: “They came out to some of our units after a water flood. During the process of removing the wet flooring, the temp workers stole items from several of our units. The temporary workers stole items from more than one unit. They also appeared intoxicated. Some of the missing items included alcohol. It was a mess and awful. The police came out, just a complete circus.” Once again, yikes. The key learning any business can take away from an unfortunate incident like this is the need to have tightly defined processes surrounding hiring, employee discipline, customer service expectations, and more. Contractors Disrespecting Customers Oftentimes, a restoration business can do a 5-star job restoring a home, only for the customer to give it a 1-star review because of a bad interaction with the contractor. Considering customers are already stressed and upset over the damage to their property, feeling disrespected by a contractor will likely color the way they feel about the entire experience. In our analysis we saw everything from contractors making racist remarks, to treating personal items carelessly. There were also a number of bad reviews related to contractors not following COVID-19 protocols correctly, making the customer uncomfortable. Once again, even though these reviews were directed toward a contractor, unfortunately it reflected poorly on the business as a whole. The best thing you can do to hold your contractors accountable is to ensure they are following your customer service processes to a tee, and can easily access them wherever they are. As Michael Pinto says, CEO of Wonder Makers International told us, “Even the best projects can go awry if the contractor cannot communicate clearly to the client in line with their specific needs”. Sloppiness On The Job No industry is immune from sloppiness that can seep in over time.When you have up to 20, sometimes 50, employees working on various sites across town, it’s hard to monitor quality work. This sloppiness appeared a number of times while customers were venting about a bad experience in their reviews online. Avoid 1-star reviews by setting expectations with your employees early, and making accessible tools that will help them know exactly what needs to get done, when, and to what standards. Hold tension to those expectations by monitoring employees' work on a daily basis, as this could potentially mean the difference between a 1-Star review, and a 5-Star review. As we can see, in the era of online reviews, it’s more important than ever that your business has clearly defined processes your employees follow in order to avoid sloppy performance on the job site. Having these processes defined, and easily accessible to every employee will improve your consistency, and lead to more regular 5-Star reviews. Download our e-book Delivering 5-Star Restoration Experiences: An Analysis of 1,000 Bad Online Reviews in the Restoration Industry online for free to find other tangible ways you can start improving your online ratings instantly. This e-book will give you exclusive access to never-before-seen research of over 1,000 bad online reviews left for Restoration companies across North-America. Learn from your counterparts in the industry, and find out how you can eliminate 1-Star reviews. Download the e-book here: https://www.fivestarrestorer.com/
Announcing: Delivering 5-Star Restoration Experiences E-Book
Travis Parker Martin
Why do restoration projects go off-the-rails? That’s the question we asked ourselves this winter, and the answer has huge implications. For example, when a business receives even one 1-star review online, it can lead to a 22% decrease in new business coming in. For the average $2M restoration business, that’s about $250k lost in one year, due to a single negative review. Given the power customers have over how businesses are perceived online due to the prevalence of online reviews, delivering 5-star experiences as a restoration company has never been more important. We set out to uncover what were the most common reasons customers gave restoration businesses a 1-star review, and to say our discoveries were shocking would be an understatement. You can view everything we learned in our new e-book Delivering 5-Star Restoration Experiences: An Analysis of 1,000 Bad Online Reviews in the Restoration Industry, which drops today. Click here to download the free e-book Accusations of theft, drunkenness, and even marital infidelity emerged as we combed through 1,000 1-star reviews from all 50 States in the US. But throughout the spectacular reviews were common themes of restoration companies cutting corners, neglecting communication, allowing a single bad employee to ruin a customer’s experience, and many other tangible insights that businesses can glean to ensure they don’t end up on this list. To help us make sense of our findings, we enlisted the help of some of the industry’s most well-known experts, including Dan Cassara of CORE Group, Tim Hull and Chuck Violand of Violand Management, Mark Springer, President of the Restoration Industry Association, Phil Rosebrook of Business Mentors, and many others. Their unique perspective, combined with this never-before-seen research, will ensure that you walk away with clear, tangible steps you can take to deliver 5-star experiences to your customers and improve your online reviews. Download the Free E-Book Today
Re-Focus Your Business Strategy to Finish 2020 Strong
Travis Parker Martin
COVID-19 set many businesses dramatically off course this year. Thanks to the pandemic, extra safety precautions, and a variety of other factors, many companies and business owners will have a hard timehitting their anticipated revenue goals they set at the beginning of the year. The key to getting your business back on track, finishing 2020 strong, and starting the new year off right, is developing a strategic plan that identified the things that could go wrong, what can go right, and where your business is heading.Yet the strategic planning process can be tricky, so in a recent KnowHow webinar we teamed up with experts Chuck Violand and Tim Hull of Violand Management Associates to unpack the steps you need to ensure you wind up this year in a position of strength. Together, these titans of industry provided us with incredibly practical and feasible information on how you can begin developing your strategic plan today. In this blog post, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process, and the questions you should be asking yourself as a business owner, to get started on your strategic plan. Define Your Mission and Your Vision Before you can even begin thinking about a strategic plan, the first step is to always define your mission and vision for your company. It’s important to ask yourself, especially when building a strategic plan, what your ideal business looks like in 5-7 years. Planning ahead, and then working backwards from that goal will help you define how your strategic plan takes shape. Next, you need to look at the people within your organization currently. Part of your strategic plan should involve determining who can help you reach those long term goals. Determine who in your company best represents your mission and vision, and who will best help move the ball toward those goals. Perform a SWOT Analysis on Your Business This step is a much more hands-on technique that requires a critical eye to evaluate different areas of your business. A SWOT analysis is a great way to determine the internal and external factors that are working for, or against, achieving your company's goal. It is a critical step in the strategic planning process. For those of you reading who may have never heard of a SWOT analysis, it is an acronym that stands for identifying, within your business, the: S: Strengths - What characteristics of my business will provide me with an advantage in the long run? W: Weaknesses - What characteristics of my business will put me at a disadvantage in the long run? O: Opportunities - What areas of my business can I use to my advantage to improve the company at this moment, what’s working? T: Threats - What areas of my business aren’t currently working that can cause pain points for myself and my employees in the long run? The SWOT analysis can be an incredibly powerful tool when building a strategic plan and forces you to view your business operations, internal and external, with a more critical, unbiased eye. Identifying Strategies and Objectives The final tip to working through a strategic plan is determining short term objectives and strategies. We’ve determined our long term goals, and which internal and external actors can contribute or hinder reaching those goals, but now we have to determine our short term objectives. Reaching any long term goal takes time, patience, and careful planning. Breaking down long term goals into short term objectives can help you quantify those big, daunting goals. It also provides you and your team with a constant sense of accomplishment when you get to “check the box”, so-to-speak, on those short term objectives. Sit down with the key members of your team and figure out what each department can do in the next 12-24 months to move the ball forward. Outline any measurables, accountabilities, and timelines needed to complete those objectives as efficiently as possible. It’s vital that you conduct this step with all your key team members so that everyone is on the same page. It’s also vital that your short term objectives remain congruent with your vision, mission, and values. This will ensure your company maintains direction moving forward. Simple to use and set up, KnowHow is the tool you need to ensure your remote team is productive and effective. With KnowHow, team members work confidently, productively and in compliance - available on desktop and mobile. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. We are also excited to announce that KnowHow is officially live on the Apple App and Google Play Stores.
How to Find the Best Candidates to Hire in the Restoration Industry
Corbin Smith
No matter what industry you’re working in, interviewing and finding candidates can be a relentlessly tricky process. Even if you’re able to make progress in this area, learning how to retain high-calibre staff can be just as difficult. Well, you’re not alone. In a 2019 study, 45% of business owners operating in the restoration industry found that hiring and retaining staff was the biggest problem area in their business. From not knowing where to find quality candidates to ineffectively on-boarding new hires and losing them in the long run, there are plenty of pitfalls that require skill and experience to successfully avoid. The team at KnowHow wanted to ease some of these stresses business owners face in the restoration industry, so we gathered two of the industry's leading experts on staffing, Kristy Sifford, owner of Wylander, and Kelley Dolan, Chief of Staff at Maxons, Inc. These elite experts shared with us insight and priceless information on how they are recruiting, hiring, interviewing, and retaining staff in the restoration industry. How to Separate the “Smooth Talkers” VS. the “Do-ers” When interviewing a new candidate, there’s always a risk that they turn out to be a “smooth talker”: someone who seems great in the interview, but when it comes time to bare down and work hard, they just fall short. So what can you, as the interviewer, do to determine who really is what they seem, and who isn’t? A big part of determining who follows through on their commitments is by checking and double-checking references. It’s not enough to call up a reference and ask simple questions about the job they had with them, or what their co-workers thought of them, but instead, it’s necessary to dive into the nitty gritty of it all. Kelly Dolan of Maxons, Inc. suggests always having specific questions ready to ask a reference based on the interview you had with the candidate. For example, go into a conversation with a reference armed with specifics you noticed in the candidate. Maybe his/her communication didn’t seem as good as they made it out to be, and you want to focus on asking questions related to that. Maybe they didn’t seem as driven as they implied, specifically explore that with their reference. You should never call a reference without specifics in mind of what you want to find out about your candidate. One effective way to determine the type of person you’re looking for in a role is by talking with current and past employees in similar roles. These individuals can give you a lot of insight into what qualities a person has to have in order to succeed at that job. Once you’ve done that, you can get candidates to take Predictive Index tests, as Kelley uses at Maxons, or the DiSC test, as Kristy uses at Wylander. These tests give you a good idea of what the person's behavior and personality is like, which you can match it to the role much easier. The Most Important Question to Ask a Candidate There are tons of great questions to ask a candidate, but there’s one question you can ask that instantly tells you about someone’s behavior, personality, and skillset all at once. Kristy Sifford of Wylander likes to ask candidates, “What is your favorite, and least favorite, part about your current or past role?” It may seem like a simple question, but it can tell you a lot about someone. Oftentimes, candidates will go off on tangents about many things related to their old jobs and will give you insight into what their strengths and weaknesses are, what they are like to work with, their work ethic, and much more. It’s almost like a Swiss Army Knife of questions, and there is plenty of information you can dig up using that one question. Another thing to keep in mind is try to avoid using yes or no questions in job interviews. Your questions should be open ended enough to allow the candidate to elaborate more and give more sustenance to their answers. What Does a Standard Interview Agenda Look Like? Establishing a consistent agenda and format from interview to interview can allow for more consistent results. You will see each candidate fairly, and it will be easier to weed out the bad candidates. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to follow these steps during the interview process: Always greet them and thank the candidate for taking the time to meet. Explain the process of the interview, and mention you’ll be taking lots of notes so they don’t get nervous when they see you writing. (You should always take notes when interviewing!) If you’re interviewing with more than one person, explain your colleague and their role in the company as well. Jump into the questions you have prepared for them. Explain the role, and more about the company in more detail. Always allow the candidate time to ask questions. A really important thing to remember when following these steps is to ensure you explain the role in detail after you’ve gone through your prepared questions. This is important because if you explain every detail of the role beforehand, you will essentially be answering a lot of your questions for them. The candidate will know exactly how to respond based on the finer details of the role. As Kristy reminds us, “The candidate should be talking 80% of the time, and you should be talking 20% of the time. If you find you’re doing all the talking, you just aren’t getting the information out of the candidate that you need to know”. If you’re looking for more steps around interviewing processes and on-boarding candidates, KnowHow is a great tool for you and your business. KnowHow can ease a lot of the stress around finding and hiring new candidates by providing you expert built processes you can follow in your next hiring stage. Find more information here! From Application to Being Hired, What is the Process? We’ve discussed a lot about interviewing candidates, and the processes within the interview itself, but of course there’s a lot more that goes into bringing on a new hire. The first step should always be a phone screening- Talk to the candidate initially over the phone and give them a brief job description, thank them for applying, and just get to know them a bit. Part two should always be an interview face to face- bring them in and talk to them in person, ask the questions you have prepared. From there, if everything goes well in the interview, contact references. A second interview in person is always a great idea- it never hurts to double check and have a second interview, but the second interview should always either be with someone new, or have another person from the company sit in and ask different styles of questions. After that second interview, on the same day even, take them along to a job site or through the office and show them some of the daily activities. Use it almost like a trial run! Once you find the candidate you think is best fit, send them a nice little welcome basket and make them feel comfortable and at home as part of their onboarding. Include them immediately in any team outings or activities, starting to create a bond among co-workers is vital in the onboarding process. These steps may seem time consuming, but having a solid, consistent interview process is key to finding the best candidate for each role so you can build the most successful team possible. Simple to use and set up, KnowHow is the tool you need to ensure your remote team is productive and effective. With KnowHow, team members work confidently, productively and in compliance - available on desktop and mobile. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. We are also excited to announce that KnowHow is officially live on the Apple App and Google Play Stores.
