01:26 – About Simplify Co.
05:29 – How Simplify Co. moves beyond consulting to integrating with businesses
06:35 – Tackling business problems brought to the surface, due to Covid-19
11:14 – Why now is the Best Time to take an operational deep dive into your business
12:54 – A couple of strategies to get the deep dive started
14:54 – Getting your business out of your head and on to paper
17:51 – The importance of personal reflection and planning, during Covid-19
20:01 – The power and idea of “unused capacity”
22:45 – When you need more than just a few incredible tidbits …
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Jason Bavington (00:02):
Hey everyone. It’s Jason with DUX — Your Local City Guide and welcome to another episode of our video blog. We’ve been talking to businesse. We’ve been talking to organizations. Talking about all the different things that people have been doing to pivot their business or support the communit. Integrate, connect with the community at a high degree, but one of the things that we really haven’t covered yet is how some businesses are business-to-business, supporting other businesses directly. It’s not necessarily a business talking to their customers or talking to a client, but the business-to-business communication that is essential to help businesses thrive and discovering new ways of working, new ways of interacting, new ways of planning, new ways of strategizing in our Covid-19 world and hopefully very soon our post Covid-19 world as well. So to this end, we have Kristen Tilley from Simplify Company on the call today.
Jason Bavington (00:58):
Hey Kristen, how are you? Good, how are you? Good. Another nice bright and sunny day in Guelph. It looks like. It really is beautiful. Yeah, a bit chilly. But you know, what can we do? I’ll take the sunshine. Same here. If there’s no snow, I’m good. So Simplify Co is on the call with us today and wanted to share with you some of the amazing things that they’ve been doing and that they’re planning on doing going forward. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, Kristen, you want to tell us a little bit about what Simplify Co has been doing in the past few months, past several months prior to our new Covid world?
Kristen Tilley (01:34):
Yeah, for sure. So Simplify Co was founded in the mid of 2018 and we focus on workflow optimization. And that might sound a little bit fancy for some people or what does that even mean? And it’s about streamlining your business operation. So, that’s addressing the bottlenecks that you have or if you’ve ever been in a position where you know, you have a job to do whatever the job may be, but you have to go through all of these unnecessary steps before you can even get to the point where you can do the job that needs to be done. And so we really do a deep dive look into those things. Streamline that bottleneck, open that up. So it’s a really, really streamlined flow, really clear and just essentially makes everybody’s life easier. And so that’s really what we’ve been focusing on on the business-to-business sector.
Kristen Tilley (02:23):
Really looking at those. Sometimes it’s processes that were put in place originally when the business was small and then it grew probably quicker than anticipated. And you know, it started with just, you had your paper and then your checklist and then it became a checklist with a paperclip and then it became the checklist, the paperclip, and a sticky note. And then you pass this along to make sure that you can get everything done to make sure that none of the balls are dropped. And then as time goes on, as technology grows, that paper really, it gets lost. Somebody throws it out, they spill coffee on it, whatever the case may be. And then there’s really vital and important information to the flow that’s forgotten or missed. That can lead to things like angry customers, loss of bottom line, loss of revenue. Lots of different things.
Kristen Tilley (03:08):
And then also just internal struggle and annoyance, whether that’s management or staff. I mean, I know that for me, when I think about going to work every day, I like to think about doing projects or I like to be deep diving into those strategies. And so I don’t think that people like going to work. I always say it like this. I don’t think when somebody, when they’re a kid and says, “I want to go and be an astronaut.” They don’t think about all the math they have to do. And all of the physics and all of that stuff. Or even a police officer. A child that says, “I want to be a cop.” don’t think about all the paperwork that they have to do inside the vehicle. And I know that that’s part of many jobs and that’s unavoidable. But in some cases, in many cases, there are some of those steps that at least could be streamlined and kind of packaged together so it doesn’t take as long. And then we can focus on what’s really important and really drives the passion in the organization.
Jason Bavington (04:02):
I see. So you help create more of a well-oiled machine within a business and an organization and identify those parts that might be slowing them down and also the parts that they need to refine and put into more standardized workflows. Like instead of, like you said, having the papers, having the stickies, get that into a Google document or some sort of process flow. Help them do what they need to do more efficiently and more effectively because they didn’t get into business to do paperwork. No. But paperwork needs to be done, the processes need to be there. So you fill a really good niche that way.
