Is your business in chaos right now because it needs systems but for some reason you just can’t seem to make the time to create the systems it requires?
Are you more of a Visionary and feel like creating systems is not something that you are particularly good at?
Owen: Hi, everyone. My name is Owen McGab Enaohwo. And welcome to Process Breakdown Podcast, the where I bring on successful entrepreneurs to come on here to reveal how do they’ve been able to create systems and processes for their businesses and now enabled them to literally run their business on autopilot without the constant involvement. My guest today is Audrey Darrow. She is the president of Earth Source Organic. Audrey, welcome to the show.
Audrey: Thank you for having me.
Owen: Before we get started, I want my listeners to understand a little bit more about what does your company do and what big pain did you saw for your customers?
Audrey: Well, our company is a raw food manufacturer and we manufacture certified organic raw chocolate and we solved a lot of issues for people that have eating problems such as needing to eat organic or gluten-free or allergen-free because we have a lot of certifications within our facility. So, our big thing is creating foods that the world can eat that so many people cannot find in stores and that’s basically how we’re starting and we’re growing with it.
Owen: Awesome. So how many full time employees you currently have?
Audrey: Right now, 12. We have one on maternity leave. So that’s 13 total.
Owen: And just so my audience has kind of a context as to how much business you’re doing. What was last year’s annual revenue and what do you expect to generate this year?
Audrey: We did over 1.3 million and we’ll do over 1.5 million this year.
Owen: Okay. And so, I would ask any guest on the show to find out that if there must have been a point where you got in the business where you decided now you needed to systematize it. And so, what would you say would be the lowest point in the business and describe how bad it got?
Audrey: That was about the time that I actually hired a Director of Operations where the business was growing. I launched this business in end of 2006 and in 2007 and 2008 is when the product lines were large. We had a long time in between of getting certifications and building a facility. Once we did that and product is starting to sell, the people that I had in place were very inefficient in developing systems that were growing with the demand of the product. So quite often we would have a really difficult day where ingredients wouldn’t show up because they weren’t ordered properly and because of funding, we needed to have a lot of cash on-hand to continue to keep products in the facility. Once we started to get to a point where the systems were breaking down and that’s when Brittany came in. We were able to systemize it better so that the products would meet ingredients or ordered properly and on-time and very timely so that if we ran out, there was always a system in place to make sure that they are covered very quickly.
Owen: And so, let me just clarify this. At that point in the business, you decided to bring on an outside consultant to come and help you improve the systems you had in place, right?
Audrey: That is correct.
Owen: Okay. And the main problem at that point was the fact that your inventory was not coming in on time to meet the demand to produce the products. So let’s dive back into that and figure out. What did Brittany do first when she came in? How did you solved that problem? Is it okay?
Audrey: Well, let me just pre-phase this with the fact that we buy a lot of ingredients that come from the outside of United States which makes it really more difficult. So some of those ingredients are seasonal, some of those ingredients come from countries where it takes a long time to get it. So if our procedures on our systems are not properly in place and those are not ordered in advance or were not foreseen weather changes or things like that. It’s a huge procedure and somebody has to be extremely organized and on top of it and it’s beyond a full time job to do it properly. So when Brittany came in, she immediately was able to take over that area and I will let her describe the systems that she has in place because truthfully they’re beyond my capacity. She’s way better at what she does than I am and that’s part of growing a good business is knowing what are your strengths and your weaknesses lie. She’s amazing at her organization and knowing where those weaknesses lie. So, I’ll step aside and let her answer those questions and if you’d like me to.
Owen: Definitely. And one of the reason why I want to do this interview is like basically showing the listener that there are certain times when you can be the one responsible for creating the procedures and improving it but sometimes you just need to bring some outside help to come in and take it to the next level and let’s have Brittany come on to talk about what she did at that point.
Owen: Hi, Brittany. Welcome to the show.
Brittany: Thank you.
Owen: If you could introduce yourself to the audience, that way they know who you are.
Brittany: I’m Brittany England. I’m the Director of Operation to Earth Source.
Owen: Definitely. It’s nice to have you on the show.
Brittany: Thank you.
Owen: And so, this is the first time we’re having a situation where the guest actually had brought in an outside consultant to help to systematize their business and I wanted to do the interview from your point-of-view as to at this point when you came in, you realized the issue they were facing. What exactly you did as a I would say process consultant. Is that way you call yourself, a process designer or what do you call yourself?