Implement COVID-19 Disinfection Services Into Your Restoration Business
Corbin Smith
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country, the need for disinfection services is at an all time high. Governments and business owners continue to look at the Restoration Industry to lead the charge in providing this service. While the opportunity for restoration business owners is great, they’re also being thrown into the deep end, transitioning their business toward providing a whole new service for clients, with little margin for error. This can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in the industry with so many unknowns and questions that need answering surrounding providing disinfection services. What tools do I need? How do I prepare a job site for disinfection? What documents and resources do I have access to? How do I price this service? These are questions our panel of industry experts answered in our recent KnowHow webinar all about providing COVID-19 disinfection services. Our panel of experts included Michael Pinto of The WonderMakers Environmental, and Nasutsa Mabwa and Sam Simon of ServiceMaster by Simons. How to Approach Pricing COVID-19 Disinfection Services Navigating pricing and payment can be tricky in the restoration industry right now. You can no longer show up to a job, take a look at it, shake someone's hand, and set a price. There are a lot of “it-depends” scenarios, and that can be frustrating for many business owners and project managers. Our panelists are here to help clear some of those waters a bit. Instead of estimating in-person and risk violating physical distancing requirements, a few creative workarounds include asking the client for photographs of the job site, setting up a virtual facetime tour with the client, and creating a list of questions to pose the customer over the phone to begin determining what consistent pricing looks like. An example of some good topics to tackle during your pre-screening call with each client include: What kind of business do you have? How many square feet do you think it is? How many feet length by width? How tall are the ceilings? How many offices do you have? Do you have one bathroom or five bathrooms? What material are the floors? How many levels, desks, chairs do you have? Focusing on these areas and asking these types of questions with each client will quickly give you a better idea on how to price consistently from one job to the next. Extracting as much information out of the client as possible is key to not only determining how to price the job, but it also helps keep you and your staff safe. As Sam Simon of ServiceMaster notes, “We need to be prepared and armed to protect ourselves while we’re in there. It’s not just about applying a disinfectant, it’s about applying it safely”. Documents and Resources Important to Providing COVID-19 Disinfection Having and maintaining proper documentation throughout your COVID-19 disinfection process is vital. It not only protects and ensures the customer’s safety and outlines exactly how you will go about delivering the service, but it can also protect you against any liability issues. A great resource to start with that can answer many of your documentation and procedure questions thoroughly and accurately is the IICRC/RIA COVID-19 document which can be found on the IICRC and RIA websites. This document is incredibly comprehensive and walks you through everything you will need to know to provide this service in detail. How Do I Prepare a Job Site to be Safe for my Staff? If a COVID-19 disinfection is done properly, and up to standard, the company and staff members providing the service will often be there for hours and hours, sometimes days. What are some of the things to think about that are needed to make sure your staff are comfortable, safe, and prepared? Washrooms are a big one. There has to be washrooms available for staff use, and of course they’ll be using them without their PPE equipped. You need to think about how often those are being sanitized throughout the job, when to do a final sanitization check, and how many staff can be using the washrooms at a time. Paying attention to weather is also critical to keep your staff comfortable. If you are going into a building with no air conditioning or outdoor area in extreme heat, you have to, as Michael Pinto of WonderMakers Environmental says, “You have to think about what your people are going through”. With all the required PPE on, they will get hot and it will be tiring. They will need places to rest, places to change, and areas to hydrate appropriately on the job site. Educating your employees of the dangers of not following guidelines when the job begins. Disinfection services are no joke right now, there are lives at stake and many opportunities for mistakes to be made. Your staff have to be made aware of the importance of following the guidelines laid out for them. Preparing the job site can be tricky, but thinking about every potential detail will no doubt protect your staff, protect the customers, and ensure the process runs smoothly. The IICRC/RIA document can also provide you with more in depth information regarding prepping a job site for disinfection. What Tools and PPE is Required for Disinfection? There are a lot of different types of PPE out there, so knowing if you’re choosing the right kind can be confusing. PPE is critical for COVID-19 disinfection and jobs should not be done without certified PPE. Some of the required PPE our panelist Nasutsa has her staff wear on all jobs include: Tyvek Suits Double gloves Everyone has their own respirator Goggles With the demand for PPE higher than normal, it’s been tricky finding the necessary equipment needed to complete a job. Order more than you normally would when you do find it available. A good idea to consider is using your network to source out obtaining PPE. Nasutsa and her business have been using other ServiceMaster franchises to partner in helping each other obtain PPE. Use your network and be creative in how you find PPE, so long as it’s up to code and meets universal PPE standards. If you’re looking for other resources, KnowHow has step-by-step processes and templates built for you to help guide you through providing disinfection services. Simple to use and set up, KnowHow is the tool you need to ensure your remote team is productive and effective. With KnowHow, team members work confidently, productively and in compliance - available on desktop and mobile. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. We are also excited to announce that KnowHow is officially live on the Apple App and Google Play Stores.
How to Keep You, and Your Employees Safe in the Restoration Industry
Corbin Smith
As employees and business owners working in the restoration and construction industries, we are all well aware of the many dangers and risks associated with working on a job site. Priority number one for anyone working in this field is to make it home safe. As a result, it is quite common for business owners to implement countless safety measures and guidelines, but the unfortunate truth is at the end of the day, not everyone follows them, or is even made aware of them. In our recent KnowHow webinar, we sat down with safety experts Allan Macdonald, Owner of Industrial Employee Safety, and Daniel Kempling, Safety Coordinator at County of Northern Lights. Over the course of our 50 minute webinar, these two industry vets unpacked what it means to stay safe on the job site, how to implement and develop safety programs, and why having the tools to communicate safety guidelines is so important. How to Keep Employee Attention In Safety Meetings We’ve all been to those morning safety meetings, where we’re more focused on sipping our warm coffee to help us wake up than what the foreman or safety coordinator is saying. It’s a challenge as old as time in this industry. How do we keep our employees engaged and focused during a safety meeting? More often than not, information is lost in translation when employees aren’t engaged during safety meetings, and that can lead to catastrophic mistakes. In order to keep employees focused during these meetings, it’s a good idea to keep the information timely. Don’t just read paragraphs from a manual you have memorized, take what’s happening on the job site in that moment or in those few days, and really dig into those examples and experiences. Educate using real, hands on examples that have happened to you, or your employees in the recent past. Diving into the ‘why’ behind safety is another great way to keep employees engaged. Taking that extra 5 minutes to explain, “Why is this substance dangerous?”, “What are the effects this will have on my body?”, “What can happen if I don’t wear this piece of safety equipment?”. A great strategy our panelist Daniel Kempling uses to ensure his employees are staying focused and engaged is implementing competency checks, and including questions like the ones outlined above that were touched on in the safety meetings. This ensures employees are paying attention during safety meetings because they know they’ll be asked about it at a later date. As Daniel says, “It helps people understand the principles of why they do what they do”. It’s one thing to discuss all of these safety aspects during morning meetings, but it’s another thing to implement those learnings into real, effective, and consistent training. What Does Regular Safety Training Look Like? The implementation of regular safety training starts every second of every day. From morning meetings, to inspections, to site visits, every one of those is a teachable moment to implement safety training. It’s especially important to educate your leads on the importance of safety because it starts with those guys on the front lines of the job site to be role models for the other employees. The most common form of safety training usually looks like a group of employees sitting in a boardroom for 6 hours listening to a powerpoint presentation. That method is great if your goal is to bore your employees and not soak up any information. People learn most effectively when they get to take what they’re being taught in those powerpoint slides and apply it directly to the job site. Taking some of that 6 hour learning and moving the team outside and into a job site to put in practice some of the things discussed in the classroom will undoubtedly lead to more information being retained. Our panelist Allan Macdonald uses the example of teaching about harnesses: when he teaches classes about harnessing yourself safely for jobs that require it, he makes his students run through the motions right from the beginning. As a result, you have employees who are excited about learning safety, and you have a safer job site. Implementing some regular hands-on learning into your regular safety training is beneficial for everyone. KnowHow moderator Zac summed it up nicely, “Watch one, do one, teach one”. Why is it so Hard to Get Employees to Follow Safety Policies? It’s difficult to get inside the mind of our employees, but the most logical reason employees don’t follow safety policies is that often they’re just not that important to them. Safety is not front of mind for most people until something truly bad happens to them, or someone they know. Until that time, it’s easy to sweep it under the rug and not think about it. It’s also common in the restoration industry, especially when hiring new employees, that they might be “stuck in their ways”, so to speak. You might have an individual who has done something a certain way for 25 years, and they don’t feel unsafe ever, or they don’t understand why they have to suddenly change their ways and do it this way, or that way. They don’t buy into the policies. That comes down to the Foreman, or Safety Coordinator to ensure they do buy in, and believe in the importance of safety policies in place. To do that, it goes back to the importance of making it matter to the employee. Bring up some real world examples, because those will stick in people's minds. About KnowHow Implementing safety programs and ensuring employees are following them consistently can save lives on the job site. Businesses struggle with ensuring their employees are in compliance to their guidelines, especially when it comes to safety. KnowHow is a software dedicated to helping companies in the restoration and construction industry build the necessary templates and processes they need to make finding, and following, guidelines easier for your employees. KnowHow has how-to templates for everything restoration and construction related. From safety, sales, and marketing, to disaster clean-up, disinfection, and interviewing. For more information about KnowHow, or to book a demo with our CEO, check out our website at: https://tryknowhow.com/ For updates about upcoming webinars, and other exciting KnowHow content, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. You can also find us on the Apple App and Google Play Stores!
