Volano had the opportunity to participate in Gallup’s EAS program this year and I had the privilege to talk yesterday at the EAS Impact Summit. Here’s the five minute speech I gave.
I met our guide, Sandy Friedman, in 1999 when I went to work for his company at the time Customer Service Profiles. I was director of IT and needed to hire a programmer. This was when I first came to the conclusion that attitude and aptitude matter more than what can fill up a résumé.
My hire was selling banking hardware and software at the time – coin counters and the like. He had no real experience writing code. But I hired him on his attitude and aptitude and he turned out to be one of the best programmers I’ve worked with and he’s my business partner, Rod Smith.
Rod and I started Volano five years ago because we love building software. Since then we have carved out our niche of being experts in managing work. Whether it’s through our product, Steelwool, or if we custom tailor software specifically for you, we help businesses – especially those dynamic companies in the small to medium markets – manage their workflow. But we’re not just interested in building software, we want to build a real company, one that we hope will be our legacy.
With Volano, we’re not looking for an early exit strategy, our only exit strategy involves the life insurance policies Rod and I have on each other. No we’re looking to make Volano our legacy and as a business owner, EAS has helped us in this endevour to take the time to work on the business instead of heads-down in the business. At the beginning of this year we declared it to be a building year and since then we have launched our product, changed our marketing and sales strategies and participated in the EAS program from which we implemented many of the take-aways. When we started Volano we didn’t have a business plan much less a vision or mission statement – those things seemed trivial to us. Our employees are a true personification of Volano because we’ve always hired based on strengths and cultural fit – that ATTITUDE AND APTITUDE. But to stay on the same page as an organization, we learned you still need to ensure your vision, mission and ethics are well communicated – and having those things written down is pretty important.
One of the keys to our success is that each of our employees works directly with the client. They are empowered to do what it takes to exceed that client’s expectations. They are expected to over-communicate with our clients. And this is how we have differentiated ourselves from day one. Hiring the right person isn’t easy – we’re trying to find computer nerds who can over-communicate, right? But because we take the time to hire, we see 85% of our clients ask us to help with additional projects after the initial work we do. That’s because our employees are engaged and love what they do and the customer feels that. This is something the EAS program preaches.
As our guide Sandy, has long said, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” EAS gave us the tools to measure and see our hard work and thought we’ve put in for the past five years in concrete results. This is the single biggest benefit the EAS program has had on us because once we saw the results of each survey tool, we got a big shot of confidence. Confidence is a game changer. That confidence brought us to closing three contracts in the last couple months that all surpass any other in our 5 year history.
This year, though it was a building year, we still saw sales increase over last year – a 5 year winning streak now. We saw sales last month 42% higher than the start of the year and in direct correlation, we have increased our staff 43% since the start of the year and are still looking for another employee with the right attitude and aptitude to join our team. I can tie those increases back to the confidence boost we received by going through EAS.
To conclude, on behalf of Rod and myself, I would just like to give our sincere gratitude to our guide Sandy for introducing us to the program and for mentoring us all these years and to Governor Hineman, dept of economic development, university of nebraska, Jim Clifton, Todd Johnson and everyone else that make the EAS program a reality and feasible for companies like ours to participate.
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