Brittany: Well I think since I’m very glamorous. But originally I worked with several small companies to help streamline their efficiency. So Earth Source Organic happened to be a chocolate and I also work with the jewelry company and also a couple of construction company is where they’re really efficient at their hill, they’re best at making chocolate, there are great artists at jewelry but as far as the business and the processes, vast skills that might not be there or not to a level they needed it to be. And so, I came on with Earth Source and then I loved it so much in there and I left. But basically what we’ve done is a family-owned and operated company, some of its trial and error. You can never know exactly what’s going to work for each or any business especially as Audrey described, demands of our ingredients. If we miss the boat and it only comes in April, we have to wait until next April to get it and so, what we were basically doing for about a year was really honing in on our ingredients, our needs and really working on projections of where we thought we could had and where we wanted to have and making sure we cover those specifically with ingredients.
I can also anticipate in the cost of that and really trying to streamline those areas of weaknesses and also if we needed cacao powder that costs $50,000 not to do have that due the same time that another $50,000 that was billed. So trying to figure those out was a little bit of trial and error and also getting to know the product itself and the unique needs it had. But now we have a system in place where we would really check inventories, spot check it once a week but once a month we do a big order and they’re depending on the flavor and depending on what we need. There’s a system in place where anyone in the facility can go to chart to know exactly what we have in-house and it’s both electronically tracked as well as physically tracked.
Owen: Right now, it’s on the way it needs to be. When you came in, it wasn’t like that. I’m trying to look from your lenses as where you came in, at the very first time where you came in, the issues you saw and take me step-by-step what you did to really tweak around and help improve their system from your standpoint at the time you came in.
Brittany: Yeah. The biggest thing for us again, each company is going to have unique needs but our biggest thing is that we have about 30 plus ingredients that make up at the time, 5 products. So basically what we had to do is to find what those 30 ingredients were and define our projected outcome because rather that it was kind of a fly by the sea of our pants and we order when we need it and unfortunately, when we times our 3 weeks when we times our 3 months, you have to kind of anticipate that.
So the first thing we did is analyze recipes and analyze actually what we’re using right now, today, what we use and then looking at, “Okay, when we grew this much over last year, what do we think we can grow in the next year where we are thinking we’re going to need for next May?” and really trying to estimate the ingredient usage or the supply usage based off of growth not just where we’re at because that’s where a lot of the problems were is that “Well Last month, we only used 10 pounds and this month we’re using 20 pounds,” so the person 3 days she was ordering 10 pounds and so was really finding out where our growth was going to be and anticipating growth is a really difficult thing.
Owen: During our pre-interview, Audrey has mentioned something about a 2-week supply of finished product up and how knowing that it takes 2 weeks to done with the product, you guys actually forgot a way to mention that before that 2-week period product or a system was to kick out an order to get new orders in place.
Brittany: Yeah. As a fresh product, we have a shelf light of 6 months and we guarantee that to our clients. The biggest thing as a food product is we can’t stock pile tons and tons of product on our shelves. We have to use small batches to make sure that we’re constantly having fresh ingredients and imagine a proto-stand. Yeah. They can have 10 months worth of bananas sitting there but it’s going to go bad by the time their customers use it all, so we have to balance. What we found is about 2 to 3 weeks of inventory is a great number for us where we’re slowing through that ingredients quick enough where our customers are still getting fresh product but at the same time, we’re not on Monday morning out of product that we needed to ship out. So that was a process that we did by again analyzing our sales and projecting our growth and knowing some of the sales trends obviously as a chocolate company, the holidays are big for us. So, knowing that November might be big sales month for us and having enough on the shelf for that in anticipation.
Owen: Okay. So I guess maybe, the best way to kind of figure out how the business works from the systems standpoint is to look at it like a conveyor belt where on the other end is at the end of the conveyor belt is the customer looking to buy I guess the finished product, right?
Owen: So what goes through is the customer being on the other end looking to buy the finished product and maybe on this other end is an order that comes in? I’m assuming that’s what the case, what goes through how that conveyor belt moves through and different steps involved? That way, the listener can literally see into the systems what you guys that have in place.
Brittany: Specifically for finished product, the way it works is raw ingredients come in, the raw ingredients that are made into the specific blend or the specific chocolate bar. Everything we do is chocolate. So we make the chocolate bar, label it, wrap it, put it on the shelf, it’s date coded and put on the shelf for up to 2 weeks. The order then comes in from Our Whole Food Store for example, that’s a big client of ours. Whole Food then e-mails us, faxes or calls in an order, we then fulfill their order based off of what’s on our shelf which again is lot coded and ended on the shelf for 2 to 3 weeks. That is shipped out to them so by the time it gets to the store the product is no more than 3 weeks old, so the 6 months shelf life, they’re getting the full benefit of that.