Improve Your Sales Team’s Performance in the Restoration Industry
Corbin Smith
Building up a solid foundation in sales within your business can mean the difference between sinking and swimming in the restoration industry. Supporting and encouraging the growth of your sales team can instantly take your business to the next level. This foundation starts right from the moment you hire a new sales representative. Providing them with the necessary tools, training, and support can turn any new hire into an expert salesperson that will truly start bringing in those leads, and in turn, cash. In a recent KnowHow webinar, the team and our expert panelist unpacked what it takes to build up a successful sales team, from the hiring and training to the step-by-step processes it takes to conduct a sales meeting. Our expert panelist for this event was Jeff Carrier, Co-Founder of Restoration ERP, Marketing Director at Restoration Digital Marketing, and Co-Host of NFL Talking Heads Podcast. Jeff’s extensive experience and knowledge in sales and marketing made him one of our most hard hitting guest speakers yet. Here’s what he had to say: Hiring a New Sales Representative A lot goes into hiring a new employee in any department. There are many steps and processes required to ensure that you’re hiring the most qualified individual possible, while ensuring they will be a good fit within your company culture. That process is even more important when hiring a new sales representative. After all, your sales staff are some of the most important people within your organization. No sales equals no jobs! When considering new sales hires, it’s critical to ensure that they have the awareness to be comfortable with rejection, the willingness to be outgoing, and the drive to work after hours. Rejection is a huge part of sales, and it’s going to happen a lot. You don’t want sales representatives who give up after a few rejections, you need your staff to keep pushing and pushing even after they receive a no. As Jeff Carrier asks, “Are they comfortable with rejection and do they continue to go back? That’s needed for all salespeople”. Interview Questions to Ask Sales Candidates Oftentimes as a business owner, it can be tough to know who the best candidates are from a simple 30-minute chat. Being aware of how to get the most information out of a candidate in as little time as possible is vital to making the correct decision on a new hire. To do that, you need to be aware of the most effective interview questions to determine who the best sales candidates really are. Here are some great examples of sales interview questions: How did you handle losing a customer in a previous job? What things did you do to try and retain them and that relationship? What tactics did you use to win over a customer who originally said no? Tell me specifically, with examples, how you’ve sold products in the past? Mixing these questions with your standard interview style questions will give you a better idea on if they are a good fit in a sales specific role. As our own KnowHow team member Zac Johnson rightly puts it, “The best indication of future behavior is past behavior”. Putting emphasis on specific examples of their past sales will help you get inside the candidates mind to better determine if they’re a good fit. What are the Steps to Take After a Candidate Has Been Hired? Officially hiring a candidate is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many things you, as a business owner or manager, can do to properly train them and set them up for success. Here are a few things you can do to prepare your new hire. Build a written process that you’re following. Consistency is key in sales, and having a process built and developed that your new hire can follow each and everyday will help them adapt to your company strategy quicker and easier. Do ride alongs with your sales staff. As business owners it’s important to understand what a standard day for your sales team looks like. You will find out a lot about your sales staff and it will help you determine what you need to provide them to succeed or what you need to give them further training on. Determine a way to evaluate your sales staff. A great way to do this is by using a quality touch score. This measures how many “touches” ie. phone calls, meetings, lunches, emails, your sales representatives are making. At the end of the month you assign point values to these and see how well your sales team did that month, how many “touches” they are able to make to potential clients. Jeff Carrier explains, “What we found is more calls equals meetings, and meetings equals sales. If we’re not having enough of the beginning part, quality touches, then we’re not going to get enough sales. There was a strong correlation there of us hitting our benchmark on quality touches that end up resulting in sales”. Having concrete steps in place for a new hire to follow will help your new sales representative feel less frustrated, and more supported. It will also ease your mind knowing they have the resources necessary to do their new job how you expect it to be completed. If you’re looking for other resources, KnowHow has step-by-step processes and templates already built to help guide you through sales processes, onboarding, and countless other tasks relating to sales. Simple to use and set up, KnowHow is the tool you need to ensure your remote team is productive and effective. With KnowHow, team members work confidently, productively and in compliance - available on desktop and mobile. We are also excited to announce that KnowHow is officially live on the Apple App and Google Play Stores. To stay up to date on future webinars, blogs and other helpful information relating to the restoration industry, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
How to Master Accounts Receivable in the Restoration Industry
Corbin Smith
As an employee or business owner working in the construction and restoration industry, one of the most common areas of struggle lies in accounts receivable. Holding the knowledge to run an effective accounts receivable program can allow your business to make strides ahead of the competition. After all, there is arguably nothing more important than solid, consistent, and reliable cash flow. “World-class accounts receivable” is much easier to say than implement, so what are the necessary building blocks needed to operate a successful AR program? When is it necessary to take a more aggressive approach at collection? What tools do I need to equip my AR team with for success? These are just a few of the many questions we asked our panelist Brittney Hensley in our recent webinar. We were fortunate enough to have her sit down with us and walk us through what it takes to truly master your accounts receivable. Communicating Expectations with Clients Around Payments One of the key steps that needs to be taken if you want to avoid accounts receivable issues before they even start is communicating expectations of when you expect payment. If a client has clear and defined instructions for when they have to pay their fees, they are far more likely to pay on time, as opposed to not outlining expectations and contributing to a sense of “pay whenever” attitude. What are some of the most effective ways can we communicate these expectations? Working with legal professionals to create any required documentation that outlines payment structures and due dates can be very beneficial. Likewise, maintaining consistent dialogue with the customer and updating them throughout your service delivery will also help them feel included and aware of what’s going on. Brittney Hensley says that, “Typically, customers start regressing and you can see that attitude change when they feel like they don’t know what’s going on”. Legal professionals and proper documentation will ensure customers know exactly what is expected of them. What Type of Person Makes for a Great AR Collection Employee Working as an employee whose job it is to make some of these collection calls be difficult. Many customers are still in distress after losing their homes to fires or floods, or are angry and upset at the cost of the restoration project. Not everyone is cut out for AR collection, so it’s important to understand how to train your AR staff, and what to look for in a good collection employee. Here are some of the major factors to look for, and instill in your AR employees to make for the most effective collection: Remove emotion from the conversation Be professional Be factual Be kind Be a good listener Instilling these qualities and practices into your AR employees and program will make them much more effective at collection and according to our panelist Brittney, has led to success and quicker payments time and time again. When is Necessary to Take a More Aggressive Approach at Collection? If you’ve worked in the restoration industry, or any contracting business, it’s more than likely there’ve been times when you’ve felt frustration towards a customer who just won’t pay for your services. Unfortunately, frustration and anger won’t get you anywhere, but it might be time for a more professional, aggressive approach. If you have tried contacting a customer with an overdue payment several times, it’s important to take note of how many times you have tried, along with the method of contact. Reaching out to them with factual information regarding how many times you’ve tried to contact them, including the method, will oftentimes spark more of a sense of urgency. Possible next steps from there can include: Filing a lien- It’s important to update the customer on why that’s being filed, what it is, and how it works. Speaking with an attorney- Having an attorney draft demand letters and sending those to clients will have more effect than demand letters coming from your business or personal email. These are last lines of defence for collecting on accounts receivable. It’s important that employees tasked with collecting AR are aware of the full story, and understand the circumstances facing the client. Whose Responsibility is it to Make That First Call to a Client About Payment There can be a lot going on during day-to-day operations of a restoration business. Deciding who needs to be making that first call to a client about payment can be confusing, and as a result gets put off. Having a designated person who is able to reach out to clients about payments can make your AR collection much more fluid and consistent. Most of the time, this can be a project manager, the business owner, or an outside AR collection company. Either way, the conversations should start from the moment the invoice is sent. Brittney suggests “Closing the gaps”, and ensuring the customer is educated at all times on when the invoice is sent, and when the check should be cut. Most importantly, it’s important to promote a culture where everyone has a hand in accounts receivable collection in your business. All employees should be taking opportunities to educate customers about payment processes and outlining expectations. If you want to learn more about Brittney Hensley and her business, you can find her contact information on her website, https://www.arrestoration.com/. She has over a decade of experience working in restoration insurance and accounts receivable, and can be a great resource to answer all your AR questions. If you’re looking for other resources, KnowHow has step-by-step processes and templates built for you to help with all your businesses financial and accounts receivable needs. Simple to use and set up, KnowHow is the tool you need to ensure your remote team is productive and effective. With KnowHow, team members work confidently, productively and in compliance - available on desktop and mobile. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. We are also excited to announce that KnowHow is officially live on the Apple App and Google Play Stores.
Creating Win-Wins: How to have more success with Sub-Contractors
Corbin Smith
As a business operating in the construction and restoration industry, working with sub-contractors is a daily routine. That’s why understanding how to effectively work with sub-contractors can give you and your business an advantage and ensure your brand is represented professionally to your clients. As business owners and employees working in the restoration and construction industry, what can we do to have more success when we’re working with sub-contractors? After all, at the end of the day, we all want to develop lasting relationships with one another, and impress the heck out of the client. In our recent webinar, we had the honour of sitting down with two seasoned veterans in the industry. Over the course of our hour-long panel, our experts Daniel Fitzharris, Sr. Project Manager at Maxons, and Tim Hull, Director of Operations at Violand Management Associates, shared their expert advice and perspective on how you have greater success working with your sub-contractors. The Value and Importance of Effective Communication There are a lot of moving pieces that go into a job in the restoration industry. As such, it requires spot on, thorough communication so that everyone knows what’s required of them. The first step when bringing on a team of sub-contractors to your job site is to outline a plan of action and make sure that everyone knows exactly what their role is and what is expected of them. Tim Hull, Director of Operations at Violand Management stresses that, “Making sure you stick to that schedule, and that discipline of following the process just aids in the effectiveness of that communication”. Keep your team and your sub-contractors updated, but also keep any other stakeholders involved in the project updated as well. This will ensure the project is running smoothly from start to finish, and that no one is left out of the loop - which can often lead to conflict. If you happen to be a business owner or project manager working in the disaster restoration area, it’s even more important that your communication is effective and clear. Daniel Fitzharris, Sr. Project Manager at Maxons, tells us that communication, “has to be consistent, and it has to be daily”. Updating your teams consistently every day can sometimes make all the difference in avoiding unnecessary delays, mistakes, and staying out of dangerous situations. How to Manage Conflicts With Your Sub-Contractors Conflict is bound to happen when working with sub-contractors. It’s one of those things that is just part of the job, but there are ways it can be lessened, or avoided all together. Here are some useful tips that can help you mitigate conflict on the job site: Address the situation immediately, never let problems linger. Be direct, and be stern, but also remember that you’re trying to develop a solid working relationship with your subs, so don’t make it argumentative. Keep reminding both your team, and your subs, what the common goal is. This will remind everyone why they’re working together. Building Strong Relationships With Your Sub-Contractors Once you’re able to find an amazing team of sub-contractors, you don’t want to let them go. You want to make sure you can continue working with them in the future, and develop a working relationship that is strong for future jobs. A lot of companies tend to use different sub-contractors every job, which can lead to inconsistent work quality and stressful conversations. Some of the ways you can get a team of sub-contractors to want to come back and work for you are: Letting them know they’re doing a good job- A lot of sub-contractors don’t get enough praise, and making them feel recognized and noticed for the work they are doing can go miles in developing strong relationships with them. Pointing out the wins- Naturally, project managers are going to be pointing out the negatives on job sites, what mistakes were made and what needs improvement. At the same time, pointing out the wins and what went well at the end of the week can create a job site culture people will want to come back to work in. Take the team out to lunch every now and then- This comes down to motivation: sub-contractors will always be more willing to provide you with quality work when they are enjoying working for you. Showing them a good gesture will motivate them to give your company and your client the best work they can do. Navigating Potential Language Barriers With Sub-Contractors Across North America, 41% of sub-contractors do not have English as their first language. It’s very likely that you or one of your project managers will run into language barriers when working with sub-contractors. As our panelists have stressed over and over, communication is key on job sites in the restoration industry. How do we maintain effective communication when not everyone has the same speaking ability in whatever language is being spoken on the job-site? As Tim put it, it’s quite straight forward: “The answer to that is pretty simple, you need to have either a bilingual project manager or you need some sort of interpreter”. This may seem obvious, but not enough businesses consider taking the time to find someone with bilingual abilities or seeking out a translator. Having this skill on your job site will greatly improve the quality of your work. The other approach, as our panelist Daniel is looking to follow, is actually learning some new languages, or the basics of it. Consider the languages that are predominant on your crew and within your sub-contractors, and learn a few sentences here and there so that you are able to articulate and direct what it is you need from these individuals. They’ll also appreciate that, taking the time as a leader on a job site to take interest in the languages your crew speaks, will strengthen the relationship you have with them and make the team that much stronger. If you want to continue learning from our amazing leadership panelists, Daniel Fitzharris and Tim Hull, the full webinar is available online here. KnowHow is a software that can help you and your business be more productive and sustainable by putting all your companies ‘how-to’ into one spot. Check out our demo, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and LinkedIn for updates and more exciting content!
