OWEN: My guest today is Nedalee Thomas and she is the CEO of Chanson Water USA, Inc. Nedalee, welcome to the show.
NEDALEE: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be with you today Owen.
OWEN: That’s awesome. Here’s the thing. Our show is all about getting entrepreneurs like yourself who have been able to systematize and automate the business so it runs successfully without you having to be there. Our listeners, they want to learn how you did that. Let’s jump right in. What are some mind blowing results that you now experience as a result of going through that process of systematizing and automating your business?
NEDALEE: The thrill is getting to be away from my business and not having to constantly supervise every aspect of it on a daily basis. From the very beginning my vision was that I wanted to be able to travel, I wanted to be able to do public speaking. I wanted to be able to go on short-term missions trips. And I wanted to be able to work on my business rather than in it.
OWEN: Okay. Basically you’re able to travel the world and work anywhere where there’s an internet service on your business and not have to be tethered to the business physically.
OWEN: How would you say your company has been transformed as a result of systematizing your business?
NEDALEE: Things run more smoothly. It takes a lot of pressure off of my other employees when we’re having to train a new person in a position. And it’s just the beauty of seeing something run rather seamlessly rather than having to have everything halted because 2 or 3 people have to stop and train one new person.
OWEN: How will you say your personal life has been transformed as a result of systematizing the business?
NEDALEE: There’s so much less stress. I have so much more balance in my life. It just brings joy and pleasure, and it makes room for freedom in my life.
OWEN: You mentioned something during the pre-interview about going on a trip… how you used to work 14-16 hour days before and now you don’t have to do that.
NEDALEE: That’s right. And that’s common with setting up any new business. But some of the time people will continue years down the line working those ridiculous hours and denying their family the family time. But when you systematize you can go ahead and go back to having a real life.
OWEN: That’s awesome. Since you have systems in place in your business and now it can actually run without you I’m wondering what is the longest time you’ve actually been away from the business?
NEDALEE: It’s been a few years back but it was 18-22 days I started out. I did an 11-day trip in Florida with a Tony Robbins seminar. And then I flew from Florida to the Bahamas for an actual vacation. For me it is always a working vacation and that I do have email contact with my staff. So I do need an internet connection. And then Hurricane Sandy hit, my second day on the island. So not only did I have my time for my trip there, at the end of my trip I had to stay an extra 5 days because somebody build the airport below sea level and they had to wait until the fish were off the runway and all that sort of thing because they could get planes out. That was an interesting experience and it turned out that the rooms did not have internet. There was only internet out in a palapa. And I literally worked from my computer, under a palapa, in a hurricane.
OWEN: What is a palapa? I don’t know what that is.
NEDALEE: It’s a covering.
OWEN: Okay, like an umbrella?
NEDALEE: It’s kind of an umbrella with palm pronds on top. It was a little comical I’m sure to watch me out there but I’m a very determined and committed person. And I’m always going to check to see if my staff or my customers need anything from me.
OWEN: Just so we can give the listeners some context as to what your business is all about what exactly does your company do and what big pain do you solve for your customers?
NEDALEE: Great question. At Chanson Water our primary product is water ionizers. We import them. We have the exclusive contract for the United States and for multiple other countries. A water ionizer takes water and it splits it into two streams. One is alkaline and one is acidic, and you can control the pH levels. These are medical devices in several other countries, and they can be used in your home. You can drink the water and it can help your body balance itself and heal itself. We see amazing health results for our customers. And another thing that the water can do is our byproduct which is an acidic water. It can be used on your skin. And then it can also be made at strengths that can disinfect on contact. In the home it can replace toxic cleaning chemicals. We also sell them into homes and restaurants. A hotel can replace all of their cleaning chemicals and save $25,000 in 2 years with the purchase of one water ionizer from us. A lot of our competitors can’t make water at the strong, low pH strength, or they need to use toxic additives to do that. Our product doesn’t require that. It’s an amazing thing to be able to help people, to help the environment, and save people money.
OWEN: That’s awesome. How many full-time employees do you have?
