Guest Post - Sweet Smell Of Success

Guest Post by Kerry Anne Nelson of Operation Verve.

If you’re looking for an inspiring e-commerce success story, No Pong brings it in spades! You might laugh at the name at first, but if you try their all natural deodorant you will find it more than lives up to the claim. Its effectiveness is truly ridiculous, and has sent owners Chris Caley and Melanie McVean on a steep growth curve. Their sweet success over the past four years has accelerated rapidly because of their ongoing dedication to building effective operational systems and processes.

“One of the things that we’ve learned along the way,” says co-founding owner Chris, “is that every time you roughly 10x a business, you need to revamp your entire systems and processes. We needed different systems for our first 100 tins, than we did for our first 10, and different systems again for our first 10,000 tins than we did for our first 1,000.”

Chris describes working hard to establish efficiencies with their outsourced production and manufacturing systems. Then as growth continued, he says they turned their attentions in-house to ensure their internal operations were scalable as well. They had a lot of great processes at No Pong but none were written down, so running and growing the team was much more labour intensive than it needed to be. Chris and Melanie would show their staff how to do something and give them what they needed, but if they didn’t understand or made mistakes, they would have to go back to show them again, and again.

“This entire situation was frustrating and time consuming, and it made the idea of hiring someone new feel much more difficult than us just continuing to do the work ourselves. We knew we needed to put more people on, but hated to imagine what that would look like if even more people were coming to us for instruction, or making mistakes we had to fix for them,” says Chris.

Chris and Melanie sought help to organise the documentation they had already developed up to that point. They also wanted to learn how to create more effective written steps so they could scale their business by growing their customer service team in particular. They had their sights set on employing new leaders and staff that were equipped and empowered to work on their own.

Now No Pong has a whole host of process documentation and a very clear set of well organised systems to run their business. When they bring on new staff, they have a well established

onboarding system to guide them through each step without missing anything. Then as they move into their new role, new No Pong team members have clearly defined processes to follow right from Day One.

The way No Pong’s new manager Dani describes her first days with No Pong says it all, “I received the best start up as a new manager of No Pong. The systems and processes were so well documented I was set and ready to go. I couldn't wait to dive in!

Some of the biggest lessons No Pong have learned about scaling their online retail business have value for all business owners. Developing simple and straightforward processes which show each person exactly how to do their job is just the beginning. From their it’s all about keeping the team accountable for excellence, and maintaining the systems over time.

“Everyone in our team knows how to create and change management documents as our processes change,” says Chris, “So everyone here takes on the responsibility to keep our systems up to date as our business continues to grow and evolve.”

This is the cornerstone of developing systems that scale. Having the team running on all cylinders has given the founders much more bandwidth to put focus where it should be: on product strategy, marketing strategy, sales and growth. Chris explains how their tight systems and processes give them three key rewards:

1. Freedom: The way the business runs now creates wide open spaces for Chris and Mel as the owners, but it also gives everyone in their team the freedom to do whatever they need to do to perform their role well.

2. Scalability: When a business consists only of a handful of people you can cobble just about anything together with duct tape and superglue. However as the business grows you need more structure to allow to you scale.

3. Consistency: In the very early stages of a business it’s relatively easy to deliver a consistent product and experience because the founders are motivated to the hustle. This becomes very difficult once the team beings to grow. With documented standards, and procedures consistent service becomes the norm.

The No Pong story continues to smell of sweet success because they have not gone it alone. If you are a business owner and find you’re spending all your time chasing admin, doing a

never ending stream of technical work rather and no strategic thinking, or you do have a

great deal of systems and processes but they’re all in your head, then get help! Find someone to help build your operations manuals and standard operating procedures, and make sure they are willing to roll up their sleeves and join in with training your staff as well.

Chris says, “Once you’ve nailed your processes, delegation becomes easy, bringing on new team members is far less daunting, and you are confident that the tasks that need doing are going to get done to the standard you expect.”

To learn more about No Pong and their all natural deodorant visit them online or follow them on Facebook

To get help with streamlining your business systems and processes, contact Kerry Anne Nelson at Operation Verve

Peter Burgess