I cannot believe that 2018 is over. This was the fastest year of my life both personally and professionally, and was probably my biggest year of growth. I take time at the end of each year to reflect on the prior year and kind of recap, if for nothing other than to remind myself of what happened.
2018 was crazy. We experience a huge amount of growth with Find A Wrench, which was a blessing and a curse. My intent with Find A Wrench had always been to grow at an organically slow rate but the world had different plans for us. We grew really fast….too fast. This resulted in us taking a step back in our execution and ultimately our customer service. We had areas that we were really strong in and others that needed a bunch of attention.
Our newfound growth created something we really hadn't had to deal with before, which was a negative customer review by a customer on both Google and Facebook. As a business owner, you're typically not trying to draw eyes to a negative review but in this case, I think it's good to do so. This was humbling and eye opening to us as a company…and gut wrenching as a small business owner.
We have never really pushed reviews from our customers online, which is a huge mistake and makes a negative review stand out even more. The funny thing about this review is that we totally deserved it and it was a huge eye opener for us as a team. I had a very difficult time getting over this review but it might have been the best thing that could have happened to us as a team, and me in particular.
You see, we veered away from our core focus in an effort to be all things to everybody. I often read that your focus should be narrow and deep, rather than wide and thin. We were spreading ourselves too thin. Our focus left what made us so great to start with…a focus on helping customers remove a pain point from their businesses and helping Mechanics navigate the sometimes rough terrain of finding a new job that fits what they are looking for.
If I'm being honest, this was driven by me. I was overly worried about how much technology was changing and how fast things were moving. Rather than maintain a focus on the customer, we were worried about being left behind with the rapid changes in technology.
What doesn't change is that the people you work with on a daily basis communicating what they perceive as valuable. This customer complaint drove home a point with us that we weren't listening well enough. I had been getting that feeling even prior to this but it drove something home with me. Based off of this feedback, we decided that our current level of commitment to customer satisfaction wasn't where we needed it to be and made some critical changes heading into 2019.
2019 is going to be different. I'm going to make damn sure of that.
So, what are we changing to back up those words?
To start, we did something that should have been done a long time ago. Our leadership team took a proactive approach to planning that we hadn't done before. Determined to no longer act in a reactive state, Lisa (Recruiting Operations Manager) and I met in Tampa to work through our strategy for 2019. To guide the planning process, we used a book called "Traction" by Gino Wickman. If you haven't read it yet, please do. It might be the most practical business book I have ever read, and I read a lot. The book is amazing at guiding you through the planning process and keeping you on point. We did as the book said and followed the tools given, and committed to it as a true operating system for us.
Investing a week of time into strategic planning when your company is super busy can seem like a really stupid idea…until you get through the plan. I was nervous about taking time away from the company and focus on planning until we started doing it. It quickly became evident that it was desperately needed in order to drive systems and processes that consistently deliver for our customers. On top of that, it helped us share our vision throughout the company and give direction to our staff that they hadn't had but desperately needed.
During our strategic meeting, we worked on developing scorecards to help track progress and give us an understanding of "what the score is" in this game we call business. We were able to identify tools that will drive much more visibility to the jobs we're representing on behalf of our clients. We figured out what strategy we'll use to drive consistent communication with our clients and be able to constantly monitor feedback. Most importantly, it drove home the fact that the meeting was overdue and that it is actually important. We needed this….desperately.
We are incredibly proud and confident in our new plan moving forward. We're much more geared to handle the quick growth that we got last year while delivering excellent service. Our company is in business to make the lives of our clients easier…and I'm not so sure that we were delivering on that in 2018.
With all of that being said, 2018 was a phenomenal year for us. When starting a company from scratch, you never quite know if there is going to be a need for your product. We found out that there is a huge need for it. We were able to add incredibly talented people to our team that can execute our plan and get the people already on our team into the right seats on the bus. We've built a foundation that can succeed at a high level, and for that, I am extremely proud.
For Find A Wrench, 2018 was a really good year. 2019 is going to be even better and my hope is that when I do my reflection on it in a year from now, I'll be able to point to that customer complaint as the reason why we got better.
Customer complaints suck and hurt at the core but it's the best thing that could have happened to us. Cheers to 2019!