NEDALEE: We average 9 and we do go up and down. We just lost our receptionist recently and I’m still looking for the right person to replace here. And then we have some part-time employees as well, and we have people that work internationally for us. I have a woman that has worked for me from Ecuador for the last 7 years and I just had a real thrill last week. I got invited to lunch by her aunt and went in to the restaurant and sat down, and I kind of noticed a woman sitting nearby out of the corner of my eye. That woman interjected into our conversation at one point and I’m trying to look at her thinking that was extremely odd, and it was my employee that I hadn’t seen in 7 years, sitting there and we had lunch together. So it really made my day.
OWEN: That’s awesome. Is the company profitable? What was last year’s annual revenue and what do you expect to do this year?
NEDALEE: We did $2.2 million in sales for 4 years in a row, and we are pushing to do 3 million this year.
OWEN: That’s awesome. Here’s the thing, the listener already knows that your business is systematized and it can run without you, and you’ve shared some highlights as to what you experienced as a result of going through that process of systematizing the business. But we understand that it wasn’t always this way. So take us back to when your business was not systematized and automated like it is now and what was wrong with it at that time?
NEDALEE: The biggest thing that was wrong with it was that I had to wear too many hats. And when you’re starting out a business and you’re doing everything on a shoestring you have to do everything yourself. I had to answer the phones myself. I had to take the orders. I had to process them. I had to ship the orders myself. And of course the very basic things like setting up merchant accounts and setting up shipping accounts, trademarking things. I did all of those things myself in the beginning. And then when you hire your first person it’s a wonderful thing. But how do you teach them to do what you’re doing and how do you get somebody to be you and have the same commitment that you have, the dedication, the work ethic, and all of those things.
OWEN: Back when your business was not systematized what was the lowest point and describe how bad it got. You have a funny story to share here based on the pre-interviews. I’m looking forward to you sharing that.
NEDALEE: Okay. Here’s a couple of funny stories. Originally my husband and I started the business together and I bought him out a few years ago when we divorced. But he had a very difficult time separating the business from our personal life. There are kind of three stories. I used to go for a walk in the morning and I walk around the park before work, I would pray, and I would enjoy the beauty of the park. And he started going with me and he wanted to talk business the whole walk, which I found very distracting from the joy that I had had previously. And I tried to compromise with him and say, “The first half of the walk let’s just enjoy it. And the second half let’s talk business.” Changing from the walk one night, it was after work. He had gotten out of the shower and I’d rented a video and I said, “Hey, you’re ready to take off your business hat and put your husband hat on?” And he looked at me and he was completely serious, and he said, “Why?” And of course he caught himself in a minute and realized that, oh, kind of. But the real, absolute low point for me was when we were in the middle of having sex and he began to talk business with me. And I thought, really? There is just a point where you do not want to take business home with you every day of the week and be business 24/7. People that know me know that I’m a very hard worker, and I’m very driven, and I’m very pressed for success. But I still believe in balance. And I believe that systematizing is a way to have balance in your life. There is a point where I want to shut off and say, “Thank you very much. I’m done with work for today and I’m going to enjoy my life.”
OWEN: I totally understand. But you mentioned there was another event too that classified the breaking point. What happened that made you realize that, “Hey, you know what. I just have to systematize and automate this business.” What happened? I think something with an employee?