Owen: Okay. And so, I guess maybe I was trying to figure out. You’re saying that what happens is you guys always make the product in advance but happens in the situation where you make the product and then you don’t have the customer who is at place in the order if you’re making any advance all the time?
Brittany: We don’t have that problem. We fortunately over the course of time had really run and managed how much inventory that two weeks supply is. We’re now 6 or 7 years old as a company. So we’re able to see sales trend and we’re able to project for that. Not to mention we have a dedicated staff and people calling and making sales. So if the orders aren’t coming in, we’re going and getting them. So we haven’t had any problems with products spoiling or going bad or sitting for too long. It’s quite the opposite, we’re making it as fast as we can sell it. So it’s a good problem to have.
Owen: What I’m getting from that is that you guys are building the system based on previous data of how your customers purchases it and how inventory is being used up and now you’re systematizing based on actual data that you’ve gathered from the past?
Brittany: Yes and then also projecting growth. So rather than just using just those numbers and then we’re adding 10%, 15%, 20% depending on the flavor and the sales trends to ensure that we’re covering growth as well.
Owen: And also I guess Audrey mentioned how you guys have a centralized system that you use in-house for both employees and managers as well. Can we talk about what that centralized system entails?
Brittany: Yeah. It’s actually very simple and a lot of companies use it. We use QuickBooks and QuickBooks basically we use a premier version that basically can do everything from accounting, payroll, inventory, management, all our bills pays through there. So what’s great about that is it has enabled Audrey to log-in to QuickBooks remotely from her home or if ever I’m out sick or if something would happen, I can always log-in and I could see what’s going on with the business and everyone in the company is seeing the same information so that it makes it super helpful where there’s not different versions of it. We’re all sit in at central network through QuickBooks.
Owen: So is this QuickBooks are you guys are using to manage everything?
Brittany: We supplement it with obviously through a certification. For example, we’re organic certified so there’s a special requirement through that that we supplement QuickBooks with but as far as of the brains of accounting and inventory management, we do primarily through QuickBooks. I mentioned earlier that we always do a physical count. We always are checking that information because systems are never you always want to make sure that everything is flowing properly. But we do have recipe logs that are done daily on top of that. We also have again monthly inventory where the physical counts. And that will catch any airs that QuickBooks might not catch. You know, human errors, people drop things and QuickBooks is obviously accounts for exact usage where if one of my employees drops a bed of flower, QuickBooks doesn’t know that. So that’s why the physical count is really important as well.
Owen: So you mentioned that one of the things you guys do is you have a sales book where you’re constantly reaching out to customers to try and you know, I guess get them to purchasing and audit. Tell us now about what’s the system you guys had behind that?
Brittany: Yeah. We have it through QuickBooks again. There’s a customer center which keeps all the customer data in there, their latest order, what their last order was or what their last 10 orders were. So you can always reference it in case there’s seasonal Camp Site for example, my only order in the summer time. So, we’re able to see all their past orders, all their contact information so we know we’re getting a hold of the right person and as a small business, we actually reach out to each individual business directly, check on their stock and get their orders. So if they’re not managing their inventory, we help do that for them by check and going, “You ordered last month about this time and sound like you’re probably due for another order” and that’s a way that we can constantly make sure our customers don’t run out of product.
Owen: Is it something that is done systematically or they are just calling people because they…
Brittany: Everything is done systematically otherwise we would be kind of running around like a chicken with the head cut-off.
Owen: And that’s what sounds good at is. You need to help me understand the system that you created in this sales rotation group because the people that are listening to this, they tend to forgot you’d say. They wanted to understand what is the system behind it?
Brittany: Yeah. Well first, what we do is the customer center is out to advertise. So, what we kind of do is make it a manageable chunk for a sales crew to be able to handle. So, they might do several letters together, A B C D and those are always their Monday calls and then the next group of letters are always their Tuesday calls. So there stores might not always get a call every Monday because if you call them the previous Monday and they order, they probably don’t need a call the next Monday but basically, it’s a rotation where all the A’s get a call at some point during that month on Monday 1, on Monday 2, on Monday 3 or Monday 4. And so basically, you rotate through the letters to ensure that every customer are getting the call throughout the month but at the same time you’re not putting too much pressure on any one day to get through 70 calls in an hour, you know. So we basically break it down by chunks of letters and then go back through that rotation every week.