How to Improve Your Marketing and Generate New Leads in the Restoration Industry
Corbin Smith
When COVID-19 hit, one of the first expenses restoration businesses began questioning was their marketing spend. After all, in hard times, cash should be spent just on keeping the lights on, right? It’s a difficult task to navigate, but arguably one of the most important things you can do to keep your business strong during this pandemic is have a strong presence where your customers are. In our recent webinar, expert marketing panelists John Braun of HitMan Advertising, Trina Lo of FreshInk Communications, and Timothy Miller of Business Development Group, gave us some insight into how you can accelerate your marketing in the restoration industry during this global pandemic. Here’s how you can finish 2020 strong by understanding how your marketing can help you navigate the turbulent waters that is the global economy right now. What an Average Day Should Look Like for the Marketing Department During COVID-19 For starters, it’s important to remember that just because there is a pandemic, it’s not an excuse to throw away all the hard work the sales and marketing team has accomplished up until this point. Don’t let your team use COVID-19 as a way to get out of conducting regular sales calls. The fact is, Zoom should be second nature at this point. As Timothy Miller of Business Development Associates urges, “Sales people do not use the Coronavirus epidemic to avoid doing the hard work of getting on the phone and working your sales process [...] it’s very important they continue the same process that got them there”. Maintaining your regular sales and marketing processes even during the pandemic will ensure that business relationships and partners are still strong post-covid. Take the time to market not only to potential future clients, but also past clients. There are likely services your construction and restoration company still offers during COVID. Many clients don’t even realize a lot of those services are available, so reach out to your past clients with phone calls, emails, and Zoom meetings. Use the opportunity to check in, because you never know what work a person might need completed during these times. How to Build Relationships Digitally as a Marketer Building relationships can be tricky, even when we’re not in a global pandemic. When those relationships are suddenly moved online in the blink of an eye it becomes even more of a challenge. As marketers, how can we reach out to people online and continue to build those relationships? When we get bored, many of us gravitate towards social media and being active online. As marketers, you can use this to your advantage. Going where the people are (virtually, of course), will let them know that you’re still there and still open during this pandemic. Many people aren’t actively seeking out the services your company provides because they might not realize you’re open. Having a strong voice and a strong online presence will help your team continue to build relationships with present and future customers. If you want to take an even more assertive role in community building, host your own Zoom party. This is a great way to maintain some of your current relationships, and meet some new friends. Rather than staying quiet and waiting for the storm to pass, bring some of your past clients (or potential clients) into a Zoom room and chat about how you can help them during this time, and hopefully, how they can help you. Clients will remember that you were the ones there during hard times and they will appreciate that, Trina Lo of FreshInk Communications says, “One or two little nuggets can be remembered for a lifetime in a business”. Marketing Tools That Every Restoration Company Should Utilize It’s easy to get lost trying to decide what software platforms are the best fit to help your company succeed on the marketing side. Our panelists John Braun of HitMan Advertising, and Timothy Miller, helped name some of the best tools to stay on top of your marketing in the restoration industry: A solid CRM software like HubSpot Video Conferencing Software such as Zoom Lead Generation Applications like GetResponse Xactimate, QuickBooks Email Marketing Platforms like AWeber, ConstantContact To help the organization, efficiency, and reliability of your business, you should use KnowHow! Which Marketing Platforms are Working Best Right Now The best platforms to broadcast your company's message are always fluctuating, and depend on your audience. As marketers, it’s important to stay educated on which of those platforms are currently strong, and which ones are weak, in the eyes of your audience. We all have a lot of time on our hands right now, so social media is inevitably going to increase as a viable marketing platform because people are spending so much of their time scrolling their news feeds. Within the various social media channels, the platform that has opened up as a major marketing platform for smaller businesses is Facebook Advertising. Pre-COVID, Facebook Advertising had been quite expensive, but ad prices have recently dropped, creating room for other businesses. Many large corporations have pulled their ads from Facebook Advertising thanks to the drop in consumer spending due to the pandemic. As Trina of FreshInk Communications explains, “A lot of the major players with the big expensive products aren’t really spending their money there right now, because not a lot of people are buying brand new cars. Those types of companies pulled out of a lot of their digital marketing strategies, so different sizes of companies now have more opportunity and more ground to play with there”. Marketing during a pandemic can be stressful and daunting. With the right tools and tactics available to you, it’s possible to help your business stay strong and resourceful through these times. Thanks again to our panelists Trina, John, and Timothy, for helping us break down the world of marketing during an era of physical distancing and COVID-19. KnowHow is the easiest way to provide remote and dispersed teams with instant access to all of your company's processes and 'how-to' workflows - and know if they are following them. Simple to use and set up, KnowHow is the tool you need to ensure your remote team is productive and effective. With KnowHow, team members work confidently, productively and in compliance - available on desktop and mobile. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. We are also excited to announce that KnowHow is officially live on the Apple App and Google Play Stores.
How Leaders and CEOs Can Keep Themselves and their Teams Healthy
Corbin Smith
Leadership, like countless other things, is impossible to master. Even the greatest leaders of our time are always looking for opportunities to learn and improve on their leadership skills - in fact, that's often what makes them such great leaders. Every situation requires unique action, tone, and energy in order to forge a path forward. This pandemic has done just that: created a very unique situation that business leaders around the world have had to adapt to, and learn from. Those who understand that growing in leadership is a never-ending process have taken this opportunity to learn from what’s going on and lead their teams better during these trying times. KnowHow was fortunate enough to have two individuals with decades of leadership experience unpack how you can better lead your team, and yourself, through tough times. Jeff McManus and Dennis McIntee are internationally-recognized authors and speakers who specialize in leadership development. Here’s what our leadership experts had to say about leading during a pandemic, guiding yourself, and framing failure in a new light. Signs That a Leader is Becoming Worn Out COVID-19 has been tough on everyone in the workforce. It’s been especially trying for individuals in management and decision-making positions. These are unprecedented times we are living in, and there’s no guidebook on how to lead your team through a pandemic that essentially shuts down the economy. As a result of this, it’s very common for leaders to become tired and burnt out. As a leader, it’s critical to be aware of the possible signs that you’re losing steam. What are some of these warning signs? Dreading coming into work Exhaustion Feeling disengaged Lack of enthusiasm Uninterested in daily work As a leader, a great way to tell if your team is feeling worn out is by paying attention to their body language and how they are communicating. Understanding and addressing this will help create a sustainable work culture through difficult times. Dennis McIntee, president of Leadership Development Group, says that “The first step to creating culture is understanding language. Language defines culture. Once I understand language, or I can create new language, it really starts to define my culture”. If, as a leader, you happen to be feeling any of those signs, or notice your team is starting to become reactive and low energy, it might be time to start looking for ways to rejuvenate yourself and your team. How to Bring Your Team Together During Hard Times Almost every work team has been pushed apart in some ways by this pandemic. It has forced many teams to adapt, start working from home, and become more distant than usual. Even as restrictions start to loosen, and team members begin coming back into office, there will be plenty of changes and new guidelines to follow that individuals might be uneasy about. As leaders, what’s the best way to bring the team “together”, and help ease any nervousness about new guidelines? As Dennis McIntee says, “During this time we have to over-communicate, just when you think you’re saying it enough, you aren’t saying it enough”. One of the best ways to make your team feel connected with each other, even while apart, is maintaining communication. No one enjoys being left in the dark. As a leader, constantly communicating what’s going on internally with all employees can promote a feeling of togetherness. It’s equally important to continue to communicate the “why” of the company. Remind employees what the values and mission of the company are. Teams work better together when they are all working toward a common goal, and when that goal is clear and known. Communicating the “why”, as leaders, can spark motivation where maybe it was lacking. Intentionally reaching out and maintaining relationships with employees can also spark a feeling of togetherness, and shows that you care. Jeff McManus, author of “Turning Weeders into Leaders”, says “As a leader, you should be intentionally reaching out and checking on people if they’re not working. See how they’re doing, and keep them updated”. Four Factors That Affect Your Stress as a Leader It’s no secret that being a leader comes with numerous stressors. Understanding that there are ways to reduce that stress can help you become a more efficient, proactive, and energetic leader. Using the AIRE technique is a great way to start learning how to deal with and reduce a lot of your daily stress. “Attitude”- Trying to control the events or the way a situation turns out can only create more stress. The one thing you can control is your attitude, and monitoring what that attitude becomes can reduce a lot of stress. “Inputs”- There are tons of outside factors that contribute to stress. For example, too much negative social media content or breaking news stories can create an emotional frenzy that increases stress during your day. Monitor those, and take them in small bursts. “Response”- As a leader, controlling how you respond to situations is vital. Responding negatively or not at all can cause stress to build up. Responding positively and professionally is key as a leader. “Effort”- Leadership boils down to the effort you put in. Being uninterested or unenthusiastic are not characteristics of a great leader, put the effort in and your employees will thank you. Reducing personal stress is something a lot of leaders forget about because they have so much on their plate. Monitoring and paying attention to those four things can be really helpful for a leader who has lots of stress in their lives. Determining who the Leaders are in Your Organization Leaders need help. No leader is able to lead a team all by themselves, and effectively raising up and empowering new leaders gives you greater opportunity to work in your areas of strength! Being able to identify those in your organization that can help you lead can save you a lot of time and stress. The top three things to look for in potential leaders are: Engagement Coachability Character Jeff McManus uses the expression, “I can give them the keys to the store so to speak, and not worry about it”, when he finds those individuals who best exemplify those qualities. If you want to continue learning from our amazing leadership panelists, Dennis McIntee and Jeff McManus, check out the full webinar here! KnowHow is a software that can help you and your business be more productive and sustainable by putting all your companies ‘how-to’ into one spot. Check out our demo, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and LinkedIn!
Leading Your Team Through a Global Pandemic
Corbin Smith
Leading a company is no easy task, even during the best of times. Add a global pandemic to the mix, and all the sudden being a CEO and having to lead a team through unprecedented times becomes exhausting, stressful, and at best challenging. However, as one of our recent webinar panelists Mark Springer quoted from the late John Wayne, “Courage is being scared spitless, and saddling up anyway”. It takes a lot of courage to be a CEO, and KnowHow was lucky enough to host three of the most courageous CEO’s out there in our recent webinar ‘How are Restoration Industry CEO’s Responding to COVID-19’. Our panel of restoration industry CEOs included Rich Wilson of Paul Davis Restoration, Mark Springer of the Restoration Industry Association, and Dan Cassara of CORE Group. Here’s what our expert panel had to say: How CEOs Have Responded to the Challenges of COVID-19 This pandemic has been challenging for everyone, to say the least. COVID-19 has impacted businesses of all sizes, and as a result, this has created many new obstacles which CEOs must face head-on. So how are leaders responding to such adversity? As the President & CEO of Paul Davis Restoration, Rich Wilson believes education is the first response to the challenges of COVID-19. Education and continuous learning has always been an important factor, especially in the construction or restoration industries, but with the incredible health concerns in every work environment now, it’s become more important than ever. Educate your clients first and foremost, but also your employees, on any new procedures, regulations, and how you are going to keep them safe during this pandemic. It’s also important to educate the leaders making financial decisions for your business. During a global pandemic like COVID-19, it’s critical that everyone is on the same page in regards to how the company's cash flow is being utilized. Your team will not only listen to what you say, but also how you carry yourself during this uncertain time. Honesty, connecting, and checking in with employees as much as possible shows you care about your team as a leader. People are stressed out during these times, and as a CEO it’s important to show your employees that you care about their well-being. Being honest with them will not only put the situation in perspective, but also bring the team closer together. Dan Cassara, CEO of CORE Group, says that, “Keeping a pulse on how [COVID-19] is affecting the overall team is really important”. Take the time to check in with your team to see how this pandemic is affecting them, and be honest about how the company could be impacted by it. While connecting with your team, you’ll likely encounter a lot of nervousness - and that’s okay. Managing fears, in response to this pandemic is vital to your team’s success. There is a lot of fear going around related to the virus, so how can you lead your team through that? As a leader, Mark Springer advisest saying, “Okay, I’m scared, but here’s how we’re going to take decisive action”. Figuring out a plan, and executing it as soon as possible can show your team that you recognize (but are not paralyzed by) fear, and help them take a step toward succeeding during a global crisis, both as individuals and as a business. How Can CEOs Keep Themselves Healthy During These Stressful Times When dealing with the craziness of running a business, somebody’s physical or mental health can be one of the first things to waver. This is even more important when times are stressful, and leading a company during this pandemic definitely constitutes as stressful. Here’s how our panel of CEOs are staying healthy physically and mentally during the pandemic: Meditating Bike riding Spending quality family time Working on building relationships, new and old, inside and outside of work Separating your work load into top priorities Dan says that, “This is a time not just professionally, but personally, where you kind of have a pause. It really is a moment for us to be able to re-calibrate”. Taking the time to do the things you’ve wanted to do while you have the time can make you a stronger leader professionally. The Most Significant Business Opportunities COVID-19 Has Introduced COVID-19 has only been around a short while, but we’re already seeing the changes it’s making to businesses across the country, and the new opportunities it’s creating. Dan Cassara says COVID-19 is changing the way we do business, “I think that forcing the entire world to be at home has created personal and professional paradigms for all of us, and quite frankly, this might be the start of new ways of doing business”. There’s no doubt that as businesses and the ways of doing business slowly morph, new opportunities will present themselves. What are some of these new opportunities, and as leaders, how can we adapt to this? COVID-19 has presented a tremendous opportunity to grow business relationships, so that when this pandemic does pass, they’re stronger when we come out the other side. Strong relationships can undoubtedly benefit businesses of all sizes in the restoration industry. As Mark Springer of the Restoration Industry Association says, “One of the greatest opportunities our business development team has right now is to forge and build new relationships that otherwise they may never have had before. I brought this up to the team and they said, that is so true, I talked to this CSR at this insurance agency who normally would give me 2 minutes, we talked for 30 minutes. For the first time ever.” This pandemic has created a huge opportunity to implement technology further into restoration businesses. There is a growing need for 3D imaging, especially in the construction and restoration industry now that physically going into homes is becoming less viable due to COVID restrictions. It’s important to pay attention to feedback when implementing new procedures, such as the use of technology, into a business model. Taking the time to engage with customers and listen to feedback on the many changes and seeing what’s working, and what isn’t, is critical for you and your team to come out of this stronger as a business. As Dan Cassara says, “We are being very cognizant of the things that we’re doing now, and trying to figure out what works, what doesn't work, and bringing those things to our clients and saying hey, this could potentially be your reality going forward”. Being a leader is never easy, and takes tremendous amounts of hard work, energy, passion, and courage. Thanks to these inspiring individuals, Mark Springer, Dan Cassara, and Rich Wilson, we all gained amazing insight into what it takes to be a leader during a global pandemic. To continue learning from these amazing panelists, you can watch the full webinar here. KnowHow is a software that can help you and your business be more productive and sustainable by putting all your companies ‘how-to’ into one spot. Check out our demo, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and LinkedIn!