NEDALEE: Oh gosh, we’ve had some incredible experiences with employees. we’ve had some wonderful employees, and we’ve had some just really strange people come along. And one of the ones, I had a girl sitting across from me and I looked over and something looked odd. And I believe this was her 5th day on the job. And I walked in and her head was down on the desk. And this was about an hour into her shift. I tapped her on the back and I said, “What are you doing?” She said, “I’m entering the leads into the computer.” I said, “Your computer isn’t on. You’re drooling on your leads. And you need to go home now and you can call me later in the day when you’re less tired and tell me if you’re really interested in having this job or not.” I’ve had some other interesting ones. I had another guy that worked for us for about 11 days. Every once and a while somebody will trigger your need to check up on them. And I think trust but verify is a really important policy. And I just knew that when I would talk to this man and walk away he wasn’t doing what he should be doing. I had been against hiring this person in the first place. My husband thought he was a sales person, and I said, “No, this man is an order taker. He’s not a sales person.” And we had hired him to be a sales person. But when we checked up on him he was having an affair and it was completely documented in his computer history that he had spent hours, and hours, and hours communicating with this woman that he was having an affair with. And just the other day, 5 years after he mailed it out to Los Angeles which just is maybe 60 miles from where we’re located. A letter came back to us that he had mailed out. We had caught him just writing fake addresses on mailers that he was sending out for us. So he was supposed to be contacting people, and he was just sitting there and making things up. And so another one of those letters made it back to me after 4 years. So it’s funny but it’s also sad. And when you’re bootstrapped in a company the last thing you can do is afford to have somebody waste your time and money. I had another employee, he was a web person. I knew he worked for other people on the side. What I didn’t know was that he sat with the computer facing away from me in another area of the office and he was clocked into my time clock completing the work for those other accounts, getting paid for them at the same time. I consider that to be theft. And because of that I did have cameras installed in our offices. And the beauty of that is I can be in the Bahamas and I can pull those cameras up on my phone and check on my employees.
OWEN: I’ve seen you highlight some of the issues you had that made you say, “I have to system and automate my business so it can go predictably the way I wanted to go.” I’m wondering what was the very first step you took to systematize your business?
NEDALEE: One of the first steps that I attempted to take that worked marginally for a while was I signed up with a product called T-HUB. T-HUB was supposed to download my orders from the shopping cart into QuickBooks. And then it was also supposed to create shipping labels and things like that. We never were able to get the shipping label function to work, but at least downloading the orders was meant to save us data entry time. And because it’s a little bit ridiculous to have to take the order in the merchant account processing, then re-entered into QuickBooks, and then re-entered into shipping. And that’s one of the problems that we struggled to overcome for a while. T-HUB did work for us for a couple of years marginally. It gave us quite a bit of trouble, but that was our first step. We’re still trying to find a program that works much better. At one point I was looking at a program called Lettuce and they were saying that they were working to work with Magento, which is our shopping cart. I had been waiting about a year, really hoping for that program to come along. I checked the other day and I was so disappointed. Lettuce is now sold to QuickBooks. And hopefully QuickBooks will do something with it. They will make it available to us, and it’ll hopefully help us in the future. But the next step that we took is I began to realize the importance of documenting all of our steps for each department. And I began to have each department head write down the steps for what they did every day. And not just what they did every day but some test need to be done weekly or monthly. So for instance your web person might need to back up the websites. There are just a host of things that need to be done and you don’t always think about it. So that manual is something that you create, that you need to continue to add to, you need to continue to update, and it’s been very valuable for us.
OWEN: Okay. What was the second step you took to systematize the business besides… And correct me if I’m wrong, what seems like the very first thing you do is looking for the right software that will help primarily with inventory, right? Is that what that was?
NEDALEE: It wasn’t so much about inventory, it was about data entry. It was to take some of the steps out of the data entry rather than to have to enter the same thing three or four times, we would have to do less of that. So it reduced the labor.
OWEN: Okay. And then second step was manually documenting those things that your employees had to manually do, document step-by-step how they would do them, right?
NEDALEE: And that’s been I would say our biggest, most valuable systemization. And just the other day, it’s been a few back now. But I was communicating with my bookkeeper and I know that I have some phone numbers and email addresses of some important people, for instance our insurance person and our outside tax CPA. But I’m not terribly organized when it comes to something like that. That’s one of my weaknesses that I work on and I depend on other people to help me with more than I should. But I just in passing mentioned to her make sure that those numbers and emails are documented in your manual. A couple of days after, just shortly after, she gave me a resignation letter and she said, “When you said that to me I thought maybe you knew this coming.” And said, “No, I had no idea. I just knew that it was important.” And one of the ways that I always think of it is even if I think a person is stable, which I certainly thought she was. She’d been with me for 3 years. I think about what if they got hit by a car, or if they were in a car accident. If something sudden happened to then, and it could be any jillions of things is the key information that I need for myself and for the next person documented.