Owen: And then actually Audrey also mentioned in the pre-interview that you guys have a production staff. I’m assuming because you guys are producing chocolate, you need to have people actually produce the chocolate.
Owen: Explain that.
Brittany: Yeah. Actually, we have a staff at 13, 4 of us are in the office and the rest of the staff are in the warehouse itself. And so, we’re pretty efficient for 8 or 9 in a mass-making chocolate, we’re able to make several thousand bars a day. So what we do is we have recipe logs and depends on the flavor we’re making across, this is pretty unique. We make chocolate bars and our customers can base off with the sales and what the flavors they needed. We rotate again. Everything is sent off the rotation Monday through Friday. Certain flavors are made on Mondays, certain flavors are made on Tuesday and we ensure that we have a constant flow of making sure all the flavors are getting made.
Owen: Okay. So this is something where you have a product that has a unique taste and all that. What’s the system behind ensuring that the people were actually going to be responsible for creating chocolate or always doing the same thing according to the sum that you’ve created?
Brittany: Yeah. We have specific recipe logs. So each employee, for example our chocolates here have the recipe log and so that way he is actually, physically writing. “I put in 50 pounds of this, 20 pounds of this,” the date is on there, the lot code of the actual ingredient and has initials go next to every ingredient that he uses. That gets put in the tank and that mixes the same thing for a truffle person, the person making the fruit truffle for us. He’s physically writing down, “I use 20 pounds of this, 10 pounds of this into the batch.” And that way, we’re able to again track the day, the lot number and who actually put that into the mix. That way if there’s ever an issue, we can trace that back.
Owen: So in a case where maybe the listeners listen to this now is that the point of their business where they feel, “Okay, just like how Audrey did,” reached out to you and go in to come and to systematize their business. What is the thing that you might want to say to the listener if they want to go to route of hiring or bringing in an outside consultant? What would the thing they have to look for in such a person?
Brittany: I think that someone obviously fixed the feel of your business. The biggest thing is I spent a lot of time with Audrey and we have to get along and we have to make sure that I’m keeping what she wants her business and I never lose sight of that. It’s her company and it’s her vision and all I’m here is to help facilitate and make it my vision as well. And so I think that’s really important, is that you want to make sure that it’s someone you’re going to spend a lot of time with and work through this growing things with, that you like each other. That’s really important. You’re going to spend a lot of time together.
And then also the biggest thing is that Audrey and I have very different skill sets and that’s really important. Where she has strength, I have weaknesses and where I have strength, she has weaknesses. And so, it make us a mutual respect for one another where we feel we can help each other out but I’m able to do systemization where she’s a lot more creative and more of a visionary and so, that’s something where it’s a really good balance for us. And I think what’s really important is, you don’t want to hire your clone otherwise you would just do it yourself. So you want to make sure it’s someone that kind of compliment your skill set.
And the last thing I would say is that, “Are you willing to ask questions you’re willing to experiment and really know that the person is not a mind reader.” And so, there’s going to be a little bit of trial and error as you’re growing your business and getting it systematized. But you really have an open relationship and really understand where you’re heading and Audrey and I have a lot of room that we want to improve on and we were nowhere near where we want to be but we’re still far from where we were. So it’s going to be an evolution and that, to where you were at year 3 and where you are at your 30, you’re going to laugh because it’s just different, it’s going to grow. And so to know that the system that works for you when you were doing 10,000 mix might not work for 20,000 and to be okay with that and to know that it’s going to constantly evolve.
Owen: Definitely. And so I guess what I’m trying to get at it now is, for someone who is trying to hire somebody. I guess you mentioned having someone has a right vision and then also I’m trying to figure out what other signs the person was trying to hire consultant coming and help systematize their business, what are the key signs that they have to see or be aware of before deciding if this person is the one to handle the task of systematizing their business?
Brittany: I mean, I would ask obviously even with experience they have with that, obviously experience is great but it’s not the only thing. Education is really important, if they don’t have the experience but they have the education behind it. So there are a lot of different areas sometimes being in the similar field in the past. I hadn’t worked in chocolate in the past but I had worked with systemization in the past. So it’s kind of balance but if you need someone that’s, I’m trying to think of what, maybe some of your customers would be looking for but I think that it’s difficult to know the exact fit for your company but being able to ask those questions and really finding a good fit is just a matter of really knowing yourself and what you’re looking for too. Having a checklist to probably like knowing what you’re good at and what you’re not good at and really try to find someone that fills those gaps.
