Employees are a valuable asset to any company, so it’s crucial to get them started on the right foot. By fostering these essential relationships, especially as the business owner, you are benefiting the longevity of your business, boosting employee loyalty and building your own pack of brand ambassadors. Throughout the course of a person’s employment, it’s important to not cut corners, but particularly so when they first begin the job. Below we highlight some things to apply to your employee onboarding process.
Throughout the interview process, you should be setting appropriate expectations in order to avoid misunderstandings from either party. You should be honest with them about the job requirements so that once they get started, they don’t feel as though the job is too challenging, or perhaps worse, not challenging enough.
When they accept the job, ideally you should already have your prep in motion. This is the time to start getting their work area ready and gathering any materials or tools they may require to do their job well. You should also be letting all other employees know about the new hire, what to expect from them, what their responsibilities will be and if applicable, to whom they will report.
2. First day
On their first day, make them feel welcome by introducing them to each employee, especially your leadership team. If nothing else, they should be assigned a “go-to” person who can answer any questions that may arise. As a new employee is getting used to their new environment, he or she will likely have some questions. Nothing is more daunting than not knowing how to get those answered. The “go-to” person can answer or direct them to someone else who can assist.
Although you won't get ahead of every question that may come up, it may help address the company's set of do’s and don’t’s. The first day is a good time to go over what those are to ensure that they understand what type of behavior is expected.
Finally, having a training process for learning your systems and processes is the key to a successful onboarding process. This may be dragged out if you have a lot of different programs for completing a task. At Spud Software, we have training videos to help our new employees navigate our software. Software is a great way to keep employees organized and be able to review company progress.
3. Open door policy
At Spud Software, we have an open door policy. If an employee ever has concerns within the company or needs to talk about their position requirements, our leaders’ respective doors are always open to our employees. They will lend an ear to any employee who needs to be heard or just has some questions about their position. This practice prevents minor roadblocks from becoming major problems.
There's nothing worse than having an employee that feels alienated or doesn't understand what they're supposed to be doing. – Derek Sommer, CEO/Owner
The versatility of software keeps your day-to-day operations running smoothly and minimizes frustrations from employees, managers and business owners alike. This in turn maintains smooth employee onboarding and allows a business owner to keep an eye on the progress of their training. If you’re ready to start saving time and money, give us a call or fill out a form to begin the conversation.
After receiving the news in October about Spud Software's nomination for the 6th annual Art of Achievement Awards, we were pleased and excited to even be nominated. Up against some other great names in the Flint and Genesee area, it’s truly an honor to be considered among these incredible businesses.
The Art of the Achievement Awards is an annual opportunity for the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce and Flint & Genesee Convention and Visitors Bureau to recognize businesses, professionals and “community champions” in the area. The gala took place on November 7, and it was incredible to celebrate community and Flint & Genesee growth.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening. It's always gratifying to be recognized by the community for your hard work. – Jason Watson, New Business Development
The Small Business Award was intended for a business with less than 50 employees that contributes to the growth of Flint and Genesee County, has created innovations and has grown the business in the past year. We were delighted to be presented with this particular award in the presence of nearly 375 people at the Flint Institute of Arts.
Congratulations to all the recipients and nominees! Spud Software loves being a part of the Flint & Genesee County area and is looking forward to working with you all to support its continued growth and contribute great things to this area.
I want to thank Spud's team, our clients, and the Flint & Genesee Chamber for their awesome support. Looking forward to all of the great things that Spud's got going on now and in 2020! - Derek Sommer, CEO/Owner
Photo credit: Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce
Wow, another year flew by! In business especially, time might feel like it’s moving at a rapid pace. As we approach the year’s end, there are several things to evaluate before entering the new year. At Spud Software, we like to reflect on the year’s proceedings during the Year-End Review. During this time, we review all aspects of business.
Who builds up your business?
The Year-End Review could be considered an assessment of your accomplishments as a company, as well as your success with clients for the year. You might want to review the business’s achievements against goals and capabilities, celebrate successes and document the progress you’ve made on the company’s development plan.
While taking this all into account, you might have to acknowledge that some of your clients might not have the desirable results you had hoped for during the review or perhaps they had been nothing but difficult since the beginning of your relationship. Situations like this can be hard, especially if you’re a smaller business with a small client base. However, sticking with clients that build you up will lead to the best outcome for your own business, as well your client's business.
You want to keep all clients happy, but the ones that treat you and your company with respect especially so. Consider which businesses clearly understand how your partnership has helped to drive mutual success. The ideal client is one that treats you like a partner, not just a commodity.
What are you good at?