OWEN: Yeah. And that’s so true because you cannot guarantee what’s going to happen to the employee, or you cannot even guarantee what the employee does, but what you can actually do is making sure that they have the documents in place in case they leave, ramping up the next person who’s taking their place will not be as difficult. I’m glad you shared that story. But I’m wondering besides the few things you’ve mentioned so far, did you do anything else at that time in the story to help with systematizing the business? What other steps did you take that we haven’t talked about so far?
NEDALEE: I think one of the important things to say here is that no matter how stable you think an employee is, and I said it a little bit, I have really good relationships with all of my employees but things just come up. And so even if you’ve asked them to document. Again, it’s about trust but verify, sometimes you have to say, “I want you to spend an hour a day on this, or I want you to spend an hour a week on this until it’s done.” Because in the beginning honestly, we ran around here with our hair on fire. We were just so busy that nobody wanted to take the time to stop and write their stuff down. You always left work every single day with more things to do on your desk than you were able to get done. So how do you make the time for something that’s so important? How do you prioritize that? So as their boss I had to really stay on top of them to get that done. One of the opposite things I have now even though we have it done is when I hire a new person obviously I give them the manual to read. I have been shocked at the last two or three people you’ll find a couple months into their employment that they haven’t bothered to read it. At that point it’s kind of like how dare you think that you can do those job and not put the time and attention to familiarizing yourself with what that is.
OWEN: I’m wondering back then as you were trying to figure out the steps to take to systematize and automate the business, I’m wondering how did you even prioritize what other steps to take? How did you decide what systems to create first, what things to automate first, so and so forth in the business?
NEDALEE: I think it becomes about what is the biggest pain point. For me it’s like I picture a baseball player and he’s standing at the plate, and he’s waiting to hit that ball. It’s not picking which ball to hit, it’s hitting the next one that comes to you. It’s just addressing what is they’re screaming about you. Or the only difference that I could see is if someone were to suggest the availability to me of something that would help me that I wasn’t aware of, that would help prioritize.
OWEN: I get it. How did you even document the procedures and processes that you had in place? What tools did you use?
NEDALEE: Just basic Word and a computer. It’s just a matter of writing it down for us. I’m sure there are maybe better ways to organize it but that was just for us back in that time which was about 8 years ago.
OWEN: At that time when you were working on the systems and automating your business I’m wondering what books or even mentors had the most influence on you and why?
NEDALEE: I’m a huge fan of Tony Robbins and I love his energy. Back when I was really following him closely he had, that I know of about seven different businesses. And I know that some people have more, some people have less. But the amount of dedication that he has, the amount of energy and commitment to mastering things is just amazing to me. I really took a lot of his courses originally through his DVD’s and his audio. And then I was able to splurge and begin to go to his events, which I find to be very powerful.
OWEN: That’s awesome. Also during the pre-interview you talked about Tony Robbins. Did you even talk about T. Harv Eker as well as the [Unintelligible 00:23:02]?
NEDALEE: Yes, absolutely. I read T. Harv Eker’s Millionaire Mind. And that was amazing for me to realize that simple things like you have to reset your money thermostat, and you can’t be envious of other people, or resent rich people if you want to be rich. You’re going to block your success. And I’m not saying that I did those things, but become aware of that was very interesting. T. Harv Eker has seminars, and his seminars are usually free. They’re fabulous. I guess it was a few years back I’ve read Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek. And that was just astounding to me. I had so many pages turned down in that book and that book just glowed. And I loved the idea of being able to even move to another country and let my business run without me being here. I’ve looked at the possibility of moving to Costa Rica. And I am really enamored by the idea of doing a lot more travel, and having my business work, and function, and serve the community, but me not needing to be here to supervise it constantly.
