5 Steps to Creating an Effective Operating System

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By Katie Torres

So, you've detected the obstacles that your business needs to remove.

But, how do you decide which problems to focus on first? The obstacles appear to be overwhelming, and picking a starting point might seem to be no easy task.

But with the proper operating system in place, you can make your way through the problems to find the solutions you need. 

This is how we do it at Envoy:

1. We work from a list of what’s working, what’s broken, and what’s missing or confusing, to help us decide which problem areas to focus on.

Our team meets together and comes up with a list for each of these key areas.

Once we have everything written down, each team member picks their top ten problems, and orders them from the most important problem down to the least important. 

From those top ten problems, we discuss each member's top five in the group. We then vote from there to pick just three problems to focus on. We call these problems “ROCKS”.

2. Once we have our three “ROCKS”, we assign responsibility to the problems to make sure they are addressed.

We discuss the problems. We offer our members a chance to volunteer and take ownership for each problem.

When it comes to assigning responsibility, it helps to keep in mind that the individual assigned to work on the problem should have a role that is in line with their goal. So, if the problem lies within sales, someone from your sales team would do well to take on the task.

3. Once responsibility is assigned, we create a deadline.

This helps to ensure progress and it creates accountability.

Creating accountability can also be done by setting clear expectations and clear consequences.

4. Each team member is given a KRA. 

Each team member has a KRA, or a Key Results Area. This includes who they report to, how much they make, their job description, and their rocks area. The member’s job description is what determines their salary. Bonuses are given when they effectively achieve their ROCKS related goals.

5. We meet together to follow up.

After KRA’s are determined, there is a weekly update meeting.

In this meeting, we discuss what each team member has completed and what each is committed to accomplish within the next week.

Team members then put their ideas into action, and solutions are achieved.

3 Ways to Remove the Obstacles Your Company is Facing

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By Katie Torres

Have you ever seen one of those military movies, where the soldiers are in training and going through a ridiculously difficult obstacle course?

We're talking mud, sweat, and tears. Well...they might not be crying, but I definitely would be.

Running your company may not be as physically daunting as the task of one of these obstacle courses, but it does come with some obstacles of its own that need to be overcome. 

Here are three ways you can take down those obstacles like a pro, and avoid the muddy mess:

1. Don't be afraid of looking for the areas where your company can improve.

Your employees are on the frontline every day, working to find the solutions your company and customers need. They usually have a good idea about what the problem areas are, and about what they need to start tackling the issues.

Ask your employees what they need from you in order to complete their jobs effectively.

As our own CEO likes to ask, “What do you need from me that is keeping you from being able to perform at a higher level?”

And then, work to provide the resources they need.

2. Be intentional about hiring the right people, who will ask the right questions.

When you focus on asking the right questions in your hiring process, you will be more apt to find the right people.

Focus on hiring people who fit well with the culture of your company, and who hold close to the company's core values.

People who share your values will be far more likely to have the focus you need them to have when it comes to asking for what they need to do their jobs better.

You will be able to trust that they are working toward the same common goals, and will therefore have confidence in providing them with what they are asking for.

3. Listen to what your customers want, and exceed their expectations.

When your customers come to you with requests or complaints, the best thing you can possibly do is provide them with an answer, and wow them with your helpfulness.

You can never give too much time or ask too many questions to make sure that your customers are served well. 

When you are irrationally helpful in serving your customers and meeting their needs, you will smooth over any current problems, and prevent future obstacles from arising. 

Happy customers = a happy and successful company.

Removing the obstacles from your work does not have to be overly complicated or difficult. There is work to be done in getting there, but the vision and process can be fairly straight-forward.

Take some time today to talk with your team, and start looking for areas where you can work to improve.

 

Happy & Helpful...How?

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By Katie Torres

I sat down next to him in my favorite coffee shop, and apologized after I bumped his computer charger with my elbow as I sat down in the only open seat left.

He was there, doing the same thing I was - working.

After brainstorming and researching for quite some time, I looked over and asked him what he was working on.

To my pleasant surprise, he told me he was working on marketing and content development for his business site.

I was immediately interested and excited to hear about his work, since I was running low on ideas and inspiration myself. (And low on coffee. My mug was empty by this point.)

He shared with me his frustrations about trying to create a culture for his business, after moving from another city where the culture naturally fit with the service he was offering.

He said that people here are just not as excited about what he does, and expressed that it was difficult to cultivate the same level of excitement and dedication to the company's goals that his business previously experienced before moving.

At this point, I was just absolutely on the edge of my seat, excited to share with him what our company does and how we maintain such a fun culture.

