An inside look into what it took for a company to go from working in an office setting to quickly changing to a remote work environment and how this shift will affect current and future work climates. This podcast includes a CEO’s perspective on facing COVID-induced changes and how his company remained strong.
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We knew when we decided to launch Everyday Business Solutions that we would have to address COVID-19 first. No matter what a business is doing now, COVID-19 has, in some way, become a regular topic of discussion and often a point to pivot around. It seemed only natural to dive straight into the issue at hand with Archie Heinl, the President, and CEO of Double A Solutions.
Halie Morris 0:00
Hello, and welcome to Everyday Business Solutions. This is our very first episode and today we’re here with Archie Heinl. As you might know, my name is Halie Morris. I am the podcast coordinator and host here and what we’re going to start off with is talking about pivotal changes that our company has made. And so the topic of this is going to be “Is this the future? Changing the setting.” We’ll have you [referring to Archie] just kind of talk a bit more about yourself and what you do.
Archie Heinl 0:27
Thanks for having me on here today to kick this thing off. I’m excited to get these podcasts moving. So yeah, so Archie Heinl here with Double A Solutions. You know, Double A, we’ve got a company here in which it kind of acts as a holding company and we’ve got multiple Software-as-a-Service products, as well as doing some custom software development. We’re kind of leading the charge across all these products. A lot of things are happening and we continue to expand. Excited to be part of this!
It’s a huge period of growth for us. We’re doing really well right now. I’m excited to see where we’re going and I just joined a year ago.
Yes, it’s been quite a ride, and we continue to continue to grow. I think, speaks well to the team that we’ve put together and continue to build. We keep finding many talented people and continue to leverage their talents to be able to make our company go and grow here.
… and then just for anybody who’s listening or watching right now, when was Double A Solutions established? And what is the journey of who we are?
Yeah, you know, Double A started back in 2003. It was kind of just getting jump-started at that time and really it was around custom development. And then as we moved closer, our first true SaaS product was the Blitz product you know of our SaaS offerings today. From there we continued to invest in that product and grow within some different vertical markets, particularly insurance, and really grew with the number of major customers there. Then we just continued to build.
We did continue with custom development but then we also looked to add to our core of Software-as-a-Service offerings. So, we’ve done other different joint ventures, whether it be with reaching software platforms, which is in the nonprofit space, but then got into an acquisition of Call Logic, which is an auto dialer. Call Logic plays really well into our Blitz product, you’re gonna have lists that you need to call in with Blitz which is a sales follow-up software. It fits right in with that. If you’re making outbound calls, you can use Call Logic with Blitz or independently certainly. So, we continue to diversify to help add to our product base there.
Then, as we’ve continued to grow we’ve gotten into the janitorial space as well with our Blitz product, which really started in insurance doing a lot of contact and sales follow-up with. Part of that is why we got into the janitorial space that way. And while in there we learned more about that industry and invested in our Janitorial Manager product, which is another SaaS offering like I said, and that’s one in which it’s more of a work management system for commercial cleaning companies, as well as universities and municipalities. That product is really growing strongly as well. A lot of good things going on.
Just in the past year, we’ve added VoIP to our offering as well. So, Aline Phone Systems is one in which it works well with a number of our other products, whether it’s Blitz or Call Logic. It’s a really nice cutting edge phone system that allows companies to be able to take advantage of – kind of one of the topics we’re talking about today – of being able to work remotely and just still have that company feel to it. A lot of good things going on. We continue to keep our heads down, work hard, and look for opportunities to grow.
That leads really well into what you mentioned about changing to a remote work environment. Of course, which leads also into our topic of what’s going on now with the world. Right now, we’re actually looking at an entirely shifting climate and in a couple of months, we’ve shifted drastically towards things that have been churning in the waters for years now.
And so one of those things that really caused it, there’s been a couple of things that happened this year, but the biggest pivotal instigator really has been COVID-19. And it’s affected every business differently. But what I think was unique about our situation is how we went to a remote work environment and we went remote pretty quickly. I just want to invite you to actually talk about what it was like when kind of COVID-19 swept through our area, and that reaction of “hey, we actually need to start to shift.” You had to make a big decision, so what did that day look like?