OWEN: If we only talk about what you did and what you achieved out of doing those things you did to systematize the business we won’t give a full detailed interview because obviously there had to have been challenges. So what will you say was some of the biggest challenges that you experienced when you initially tried to systematize the business and how did you solve it?
NEDALEE: One of the simple ones is a financial issue, how do you run payroll when you’re not here, and how do you write checks when you’re not here? How do you get things paid and how do you protect your finances? I took a class on ways that people can steal from you. I’m a very trusting person. I’m a very trustworthy person, and I was blown away by the ways I would’ve never thought of that employees can steal from you. And so it’s taught me to be more cautious and more protective. And so one of the things that I do when I travel is I will give three different employees one-third of the password to the payroll accounting so no one single person knows the login. And then the bookkeeper can run the payroll while I’m gone. I still need to check it to make sure that she didn’t give herself a bonus while I was gone, or suddenly worked twice as many hours or something like that. If I’m just going to be gone a week or so, the bills can wait an extra week. We pay bills weekly as soon as they come in. Everything just gets paid. But nothing will be behind if it waits a week. If I have to, if I’m going to be gone longer I leave a very limited number specific to exactly how many bills I know are coming in of signed checks. And then of course I go on and verify later that those checks were used for the purposes that they were intended, but that’s a way to safely be able to be away from the business and guard it at the same time.
OWEN: One of the challenges that you mentioned during the pre-interview is getting employees to take the time to do it. I’m assuming this has to do with the writing of the manuals and stuff like that?
NEDALEE: Well, it’s both the writing and the reading of the manuals. I have a great example that’s outside of my business but my pastor isn’t in the workforce anymore, but when he was he got one promotion after another. He was promoted to executive staff of a major corporation. He was making in the range of $250,000 a year. People thought he was an absolute genius. And he swears that his secret to success was two things. Number one, he read and followed the manual, and number two, of course, he prayed and trusted god. But he said that reading the manual was so key for him and everybody thought he was brilliant. They didn’t know that that was the secret to his success.
OWEN: My question now is if there was a challenge at getting the employees to actually follow the manual I’m wondering what did you do to actually help to solve that problem? Because you mentioned the challenge, I’m wondering what you did to solve it.
NEDALEE: Ultimately it becomes about staying on top of them, giving them parameters, requirements. “I expect you to spend 1 hour every Friday on this.” Fridays being our slower day of the week, things like that.
OWEN: You also mentioned during the pre-interview something about having to do background checks. Talk about it.
NEDALEE: Absolutely. That was one of the things that originally I did background checks on new employees. And at one point I was working but I was spending a lot more time at my new home. I was remodeling it for about 4 months. And I thought my office manager was running the background checks on new employees. And it turned out that she had dropped the ball. She had not done it. We had this new receptionist. She seemed like a very nice person. I had spent time with her outside of work. I actually took her to my church. But after about 5 weeks of her working for us I was supposed to meet her for lunch one day and I got a phone call right before I was walking out the door to do that. And it was the 4th of July and she said, “I’m so afraid. I’ve just been pulled over by a policeman.” And I thought to myself that’s really odd. If I were pulled over by a policeman I wouldn’t be afraid. What are you going to be afraid of? I knew where she was, she had told me and I went down there. The policeman wouldn’t let me approach the scene. I sat and waited patiently in my car with my window rolled down for about an hour and I was trying to listen to what was going on. I heard him mention a couple of words that alarmed me. And at one point he came over, he handed me her purse, he was arresting her and she wanted me to take her purse. And I said, “I’m her boss. Is there anything I need to be concerned about?” He said, “Two words, background check.” Of course I came back to the office. I did it. I found out that she had a history of arrest and fraud, and he was arresting her for having stolen tags on the back of her car. And at one point she called me and she asked me to look in her purse for something. He also mentioned that she had some prescription medicine in her car that was not hers but that she said it was her mother’s. And her mother had been in the car the night before. I said, “That’s not true. I was with her the night before and I’ve seen her take those pills.” Anyway, she called me and she asked me to get something out of her purse and when I did I saw something that was some material from my office, and I thought she had stolen maybe one of my products and that she had the manual in her purse. And it turned out to be a piece of scrap paper, but on the other side she had written my customer’s name, credit card number, and address. And we began to do research, and ultimately we had to spend 40 hours calling all of our customers to let them know that this person had been caught stealing the customer’s credit card information. She was charging high-end travel. The first customer we found she had charged about $15,000 worth of travel too. And we absolutely, emphatically knew that it was this girl that did it. We had proof, we reported it to the police, and they did absolutely nothing. Apparently that type of fraud is kind of considered victimless because the banks return it to the customer. But of course I want to protect my customers. I would never intentionally participate in anything like that. That did cause us to change our procedures. Obviously I don’t let new people process credit cards anymore. And now we’ve bought something that as soon as we do process a credit card we block out all of the credit card information. It doesn’t stay accessible anymore. But you make mistakes and you learn from them.