He listened as I explained that, for facilities maintenance, it is sometimes nothing short of a trick to help people understand why it's so awesome.

Facilities maintenance is often viewed as a one of those things that you do because you have to, not necessarily because you want to.

It is viewed as an extra expense rather that the time and money saver that it actually is.

It is, for many people, the "boring" or undesired part of their jobs.

And let's be honest: It's definitely not the most glamorous job there is.

But nonetheless, I was able to explain to my new friend how it is that we are able to love our jobs in facilities maintenance - even though some may think it's not all that exciting on the surface.

You see, we've created a culture that allows for fun to be had, relationships to be made, and people to be helped.

Thinking about facilities maintenance will probably not make one well up with joy and gratitude...

But, thinking about someone being able to run their business and provide for their family, most certainly will do it.

The person who has a well-run business, has it because someone helped them with the facilities and equipment necessary for them to do their jobs.

That person is far more likely to be appreciative of the kind of work it takes to keep a building and equipment well maintained. And even more than that, they know what it's like to be helped when they need it most.

Envoy is persistent in building a culture that makes people feel that their needs are being met, and that they are valued. 

That's what facilities maintenance is about to us - helping.

And on this specific day, my passion for facilities maintenance led to helping someone in a completely unrelated trade.

I left the coffee shop, elated that I was able to help the guy next to me find a little encouragement, and a little more vision for his own business.

It doesn't matter what your trade is, or how people initially view what you do. A good company culture will make it a winner, every time.

Some Encouragement for You, Today.

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By Katie Torres

Everyone has moments - or days, or weeks, or even months - that are just plain difficult.

It seems that no matter how much we try to change or control our situations, we are still struggling to "keep on keepin' on". 

And maybe, sometimes (I'd venture to say quite often), we get down on ourselves.

We tell ourselves that we can't get done what needs to be done.

We think we are inadequate.

We feel overwhelmed by all of life's tasks, knowing full well that they don't go away just because we're having a rough time.

And with all of these thoughts and circumstances, it's easy to only be able to see what's going wrong, and miss out on opportunities to make it better.

If you're struggling today, or have been for a while, try to see where the good is.

Write it down. Note your obstacles and frustrations. And then jot down some ideas to manage, or even overcome some of those things. 

Even if you can only work at one thing on your list, you will still be moving forward. And that makes you a winner already.

Maybe you are a leader in your company, or in your home.

Maybe the discouragement is causing you to feel inadequate in leading those who look to you for support and guidance.

The same applies for you; you are no less human that the people you are leading.

Give yourself some permission to struggle a bit, and also the grace to keep moving forward, even when times get tough.

Be encouraged today, and know that tomorrow is coming. 

It may come with some more struggles, but it could just as easily come with new opportunities.

Let's focus on the latter.

Thankfulness Makes All the Difference.

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By Katie Torres

It's 11:22 PM on a Sunday night, and all I can think about is how thankful I am for this company I work for.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to work hours that fit my needs.

I'm thankful for a team who is a "team" in every sense of the word, supporting each other in our work, and even in the cares of life.

I'm thankful that I get to sit here and write this post on our company's blog, and take this space to tell the world how stinkin' thankful I am.

And you know, this thankfulness is honestly what makes my work so much easier, and even more joyful.

A lot of us go to work, and we work because we have to.

And really, there is nothing wrong with that. 

There is nothing lesser about our jobs just because we feel that they aren't as exciting or instantly rewarding as others' jobs might be.

When we take the time to find the thankfulness for what we do, and for the opportunities we've been given, it truly does make all the difference.

Thankfulness makes our tasks feel like opportunities - because they are.

It causes us to find joy in the mundane, day-to-day work.

And when obstacles and difficulties arise, thankfulness is there to remind us that those struggles DO pass, and there is something to be encouraged about in the meantime.

Take some time today to think about what you are thankful for in your work.

It's not as cliche as it sounds, I promise.

Why That Post?

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By Katie Torres

Every now and then, Envoy will post a good recipe, or a funny meme, or an emotion-invoking blog post.

I'm currently sitting across from my friend and just finished telling her about the recipe I created this morning for the page (keep your eyes peeled, because you won't wanna miss it).

She was so surprised and happy to hear that a facilities maintenance company would post a recipe.

Why? I mean...we're about fixing equipment, right? What the heck does food have to do with broken toilets (well...aside from where that food eventually ends up. But we'll leave that topic to your plumber).

The reason Envoy posts about everything under the sun is because we want to be helpful in as many areas under the sun as we possibly can be.

Is the fryer in your restaurant down? You have a need. We want to help with that so business can go on.