“What do we do here at Spud Software and what do we do well?” During our reviews, we always have an analysis of our services in terms of what makes the most sense to continue offering, as well as services we might want to provide down the road. We even consider changes in technology and how that might affect our business in the future.
This self-reflection is also important to be sure we’re yielding positive results and to reconsider those services if that is not the case.
When should you evolve your skills?
The Year-End Review can help point your company in the right direction. For us, it’s even been a useful catalyst for growth and expansion. Spud Software has been in business for over twenty-two years now. As these years have passed, we evolved to now provide many services that we never could have offered when we first started as a company.
While you’re reflecting on your services, you may find an opportunity to expand in one or more departments. This will help you determine which skills you should be honing and in which development courses you should be investing.
Why should you do this exercise?
Through the years, we've analyzed what we do, what we're good at and where we're serving our clients best. From there, we focus on improving and eliminating any shortcomings. This helps us to continue to build relationships and partnerships with companies to expand and grow our business.
As you’re evaluating your business this year, give us a call or fill out a form if there are any shortcomings to eliminate or any areas you’d like to improve with custom software.
As the spookiest day of the year is approaching, we thought we would address one of the scariest things in business: your processes not working. We highlighted some red flags this may be the case in your business.
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping spreadsheets away from your processes. If you hear that employees are using spreadsheets to track something here or there, that’s the first red flag your processes aren’t working efficiently. We recently covered the horrors of relying on spreadsheets, so we won’t go into all the details, but it’s important to be aware of how limited and time-consuming they can be. Without company-wide access, employees likely have their own respective processes, which not only creates holes or errors in data, but also poses the risk of potential roadblocks if that employee were unable to work one day.
Another real concern is when you’re in a meeting looking at reports, and people start saying, “Well, I know that’s what the report says, but the system is really not tracking that correctly, so here is what is really going on with that project.” An important reason that processes are in place is so that business owners can utilize real-time data to make decisions based on the reports . Without processes, it’s difficult to determine where a business stands at any given moment.
With appropriate software in place, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the first two points. Software keeps manual work at a minimum and prevents deviance from the process. As your company and processes evolve, software can also help prevent any growing pains by supporting you with process update enforcement and employee understanding of processes.
If you have good processes in place, you have software supporting those processes. – Derek Sommer
Sure, Christmas is most often associated as a time of giving, but what is more generous than handing out candy to strangers? With Halloween right around the corner, we decided to extend our generosity to needy animals. (No, we’re not letting them near the candy.) We’re partnering up with Lucky Day Animal Rescue and Pixel & Luna Resource Network, as well as David Pettengill and 3 Sons Trading Post for Reverse Trick-Or-Treating!
What is Reverse Trick-Or-Treating?
Instead of going from house to house (or trunk to trunk) collecting candy, we’re asking families or individuals to bring dry or canned cat food to fill the Lucky Day Halloween basket!
Will there be activities?
Simply dropping off your donation is of course an option, but we’ll also have some Halloween fun for you and the family. In exchange for your generosity, enjoy candy, door prizes, giveaways, shopping, cider and donuts! Some adorable adoptable cats will be here for you to meet. Additionally, you will also have the chance to meet a Lucky Day celebrity animal guest!
When and where is it?
Don’t worry, this is early Halloween fun, so you can still participate in traditional trick-or-treating on Halloween. Join the fun here at Spud Software on Saturday, October 26th from 1pm to 4pm!
So, stop by the store to stock up on cat food and head on over to Spud Software for some Halloween fun. We can’t wait see you all and hope that maybe you’ll also find your next furry family member! Learn more about the event on Facebook and invite your friends!
Should you change your business to fit around a product or service or should the product or service change to fit your business needs? It may seem like an obvious answer, but business owners are still changing their processes to fit software that might not necessarily offer everything they require.
Additionally, many software packages are made with generic/common functionalities that can work for a number of businesses rather than being specially tailored to one, meaning that some functions might not even be necessary for a particular company that uses it. Spud Software has developed a model to fit most industries, which is a perfect choice for many businesses. We’re certainly not ruling out that great option. But it’s time to stop thinking of all business types as “one-size-fits-all.” Your business is unique. Your software should and can be too.
So, at what point should you consider custom software?
1. You need something your software can’t provide
Since your business is unique, you likely have unique business needs. If you’re changing the way your business operates just so that you can fit into a box, it’s time to consider custom software, especially if these changes are impacting your business negatively.
We take the time to meet with you face-to-face and listen to your needs. During this period, we will learn all that we can about your business This will help us understand how you operate so that it fits you and not “everyone else.” Once we have enough information to get started, our team will work directly with your team. Consider this a partnership – we’ll work around your working hours and availability so that this process goes smoothly for you.