Right, it’s been a very interesting year. That’s for sure. No question about that. It’s hard for anybody to have predicted something like this to occur. But you know, you have to keep a gauge on what’s going on and keeping our team safe and making the right decisions there. There’s a lot of unknowns, especially in the beginning, in terms of what is this all about. How do we how to react? What should we be doing? What are the right things to be doing? And so, fortunately for us, we made the transition pretty quickly there and were on top of it. Because we were built to be able to be kind of mobile, we’ve already had some outside employees in the different areas of the country. It just made sense for us to be able to transition to a remote work environment with our team and certainly the products and services that we even offer were a big help to us. To be able to go remote, and it just makes a lot of sense until things get more clarity around them. Just making that move just made a lot of sense for us.
Yeah. And then to clarify, again, for people who are listening, our products are actually all used inhouse except for the Janitorial Manager product. So not only do we sell it, but we know how it works. And it’s kind of like you said, we took that knowledge and understanding of our own products and we said, “we have to go home. We have to work from home.” So, do you remember when you made that decision? I don’t remember the dates now.
Yeah, it’s been a bit you know. We reacted quickly once we kind of saw where things were headed. “Let’s just get out in front of it because we can” and then the transition was smooth. So with that, let’s get after it as quickly as we can and kind of gauge where things are going.
and then how long would you say you think it took for everybody who was in office to actually transition to the remote work environment?
Oh, you know, in terms of the transition time, it was pretty instantaneous. It really didn’t take much time. We have a great staff and a great team here. We were able to get in, whether it be PCs, monitors, headsets, cameras, etc., and get those things to our team and really get people home-based. It was a really quick process, fortunately for us.
Yeah. We were realizing, I guess, how hard we were starting to get hit as a country and as a State and locality. And then we made that quick turn to just transition to a remote work environment and everybody working from home. I think everybody was already up and running the same day they went home if I remember correctly, but after that, of course, you start to settle into a different pace. So kind of go on into that next leg of what it was like then. How you had to pivot your communication and how you engaged employees and just transferred instructions or anything back and forth. What did that look like, from before to after?
Right, I think it was one of these things where we needed to get remote, and then we needed to kind of gauge how things were going to play out. And so when we were doing that we didn’t want to make any rash decisions, not really putting any timelines out. In our case, “Hey, don’t get yourself worked up at this point. We’ve transitioned to a remote work environment. It’s working. We’re not having any setbacks. Production has been extremely high remote. In fact, we have been very pleasantly pleased with the production remote.”
And, you know, if it wasn’t, maybe there’s a bit of a different story. But really, obviously safety first and things like that, and so we can be very gradual with this process. We’ve been able to figure out that we can work really well in this remote work environment. So it’s been a good exercise from that standpoint. For future decision-making that factors in a lot for company growth and whether or not certain employees continue to be home base.
I agree. I mean, I’m back in the office obviously or we probably wouldn’t have the studio setup that we do now. But it’s been kind of cool because at first, I think from my side, a couple of co-workers were not eager about being remote, but after a while, it really was like the new normal and some people began to like it and prefer the remote work enviroment versus being in the office. It opened up this new possibility of what we do going forward.
Right, absolutely. And, part of it, some of the things that we’ve done is tried to do some different surveys that have also engaged the managers to be able to find out some of the feelings of our employees. We have company meetings to try to give everyone a voice in terms of what their feelings are and where things are at.
And so, again, I think there were some people that were hesitant. That uncertainty gets people a little uneasy, and so It’s just, “Hey don’t worry about it. We’re here. There are no rash decisions that have to be made, continue to do your job, work remote, and stay safe.” And we’ll continue to feel this thing out a bit.
Yeah, I think that’s a good point. And then also, with the employees who had to make that adjustment, maybe with those who weren’t as ready to make such a big change, was there any additional steps to help connect those people back to the office or just make sure they had that balance at home that was beneficial to them?
Yeah, no, there are certainly different challenges. Once you do move to a remote work environment, you kind of have to adapt to that setting and to those different other challenges that might come about, whether it’s, animals or kids. Whatever the case may be, some people are more comfortable coming into an office every day so that they can be a bit more productive. But we tried to make it as comfortable as possible, trying to give them all the tools they need to be successful. And I think even some of the ones that were a bit hesitant at the front, thinking “I need to get back to the office,”- I think, more and more of them have settled in.