Kristen Tilley (04:36):
Yeah, it’s really cool because Operations is people, process, and tools. And you have to encompass all of those things. Typically, we look at the entire organization. The people aspect. Who are your people? What are their competencies? What are their capabilities? All of the things that come into what make your organization the culture that it is. But then focusing on the process and the tools piece. But you can’t ignore the people either. You know, it wouldn’t make sense to have an organization, let’s say in a manufacturing plant, that’s really hands on. Or construction or something like that. If you have a really hands-on organization and then implementing some kind of system, whether that be a software or system could be anything. But something that’s really technical. That takes a lot of unnecessary steps.
Kristen Tilley (05:19):
That’s using technology. That’s way too advanced for what the job actually requires. You need to take those things into account. But what’s really cool about the whole thing is that we don’t want to go into a business and say, “okay, well here’s what you can do.” We like to go in and actually become kind of an extension of your team and do it for you. We know that managers, business owners, operations people, and even staff, they already have a full day’s worth of job every single day. A lot of these special projects don’t get the attention that’s required because then they get put on the back burner because we’re busy operating. And so we’ve done this system for so long, this is the way we were doing it this way. It seems to be working for now. And I mean, yeah, there’s some annoyances. So instead of saying, “here’s what you should do” and try to find someone within your organization to take that ownership, take that on, train people berate into your existing operation and make it as little bumps along the way as possible. That often doesn’t happen. And so we like to actually come in and say, “we will do that with you and for you.”
Jason Bavington (06:23):
Yeah, it’s nice to be able to work with them because they understand their culture the best and they understand their business the best. And then aligning that ship in the right direction is really important. So then Covid came along, it kind of changed everyone’s world, you know, just a little bit. A little bit. And so now that we’re currently in the midst of all things Covid, what is Simplify Co able to offer companies and organizations to help them either get through the current situation or to look ahead. Once the clouds clear, once the storm moves on in a post-Covid or a new post-Covid world, however we want to define it. What does that look like in how Simplify Co can assist those companies?
Kristen Tilley (07:07):
Actually we’re really excited about this because, pre-Covid, it’s sort of like you had mentioned it’s kind of a niche idea. You know, when you talk to people. “Oh yeah, that sounds really cool.” But it’s almost like, “but I’m not sure how that affects me necessarily because I’m already doing it this way and I’ve learned it this way and it’s become a process ingrained in my day to day. So I don’t really notice the problem or I don’t really notice… it’s kind of annoying, but I don’t notice it really affecting us all too much.” And so what’s really interesting about Covid is that for the businesses that knew they had bottlenecks but didn’t have the time or resources or whatever the case may be, to address them, they’re really knowing that they have them now and they need to address them in order to move forward.
Kristen Tilley (07:51):
The ones that knew kind of, “Oh yeah, I’m sure we have them somewhere” now are absolutely positive where they are. And then the ones that didn’t know that they have them have now absolutely understood that they have them where they are. And then there’s the other people that then maybe they knew they had them even knew what they were. But there’s new ones now. Because you have people that are working from home. You have people that are not only working from home but have kids and are co-parenting throughout this or single parenting or trying to manage both their home life and their work life all at one time. So what’s getting done in those periods? Is it just they’re kind of getting those admin tasks off their checklist because those can be done in short spurts without getting interrupted every 15 minutes? Or is the business actually able to move forward on what’s important depending on these things and so what’s really interesting and exciting is that whether it’s in current Covid or post Covid, there’s going to be a lot of changes.
Kristen Tilley (08:48):
One is the government is going to require quite a number of changes in the business office. All of those changes that are physical distancing or sanitation, cleaning, whatever those cases may be. That’s all going to eventually trickle down to process in one way or another. In an office setting that might look a little bit different. That one might be an easier problem to solve, but in manufacturing plants in more hands on or project construction based, any of those things that require a lot of passing and physical touching or that kind of thing, there’s going to be things that are required that are going to essentially change the process. Also, what might happen is people might say, “I’ve actually got way more done working at home. I want to work from home more.” How are companies going to manage that? How are they going to manage their communication?