2. You need to establish your processes
It’s possible you already have great processes, but what good is that if no one follows them? Out-of-the-box software solutions may be frustrating your employees to the point where they stop using them altogether, resorting back to paper processes and individual practices.
Software establishes the process. Since we’ll have the opportunity to absorb all that we can about your business processes, we’ll design your business software solution in a way that your employees will use and understand. It will become their go-to for anything they may need to do their job well.
3. You want to own it
Are you ready to break up with subscription fees? Or maybe you’re afraid to lose data to an out-of-the-box solution that will erase everything as soon as you cancel.
When you choose custom software, it’s all yours. You can tweak it as your business evolves or as your processes change. We’re always here for support and are happy to design new features to complement your business growth.
If you’re ready to think outside of the box, give us a call at 810.695.0001 or fill out a form to begin the conversation.
If you’re reading this, you probably have used Excel, Numbers or Google Sheets at some point. Now take a moment to consider those spreadsheets you’ve accumulated and answer a few questions.
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, it may be time to ditch Excel and find a software solution. Here are some reasons to switch:
Is the spreadsheet saved in a place where another employee could easily access it or is it saved on a desktop? Could it be accessed if someone needed to check it from home or on the road? With software in place, you provide a secure place where all employees can access what they need to get a job done. With ease of access, software allows a project to be easily handed off or overseen by a supervisor.
Let’s address a scenario: Employee X uses Excel to keep track of her current projects, but she falls ill and must rest at home for a couple days. Her work needs to be quickly picked up by employee Y. Assuming employee Y can find the spreadsheets, he’ll also have to understand her tracking process, but the fact is, she is probably taking some liberties with her project management processes (and not that we’re pointing fingers, but employee Y is probably doing the same with his own projects). Processes are in place for a reason, and software is a good way to ensure they’re being followed without staying over shoulders all day.
Data and Analytics
Even with great processes and accessibility in place, utilizing spreadsheets spreads out your data and prevents you from having real-time reports. Another question to consider is how many spreadsheets exist in your business of which you’re not even aware. This creates holes in your data and prevents you from seeing the whole picture. Reports are important for making decisions, so you need to be sure every bit of data is accounted for before a decision is made. While utilizing software, you can securely store your data in one place.
“I highly recommend you don’t trust Excel spreadsheets to run your business. There’s too much room for human error. It’s too easy to have miscalculations. Files get deleted or the file itself just gets corrupted.”
Give us a call at 810-695-0001 to discuss how you’re using spreadsheets in your business so that we can begin finding a business software solution unique to you and your processes.
Nothing is ever guaranteed in the world of business, and there are just as many paths to failure as there are to success. That’s why understanding the fundamental value of processes and how to utilize KPIs for your business is imperative for its growth. A process is a set guide that helps you achieve the result you desire, but these are just motions without stats to support them and goals to achieve.
Our owner/CEO, Derek Sommer, recently spoke about this very topic at Vision Conference 2019. He not only shared his experiences but discussed in detail several processes that have helped our company succeed over the years. Below are a few steps Derek provided at the conference that we wanted to share for anyone who was unable to attend.
Set Business Goals
First you must determine the behavior you’re trying to change or improve. For example, as a business owner, you would like your sales team to have X number of calls each week. Start with a reasonable goal. Maybe that means 30 calls each week. As they achieve these goals, increase that number until it reaches a cap, but don’t stop there. Start increasing other items like face-to-face meetings or actual sales.
TIP: You can talk to your CPA to get the figures for companies in your industry. Use this information to exceed industry standard. Determine the steps needed to make those numbers, put together the goal and timing, break it down into smaller goals and timing, track it and update as needed.
Why do you need KPIs? KPIs, Key Performance Indicators, help you reach the company goals and targets. There are usually smaller goals that need to be reached first, and KPIs help you understand those. Once you have your goal set, work backwards. Treat this as you would a marathon: You don’t just walk out the door and run 26.2 miles without proper training. You run a mile one day, a few more the next week and so on until the big race. The KPI in this example would be “miles ran each day” with the goal being a marathon.
Because humans are competitive by nature, people like challenges and objectives. KPIs communicate to the team where things stand. This in turn increases morale, as they can see how they’re participating in the bigger picture. When employees can see how their part contributes to the company, you can expect an increase in productivity. Employees can better hold themselves and each other accountable.
TIP: If you’re overly ambitious with your goals, it may have the opposite effect on your employees by discouraging them when they can’t meet the goals. Remember to be reasonable with the progression.
