Collaboration is Key
Coming together for the common good is an honorable mantra. It’s one that many successful organizations have adopted by fostering improved communication and increased collaboration between various departments. Security integration companies that are embracing more collaborative practices and procedures are seeing the benefits, and so, too, are their customers!
Lexington, Kentucky-based Bates Security is testament to that. The company has grown steadily over the years and now operates in two office locations in Lexington and three in Jacksonville, Florida. Bates’ impressive expansion didn’t happen by accident. The company has always embraced the virtues of teamwork and continues to look at new ways to pivot to change and support their growth. In a recent ESA presentation – “How to Encourage Collaboration Between Sales and Installation” – Bates’ VP of Operations Cindy Ponder and Bates’ VP of Sales Danny Goodpaster shared their insights on how to encourage collaboration between Sales and Installation/Operations staff to enhance efficiencies, streamline projects, and improve overall customer satisfaction.
Key topics that they discussed with attendees included:
- How to encourage collaboration between sales and installation staff
- How to identify the obstacles that impede collaboration between the departments
- What sales and installation leaders must focus on to encourage collaboration
- How to create an environment of trust so the team feels comfortable in resolving conflicts and offering constructive criticism.
- Ideas and best practices that bring sales and install staff together and help achieve the organization’s goals
Goodpaster summed this all up well when he says, “The ultimate goal is for the customer to be happy, so we must work together toward that common goal. That also means we need to accept and give feedback objectively.”
CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM CAN BE A VERY GOOD THING
The presentation also hit upon the reality that sometimes, as humans, we can all take criticism personally, but that’s counterproductive. As Goodpaster points out, “If you react poorly to feedback that someone gives you, the person who gave you that feedback will be less likely to be honest the next time in order to spare feelings. But it’s so important to be honest and for everyone to be open to having those productive conversations. While it can be difficult at times, we all need to remember that we have the same goal in mind and work as a team.”
Ponder echoes how productive this can be. “By communicating as a team, everyone knows that their opinion is heard. Every employee has got skin in the game; we encourage our teams to understand that what they do or don’t do affects other people in other departments. Nobody works in a vacuum.” As Goodpaster notes, getting feedback from the field is also vitally important. Listening to the techs that are on the front line and understanding what makes jobs successful or causes delays helps the salespeople to sell better.
DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS BUT SAME GOAL
An initiative that Bates recently implemented was the formation of a New Products Committee. It’s comprised of people from both the Sales and Operations sides and the goal is to roll out products and services that can be sold in the same way across all of Bates’ offices and markets. “A lot of our products are supported from our main office,” Ponder says.
“Having people from both sales and operations on this committee gives us a better perspective on how products will integrate with the systems we sell. Having the same systems and procedures in place across all of our offices will enable us to send an inside salesperson to any of our locations.”
Standardizing the way that jobs are sold and then submitted to operations allows all the info to be consistently submitted in the same format so there is no miscommunication. This also helps to reduce truck rolls and ensures the continuous, trouble-free operation of customers’ systems. “Standardization and communication together have been a big deal for us between the two groups,” Ponder adds. “Communication and the trust wrapped into that communication is the key. The bottom line is culture – we don’t all have the same personalities, but we understand the common goal, and there’s common ground.”
BECAUSE TIME IS TICKING
As any security integration company can attest, it’s not always easy to keep a project on schedule. To help mitigate project overruns, Bates has committed itself to setting deadlines. “A dream becomes a goal when you assign a timeframe to it,” Goodpaster notes. “To get things done in a timely manner, assign timeframes. For example, this gets done in 24 hours, that happens within the next 24 hours, and so on. Then it’s something we can hold people accountable for. It’s working very well for us.” As Ponder points out, “Not making a decision is a decision. It all boils down to accountability and procedures being followed by everyone across the board.”
Paying attention to timeframes not only comes into play in terms of project completion, but it can also help move abstract ideas into tangible achievements. How many great ideas have been raised around conference room tables that never came to fruition because other time constraints simply didn’t enable them to. Some great initiatives don’t come to be because day-to-day tasks get in the way. “Setting deadlines can turn a great idea into a reality,” Goodpaster says.
“If you set aside time regularly within a scheduled timeframe, you’re more likely to achieve it.”
As anyone who’s been around the security industry well knows, technologies change, customer needs and demands change, and policies and procedures may sometimes need to pivot to those changes in order to stay competitive. Something that may have worked five years ago may not work today. Given their rapid growth, Bates has had to adjust some processes and procedures and add some changes that better fit their business now. If you put something in place, it doesn’t have to be that way forever – companies can change as the needs change. Again, it comes down to making the time to evaluate.
“We’ve learned that you’ve got to stand back and look at everything,” Ponder says. “We have to get to a point where we can be proactive, and that’s not always easy over five branches. It’s an ongoing effort, not one and done. It’s a continuous effort.”
Ponder and Goodpaster shared many valuable insights and recommendations in this “How to Encourage Collaboration Between Sales and Installation” presentation. The key takeaways – Work more collaboratively. Be open. Give and receive feedback freely but courteously to identify where changes should be made to improve processes. More collaboration and blurring the lines between departments helps a lot; successful sales and installations are a team effort.