Kristen Tilley (09:34):
You know, even myself who works from home more often than not. I love email. I’m an email person. But sometimes it takes so long to email, because you’re waiting for a response, when you can just pop into their office. So how are you going to manage those kinds of things? And then the other aspect is for companies to stay relevant in the new market. Whether that be retail spaces going digital, going online. And now, since so many companies have done that, I don’t see them going back. I do see retail spaces still opening, but now you have a whole new market online that they’re going to have to compete with. This is very true. So there’s going to be all of these different things. How do you stay relevant? How do you maintain your culture while people are working from home? How do you manage the workflow of that?
Kristen Tilley (10:17):
How do you manage communication of that? And a lot of those things are going to have to go digital because we have to be using the tools that we have. And then that often will require training. That will require, almost in some cases, probably a new way of organizing. It might even mean that org charts change and job functions because just of the nature of how businesses are going to move forward. So it’s really exciting for us. It might sound really daunting for a lot of businesses. But what’s exciting for us is helping businesses navigate through those changes, those procedural changes. And essentially, I mean the business is called “Simplify”. We want to simplify your life. It gives us an opportunity to not only work with those companies to help them and take that stress off their plate.
Kristen Tilley (11:01):
A lot of business owners started a business because they like whatever it is that they’ve started their business. They’re not necessarily ops people. They’re not necessarily process-based. So that could be a really daunting task. So taking that off their plate. But then the other piece is this is a really excellent opportunity for businesses to position themselves to scale. And what I mean by that is we actually have an opportunity to take a step back while things are a bit slower. Take a deep dive evaluation of what our processes are. What are the bottlenecks? What’s it costing us at the end of the day, whether that’s morale, angry customers, or missed deadlines. All these kinds of things, bottom line, et cetera. What’s all of this stuff costing us? Restructuring into the preexisting Operations so it’s not too drastic of a change. So then when the influx of people, the influx of revenue, the influx of customers start coming that we can manage that and then grow.
Jason Bavington (11:57):
Yeah. And you’re ready for that. And yeah, that’s one of the many silver linings that can be pulled from this experience of Covid is that when other time do you have in your business to sit back for, like, currently 49 or 50 days. It’s a bit long. But through that time, like you said, you have an opportunity to kind of reflect on your business, strategize and plan going forward. And to your point, it can be a very daunting task. It can be very, very overwhelming. So for businesses that are not used to this kind of deep dive analysis of their business or even thinking of their business at that level. A lot of business owners, and especially small business owners, they’re doers. They’re go getters. They have a passion. And now businesses also are starting to realize that there needs to be a strategy and a larger plan behind that. So, what would be one or two simple things that you would suggest to businesses who are just starting to think about these sort of things? How to strategically organize their business or plan out their business. What would be one or two things you’d recommend as a starting point, to not get overwhelmed. Because I’m sure there’s many, many steps they need to do, right? What would be those first couple of steps? What might they be?
Kristen Tilley (13:16):
I would say that the first couple of steps for businesses that are starting to think about this or strategize, I think it can get, like you said, really overwhelming, really daunting. Because they’re thinking of a lot of different things, things. Thinking of revenue. They’re thinking of staff. They’re thinking about rehire. They’re thinking about all of these other things and they’re thinking big picture. Operations is big picture on in the ground. Kind of like you see it above, but you also see below. I guess the first step that I would recommend – that’s a really great question actually, I’ve never thought about it this way before – would be to try your very best to not think about bottom line. Not think about the big picture necessarily in respect to your business overall, “Where’s it going?” I think my first step or my suggestion for a first step would actually start thinking about what are the steps A to Z and map it out
Kristen Tilley (14:05):
if you have time. From ,getting your A, your starting point, whether that’s customer product, whatever the case may be, you’re A all the way into the hands of whether it’s a customer, a business, whatever. Map that out. And then if you want to go even further than that, map out then what steps are required to achieve that step. And when you do that, you can get a really big overall picture about what your business actually is from a procedural standpoint. From there, if you want to even go further down this exercise, you can then start seeing where things can align. Things can streamline. And as a business owner, you’re probably aware of where some of those bottlenecks are, but when you see it like that, then it becomes more clear. That would be one suggestion, I’d have.