OWEN: I’m glad you shared that story because it just shows how you have systems in place but then sometimes something might slip and then it becomes an opportunity for you to improve up on the system. And that just really highlights why you should always be thinking about how to improve the systems you have in place, especially if you’re managing your employees and make sure that they do the work. Let’s come to a more current time in the story. At what point, even before that, I think I have this question I missed. You’ve mentioned all these issues that you had with the employees and what you had to go through. I’m wondering given all the challenges you had earlier why did you even stay committed to the goal of systematizing your business? What was the rationale behind it?
NEDALEE: Again, it goes to that original vision, and then was reinforced by Timothy Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek book. My personal, original vision was that I would be out doing public speaking. I would be traveling. And I really wanted to go to other countries on short-term mission trips. And because of that it’s really critical that I not have to be here all of the time and that I can go out and I can create context because I do have the ability to open up business in other countries to be able to travel there. One of the things that I would like to do is to be able to create opportunities for missionaries that they can sell my product in their country, have an income, be helping the indigenous people dealers and them have jobs. And it begins to help people on so many different levels. It create a legitimate reason for that missionary to be in that country, maybe even a way that’s maybe not so visible, and visible in that they also were in ministry. But it’s hard for missionaries to get funding. So this creates a funding source for them. And I just see that as a way to serve god and serve people on so many levels.
OWEN: Awesome. Let’s go to a more recent time in the story. At what point in time were you able to systematize your business so to have it run entirely without you? At what point in time was this?
NEDALEE: The real freeing time was 3 years ago when I bought my ex-husband out of his shares. Prior to that, even with the systematization that I had put into place his expectation was that I would be here and maybe he wouldn’t. And he hadn’t been here much of the 2 years prior but he saw that I only brought value if I was here in his mind. And so by having him out of the picture and having the systems in place I’ve been able to do more outside of the business. And quite honestly I love even sitting in front of the lake in front of my house and being able to check some emails from my laptop and not come in for the day. So I might not be often some exotic, wonderful place across the world but it’s nice to just sit and breathe and thank god that you’ve got something helping other people and making money for you at the same time.
OWEN: That’s awesome. So for you it’s two-fold, both creating the systems in place and enable the employees to work with you, but also you had a partner in there who had a different mindset of how the business should be run. So buying the shares from him got you the freedom to not have to answer to him as well. Okay. Now that we’re talking more about current times, I’m wondering, I always liked to give the listeners a behind the scenes look into the business and talk about the different parts of the business. So imagine somebody is out there looking to buy a water ionizer, I think that’s what you said the name is, right? And on the other end of that conveyor belt that same person has been transformed. They’ve bought the water ionizer from you guys and they’re out there raving about you. But I’m wondering what’s happening behind the scenes in the business to make this happen? So what are the different parts of the business and the specific systems that are making this transformation happen to the customer? Feel free to start from what you do to even find them in the first place.