Maintaining Business Operations During a Pandemic
Corbin Smith
At the onset of 2020, the world was introduced to COVID-19, more commonly referred to as the coronavirus. It’s no secret that over the past few months, industries have been experiencing the immense shockwaves as a direct result of the virus. It has forced companies to adapt, change, and learn new ways of doing business day in and day out. It’s no different for businesses in the construction and restoration industries, who’ve had to drastically alter their business models to accommodate this “new normal”. You might be thinking to yourself, what does that look like? What does my business, or my employer, need to do to really get their feet back on the ground during this pandemic? In our recent webinar, we brought in some of the industries most experienced and knowledgeable operations experts as panelists, Chuck Violand of Violand Management Associates, and Trace Larsen of Utah Disaster Kleenup. They sat down and shared with us their insight into how they have adapted their business operations to not only function during COVID-19, but succeed. How COVID-19 Has Exposed Problem Areas in Businesses We know that operations in construction and restoration businesses have changed dramatically, but how does this affect work done on the ground? For Chuck Violand, he is taking this time to re-evaluate the inefficiencies that existed in his business before COVID-19 even began. He believes that, “In addition to the specific things with COVID-19, I think what it’s done is expose issues that existed before this that are getting addressed now”. Taking the time to evaluate how your company functions during a crisis is key to evaluating how to change and adapt your operations to be better in the future. A major surprise for many restoration business owners was how quickly the volume of work slowed down. At the same time however, a whole new service that needed to be provided came steamrolling into the limelight: disinfection services. It just so happened that restoration companies fell into the crosshairs of being among the most qualified to deliver those services. Trace Larsen discussed how he managed to deal with the drop in work, and also getting his business prepared to deliver a whole new service and the changes in operation that required. “You had to shift on the fly. Deal with a slow incoming of your day-to-day core competency work, and now learn how to handle the new incoming work”. For many in the restoration industry, cash flow has needed to be redirected significantly. For example, prioritizing Personal Protective Equipment became a lot more important, as restoration company owners had to provide their workers with the essential PPE they needed to stay safe on the job. The Most Important Values for a Successful Business During COVID-19 For many restoration businesses out there, a culture of accountability is the backbone of all operations. Yet, COVID-19 brought to light the need to hold accountable an even higher level of safety, cleanliness, and care for customers' property. According to Chuck Violand, that has to come from the top. “The first person we have to look at for accountability is us! As the leaders or owners of an organization we have to set the standard”. Accountability starts with managers and leaders, because you can’t expect employees to do something their leaders aren’t. Second only to accountability, is education. While there will always be a level of explaining towards a customer, COVID-19 just added another level, another step. Trace Larsen breaks down his customer education during this time as “We’re explaining our methods, what we’ll do, what their expectation can be, and a lot of disclaimers.” Tips to Avoid Accounts Receivable Problems With Clients For many business owners and individuals during this pandemic, money has been unsurprisingly tight. As a result, many business owners in the restoration industry find it challenging to manage their accounts receivables right now. According to Trace and Chuck, here are a few helpful tips to avoid accounts receivable problems: Always refer to, and keep fundamental documentation of the agreed upon terms. Don’t forget respect and kindness during these times. Everyone is struggling, and everyone can use a little extra compassion. Work together as a team to come to an agreement moving forward. Don’t be afraid to explain to a customer that you are still a business and still need money to operate. “A lot of it has to do with how you deliver the message, as it does with the message that’s delivered”. - Chuck Violand What do Sales and Pricing Look Like in Times of COVID-19? With many physical distancing measures put in place by both local and federal governments, it makes face-to-face sales and estimating next to impossible. Thankfully, our panelists Trace and Chuck had valuable insights on how to adjust your sales tactics during this pandemic. The short answer? Get creative. There’s really no wrong way to run a sales team right now (except face-to-face), and thinking outside the box can make or break many opportunities. At Utah Disaster Kleenup, Trace Larsen is ensuring his sales staff stay busy by helping elsewhere for the time being: loading trucks, helping with paperwork, whatever helps keep the company productive. In addition, using video and online applications like LinkedIn to expand your network is a great way to connect with people and still provide engaging, quality content and information to potential clients. If you are successful in closing deals, is it necessary to adjust prices and charge much more for the same services? According to our panelists, this is a bad idea. It’s important to keep a handle on your costs, and if you’re fluctuating and adjusting your prices, you’ll never know if you’re making money or not. As a result, despite the volatility, Chuck Violand and Trace Larsen feel it’s important to maintain pricing as is. In the restoration industry, most business operations have been put through the ringer during this pandemic. Thanks to our amazing panelists, Chuck Violand and Trace Larsen, we are all able to better navigate the waters. KnowHow can help you and your business be more productive and sustainable by putting all your companies ‘how-to’ into one spot. Check out our demo, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and LinkedIn!
Adapting Your Sales Team for COVID-19 in the Restoration Industry
Travis Parker Martin
Every industry was affected one way or another by COVID-19, but construction companies that leverage door-to-door sales have found themselves at a particular disadvantage when generating new leads to help stem their much needed cash flow issues during the pandemic. As a result of physical distancing measures rolled out all across the country, many companies have been forced to get creative in order to continue to meet new customers and grow their business. With handshakes and door-knocking no longer acceptable, how are some of the top sales leaders in the construction industry adapting their teams and tactics to this new reality? Recently, KnowHow assembled an all-star panel of sales leaders and advisors to help break down how any construction company can unlock new opportunities in the midst of a pandemic to grow their sales. Here are some of the biggest takeaways: Leverage the Best Digital Tools Out There Zoom meetings are quickly becoming industry standard for connecting with customers and potential customers, but that’s only the tip of the technology iceberg that’s available for salespeople to use to stay top of mind when in-person meetings are off the table. One of the tactics Sam Taggart, founder of The D2D Experts is advising his clients to use is the traditional voicemail, but with a modern twist. Via text or Facebook Messenger, a simple video message for a specific client goes a long way. “Think of Marco Polo: ‘let me watch it in my due time, but I am going to watch it.’” Not only does this let the client know you’re thinking of them, but it puts them in control of when and where that happens. However, if you want to stay front of mind, video messaging is just the tip of the iceberg. As Sam describes it, using the power of Facebook Ads, “if I have a name, phone, or e-mail, I can show up on their screen when I want to and when I choose to. It could literally be, these 15 e-mails, I want to target. Now all of a sudden, you’re talking to them as they’re scrolling through Instagram.” Then, when you go to show up for your first Zoom meeting with them, they’re like “you’re the guy!” Talk about an easy way to ensure that you’re everywhere, even though you’re actually stuck at home. Yet when it comes to leverage existing digital tools, the software sweeping the industry right now is Matterport, a 3D Camera and Virtual Tour app that is rolling out across the US. As Jacklyn Christian unpacked in our webinar, innovative companies like Paul Davis Restoration are using Matterport to gather clients, property managers, and adjusters and showcase the services they provide while still maintaining social distancing. Get Creative with Non-Digital Options It’s said that constraints breed creativity, and few salespeople have experienced more constraints than what 2020 has brought so far. For John Monroe of Violand Management, creativity has looked like advising his clients to not abandon their sales routes too quickly, just because they can’t knock on doors. “We’re all door-knockers. For a door-knocker, not being able to do that? Wow, that’s like taking a fish out of water.” Some of the alternative ideas that they’ve come up with include physically going door-to-door, but instead of knocking on doors, calling prospective customers from your car. Assuming you have phone numbers on hand, this is a great way to ensure you still are thorough in canvassing a neighborhood. But what if you don’t have phone numbers? According to Sam, the pandemic has the opportunity to be a great icebreaker. “I have clients that knock on the door, but then stand back with a 6-foot measuring tape out and say ‘Don’t worry! I’m 6 feet away!’ The homeowner laughs and says ‘we’re all in this together - let’s talk.” Keep your team motivated Ultimately though, teams are just a combination of different humans, working together to accomplish an agreed upon goal. That’s why, while brainstorming different tactics can be effective, first and foremost, leaders need to care for their people, who all react to uncertainty differently. “Us extroverts, we just need to talk and talk and talk”, reminds Jacklyn Christian. If your sales team is isolated at home, they are likely not getting their quota of energizing conversations. “The biggest thing for extroverts is picking up that darn phone, asking probing questions, and being in a supportive role just listening to them talk.” Yet, just because the era we’re in is uncertain doesn’t mean that accountability goes out the window. “Your CRM doesn’t go away during this times,” says John Monroe. “The metrics have to stay in place, and as a manager yes, you have to be sensitive, but we still need accountability.” For Violand Management, this means creating a step-by-step, daily task list on the things sales teams should be doing every day. Having the structure of well-documented processes means that employees wake up in the morning and still know what’s expected of them, even though their surroundings look different than what they’re used to. Staying Focused on the Future The situation around us changes every day, and your job as a leader in the restoration industry is to help your team weather the storm, while keeping in mind your financial commitments as a business. We want to help at KnowHow. Just as John mentioned, the best way to ensure your sales operations continue to run smoothly is to clearly define expectations and the work set out in front of your team. Sign up today for a 30-day free trial of our process hub for teams at http://tryknowhow.com.
Platform Calgary’s Junction Program to Pilot KnowHow’s Software to Support Calgary Startups
Travis Parker Martin
KnowHow and Platform Calgary are collaborating to empower Calgary-based startups participating in Platform Calgary’s Junction program. In addition to using KnowHow’s software to support the delivery of the Junction program, all entrepreneurs accepted into Junction’s Spring 2020 cohort will receive a $500 Credit to KnowHow, a mission-critical software that helps growing companies improve staff productivity. “In order for Calgary to become a global tech powerhouse, we need to equip founders with what they need to refine their ideas, find product/market fit, and then give them resources and guidance to scale their solution to the world” said Leighton Healey, CEO of KnowHow. Junction is Platform Calgary’s 9 week residency program that helps entrepreneurs build a strong foundation to scale their startup. “We’ve designed Junction to help founders organize their business, articulate their value proposition clearly and develop a growth roadmap for their next 12-18 months,” said David Yiptong, Director of Programs at Platform Calgary. “We are always keen to provide Junction Founders with a value add and are excited to be piloting Calgary startup KnowHow for the next cohort.” Born out of a Silicon Valley-based technology accelerator itself, KnowHow’s platform for centralizing company processes was built specifically to help businesses scale their systems and equip employees to work with confidence as they grow. “We’ve benefitted by experienced entrepreneurs guiding us and giving us the tools we need to succeed” said Leighton Healey, “that’s why we’re so thrilled to be partnering with Platform Calgary to support the next generation of high-growth tech startups in our city.” About KnowHow: Based in Calgary, AB, KnowHow is a platform for managers to share step-by-step processes with their teams. Launched in December 2019, KnowHow is a central source of truth for all of a company’s internal know-how, equipping employees with what they need, when they need it. About Platform Calgary: Platform Calgary’s mandate is to work collaboratively to transform Calgary’s economy and identity by fostering a movement to create hundreds of innovation-driven, highly scalable companies. Platform provides access to education, coaching and connections that help people gain the entrepreneurial and technical skills needed to thrive in the new economy, helping startups grow and scale. Calgary’s new Platform Innovation Centre is currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2021. Located in the East Village on 9th Ave SE, the physical space will serve as a visible and active hub for Calgary’s startup and innovation ecosystem, bringing an additional 50,000 feet of public access space to serve the community. For more information about how you can get involved and help shape innovation in Calgary, visit www.platformcalgary.com.