Owen: Is there places online that entrepreneurs can actually go and find people that actually do what you do which is helping people to systematize. Are there places online that people can go or maybe one association online or somewhere where similar people like you hang out and all you guys…
Brittany: I don’t have a club that I’m a part of or anything. But there are definitely entrepreneur group. Networking is really important. Before I was up for this company, I was in several women’s networking groups locally. It’s kind of get to know different company has not tied up several of my clients. So asking around is obviously really important networking. I’m just being open to looking, putting an ad out there through Monster or whatever employment agency you might go with. There are staffing companies as well. I personally have never worked with the staffing company but I know a lot of people have found great success with that. So there are lots of options for finding someone. But as far as what you’re looking for, that’s an honest conversation you need to have with yourself and then you can go to the staffing agency. Go to, put your ad out or go to these networking groups with the realistic checklist of, “This is who I’m looking for. This is my pair.”
Owen: So the way you came in as the outside consultant who was coming in from the outside looking in and now you started the process of systematizing Audrey’s business. What challenges did you have initially as you try to create the systems that you’ve mentioned so far?
Brittany: That’s fun. Well, the biggest thing is that some people don’t respond well to change. So working with the existing staff and really teaching them that this is going to make their life easier and not harder, that’s a unique challenge obviously and also when things have always been pretty casual and coming in and making it more official and having to document, that obviously proposes some challenges because “It’s the way we’ve always done it. The way we’re always doing it didn’t work.” So that’s definitely something that was a challenge in the beginning. It’s just being understanding that people have to kind of work through it themselves and I was really close with a lot of the staff and we work through it together and not being afraid to know that two hands are better than one, ask for suggestions, they’ve been here longer than I have. So some of the staff I asked “This isn’t seemingly working, what would you do different if you could start over?” And really came to know that because their perspective is really valuable as well. They work with the process every single day.
Brittany: So not probably with an iron fist and say, “It’s my way or the higher way.” Otherwise the employees aren’t going to respond very well to that.
Owen: It’s kind of like a thing where you’re trying to bring them along so that they literally take ownership as you.
Brittany: And it’s all in your pride a little bit. I don’t need my name to stomp on anything here. So knowing that if someone else said that they made it up by all means, that’s fine with me as long as it’s working. It doesn’t need to have my initials at the bottom. It’s the company driving the networks.
Owen: I think Audrey made a point because I love the stuff they work on, literally creating the chocolate hand-made. It’s very important to make sure that they’re constantly informed as changes are made to the system.
Owen: I’m just curious as to how you guys foster that communication to happen in the business?
Brittany: Yeah. I actually every morning meet with my stuff at 8:00 in the morning. That’s the way everyone starts their day as with my lovely voice is just saying, “This is what’s going on for the day. This is the agenda, years packages that we’re expecting, incoming and outgoing” just to kind of keep in the loop and I found that since we did that, we imposed to take a lot more care things that they tend to have ownership over. I feel a lot more informed because I have people coming into my office every day, “Oh by the way, that package came in. You told us it’s going to be here.” So, it didn’t sit in the back for 4 hours and claimed. So keeping the staff informed is really important because then they are comfortable sharing things with you as well as sharing with them, they feel like they’re part of it and I think that our employees are very valued and will take really good care of them and they know that and I want to keep them here.
Owen: Let’s dive a little bit more into that whole communication system that you guys have because Audrey was mentioning something about you guys having a calendar and how does that play into what you guys do. I don’t know if you’re aware.
Brittany: Yeah. With our whole staff, we do a daily meeting where we talk about what’s specific for that day with our management staff and our front office we meet once a week and that’s more projections, things that we’re going to be doing for the month. We meet with our director of sales, he travels a lot. So getting his travel schedule on there and that way, our small staff is all in the same page. It all kind of goes back to the more we know, the better we can help each other and we’re very big on it. It’s not someone’s job, it’s everyone’s job. So, the more we’re able to keep each other in the loop work, we’re more able to help each other.
Owen: I’m trying to get other question as to how exactly do you document the systems for… You mention that you guys have recipes and all right? So I’m trying to get to understand the system you have in place for documenting how stuffs you’ve done so nothing falls through the cracks.
Brittany: Well hurting now, let me sip some of water.
Owen: No problem. And we’re doing it live here.
Brittany: I know. I’m sorry. So as far as with the recipes and the schedule, first, I can mention the people who are making the chocolate are the truffles are actually, physically writing what they do. But then I’m actually going back or the director is going back and looking over the recipes on a daily basis and then we keep them actually for 3 years. That’s part of our organic certification. So we keep those recipe logs, filed by date and by flavor to be able to reference in any time.