Maintain KPI Relevance
When you’re receiving dozens of emails and reports a day, it’s easy for things to blend in and become white noise. For this reason, it’s important that your reports are easy to read, something that you can glance at and understand where your business stands. We encourage you to understand that KPIs should always be evolving. It doesn’t make sense to keep track of KPIs that aren’t relevant to your business as it grows and evolves. These charts show the evolution of tracking our sales team from the first version to the fourth and most recent. As our business evolved, our goals evolved, and therefore we needed KPIs to reflect the new goals rather than the prior goals.
TIP: Place monitors around your office to display the KPIs you’d like to know at a moment’s notice. As a quick example for placement, Spud Software has one monitor displayed at the top of the stairs to show hours worked and hours billed. The graph displays red for every hour under what is expected and green for hours worked over what is expected. The green and red are easy to spot, even from halfway down the stairs, so it’s clear where the business stands even as passing.
Spud Software would love to help you find a business software solution that helps track your KPIs, achieve goals, allows for easy access to reporting and keeps your processes in place. Give us a call at 810-695-0001 or fill out a form when you’re ready to start the conversation.
This past Friday Spud Software’s owner, Derek Sommer, had the honor of presenting the keynote speech for the 2019 Vision Conference, which was hosted by ECO. His presentation offered invaluable insight into his thought processes and experience that will surely prove useful to many business owners and entrepreneurs who attended.
Sommer’s keynote jumpstarted the day explaining how in business, you’re either growing or dying. This subject was broken down into 3 main talking points which included identifying and eliminating roadblocks, along with preparing for growth. The thought process being that identifying your roadblocks is crucial in order to keep your business from dying. When you learn to identify your roadblocks you will in turn have the ability to properly understand how to eliminate them. This will then allow you to prepare your business for growth appropriately.
For those of you who were unable to attend the Vision Conference, here’s a summarized breakdown of these three points that were discussed by Derek.
1. Identify Roadblocks
Roadblocks, which can also be known as blind spots, are obstacles to your success. There are 3 kinds that Sommer covered during his presentation: ones you know exist and are working on, ones you know exist and haven’t dealt with, ones you know exist and don’t want to deal with. The sooner they are identified, the more time and money a business owner can save.
You should understand your roadblocks by asking for feedback and listening to your business partners, your clients and your employees. Once identified, you can narrow in on how to eliminate them.
2. Eliminate the Roadblocks
Business owners and entrepreneurs are certainly rock stars, but you must know you can’t do it all – you need a team to support you. A team can include but is not limited to your accountants, lawyers, insurance providers, financial advisors, HR/recruiting agencies, product suppliers, service suppliers and marketing/PR agencies. Use these partners to supplement your knowledge and strengthen your business.
Importantly, don’t be your own roadblock: Stop giving away your services for free or at cost for friends and family and maintain your focus on the business rather than in the business.
3. Prepare for Growth
Now that your roadblocks have been eliminated, you can prepare for growth. Sales and marketing are absolutely important. However, no matter how much money or time you invest into sales and marketing, it comes down to whether you have the people, resources and processes to handle the work. If these things aren’t in place, it will end poorly.
In order to avoid growing pains, stay ahead of recruiting efforts, have a plan for seamless onboarding, maintain your equipment, understand your financials and lead by example.
As a business owner, ensure that you’re taking the time to identify and eliminate any roadblocks preventing your business or yourself from growing. Spud Software specializes in creating business software solutions so that you can stay ahead of roadblocks and know exactly where your business stands at a moment’s notice. Give us a call or fill out a form to begin the conversation.
This week Derek Sommer will be presenting at the 2019 Vision Conference as a keynote speaker! Of course, everyone in the office is extremely excited to see our accomplished leader represent Spud in front of a wide audience comprised of business owners and entrepreneurs who hope to take their dealings to the next level. And why shouldn’t we? After all, with his 22+ years of experience as a business owner, Sommer has learned a thing or two, and on Friday, September 20th, he’s willing to share some of his secrets to success.
During his first presentation, you’ll learn how to identify your company’s roadblocks that prohibit your businesses growth, as well as methods in which you can overcome them. Roadblocks can be hard to detect, so don’t be surprised if you learn about some you’ve never even considered while you’re attending the conference on Friday. From there, he’ll share some examples of roadblocks he’s experienced during his own career as well as important ways in which you can prepare for your company’s growth upon overcoming its own obstacles.
In his second presentation, Sommer will share his knowledge of how to use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for business growth during a breakout session. Learn how to appropriately set business goals that will positively affect your company culture and business. During this session, Sommer will also share his tips on how to maintain KPI relevance so they don’t just become “white noise” to your company.
Join Derek Sommer and 11 other entrepreneurs at the Vision Conference 2019 if you’re ready to take your business to the next level! Learn more about Vision Conference and secure your tickets here. We hope to see you there!
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