How to Build the Perfect Process on KnowHow
Travis Parker Martin
One of the best things you can give your employees is a clear roadmap to accomplishing their best work. Doing so gives you confidence that your team is working in the right direction, while also empowering them, knowing that they’re having a tangible impact in their jobs. This is why we built KnowHow: to help managers equip their employees with everything they need in order to succeed at work. In this blog article, I’ll detail how to make the most of KnowHow’s “create process” tool. The key to the right work being done is clear, actionable guidance in easy digestible steps. With KnowHow, giving every employee a step-by-step guide to accomplish the task at hand is one of the best ways you can improve their work, and yours! Create a Title and Description The Right Title In productivity philosophy, the best name for a task is one that describes what the end state (or promised land) will be, once this task has been accomplished. These almost always start with verbs, such as Run a UX Testing Session, or Report Monthly Blog Analytics. Once a team member has completed this process, they will have successfully ran a UX testing session or reported the monthly blog analytics. Conversely, a name like Blog Analytics is much less effective. Ex: Update content calendar for the next month Ex: Send an update e-mail to new users Ex: Close store at the end of the night Choosing an Image When we interviewed managers and employees while building KnowHow, they told us that, when searching for the right information, they often look for visual cues (as opposed to reading the text of every process). For this reason, including a thumbnail that accurately reflects the subject material is critical. If you don’t have any available, websites such as Unsplash or Freepik have great, high-quality stock images available for you to use for free. If you want to add your own custom branding onto the image, here is a template we built for you. Description (What’s Your Why?) Another insight we unlocked during our interviews with managers was that most of the time, employees didn’t follow the right process because they didn’t know what that process was. However, equally vital was employees understanding why this process was important to follow. The description is your opportunity in a paragraph or two to explain to your team members why this process is worth following, or any additional details they’ll need before they get started. Take advantage of this space to not only equip your team with the how, but also ensuring they’re bought into the why. Add Steps This is the meat and potatoes of process building: breaking down the process into clear, actionable steps that your team can follow and implement. A few best practices before we go into the details on everything you can do on KnowHow: Break down steps to the smallest size possible. Mentally, it’s far easier to begin work on a task that is clearly understandable and seems accomplishable Don’t assume knowledge. Ideally, your process is the only thing an employee would need in order to successfully complete a task, so all details necessary for completion should be included Like the process name, every task name should start with a verb Title Your Task This should be fairly self-explanatory, no need to go into greater detail. Make it clear and actionable. See below for examples. Ex. Lock the doors at 9pm Ex. Attach files to e-mail and click ‘send’ Ex. Log into Hubspot Describe How to Complete Your Task You’ve just titled your task with an action item - this is where you unpack how they can accomplish that action item. For example, if the task is “Download PostSQL”, you would include information about where they could download PostSQL, or any additional info they would need in order to do so. We’ve added the ability for markup text, meaning you can bold, add bullet points or lists, and a variety of other options for you to emphasize the points you need as you equip your employees. Add URL With the Add URL function, you can directly link to any websites (such as, PostSQL’s website), or cloud documents hosted in places like Google Drive or Dropbox (among others). Additionally, KnowHow automatically embeds YouTube or Loom videos. With Loom, you can film a short video instruction for your co-workers and then easily embed it into a KnowHow process. Time to Complete This field is optional, and allows you to give your co-workers an accurate understanding of how long it will take for them to complete a specific task. This could give them the extra motivation they need to get started, knowing that a specific process could hypothetically take less than a half an hour from start to finish! Add Tags Finally, the last step is to make it easier for your team to find your process. Tags help add keywords to your process, ensuring that whatever it is that your employees are searching for, finding the right information is only a few seconds away. We’ve made it easy to standardize your tags across the organization by suggesting common tags your company with our auto-complete feature. This allows you to easily group your teams’ processes together if they are related to the same topic. And That’s It! A well-built process saves you more and more time the longer it exists. By taking the time to clearly define what will be accomplished, and detailing exactly how to get there, you’ll give your employees the ability to work with confidence, and you’ll have more of your own time available to work “on the business”, as opposed to “in the business”. Enter your e-mail in the form below to get started!
How to Scale & Grow Your Business Through a Culture of Processes
Travis Parker Martin
Any startup founder or small business owner that has read Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth Revisited will be familiar with the concept of working on your business vs working in your business. The former means planning out high-level strategy, determining growth objectives, and goal-setting, while the latter usually consists of running day-to-day operations, putting out fires, and delivering whatever product or service you offer. Most startups and small businesses fail to grow because their managers spend too much time working in the business as opposed to working on the business. Yet, ask manager currently drowning in tasks, and they’d agree that they’d love to work on their business more, but it’s a luxury they don’t have because of everything else on their plate. The Power of Systems and Processes While finding time to work on their business, rather than in their business, is a challenge every business owner has to overcome, those that have found the ability to do so rely on the power of systems and processes to get there. The gap in between where your business is, and where you want it to be, is always created by the absence of systems, according to Michael Gerber. By developing and codifying the processes, routines, and the systems you follow to work in your business, you can create capacity for yourself to work on your business. If habits are actions that you take on a repeated basis with little or no required effort in your personal life, think of processes as their workplace equivalent. The best businesses document their day-to-day how-tos: how to help a customer, how to onboard a new employee, how to run a weekly meeting, etc. Doing this has multiple benefits: Growth becomes more sustainable, as success is not reliant on the knowledge of any one employee After getting their expertise “out of their brain and onto paper”, managers have greater mental capacity to tackle higher-level business problems All employees feel empowered, as they can be leaned on to complete tasks outside their department or area of expertise Of course, the easy part in this process is agreeing it should be done. The much harder part is actually building a culture of developing systems and processes for your business. Below, I’ve unpacked the small changes business owners can begin to take today that will create a habit of documenting and sharing systems and processes in their organization, allowing them to go from working in the business, to working on it. Make everything reusable When we were building KnowHow, we met with hundreds of managers who shared with us a very similar refrain: “I’m tired of saying the same thing over and over again!” An employee would forget where to find a certain document, so their manager would e-mail them instructions on how to find it. Then a month later, that same employee couldn’t find the e-mail instructions in their inbox, so the manager would describe the process on Slack. 2 weeks later: lather, rinse, repeat. The best way to develop a culture of building systems for your business is to respond to requests as they come up, but ensure the answer you’re giving is in an evergreen format: it can be housed in a central storage place where employees can access and re-access them. Think of this as a reusable water bottle instead of a single-use plastic. By taking the time to save it somewhere centrally accessible (we recommend KnowHow 😊), you solve your problem not only today, but tomorrow as well. Empower your team to become teachers Organizations suffer when single individuals hold all the knowledge necessary to complete a task or function. Not only is this incredibly risky (what if that individual falls ill, or realizes how valuable they are to the success of your company and begins to use it as leverage?), it creates bottlenecks up and down the organization. However, you can use your employees’ expertise as an advantage by framing them as teachers, instead of mere knowledge-holders. Using a system such as KnowHow, you can empower team members to claim ownership of subjects and processes, and document their expertise to be accessed and utilized by others. By exalting them as the domain experts they are, you give them the opportunity to wield their knowledge for the organization’s benefit, contributing to the systems and processes they use on a regular basis to your company’s collective know-how. As a bonus, having them take ownership of the solution (your organization with a fully-fleshed out internal knowledge and process hub) increases the likelihood they will champion its use to other team members in your org. Maintain Compliance In my experience, once your 70% of your organization has adopted a tool (such as Slack, Sharepoint, Dropbox, or anything else), onboarding the rest of the team becomes quite easy. Lagging staff quickly realize they are missing out on conversations and resources because they are late to adopt the tool into their workflow. However, getting to that 70% threshold is tough, and relies on a combination of: Old-fashioned top-down role modelling Internal champions If you can find a few team members that believe in the value of documented systems and processes, they will lead your “bottoms-up” initiative, but you will still need to be disciplined in modelling this to the rest of the team. After all, the best systems are the ones staff actually use, and if you can demonstrate that it is just in your company’s DNA to document and share processes with each other, it will soon begin to influence your staff’s activities as well. Conclusion Creating a culture of taking the expertise of individuals out of their brain and moving it onto paper will pay dividends for years to come, but it is hard work that requires discipline, dedication, and buy-in at the team level. By focusing your efforts on creating resources that are evergreen, empowering employees to do the same, and putting in the energy to ensure the whole team sees the value and creates a habit of doing so, you will be able to free up the time for both you and your employees to shift your attention from working in your business, to working on your business.