Jason Bavington (14:54):
Yeah. I think that’s a really, really powerful exercise because as I’m sure your experience has shown a lot of people, they have all this stuff in their head, right? And they know how their business works and if only everyone else could be inside my head, right? But I think getting it out there and having your partners do that exercise and the key people that are driving your business forward. Having all those people together and putting it down on paper and getting those giant sheets of paper and sticking it on the wall. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be out there. And then you can actually see it and you can picture it more and like, “that whole thing over there. I’ve thought about that and I think there’s a totally different way that we can do that.” To help someone get to stuff.
Kristen Tilley (15:38):
Yeah. And you can even have your staff doing it too. Like as you mentioned, you have your key people or even your staff do it and they write down every aspect of their job. You know, we don’t necessarily have to have them map it out. But if they wrote down every aspect of their job from, you know, if you’re an office admin person from ordering supplies from X and refilling the stock in the office. You have them write down those steps or all those things and then they all get handed in. You get a really big picture of all of the things that are required to make your business run. And then you have the power and the opportunity at that point to say, “is that really worth?” You can monetize it from there. You can actually say, “is this task or this person worth that amount of money per year?” And then you can re-evaluate that way. There’s so many different things you can do. And then what’s so great about that is that once those things are more prevalent, then you can start looking for a solution
Jason Bavington (16:39):
that integrates people, process and tools. Yeah. And I think also seeing all those things out there, you know, on the boards. Some people I imagine the people are like, “You know, I never knew that that, that thing over there, I never knew that was a thing. That’s a problem right now and I can totally solve that problem because I have a skill in A, B or C that can totally address that and we didn’t really know that that was holding us back. Man, we can solve that, like, in a few days.”
Kristen Tilley (17:10):
Sure. And the other guy is like, “Dude, where you been? Like I’ve been struggling with this for, like months!”. It’s true. And then what’s so great, too, I love this stuff. I could, I just get fired up and excited about it. But then what you can also do is where this is really going to come into play is
Kristen Tilley (17:28):
Kristen Tilley (17:29):
because lots of businesses have had to pivot. Some are temporary pivots, but in some ways some things are going to be permanent pivots. And so I think a lot of businesses are going to have to kind of restrategize in the sense of maybe not the mission has changed, but how you’re going to get there. Your strategic operation. How are you going to get there, given this post-Covid thing. A lot of people that are also recognizing all of the good things like we’re talking about that are happening in the community. And things, I personally have taken a lot of time to reflect on my life prior to this. You know, when I would be saying “I’m so bored.” Why am I bored? What would I be doing I’d be running this errand and that errand and this errand and that and for what purpose, though? Did I really need to? Because right now I go to the grocery store once every two weeks. And I’m cooking my meals at home and I’m doing all of these things. And so having that time to reflect. I think a lot of other people perhaps have been doing the same and that also can integrate into business.
Jason Bavington (18:27):
Yeah, I think so. It’s getting behind that “why”, right? Like once you start, just like you said, once you start to drill down at those things that we do every day, just kind of unconsciously. We just kind of go through the motions. I was like, “why am I doing that?” And then the why behind that why. And then when you get to the last why you’re like, “Oh, well maybe I could be doing that differently.” or “Maybe I actually don’t need to do that anymore.” “Maybe I can let that go.” And I think you’re totally right. All of those personal discoveries can translate into business discoveries as well through the same approach, same process. Just asking those questions.
Kristen Tilley (19:04):
And then going into the business example, like if you think about the office manager who would order from Staples and then refill the stock. Okay, well with more people working from home, maybe instead you look at what that costs. You look at your annual budget for what your office supplies cost. You do crunch some numbers here, there, and then you just give an allowance to your staff. That way they’re doing it. They’re already out. They’re already going to Walmart. They’re already doing these things. And then that now takes up. I mean, in that case it doesn’t take all that long. But just for example’s sake, now that person has this chunk of time not on their plate anymore. What could that chunk of time be used for? And this goes for the organization as a whole. Now that you have these chunks of time available within your staff, within your bandwidth, what can that be used for? That’s going to be used for creativity. Innovation. Because it’s going to allow space for that. I don’t know about you, but in my career history you have your whole list of tasks. Half of them are administrative, blah, blah, blah. You do all of them and then next thing you know it’s three o’clock. That doesn’t leave a ton of time for you to be creative about your role, whatever that may be.