NEDALEE: Sure. There are several ways that we find them. Number one we have a website, and number 2 we have dealers. We sell both retail and wholesale. So if the order has come to us, or let’s say the person is calling us. We have to do a tremendous amount of education about our product. So that’s one of the hard things about having a new employee is there’s quite a ramp up time on the education side of this because there’s some scientific information that they need to learn, and they need to learn about the competitors and things like that. But let’s say we’re talking to a customer on the phone, we’re educating them. Our average call is about 50 minutes.
OWEN: 50 minutes, I thought 15 minutes was what you said in the pre-interview. So it’s 50? Wow.
NEDALEE: That’s an extensive phone call. The customer has a few questions. We’re taking the time to answer them. We’ve always positioned ourselves as educators in this industry. We have people out there that are much better marketers but they’re saying things that are not true and we don’t support that kind of business activity. Let’s say the person has placed the order, then we’re going to need to enter into our merchant account software, enter that order in to get the credit card processed. And then we’re going to have to at some point have someone entered into QuickBooks. We’re going to open our shipping software and enter it into our shipping and printed label and take it back to the shipping department. The product has been tested here in our warehouse before we ship it out. And then we pack it up and ship it off to the customer. Once the customer receives it very often they have questions about the installation, so we have a tech support department that stays on the telephone with them to walk them through any questions. We also do our warranty, repair, and servicing here in our warehouse. So there is quite a change of touching with the customer and certainly with our processes.
OWEN: Awesome. You’ve probably already alluded to this earlier regarding the systems you have in place so the employees know what they need to do. You mentioned how you had the manuals in place. But during the pre-interview you also said there’s something about training the employees from the beginning. Talk about that.
NEDALEE: Okay. I know what you’re talking about. One of the things that we do, because we are a small company. I treat it very much like a family. And I believe that cross training is very important. Almost every person in every department, not completely. So for example my bookkeeper would only do bookkeeping. And my web guy’s not going to do a lot besides web work. But my receptionist can educate about that order. She can create that shipping. My office manager can do educating about the product or technical support. My tech support department can cover for the receptionist and vice versa. We just kind of have it crossing all along the way. And one of the things, if somebody wants to really make me unhappy, use the words, “That’s not in my job description.” That is a no-no around here. You’re going to do whatever it takes for us to get this job done as a team. We have a cat here in the office. She’s elderly. Every once in a while she’ll throw up her cat food. I’ve had a couple of people tell me, “That’s not my job.” And it’s like, oh my gosh, it’s like that is a danger, it’s a hazard, somebody could slip and fall. If you saw it you darn well better clean it up. And that’s just an example but it goes deeper. Not everybody has a cat in their office, but it’s the mindset. And when you’re in a company like this everybody has to pitch in. But people are so crucial here that if somebody were to become ill or need to take a sudden trip which I’ve had happen on more than one occasion. You can’t have that position empty. We all have to be able to help each other out.
OWEN: I totally understand. It’s one thing for them to do the work but you also have to track and verify. So how do you track and verify the results being delivered by your employees?
NEDALEE: A lot of times with the type of employees that we have it’s a matter of either the customer complements or the customers complains. We have very few customer complains ever, and usually if we do it’s a miscommunication. I have amazing staff. I get a tremendous amount of complements with them. I will almost never have to go in and, let’s say for example, look at the history on an employee’s computer. I have had on very rare occasions to do that. I mentioned to you about the web person that was doing outside work on my time clock and the man who having an affair. They’ll trigger something that you’ll realize something’s not right, and you wait until they leave and you go in and you look, and you’re like, “Oh my goodness.”
OWEN: I totally understand. You do most of the tracking by looking at what the customers are saying with the complements and even if they had complaints.
NEDALEE: I do. We don’t have outside sales people in terms of to make sure that they made so many sales calls or something like that that would be pertinent to a different business because we have independent sales reps. Our dealers sell products and then they turn around and buy it from us and we drop ship. I can look in QuickBooks to see what their sales were. So that’s an easy way to follow and track them.
OWEN: Since you have more free… you now focus on now and why?