How to Improve Employee Productivity
Leighton T Healey
Anyone that has ever led or managed people has asked themselves how they can improve the productivity of all or some of their team members. Over years of building and leading teams ranging in size, location, personality, demographic, and skill level, I have learned a great deal on the topic of improving staff productivity. Some of these lessons came from books and mentors, and others came through successes or failures. I’ve implemented a lot, and had many experiments blow up in my face. Fortunately, I’ve also experienced some big wins in the area of team productivity, in some cases leading teams to outperform the competition by a large margin. Productivity defined Let’s start with an important point of clarification. Productivity is not simply doing more work efficiently. Productivity is doing the right work in a more effective manner that can often lead to a slight or sharp increase in doing more of the right work effectively. This definition forces us to consider a few important questions: What are the ‘right things’ that my team members should be doing? What are the ‘wrong things’ that my team members should not be doing? What does ‘working effectively’ look like? Do away with the cliches We also need to throw out a number of cliche sayings and misinformation circling around the topic of productivity. Cliche saying: “All that you need to improve productivity is a goal and a deadline.'' Reality: people are not machines, input a goal and deadline, and results pop out. On top of that, the marketplace is dynamic and things rarely go according to plan. Cliche saying: “Motivating people requires either enforcement or incentive.” Reality: often referred to as ‘amoeba motivation’, in which a biologist causes a single-cell organism to move by either poking it with a needle (enforcement), or enticing it with a molecule of sugar (incentive), this basic methodology arguably may have worked in pre-19th century, but in the modern world does not draw out a person’s best work. Cliche saying: “A leader/manager’s role is to motivate their team.” Reality: any neuroscientist, therapist, or psychologist will affirm that real behavioural change requires a person to arrive at individual reasons to initiate and sustain a behaviour long-term. Don’t mistake tactics for motivating people for a couple hours with sustainable strategies that facilitate enduring productivity. Cliche saying: “When performance is off, it is due to skill or commitment”. In other words, if a team member underperforms or makes a mistake it is because they either didn’t know how to do it (skill) or chose not to do it (commitment). Reality: I tend to say this often. The truth is that in today’s fast-moving marketplace, it is just as likely that large or small external factors (trends, consumer demand, political dynamics) change the rules of the game in an instant to which we must adapt. The 9 components of productivity you can impact, and 3 you can't When you are having trouble getting improved performance out of a team member, the temptation is to throw up your hands and let HR know it’s time to fire the person. I want to challenge you to hit pause, and realize that there are nine components of productivity that you as a Manager or Leader you can influence, and that there are three that you cannot. Below I have provided a very brief definition of each component, and a turn-key tactic you can implement right away to throttle up your team’s output. The nine components of productivity you can impact: Mutual Fit: Impacting employee productivity begins in the recruiting and selection process. More often than not, a candidate’s principal concern in an interview process is ‘getting the job’. As a manager, your first priority when recruiting is to determine if there’s mutual fit: the characteristics of the position must fit the characteristics of the candidate. You must have a clear understanding of what the role entails, the personality type that will thrive in the role, the behavioural predispositions that would help or hinder someone in the role, and be clear on what are the expectations of the role. A strong interviewer learns how to clearly articulate these to a candidate while still selling the candidate on the role (as the best candidates normally require some selling). Turn-Key Tactic: define the characteristics of the role you’re hiring for, and compare them to the candidate’s goals, personality, career ambitions, and lifestyle. Clarity & Expectations As defined above, productive work is ‘activity that is first and foremost applied to the right work’. Few things are more frustrating for worker and manager than when things are done incorrectly, or unnecessary work was completed because the worker was unclear on what their work priorities were to be and what the expectations of their work product were to be. As managers and leaders it is difficult enough at times to plan out your own week’s work, but your responsibility is to not only clearly define your work priorities, but to provide a clear outline of what each team member’s work priorities are what your expectations are for the quality of their work, how long it should take them to complete tasks, and to be crystal clear on what ‘complete’ looks like. Turn-Key Tactic: block off a weekly time on the last working day of the week to assess what got done, and what didn’t get done. Determine what the company’s goals need to be next week, define your goals and work tasks, and define what each team member’s goals and key tasks need to be in light of this week’s performance. Hold a crisp, recurring team standing meeting to review this week’s goals vs actual results. Your people will experience a much more satisfying weekend when they are clear on what their priorities are for the following week and what the expectations are associated with those priorities are, so ensure everyone leaves the meeting crystal clear. Skills & Competencies You cannot expect someone to increase their productivity if they have not developed the skills required for all of the components of the tasks involved in their role. Use the following tactic to “fill in the gaps” and improve your team’s productivity. Turn-Key Tactics: Create a spreadsheet on which the horizontal column titles are all of the skills and competencies needed for the role, and the vertical column on the left, turn each row into the name of one of your staff. Conduct an audit for each staff member on whether you have observed them demonstrating that skill or competency to an acceptable level. Structure & Ritual In order for any system of moving parts to achieve optimal performance, structure and ritual are required. I’ve found the most effective management style for modern organizations is a “Tight/Loose” methodology, where leadership is “tight” on the goals, priorities, expectations, deadlines and roles, but is “loose” on how they achieve those priorities. Turn-Key Tactic: establish clear structure including goals, measurable results, reporting structure, and modes of accountability. Create rituals in your team, such as daily standing huddles by department, a results tracker, weekly 1:1 meetings between each manager and their report, and a brief end-of-week meeting focused on the key metrics you are trying to move forward. Team Culture Next only to selecting the right people, nothing has more impact on your team’s productivity than the culture you allow to grow within your team. I like to define team culture simply as “The way we do things around here”. If the ‘way’ your organization does things is ‘in an extremely productive manner’, then that is part of your culture. To raise performance, you must cultivate a culture that values high performance. To improve personal accountability to goals, you must cultivate a culture that holds achieving personal commitments in high regard. Culture is a broad topic, but when it comes to leveraging culture to improve productivity, there are several turn-key tactics you can implement right away. Turn-Key Tactics: Humans are tribal. Identify your culture champions: members of your team that have the respect of their fellow colleagues, and who reflect many of the qualities you want to instill. Take them aside, and provide a clear vision of the type of culture you want to grow on the team and invite them to be part of leading the transformation. Allow them to contribute to the vision, and schedule weekly short meetings to determine how to best cultivate and grow a culture that places high value on, among other things, high productivity. Work Environment You can improve the productivity of your team by improving the work environment. Cluttered desks and work spaces, noisy speakers, people eating at their desks, poor lighting and returning to a dirty office on Monday morning are all examples of a work environment that does not promote high productivity. Save the inspiring speech, and instead invest a day ‘optimizing the work environment for increased productivity’. Turn-Key Tactic: Set aside a generous period of time and pause all work. Have every member of your team brainstorm one or two ideas to improve the workplace environment and increase overall productivity. Be comfortable adding and vetoing as you see fit. Once this activity is complete, shift gears from brainstorming to actually implement the changes. Personal Health Every human is more productive when they are well-rested, well-fed, active, are looking after their mental health, and feel a sense of fulfillment in activities outside of work. As a manager and leader, there is an appropriate amount of inquiry that you can have into your team member’s personal lives.This is not the time to be an expert or a hobby-psychologist, but make sure that your team hears that you care about them, and that you encourage them to take care of themselves. Turn-Key Tactic: in a weekly 1:1 meeting with each of your reports, share with them your desire to support them to be healthy and fulfilled outside of work. Invite them to share a meaningful personal weekly goal in addition to their weekly work goals. Ensure that you set the expectation that they are in no way accountable to you for their personal goals, but that you want to succeed inside and outside work, which requires them to be healthy. Allow them to share as they’re comfortable about habits or disciplines they are developing. At all costs, avoid bringing judgement, advice or accountability into these personal discussions - just listen and encourage. Tools There are many productivity tools on the market today that claim to improve the effectiveness of your team. As a manager your job is to select the right tools that will ensure three key things: your team knows what they need to do, when they need to do it by, and have instant access to how they should properly do things. In all my years, I have found that tool to support the how is the trickiest to find, which is why we built KnowHow, a platform for managers to share step-by-step processes with their teams. Turn-Key Tactic: Take time to find tools that appeal to your culture champion(s) that will make it easy to equip your team with the what, the when and the how’. Check out KnowHow for free. Mindset & Motivation As a manager you have many responsibilities, but ‘motivating your team’ is not one. Your role is to orchestrate the right conditions to ensure that mature, adult employees clearly understand where the company needs to go, how it needs to get there, and what their role and responsibilities need to be. When things are clear, the right people are in the right roles, compensation is fair, and their leaders are nurturing a productive work environment, employees will respond with a motivated, committed, and loyal mindset. Provide your team members the respect of treating them like adults, forget about the inspiring speeches, and focus on the hard work of creating a work environment in which your people can thrive. Turn-Key Tactic: implement the aforementioned turn-key tactics to create a work environment within which your team members can independently apply their personal motivation and focused mindset towards work they determine to be meaningful, towards goals they are committed to. 3 things that drag down productivity that you can’t impact. In my experience managing teams, there are three things that, if present in a team member, are not in your control. In this case, investing time and energy in trying to fix these is outside your job description as a manager and is not fair to your other reports. Poor Work Ethic “You can’t push a wet noodle”. A person that has not personally invested in developing a strong work ethic is not going to suddenly undo years of behavioural preferences and start working hard after a firm warning from their manager. You are not their parent, and it is not your job to teach them how to work hard. If they are a wet noodle, move them out fast. Values If a member of your team does not align with what your organization values, both your organization and the individual in question are better off going their separate ways. A person lacking the values your organization holds dear will not be able to do work the ‘right way’, and thus they will never truly be productive in your workplace. Intelligence This might seem harsh, but I have learned that if the requirements of someone’s role is greater than their intelligence, they know it, their colleagues know it, and your customers know it too. Do the right thing, and either move them into a more suitable role, or move them out of your organization. Asking someone to become more productive within work they are not capable of doing is demeaning and not kind. Do the kind thing, and move them out of the role. If you see any of these three things present in a role on your team, with rare exceptions, the right call is to transition the person out, in a respectful and rapid manner. They are dragging down your team’s productivity (and yours). Increasing employee productivity is hard work, and your time is not well spent with this person. Remember, improving team productivity is difficult because humans are complex, and we live and work in a rapidly changing world. If you are ready to start this challenging and important work, I hope that the ‘turn-key tactics’ outlined above provide you with some helpful guidance.
Sharepoint Alternatives for Small Businesses and Startups
Travis Parker Martin
In 2020, a small business owner or startup founder has more options than ever when it comes to software designed to keep their team all on the same page. Yet, the incumbent tool most people are familiar with for any “intranet-style” interactions with their team is Microsoft Sharepoint. Is this still the best software for the job when there are so many Sharepoint alternatives available? The truth is, Sharepoint is a bulky tool best-suited for large enterprises that can dedicate the time and energy necessary to build and maintain it. If you’ve got a team of 100 or less employees, depending on the job-to-be-done, there are likely many simpler and cheaper options for your startup or small business than Microsoft Sharepoint. Here’s a list of 5 Sharepoint alternatives for small businesses and startups in 2020, focused on the specific problems they solve for your business. KnowHow URL: http://tryknowhow.com Pricing: Free for teams under 2, $19.99/mo/user after that Best Optimized For: Sharing processes internally with your team. KnowHow is a brand new software tool that is hyper-focused on helping teams share step-by-step processes internally and equipping employees with the internal know-how they need to succeed at their jobs. On KnowHow, managers or internal experts create step-by-step guides to accomplishing specific tasks, such as “Onboard a new client” or “Conduct a job interview with a potential candidate”. By inviting other team members onto KnowHow, managers give their employees access to all of these processes, which can be accessed on desktop or mobile. As employees complete these tasks, managers can see in real-time who following the process and where they’re at in doing so. Alternatives to KnowHow, such as Process Street or Tallyfy exist, but their onboarding process is difficult - a common problem among internal communication tools. If the primary challenge you’re encountering is equipping your team with the processes and information they need to succeed at their work, KnowHow is a great, inexpensive, lightweight tool (and we’re friends with the founders 😉) Dropbox URL: http://dropbox.com Pricing: Free 30-day free trial, $15/user/mo after that Best Optimized For: Sharing files with your team Dropbox is a cloud-based storage platform that businesses can use to share files with their team. On Dropbox, users can upload files such as Word docs, excel sheets, or anything else, and make it accessible to their entire team. Integrated with Slack, Trello, Microsoft Office, and plenty of other tools, Dropbox allows teams to view, edit, and upload files on desktop or on mobile. If the primary challenge you’re encountering ensuring your team always has synchronized access to your files, Dropbox is a great, albeit pricey, tool to help keep everybody on the same page. Jostle URL: http://jostle.me Pricing: $10/employee/month for a team of 50, with per employee price decreasing as the team size grows Best Optimized For: Centralizing communication among your team Jostle is a modern intranet tool that focuses heavily on eliminating clutter. As your team grows, most intranets (Sharepoint included) evolve in complexity, and quickly become out-of-date. Jostle centralizes company news, discussions, and events, and employee information all in one platform, so if your team spans multiple locations or office floors, you can keep your team all on the same page. If the primary challenge you’re encountering is ensuring the most important company announcements and information gets distributed to your employees, Jostle is a modern alternative to Sharepoint. Notion URL: https://www.notion.so/ Pricing: Free for individuals, $10/user/month Best Optimized For: A centralized database and wiki for your teams Notion is a new, cloud-based notes tool that is making waves among investors and founders in the Bay Area, primarily for its versatility. With Notion, teams have a centralized place to store their internal wikis, personal or team to-do lists, a lightweight CRM, task manager, and more. Notion is essentially just a versatile notes tool, but its flexibility has allowed teams with diverse needs to find it useful. If the primary challenge you’re encountering is not having a centralized place for information, data, and projects among your small team, Notion might be a great tool. Confluence URL: http://atlassian.confluence.com Pricing: $7/month for teams Best Optimized For: An internal wiki for your growing teams Confluence is a collaborative wiki tool for scaling startups. With Confluence, users can document relevant information for their teams such as project requirements, company announcements and events, and more. Additionally, users can assign tasks to each other, attach images and more. Workspaces can be broad, for an entire company, or segmented for specific departments within a growing organization If the primary challenge you’re encountering is not having a centralized place for information or company workflow, and your team is scaling between 10-100 people, Confluence is a popular tool that many tech companies are using. Verdict Ultimately, the right tool for your needs depends on the job you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re looking to disperse company announcements, and have a reference tool for internal knowledge, Jostle, Notion, and Confluence may be great options, depending on your company size. If your goal is to share documents and other files with your company, Dropbox is the industry standard for a reason. And if your goal is to equip your team with the processes necessary for them to do their jobs well, you should give us a try at KnowHow, by signing up via the button below.