Owen: Okay. And besides the recipe which have been documented. All of the system and documentation that you have in place for how stuff gets done, besides just the aspect of the recipes for creating the chocolate?
Brittany: A lot of that is through our QuickBooks systems. So whether if they are vendors or our customer logs. I mean, everything is written down but one of it through that system, so we’re not using paper and keeping a huge paper chill into one centralized network. So, we can log in to that at any time. I can view it, my assistants are viewing it at any time by her notes in the network.
Owen: And then also one thing too like how stuffs gets done but there’s another to like to track and verify that it’s actually getting done so that you figure out maybe a places that you need to dive in and update the system. I think my question now is, “How exactly are you tracking and verifying that the employees are delivering the results that you want?”
Brittany: Well, we have a projected numbers and so based off the recipe logs or whatever it might be in various areas, I’ll use that as an example. At the end of the day, they just have to put the physical count of how many bars were made, how many bars were labeled and so on and so forth. So I’m able to really measure. I said we needed 12,000 and we had 11,059 and that’s actually or physically counted before it’s on the shelf. So that’s something where it’s actually a physical number. First sales like I mentioned, each day has it’s weather. So any point I can go into the customer log if did the A got called today or did they not because they actually or physically tracks that through notes and through seeing when they’re ordering. So that’s all traceable.
Owen: Definitely. Everything is going back to I guess what is the end goal to achieve and you’re basically making key numbers to track each of the events that you’re trying to achieve by the end and if the numbers are not matching then you know there’s something wrong somewhere.
Brittany: Exactly. And that’s where we said that things continue to evolve and change and so, if something is not working, we figure out why and make those adjustments as needed.
Owen: Definitely. And before we hand it over to Audrey, is there any question that you wish as the one who you came in as the outside consultant to help Audrey to systematize the business. Is there something you wish I should have asked you that I didn’t go ahead and talk about it now?
Brittany: Gosh. I don’t know. Not that comes to my mind. I think we covered a lot of it and our company is really unique as far as the process. So it’s a little bit difficult to segment each section but the biggest thing is that is you know, being traceable, obviously anticipating growth and checking and monitoring is really important and that goes across the board from ingredients to sales to customer service, that all kind of ties together with the same concept.
Owen: Thank you very much. Let’s have Audrey come back in and I just a have a few more questions so far.
Audrey: Hello. I’m back.
Owen: Hi, Audrey. So how have you been on the side just listening to us having the conversation without you? Now I want to bring you back in.
Audrey: Well now you know why she does the operations and she’s quite capable and I’m no fool. I know where my strengths and my weaknesses lie and she’s very good at what she does. And I think the answer to your question when you asked her, “How does somebody find somebody like her?” It’s not easy to do and she has that background and organizational studies which I think are very unique to what she does as well as business but I think it’s an attribute that is very hard to find. It’s one that I don’t have. I could tell you that much.
Owen: Definitely. And so, let me ask you because I’m sure the listeners are intrigued as heard from her part as to what to look for if you’re looking for someone to come in to help you systematize your business but you as one was feeling the pain. Let’s go back to at that point where you said, “Hey. I came to this mindset. I need to go and get somebody on board.” Guide us through how you went to the process of actually finding someone like Brittany to come on board.
Audrey: Brittany actually came to me through someone who was working for me for 4 years who was struggling in being able to put those processes into efficiency and he knew that he was struggling and he actually brought her in to help him and I was very fortunate. I knew the systems weren’t working because the employees were struggling and when your systems upfront aren’t working then the employees in the back get very frazzled. They expect direction, they expect to know what’s going on and when your systems up front aren’t working, it really makes chaos in the back and we had a lot of chaos and we have a lot of ingredients not ordered on-time, we had a lot of frustration. We had a lot of money wasted where employees were sent home because ingredients weren’t here, they couldn’t make chocolate that happened many many times. So Brittany was actually brought in by someone who was working for me who knew that she could do a better job. Let me be very honest with you.
Owen: And I’m curious too because in that point where on this side is this whole chaos that you’re trying to solve but on this other side where now you’re going ahead to bring somebody coming to help you systematize. And then there’s this whole part of you letting go of control, if you did or did not. But you deal struggle that’s why you’re letting go of control to Brittany to have her help to systematize the business. And if so, how did you do with that struggle?
