Arizona MEP and Life Startup Essentials Work Together to Improve Business Fundamentals
With years of experience working with the homeless through government housing programs, the founders of Life Startup Essentials aspired to increase the success rate of individuals and families transitioning to permanent housing. LSE provides pre-packaged kits of household items to social service agencies to give to the newly housed. The "Welcome Home Kits" furnish a living space with kitchenware, bedding, cleaning supplies and bath ware, everything needed to start up their new homes and create a stable, self-sufficient environment to thrive.
Strategic Goals and Assessment Help Life Startup Essentials Focus on Priorities
The company, started by three family members who saw a need in the community and decided to fulfill it, quickly became successful. Running a business was new to the founders and COO Anthony Newell sought to expand his knowledge of business operations by attending an Arizona MEP workshop on lean and OSHA. After the workshop, Senior Client Advisor Tanya Perkins contacted CFO Courtney Newell to learn more about LSE. The meeting led to Arizona MEP performing an assessment and developing a strategic plan for the company. An action item from the plan was to document and improve the kitting process and cross-train employees, ensuring business continuity. Other focus areas included hiring new employees, building a sales process, safety training and selecting an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
Improving Workflow with Lean Mindset
According to Courtney Newell, the most crucial training was understanding the lean toolset and how to apply it to improve the process and flow of building the kits. Arizona MEP’s continuous improvement expert, Kyle Randels, led the team through a simulation to demonstrate the lean tools, later the team applied what they learned to the kitting process. Arizona MEP and LSE were able to rework the process based on their timed observations. The company saw real-world results, saving four minutes per kit or five hours weekly.
Positioning For Future Growth
As the company grew, the leadership team started to look beyond family members to fill critical positions. Recruiting and hiring employees is challenging and the company found success and cost-savings with an Arizona MEP custom-designed program. Offered as a flat-fee service, the Arizona MEP human resource expert developed job descriptions, conducted interviews and onboarded three new employees. Soon, LSE plans to conduct DISC, a behavioral self-assessment, to understand employee strengths and weaknesses to build stronger, more effective working relationships. Arizona MEP also developed a nine-month sales training program that included one-on-one training and learning to improve lead capture, qualification and follow-up skills. Funding was also secured for additional training from a grant provided by the City of Phoenix that covered the cost of creating an employee handbook and monthly QuickBooks® training.
Streamlining the ERP Selection Process
To get started in the search for an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Arizona MEP helped the company create a specification document and identify an ERP that aligned with LSE’s desired needs. The team then began an evaluating and testing period to ensure the selected program was the best fit. “We're in the process of migrating data from our old system to the new system and receiving training,” said Courtney Newell, “Even before implementation, I can see how the new system will be a lifesaver. We previously worked in numerous programs that housed different data, but with the new ERP, we’ll be within a single platform that will save us time and be more efficient.”
On Track for Future Success
Working with Arizona MEP has set LSE up for future success. ERP implementation is in progress, and process improvements and continuous training will benefit the company and employees long-term. Recapping their partnership with Arizona MEP, Courtney Newell said, "When we started the business, we saw the need in the community for our services, but we did not have experience with kitting, inventory management, shipping, etc. We were piecing training together to gain more knowledge. When Tanya met with us and shared the resources Arizona MEP could provide, it opened a new world for us. They have been a great partner and have positively impacted our operations and our company's growth."