15 Processes Every Service Industry Business Needs
Leighton T Healey
It is never too early to introduce processes, systems, and best practices into your business. Unfortunately, most business owners don’t tackle this important work until they have reached what I call a capacity tipping point: a level of busyness so great the ‘knowledge-holders’ in an organization can’t be everywhere they need to be. This is a period of business growth characterized by two extremes: success in the form of growing interest and demand for your product or services, and problems in the form of things going wrong as you frantically try to service all of this increased demand. In response, business owners either try to do everything themselves, or they quickly hire people and throw them at the problems with limited training and little to no guidance. Neither of these responses are effective. As the old Chinese proverb goes, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is right now.” The same is true for mapping out the way you want things done (a.k.a. your processes). The best time to outline them was before the capacity tipping point, but you will have to settle for now. Remember: your business makes more money when your staff do things the right way. ‘The right way of doing something’ is a process. If you are currently in a situation similar to the one described above, or if you want to grow your business and expand your staff, it’s time to write up organization’s processes. Processes for the Service Industry If you’re in the service industry, your business needs are unique, and your processes should be too. To help you get started, here are fifteen examples of processes that you can develop that fall into each of these three key areas. Tasks that don’t require a high level of skill or industry knowledge: How to complete a month’s end inventory check. How to set up a jobsite for the next days work. How to prepare the marketing flyers for delivery. How to clean the shop at the end of the day. How to make sure the work van is ready for the next week’s work. What to do when things go wrong, especially when customers are involved: How to deal with an injury on the jobsite. How do clean up a paint spill. How place a product order. How to deal with a rain day. How to troubleshoot (piece of equipment) when it is not working Tasks that allow you to focus on the type of work that enables the business to make money and keep the work rolling forward: How to deliver a ‘Standard Level 1 Cleaning’. How to market the community after setting up a new jobsite. How to contact tomorrow’s clients to confirm the next days projects. How to properly install (standard product your business installs). How to remove (standard item your business removes or cleans). As your business continues to grow, hopefully your staff will continue to become more competent and committed to your business. In order to sustain this growth (and continue to give them challenging new work), you will need to continue outlining the processes and systems you want to staff to graduate into, before you delegate to them. This is an important component of what I like to call, “keeping the train track clear ahead of time team”, one of an owner’s key responsibilities as they manage a growing company. In his book The E-Myth Re-visited, author Michael E. Gerber says "to grow your business, you must move from working in your business to working on your business”. Establishing your company’s systems and processes is the first step. It is also the first step to experiencing one of the best parts of starting a business - to create a machine that makes you money. Machines need to be well-tuned and well-oiled; what keeps a business tuned and running smoothly are clearly defined, and easily accessible processes.
KnowHow Partners with The Accelerator to Support Scaling Local Startups
Travis Parker Martin
Today, KnowHow is proud to announce a partnership with The Accelerator, a Calgary-based seed accelerator that provides curriculum, services, mentors, and connections to growing technology startups. Beginning immediately, all current and past Accelerator alumni will receive $500 in credits for KnowHow’s software platform for sharing and accessing team processes. “Early-stage startups turn into global enterprises when they can solve a tangible problem for people, and then create the systems and processes necessary to scale their solution to people around the world.” said KnowHow CEO, Leighton Healey. “We’re thrilled that KnowHow will enable alumni of The Accelerator to take what they’ve learned and through its incredible programming and translate it into actionable processes for their team on KnowHow in order to have a truly massive impact” Launched in 2016, the Accelerator combines the best aspects of proven accelerator programs like Y Combinator, 500 Startups, and more, and tailors it specifically to Canadian founders. Their five-month program provides hands-on mentorship, dinners with local experts, and a demo day pitch to investors. According to Sam Begelfor, Director of New Ventures at The Accelerator, this partnership should unlock new growth for their businesses. "We're so excited to partner with KnowHow to help our startups get their processes in check, to help fuel their growth! KnowHow is the perfect way to have all your processes in place for your startup to scale." Born out of a Silicon Valley-based technology accelerator itself, KnowHow’s platform for centralizing company processes was built specifically to help businesses scale their systems and equip employees to work with confidence as they grow. “The future of our city’s tech industry relies on early-stage startups finding product/market fit, and then having the ability to scale up their team to serve a large audience.” said Leighton Healey, “Thanks to KnowHow and The Accelerator, local startups are better equipped to not only solve meaningful problems, but to put Calgary’s technology scene on the map globally.”
KnowHow's Product Philosophy Pt. 2 - Easier Than a Pad of Paper
Travis Parker Martin
Getting answers on the internet has never been easier. In our first blog post, we discussed the odd disparity between finding information as a consumer, and finding information as an employee. While world knowledge has been easier to access than ever before, finding the information you need to succeed at your job is still surprisingly tough. This is for a few reasons: Most of the expertise required to function in your job is not universally applicable: it’s specific to your workplace, market, and role within the organization The knowledge required to complete any one task likely only exists in a manager’s head, until they communicate it to others or document it somehow The process of documenting processes is cumbersome, which leads to this task being put off, or processes quickly becoming out-of-date We knew that if we were going to make it easier than ever for an employee to access a company process or procedure, we had to make it equally easy for a manager to define that process or procedure on KnowHow. In this blog post, we’ll go into detail on exactly how we did this, by unpacking our second product vision: Philosophy 1: Employees should be able to access information as easily as consumers do Philosophy 2: It should be as easy to create a process on KnowHow as it is to write it down on a piece of paper Pain Unresolved While interviewing managers prior to building KnowHow, we discovered that some companies were trying to solve the problem of inaccessible company processes by using cloud storage software tools such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Yet, these solutions often created new problems. Once an organization scaled beyond a dozen team members, the file structure was becoming so complicated that employees would need training just so they could find what they were looking for! Additionally, if different managers had different ways of communicating information, the processes they created in Google Docs could look wildly different, leading to confusion among their team members. Other software tools (such as Process Street or Tallyfy) have tried to solve the same problem as KnowHow, but have done so by creating software tools that, while thorough and feature-rich, are complicated and cumbersome to set up. To put it in the words of one manager: "All I need is a tool that allows me to create a simple process that I can send to Joe Employee, who can easily access it." Such a thing didn't yet exist. Re-inventing the notepad We set out to build a product for this manager, and every other one like her. We knew that processes on KnowHow would need to be standardized, but simple. Easy enough for a technophobic manager to transfer their expertise in a matter of minutes, but structured enough that teams of 20, 50, or 100 could use it without becoming chaotic. Basically, we needed to reinvent the notepad, for company processes. Simple with no instructions needed, yet structured so it could be easily discovered and interpreted by anyone in any department. We went about accomplishing this through three primary features: Frictionless Creation One of our biggest priorities when building KnowHow was ensuring that it was remarkably easy for a user to take ideas in their head and transpose them into a step-by-step process. Many of our competitors have struggled here, building tools that require lengthy training in order to use. We knew we needed to design KnowHow like a pad of paper: when you know what you’re writing, the pencil and paper fade into the background, and all you focus on are the words. So we made KnowHow ridiculously simple to use. One line to describe the next task to be completed, with optional details available if need be. No onboarding, no required fields, and no managing workflows. KnowHow, getting into a process creation flow state becomes incredibly easy, as anyone can describe their process as easily as jotting it down on a piece of paper. Utterly Flexible At the same time, we knew that if a simple pad of paper was sufficient to share processes with a team, then most organizations would run on a pad of paper (which they don’t). In addition to being accessible for anyone to use, KnowHow would have to scale up and allow administrators to provide in depth detail, resources, and links, if they needed them. In a sentence, KnowHow had to provide both wide and deep functionality; not cluttering a user’s experience with features that were irrelevant to them, but also ensuring that, if they needed it, those features were there. The end result is a tool that allows users to attach documents, embed videos, modify timelines and link to external resources, all while keeping it streamlined. Whether you have a deep understanding of every detail of the process, or just the high-level bullet points, KnowHow is flexible enough to allow you to codify your knowledge in a step-by-step format in a matter of minutes. At any time afterwards, you can edit or add detail to your process with the click of a button. Clear, replicable, standardized structure The best part about conducting interviews with over a hundred managers and employees prior to building KnowHow was the new insights we uncovered that we could have never predicted. One of the biggest pains we discovered was among organizations of more than 20 people that had already documented their processes on Google Drive, Dropbox, or Sharepoint. These companies had multiple managers codifying their internal know-how, but because of different working/writing styles, it wasn’t easy for an employee to find, read, and implement a company process. Different managers would structure their processes in different ways, and confusing file/folder structures meant many employees, even if they were able to find the right process, didn’t necessarily know how to implement it. KnowHow resolves this problem with its standardized process format, optimizing for action-oriented, step-by-step guidance that focuses on what the reader should do next. With KnowHow, every process has the same structure, so employees can fluidly move between different processes from different people without running into any hurdles. Additionally, we made the bold decision at KnowHow to not have file folders. Instead, we focused hard on optimizing search, in order to ensure that employees did not need to focus on remembering a file structure in order to access important company information. A few keywords, or even the manager’s name, is all that’s necessary for employees find the process they need. Evolution We view KnowHow as a digital evolution of the notepad or heavy process binder. Yet, while KnowHow is already making work easier for teams from coast to coast, the product will continue to evolve and grow over time. As it does, it will be our central product philosophies that will shape and guide its features to better enable teams to work confidently and with greater impact. Try it out for yourself by clicking the form below.
KnowHow’s Product Philosophy: Google for your Company's Processes
Travis Parker Martin
This summer, our Co-Founders Leighton Healey and Travis Martin traveled down to Silicon Valley as a part of the Founders Embassy startup accelerator. While we were there, we discovered a giant problem with the way most organizations do work in 2019. As consumers, we have become accustomed to obtaining the answer to any question we could possibly have within seconds of the thought forming in our brain. Despite having no knowledge of history, I could pull out my phone, or lean over to my Google Assistant, and learn who the Pope was during World War I, or the year hydrogen was discovered, in less time than it takes me to type this sentence. Yet, in most organizations, this is the exact opposite experience employees have when trying to access company knowledge, procedures, or processes. Getting vital information on the right way to run a sales call, file an expense request, or anything else relevant to me doing my job well is incredibly difficult - in an era so defined by our ability to access knowledge in the moment that we’ve dubbed it “The Information Age”! Why is this? A problem waiting to be solved Returning from the Bay Area, we called over 100 managers and employees to ask them questions about their work, access to important knowledge and processes, and what the most aggravating aspects of their job. Here’s what we learned: Many managers are not confident their team members are following the right processes (in some cases, this is literally keeping them up at night!) Many employees find it difficult to access the processes or procedures necessary to do their jobs well. When they are able to find them, it usually involves interrupting their manager’s workflow, or searching endlessly on internal tools such as shared drives or intranet software. In this, we determined there was a tremendous opportunity to make work easier, and more efficient, for both remote and centralized teams through a simple software tool that houses company processes - accessible both on mobile and desktop. We got to work building KnowHow, but we knew if we were going to build a tool that would truly solve the problem of the managers and employees we spoke to (and the millions like them), we would have to build KnowHow carefully and intentionally, around a few specific product philosophies. Philosophy 1: Employees should be able to access information as easily as consumers do Philosophy 2: It should be as easy to create a process on KnowHow as it is to write it down on a piece of paper Over the next two weeks, I'll be unpacking those philosophies, and how they're reflected in the design and experience of our product. We strongly believe that excellent products cling to a few key truths and don't deviate from them. We're proud of the foundation that KnowHow was built on, and the path we've taken to get there. Philosophy 1: Instant Access to Information While conducting customer research this summer, we learned the main reason employees don’t consistently follow company processes isn’t because they don’t want to, it’s because doing so isn’t very easy! So we sought to change that, by making it easier than ever to find, and follow, the right process, right when it’s needed. We accomplished by prioritizing three things above everything else: Dynamic Search Our product team used Google as our inspiration here. In the same way Google’s algorithms can predict what we’re searching for before we finish typing, KnowHow gets to work trying to find the right process for you after just a few keystrokes. We went deep on our search tool because we knew of its importance in the moment, when an employee is setting up their development environment for the first time, or about to hop into a sales meeting. Google has taught us to rely on algorithms working hard behind the scene to connect us to what we want to look for instantaneously. We’re proud to have created similar functionality on KnowHow. Standardized Processes When chatting with employees about what barriers they encounter to following company processes, we discovered that even if a system or procedure was documented, variability in styling and important details led to it being an unreliable source for employees. For this reason, every process on KnowHow is standardized with the same format. Whether the subject is deeply technical, purely administrative, or anywhere in between, processes on KnowHow all have the same structure: a title & description, steps to complete, and any additional details or resources needed. This allows employees to easily jump into a brand new process and instantly connect with and understand the content. Available on Desktop or Mobile This was a must-have for a remote workforce, whether they’re a distributed team working across multiple cities, or a mix of front-line and office workers. Consistent with our philosophy, we needed to ensure that employees everywhere were only seconds away from the information they needed to do their jobs well. We’ve streamlined KnowHow on mobile for finding the company process you’re looking for and working through it without any distractions. Being a cloud-based solution, all changes made to any process are instantly reflected on every user’s mobile and desktop device, so they are always following the most up-to-date version of a company’s know-how. In the next week’s blog, we’ll unpack the features that were borne out of KnowHow’s second product philosophy. In the meantime, you can test out this product philosophy firsthand by signing up for KnowHow yourself with the link below.