Audrey: I did not struggle with that because I learned before I came into this business that if I have a big ego, it’s not going to work. And so, I know I have no business background, no education in business. I was a Physical Education major. So I knew what I was able to do well which was visualize or see trends or to work well with employees and there’s a list of things that I do very well. Organization is not one of those and so there was no ego for me because I knew where my strengths lie and I have a deep appreciation for anybody that can do what she can do and do it as well as she can because I can’t even visualize that, that organized. And so there was no ego, there still is no ego because it’s an ongoing process as the company continues to grow, she has to become more efficient and she’s able to adopt and I find that to be a very strong attribute.
Owen: Definitely. And so I guess what I’m getting from that is kind of a situation where you really know your strengths and where you find that you have weaknesses and literally go out there to find somebody who can come in and mend those spots that you have weaknesses with. And so now that you know, you find that you don’t have to run the business on your own as you used to, what was the longest time you’ve been away from the business?
Audrey: Several weeks, yeah, probably 3 or 4 weeks.
Owen: Wow. And the time that you actually are working at the business, what areas of the business you focus most of your time of?
Audrey: Well, I’m not in the office like they are however they know when we are in constant communication. What I do is a lot of research. I look at trends, I look at everything from the health of the nation and able to foresee trends of what new products that I would like to create. I do marketing, it’s something I enjoy doing. So I can do those remotely as well as being in the office here. We have a special program that we use that helps us market. I write publicity pitches, I write press releases with someone and who is actually better than I am but I get the idea. So things that I do are things that are in my head. They could come up on sleeping and they can come while I’m getting ready in the morning to go out. So I don’t have to be in front of an office although I do like to be in communication with the employees and come in and see how things are going and be there if anybody has questions. But when you have the right people and there’s a trust there and you don’t have an ego, it actually can work quite well.
Owen: Definitely. Because you even mentioned several things that to me sounds like you spend your time literally working more on the business as opposed to in it and you focus more on things that drive in the revenue. Like you mentioned how you’re doing a lot of stuffs that leads to marketing to pump in more customers I’m assuming and so, that’s what I’m getting from that.
Audrey: Absolutely. I have lot of publications that come in to my e-mail and I look at trends, I look at new products that I want to create, I look at everything from changing in the industry of where let’s say for example the grocery industries. I’m able to foresee those trends and know where I want to start telling to and be able to help my sales people kind of be more open to go into maybe directions of grocery not just health foods and things like that. So that kind of stuff, you know are things that I can do anywhere and just being in a constant communication is really important for them.
Owen: So I guess by systematizing your business now, you tend to continuously be the visionary. That’s what it sounds like to me. You stay more on driving the vision of the company.
Owen: Definitely. And just to be honest just so you know that in your situation. I mean, I think you’re a little bit lucky in the sense that the person who you hired to do it was having issues with it help you to find somebody else who could do it better than you to come in. But in the case of the listener who is listening now, I’m just trying to figure out, what is that one thing you want to leave with them as to the very first step that they have to take if they get to the point where they’d realized, “Hey. This whole thing about systematizing the business might be something that I need to bring somebody in.” What’s the very first step that you feel that they should take to move forward with that whole idea?
Audrey: Well, I see a lot of businesses coming into our business because we also co-manufacture for some other companies. So I see companies that start out from the very beginning and it’s always the same thing where there’s a refusal to see where your strengths and weaknesses are, at from the very get-go know what you’re good at and know that as a visionary, a visionary can’t work without an operator and vice versa. And when you know that and there’s no ego and you are willing to trust and know that person well enough and over see and be there for whatever they might need, that’s a really good relationship in growing a company and I had to do that from the very beginning. I mean, my parents are the ones that helped me financially to get the business off the ground. So I’m not in accounting, I don’t have a business back and so I brought in accountants, I brought in a CPA, make sure that the business have strong foundation without ego. So to me the ego is a huge thing. It’s knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie and being okay with that.
Owen: I like the fact that you made that point. And I’m also going to have for the next couple of questions ask you and as well as ask Brittany in those questions as well. So what books would you say have had the most influence on you and why?
Audrey: My favorite book is a book called Good to Great. I think Jim Collins is the name. And it’s because I believe that there’s many, many thousands of good companies out there but there’s only a few that are great and I think it’s about personal humility. I believe that in the book. The companies that are great are the companies where the leader doesn’t have an ego. The leader wants to leave that company in a place where when I walk out the door, my company, the employees, people that run this know that they have all the support that they need to create a great company where they’re going to benefit from. So Good to Great. I don’t want to be just a good company. I want to be a great company and that’s about taking care of your people that are about again, not having an ego, knowing where your strengths lie, making sure the people trust you and that they know they’re supported. That’s a huge thing. The employee, down to my truffle maker knows that he’s supported by Brittany, by the Director of Operations, by my sales staff, everyone has support. And when you have that, I’m not sure of the word I’m thinking. But when you have it all works and plans together well, then I can be away and have a company that’s continuing to be successful.