Are you hungry for something good? You have a need. We want to help you enjoy your meal today. Here, have a recipe!

Are you suffering from some Monday blues? Well, there's a need too. Let us spread some joy and brighten your day with a good meme or two.

So, I told my friend, just as we tell everyone: It's not just about fixing things. It's about helping people.

Do something today to be helpful to someone else. It could be anything! It doesn't have to be extravagant to be helpful, and to make someone's day better.

And take a look at our site, and at our Facebook for a more complete collection of our helpful posts.

Communicating with Vendors: How to Get the Information You Need

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By Katie Torres

You make a call because a piece of major equipment has gone down.

You're on edge because you know that fixing this equipment is highly time sensitive, and absolutely essential to the functioning of your business.

And to make matters worse, you're not hearing back from your vendor about what's going on.

It's frustrating to you to have to frequently ask for information, and maybe still not receive the answers you need, even after repeated questioning.

What do you do?

We see this so often in our line of work, and we have spent a lot of time working on ways to prevent it from happening.

When this happens, it all comes down to an issue of communication.

We talked last week about communication, and how it is the backbone for any business to run smoothly.

Great communication is also specifically the solution to the above scenario. 

So here are three ways we have found to get the information our customers need from our vendors:

1. We always keep in mind that, "If our customer is asking us for an update, we are not doing our job well".

If you have to repeatedly ask for updates, this means that you are not getting all the information you need; you are not being served as well as you should be.

We have found that following up with vendors frequently on behalf of our customers takes the pressure off of our customer to find the answers they need. 

We don't just assign a work order and let it sit until completion.

We follow up, again and again, keeping our customer updated so they don't have to worry about whether or not the job is getting done. They will know.

2. We recognize that knowing the job is getting done is not necessarily enough for our customer.

Sure, it's great to know the job is getting done.

But what is the timeline? What has gotten done so far? Are there any complications in completing the work? 

The questions could go on. 

Not only do we provide updates on whether or not the job is being completed, but we have also paid extra close attention to providing updates about every detail along the way.

3. We have found that leveraging technology is absolutely essential to keeping our customers in the loop.

Phone calls and emails are great, but when it comes to information about the repairs of your equipment, you'll want to know that no bit of it is getting lost due to disorganization.

We believe that technology frees people to be people, so they can do what they are best at. And we believe this so much that we've invested a great deal into our technology to make this possible.

For instance, we have set up our software to communicate with leading CMMS software like ServiceChannel and Big Sky. 

This means that it takes less time to communicate the information our customers need, and no detail is lost in the process. The automation in our software helps greatly to ensure this as well.

Whether you are a facilities manager who is managing work orders, or you're trusting another company to help you with the process, look out for these solutions to make sure you are getting the information you need.

Keeping Up With Your Customers' Changing Needs

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By Katie Torres

In today's face-paced world, it comes at no surprise that the rate at which customer needs change is also quickening.

What worked a year ago - or even a few months ago - may not be working any longer, and customer satisfaction might be at risk.

Fortunately for all of us, the basic principles of how to keep up with customer's needs are the same across the board, regardless of what kind of company we're talking about. 

Here are a few of the most important aspects of keeping your customers happy, despite changing needs:

1. Pay attention to current trends in your trade.

Always keep learning. You can learn a lot from simply looking at other companies around you and seeing what they're doing to gain business. 

If you are unsure of what your own customers are looking for, maybe a new point of view would help. Look to find out what other companies are offering that is working for their customers, and work at ways to make it better for your own. 

Conversely, if you find that a current trend is losing traction, it might be time to move on to some new ideas. Don't be afraid of this change. Your customers definitely aren't.

2. Understand that even small adjustments to how you run your business can have a great impact.

You don't have to do a complete brand overhaul every time you notice that a trend in your industry is changing (in fact, sticking to your core values regardless of changing trends is completely necessary).

But small adjustments here and there really add up to a greater improvement in customer satisfaction.

The point is to always keep moving forward in your efforts to improve. Every bit of information learned is useful. Put it to practice, and your customers will notice.

3. Live up to your word.

If you tell your customers that you always have a real-person-customer-service-agent ready to help and listen to their needs, then you best have a real-person-customer-service-agent there anytime a customer calls with a question.

Simply, do not make promises you cannot or do not intend on keeping. But also strive to be the company in your trade that can offer the best of the best.

4. Continually have the attitude that you are there to serve your customers.

When companies operate with the sole goal of making profit, customers see this. And, spoiler alert: they don't usually like it.

We mentioned that always sticking to your core values is a must; one of those core values ought to be service, and dedication to meeting your customers' needs. 