It’s great that it happened like that. Even those who were a bit hesitant have adjusted accordingly and we’ve brought everybody with us versus having to tug and pull a little bit more. So, it’s great to see and I know it’s great from an employee perspective to be part of this. And to be part of the almost shifting way of doing things because there’s not going to be the same normal after COVID-19 as there was before it. Just like any big change that happens.
I think as we said, it accelerated changes that were already occurring. So, advancements in the way we communicate virtually, how we reach our customers and our employees, and things like that… I know our sales manager said that he actually talks more on Zoom with customers than what he did before. Because they realize that face to face communication is so important.
Yeah, it’s neat how this type of situation gets our team thinking about a lot of different ways to do things and how they can be productive in a remote work environment. Maybe it’s something that makes it even more productive than when they’re in the office. Who knows! We Introduced more things, in terms of being able to have those different zoom calls and things like that to where you’re just more face to face and it’s worked out for our team. I’ve been really, really impressed with how we’ve responded to the situation.
Yeah, people probably like to keep their pajama bottoms on all day, dog at their feet. That’s how I was. So, mine loved it. She just sat there and got belly rubs all day.
Yeah, there’s a lot of neat pictures I saw on Facebook and other platforms. With Microsoft Teams and our software, I think that’s been a big help with our internal communication there too. We have an active group on Teams. We’re able to exchange ideas and also kind of keep things upbeat as much as we can. That’s certainly one of the challenges that you have. We’ve had a really good culture here and a really good team. It’s great seeing people day in, day out and when you can’t really do that as much, you’ve got to find other methods. I think Teams has been a good thing for us to be able to keep some of that communication up with live screen shares, but also just kind of chatting and texting or whatnot between each other and different groups. So we’ve responded well, and I think we’ve leveraged the different tools that we have there.
To start wrapping up, we can say that it really kind of came down to that we already had tools in place to pivot. And then when it came to going remote, we already had that communication there. We already had the groundwork for mobility and to adapt to our employees. I think it comes back a lot to our company culture. We just have the culture here. I know that was why I was excited to walk into the office for the first time and something I’ve seen you put a lot of value on is just coming back to enriching the employee experience and what we strive for, and that’s helped a lot.
Absolutely. We want an upbeat atmosphere and we want everyone to be a part of it and everybody to be able to contribute and to share in those contributions and all those things. Overall, I have been really just extremely happy about just the fact that we’ve taken this as an opportunity rather than sitting back and kind of feeling sorry for ourselves or that we can’t do the job the way we used to. We looked at it the other way. We’ve seen opportunities and we’ve just gotten better. We’ve honestly gotten better.
You know, each month we’ve had record months the past few months, and I can’t say enough about the way we’ve responded and the team that we’ve built. A lot of good people involved and yeah, it’s just great that we’ve turned something that’s been a challenge into an opportunity.
Even this podcast series and then the different things we have, that we’re looking at, it’s just given us other things to think about. We used to do a lot of, and we’ll still do a number of different conferences, but obviously, those were canceled this year. I mean, we were constantly on the road and really, that’s come to, for the most part, a halt. So, there are a few of your virtual conferences here and there, but we’ve had to look at other ways to get the word out there. And we’re continuing to think out of the box. I’m excited to see where things go.
I am as well. That’s all I’ve got to touch upon. Did you want to add anything before we wrap up?
I don’t think so. I’m just looking forward to many good podcasts and so forthcoming through here. We’re looking forward to a lot of cool guests coming up and I’m excited to see what we got in store here.
Halie Morris 18:57
Yeah, me too. I’m excited! So with that, I’m going to wrap up our first episode where we’ve talked about changing settings and possibly more companies doing what we’re doing, doing hybrids where we have people in a remote work environment and we have people in the office – just learning to appreciate sometimes those new normals.
Thank you for tuning in to Season I Episode I of Everyday Business Solutions. We invite you to subscribe to future episodes and also leave a review to help us continuously improve and build great content!