Owen: And what I get from that is you’re being the leader, t’s kind of like when you think of them being the leader, they think, “I’m just the boss. Everybody pays attention to me. Everyone has to do what I do.” But what I’m getting from that is that, your way of leadership is more of serving the people who work with you is like the finding way to serve them and empower them to do the best on what they do. Am I getting that, Audrey?
Audrey: Absolutely. And I have more from the employees and my Director of Operations because I’m not the boss. I’m the one that oversees and they know what my position is and there’s a great amount of respect but the person that they really have the respect and to listen to is my Director of Operations. She’s got the hardest job of all and it’s a daily process of making that they are respected but they also know what they have to do. So my job now is easier. When I was starting out, obviously, it was much more difficult but now I’m in a good place and I get to enjoy the company, I get to enjoy the people and I get to be there for my employees and have fun and provide lunch, as in do really cool things for them.
Owen: Awesome. And so, what is the best way that the listener so far can reach out and connect with you and thank you for doing this interview.
Audrey: My pleasure. Thanks for asking. You can e-mail me at email@example.com. You can call us at (760) 734-1867. We help a lot of small companies, grow, just because that we pay it forward. We’ve had a lot of mentors out there. So, reach out and give us a call and ask for help.
Owen: And is that a question that you wish that I had asked you regarding what we’ve been talking about so far that I didn’t cover yet? If so, give us the opportunity to say the question and then you answer.
Audrey: I think the biggest thing that I found in business if the question is, “What would you on a personal level say is the most crucial?” Because it’s not just about your education in business, I think the question of what’s your model, what is the mantra that you use, what is it that motivates you every day on a personal level to make this business be successful? And for me, what I’ve learned is not try to make something happen, to allow something good to happen and when you’re surrounded by good people when you’re open, when that ego is not there, when you have trust, then you now have opened yourself up to allowing good to come. And that’s how the success of the business will continue to grow and that’s what I learned from that book, Good to Great as well, being open.
Owen: And I have one more question of Brittany.
Audrey: Okay. I’ll let her come back.
Owen: Hey, Brittany. Good to have you back.
Brittany: Hi, little musical chairs.
Owen: This is the first time we’re doing this back before I’ve been enjoying it. You have a lot of background in systematizing businesses and now I’m sure there has been books that have influenced you in regards to creating systems for business and all that and why? What books are those?
Brittany: I’m kind of nerdy. I have a couple of textbooks that I keep at home and the names are escaping me right now but those are enjoyable for a bed side reading. But Audrey just reminded me that I have read The Synergist and really enjoyed that as well and that’s about systematization.
Owen: The what?
Owen: I’m going to check that out.
Brittany: And like I said, when it comes to systemization, it’s more of text rather than literature. So it’s a little bit different because it’s fun to read but they’re helpful.
Owen: Thank you very much for doing the interview. I really appreciate it and thank Audrey for doing the interview. I really appreciate it.
Audrey: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure.
Brittany: Yeah. Thank you so much.
Owen: Yeah. And so, the listeners that listens to this right now, if you found this interview useful, I want you to please share with other entrepreneurs so that they can learn just like how you have learned because there are certain situations where you as the entrepreneur, the owner of the business might not be able to figure out how to create a system and just like our Audrey has done, she went outside of her company and got somebody who specializes in creating systems to do something at best. So if you know another entrepreneur that might benefit from this interview, feel free to share them, this interview with them.
And also if you are at that point of your business where you need to stand literally, documenting how you get stuffs done so that your employees know how things get done even though you’re not there, well, sign up for a free 14-day trial of Sweet Process and if you are currently using tools to systematize your business and you find out tools you’re using are very complicated and your employees are not using them because of how complicated they are, then you are in the right place. Sweet Process makes it easier. Sign-up for a free 14-day trial of Sweet Process. Thanks guys for doing the interview. I really appreciate it.
Brittany: Thank you so much.
Audrey: Thank you.
Brittany: Thanks. Have a good one.
Owen: And we’re done.
Regarding creating systems for your business, what recurring challenges do you come across in the day-to-day running of your business, that you think you should hire a Systems Designer (Consultant) to help you systematize? Click her to leave your comment!