Jason Bavington (20:16):
Yeah, I think there’s a lot of … when I was in university we would call it “unused capacity” and usually it was applied to like copiers and things. A company car sits idle the majority of the time. So maybe we don’t need the company car, like that sort of thing. And applying it to more I guess like a human resources point of view point. So if we’re freeing up all this time for what are essentially menial tasks that don’t really, they’re kind of necessary but they don’t really help the business really, really significantly. Like they’re not based on your skill set or whatever. Like, someone needs to order a stapler or staples, right? No one needs to order paper. But you know, if we don’t need to do those things or, like you said, because people are working from home more, there’s less demand on office resources and being able to free up that time for those menial tasks to do tasks that more directly contribute to moving your business forward. I think really, really help a lot of businesses get a lot more efficient. And help them achieve some of the goals that maybe pre-Covid were, you know two, three, four years out. Maybe they can slash that by 25%, maybe 50% depending on creative and industrious you are.
Kristen Tilley (21:27):
And what’s great about that is that you can do that with the human resources you already have. Because if you free up this time, then you can strategize based on what you have been in and start moving towards those goals. It’s just, it’s so fascinating going through these processes and with these companies. And it’s really exciting for me because I just see the potential. But I even think, as a person myself, there are opportunities no matter what your role is in a company for you to develop whatever it is you’re passionate about within that role. Or even just generally. But if you streamline a position, now you have all this capacity. Well, that capacity could be put towards development. You know, maybe I want to try my hand at accounting. I work in marketing but I really have, I kind of am interested in numbers. So maybe, I mean this would take a lot of creativity but it sort of Would the company then help give you that time to then do a course or … whatever the case may be, whatever the organization wants to do, wants to accomplish. But just by eliminating these bottlenecks. By getting more time on the docket. By organizing and streamlining, there are so many possibilities of where businesses can go and how they can do that.
Jason Bavington (22:43):
Yeah, for sure. So, a wealth of tidbits for all you business owners and workers and employees out there shared to you today on DUX — Your Local City Guide. Kristen, that was a lot of great content. That was fantastic. So people want to do more of a deep dive with you. They can get in touch with you. We’ll put your website and all that jazz at the bottom of the blog post and they can connect with you directly, too. This is like, this is not even the appetizer. This is like the pre, appetizer. Like we just got handed the tiniest little shrimp on our plate.
Kristen Tilley (23:13):
Yeah, they can right now actually I’m offering a completely free consultations and chats to even help identify what some of those bottlenecks are. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce as well that is offered for all Chamber members. But that’s also, I’m expanding it to the business world. So if anybody just has questions or wants to chat, it’s a no obligation conversation and I’m happy to help.
Jason Bavington (23:37):
Cool. So yeah, so if you’re watching this video anywhere else, but on our website, head on over to dux.city. d u x . city. Click on the blog and then you’ll see the Simplify Co video there. Click there and we’ll put all the links there to the Simplify Co website. You can get in touch with Kristen and really, really help your business really, really rock it going forward. And with Kristen at your side, you guys are well, well positioned and you’ll do just fine. Kristen, thank you very much for everything you shared with us today. I celebrate everything that you’re doing to help businesses. To support businesses. I think the work that you’re doing is really fantastic and that you’re doing it basically on the ground with the business. You’re not just kind of parachuting and talking to everyone from the top, but you’re there on the ground with them and your passion definitely comes through and it’s really, really exciting to see and yeah, I look forward to hearing more about Simplify Co in the future and all the success that your company has and that you bring to other businesses. Thank you so much. This is so fun. Okay. Take care. Enjoy the sunshine where you can and keep sharing and supporting you’re local goodness. I’m Jason with DUX — Your Local City Guide here with Kristen from Simplify “comp.” … Simplify Co.
Jason Bavington (24:59):
Take care everyone. Cheers.