NEDALEE: Right now it’s about getting more dealers and more distributors internationally. That’s my focus, so that’s a marketing focus. And I really enjoy creative things, so designing a campaign, something like that is a lot of fun for me. Some of my other focuses right now, I’m really looking to get deeper into the restaurant and hotel markets because there is such a benefit to them. Previously we had focused only on the residential market. I’m also working to get into the military market. I know the benefit to the soldiers for our water. Our water addresses the acidity in your body. And when you’re doing a lot of working out your release a lot of lactic acid in your body. When I talk to soldiers and I say, “Are you ever sore?” And I’m talking to these people at boot camp, or down at Camp Pendleton and they say, “Oh my gosh, I’m sore right now. Of course I’m sore.” And to be able to provide the product for them that will help them get their internal health, with their external health physically. There are ways to put this strong alkaline water on a rag and place it on their body. It can help with that external soreness, but drinking it can help with the balancing the internal lactic acid. The other thing is that the water molecule size of our water cluster is smaller, so it penetrates the cells deeper, it has a negative charge on it, it pulls toxins out. When you’re in the military, if you’re getting ready to be deployed to Afghanistan they have to train themselves to drink tremendous amounts of water. There as soldiers every year that die from that. They literally drowned in their own fluids. And this water reacts differently in their bodies and we see performance increase issues. We’re doing some testing right now in Italy on the ski team. And the performance between drinking our water versus regular water, or even sports drinks. We know that if 2% dehydration will create a 5% decrease in performance. That can be in physical activity, but it can also be in mental activity for an employee in an office. So we’re trying to get these into offices to educate and get people to understand the amazing difference that this water brings into people’s lives on so many different levels.
OWEN: As we come to the end of the interview, if you’re trying to summarize the very next step that the listeners should take in order to transform their business so that it can run successfully without them what would you say they should do?
NEDALEE: One of the tips that I thought of for your purposes I think that every business should have legal representation, and for me that was signing up for…
OWEN: For systematizing the business?
NEDALEE: Well it protects you, so in systematizing a small business can’t protect themselves or hire a full-time attorney. And so I signed up for a, there’s a couple out there. There’s Legal In A Box that helps you with legal things, there’s LegalShield. For me I find that I can have a cease and desist letter written for free by having one of these memberships.
OWEN: I’m sorry, I just have to cut you on that because my goal is to see the very next step for the listener to take notes on how the business runs successfully without them. That’s what I’m looking for as an answer from you.
NEDALEE: Okay. For your listener it would depend on what step they’re on. For me I needed to trademark my slogans. So that’s something that’s important to protect you, to even trademark your business name, to make sure that you have your domain name registered, those are things that if you don’t do them you’re creating a problem for your future. So making sure that those bases are covered I think is a very important part of getting your business to run without you.
OWEN: Those are like one-time things, you do your trademark and whatever, but that’s it.
NEDALEE: That’s true, but even then for example, I have maybe a dozen trademarks. They have to be renewed, so part of my systems is having it set-up in place to be notified. They don’t automatically notify you. So I need to have it in my calendars and in my systems to remind me when those need to be re-done.
OWEN: You also mentioned during the pre-interview when you were asked this question something about decide what the key processes are to run your business, that’s what I was trying to get you to elaborate on.
NEDALEE: It all becomes about writing it down and creating a manual.
OWEN: Great. As we come to the end of the interview I’m wondering what’s the best way for the listeners to connect with you and thank you for doing the interview.
NEDALEE: My pleasure. If your listeners have any questions for me or about our products they can find us at chansonwater.com, and we’re absolutely always happy to help.
OWEN: Awesome. Now I’m speaking to you listener, if you’re at that stage in your business where you’re tired of being the bottleneck in your business, feel free to sign-up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess so you can document step-by-step how you get work done and assign task to your employees and track their progress all the way to completion. And also if you enjoy this interview please feel free to leave your honest feedback on iTunes. To do that you got sweetprocess.com/iTunes. Nedalee thanks for doing the interview.
NEDALEE: My pleasure Owen, thank you so much. I really enjoyed being with you today.
OWEN: And we’re done.