How Wistar Group tamed the chaos of flawed processes and saved $87,000.
Wistar Group is a property management company in the B2C and B2B space, dedicated to the efficient management of maintenance and work tickets.
Anequim is a subsidiary of Wistar Group and is a B2B company offering back-office support for other property management companies.
Combined, the two companies have 235 employees.
Wistar Group is looking to triple the size of their company in the next five years. Anequim is looking to bring on three more services for efficient back-office support, such that property management companies can make more money the moment they begin using Anequim.
Highlights of Results Wistar Group got from using SweetProcess:
- $87,000 efficiency savings from having processes and procedures
- Employees now follow written procedures rather than verbal instructions, improving efficiency and cutting down on mistakes
- Wistar freed up their President to work on the business rather than in the business
Listen to the audio interview:
Buried in the Day-to-Day of Flawed Processes and Procedures
Aspen’s greatest fear was forever being stuck as a small company, not being able to scale best practices.
“Processes and procedures are what allow your company to scale”,
he noted. Aspen knew what the company needed to move forward but was forever trapped in a perpetual update cycle that led to wasted time and energy. Employees weren’t even using the right versions of the procedures.
He notes that one of the most frustrating aspects of processes and procedures that literally kept him up at night was that Wistar didn’t have a quality instrument to ensure employees were always working with the most up-to-date versions.
“We had written procedures, but the team wasn’t necessarily looking at the correct document. It got too complicated too quickly to be able to rely on employees finding the right information much less using the most accurate version of the procedure documents.”
Because of flawed processes and procedures, Aspen was buried in the daily activity of fixing processes and procedures and mistakes that were either caught late or were in the middle of being made.
Tiresome Technological Hurdles
Aspen says when you’re starting out in business, you’re just trying to get your work done, so the manual control mechanism never became a priority within the company. When that failed, they turned to Microsoft Word. Unfortunately, there was no way to ensure everyone had the same documents, so this attempt at systemizing flopped too.
Aspen knew that there was a technological hurdle to overcome. He knew there was a tool out there that could offer the right infrastructure for his small business. But a tool costing tens – or even hundreds – of thousands was out of reach.
“So, we combined a hodgepodge of methods,” said Aspen. First, they tried ISO-9000 written documents but quickly discovered that, in their case, it was impractical because it required dedicated document control resources.
Aspen was excited when Google Drive came into the picture because now he could at least write a document and put it into an environment where anyone with credentials could access it. He found this method did work a lot better, but it still didn’t get Wistar Group to the point where they could rest assured everyone was looking at the right information, much less being made aware of recent updates.
Finding the Right Solution
He began exploring a variety of software packages, including Process Street, Lucidchart, and SweetProcess. Although there were positive aspects to each, he found that SweetProcess was simpler, the pricing model was something the company could handle, and it had all the features he needed.
Aspen found SweetProcess through a Google search, and because he was the only one in the company with a background in ISO-9000, he was the sole person involved in making the buying decision. He was the only one that knew what processes and procedures could do for the company.
Initially, he was skeptical because SweetProcess looked like a one-man show. But that was also reassuring to him because it likely meant it wasn’t a venture capital-funded system. He notes that he’s not a fan of VC-funded tech companies because they usually work harder for their investors than their clients.
So, Wistar Group started converting all their processes and procedures over to SweetProcess. And, as SweetProcess continued implementing new features – teams, workflows, notifications and so on – the company has grown with it.
As Aspen explained:
“In our hope to always get better and keep good, accurate processes and procedures, we’re comfortable with the vendor we’ve selected, and it turns out this vendor is enhancing their service all the time, and now it’s more a natural part of our growth.”
When Aspen shared feedback to Owen, he always received a response, which was also an indicator to him that SweetProcess was proactively adding new features and improving their product.
“It looked a bit like a mom-and-pop operation, but at the end of the day, it was a better tool than anything I’d tried.”
After a couple of months of working with SweetProcess, he was perfectly settled in.
Aspen explained that about five years ago, he would have quoted the cost of not having proper processes and procedures at about $100,000. He tied this directly to the warranty work Wistar Group handles, and he said he was able to reduce this to $13,000 per year because his team now had access to the right information.
The SweetProcess Difference
When committing to processes and procedures, Aspen says you need to be diligent in their use. At Wistar Group, employees are encouraged not to follow verbal instructions and instead rely on documented procedures.
As Aspen explains, diligence applies to:
“1) Designing what team members think would be the best processes and procedures, 2) teaching employees what they’re supposed to do, and 3) making sure that the people who are supervising the employees are using the procedures to ensure employees are doing their work correctly.”
“Processes and procedures are now embedded in the DNA of the company,” said Aspen.
For him, it’s still a win when an employee messes up and then points to a procedure and says, “Yeah, but it’s right here – it says in the procedure that this is what I’m supposed to do.” He says employees can make that mistake all day long. All he needs to do then is have the leadership team improve the procedure.
Today, Aspen is no longer involved in the day-to-day of Wistar Group and Anequim. His primary responsibility now is to look over processes and procedures, couple them with errors and inefficiencies, and find ways inside of the operation that works better, documenting them and integrating them into the daily workflow. From not being able to scale his small company to an 87% reduction in loss, Aspen has freed himself to focus on the most critical aspects of the business.
“I’m now able to steer the ship in the direction I want it to go in,” said Aspen.
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