After all, companies would be nothing if it weren't for the customers who keep them afloat.

If these tips seem oversimplified to you, you can take a breather and rest assured that it really is pretty simple.

It may be a lot of hard work to stay on top of changing trends within customer needs, but the way to get there is not overly difficult.

What are some trends you've noticed within customer satisfaction? As a customer, what do you look for and value in the company you buy from? Let us know in the comments.

And if you happen to be in need of some gold ole' facilities maintenance help, take a look at our site. We'd be happy to hear about what your needs are there, too.

How to Maintain Culture as Your Company Grows

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By Katie Torres

There's nothing quite like the experience of working with a group of people who you get along with well, and who share your goals and values.

Having a team like this does wonders for a company. 

Not only do tasks get completed with great teamwork, but it also means that coming to work can actually be enjoyable.

But as companies grow, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain the culture that your tight-knit group once had.

This happens for a few reasons, but there are ways to prevent the culture from being lost in every one of these situations:

First, new employees mean new personalities. This can quickly change the culture of your business.

It is not possible to change the personalities and attitudes of your employees. Trying to do so only causes resentment and frustration.

So, it is important to carefully hire, right from the start. Make sure you ask questions that go deeper than the applicant's skills and job history.

Ask questions that, when answered, will give you a good idea of what the person's core values are, and who they really are as a person. This will help you to know whether or not they will add to the culture of your team.

As you begin to hire more people to your team, you will also find that a larger group of people presents challenges to maintaining culture.

In this case, communication is what will save you.

Even a group of people who get along well can run into problems if the communication is not strong and clear.

You may feel that there is not enough time to continue with your regular meetings - meet anyway.

Your team needs to remain on the same page, and everyone needs to stay up-to-date on your company's policies and procedures, and anything that is going on with the business.

Team growth can sometimes lead to complacency after employees become comfortable in their success.

Don't let this happen. 

It is great that your team is growing and progressing toward common goals. But there is always further to go.

Discuss what needs to be improved at weekly meetings, and frequently talk about your team's core values. 

Remind your employees of common goals, and create new ones that keep your core values at the forefront of your efforts.

Also, have fun together. Nothing breaks the cycle of complacency like a good trip outside the office with your team. Have dinner, go to a community event. Anything to foster the sense of community you had when you started off.

These are just a few ways in which you can maintain your company's culture as your business grows. 

Do you work for a company who does this well? Let us know how in the comments. It brings us joy to hear that other companies are succeeding in this area.

How Change Can Help Your Company Grow

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By Katie Torres

A few days ago, we were discussing the topic of change.

I made the comment that I don't (personally) enjoy change. It makes me panic. It's often difficult to navigate, and getting used to it takes time.

But even though there are many areas in life where consistency and routine are great, there are also many areas where change is necessary, and should be welcomed.

Our business - and yours - are among the places that desperately need change.

This is not to say that our companies are bad or lacking. But if we stay where we're at, our growth will become stagnant. 

Growth is not possible unless we are moving forward.

So if we must move forward, the question is, "how?"

There are certain aspects of business that never stop evolving. Special attention should be payed to these areas.

For instance, technology is always changing.

This is true of all technology, not just technology within our companies. So it pays to keep up with current trends. 

Make the investments necessary to keep up with the pace of technology in your trade, or else risk losing out to the companies who are advancing in their own use of technology.

Your customer's needs may also be changing.

As the world around us changes, we need to adapt to maintain success.

Your customers are adapting, even if you are not. So, if you have not made the necessary changes to stay relevant to the needs of your customers, your customers will move on to someone who has.

This is also another reason why staying up-to-date on technology is so important; because of the evolution of technology, your customers may now have different needs due to those changes.

For instance, a company looking for a website that stands out among other modern websites will need a graphic designer who is up-to-date on the current trends. They don't want a designer who is still creating layouts that look like they belong in a website from ten years ago.

One other aspect that always changes is the growth process itself.

As mentioned before, it is impossible to grow as a company without implementing change.

If you have the opportunity to equip your employees with new skills and avenues to create, why wouldn't you do that?

Sure, the direction may change a bit. But it could be completely beneficial to the quality of your business. 

Bottom line: If you don't embrace change, you stop growing as a company. If you choose to embrace change and make some mistakes along the way, at least you're learning what not to do. Even learning what doesn't work is a part of growing.

So, meet with your team this week and talk about it. Are there areas where you could be embracing change to grow as a company?

If you have stories of how embracing change has helped your company, we'd love to hear about them. Feel free to share in the comments, or better yet, tell someone else so they can benefit, too.