8 Instant Productivity Boosters

Behind the Scenes at Buy NZ Made in 2020

There is no magic bullet to productivity in business, but there are productivity levers that can reshape and reform how you get to the outcomes you want.

But you need to have a plan.

This article shows what activities Buy NZ Made focussed on in 2020 behind the scenes using the following productivity levers:

Outsourcing lever — delivering what you do with the help of a business partner.

Automation lever — automating what you do using software.

Contracting lever — contracting a key skill or task to an expert.

Digitisation lever — delivering an analogue service in a digital way.

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. ” Archimedes

8 Productivity Boosters for Buy NZ Made in 2020

In this article I take you behind the Scenes at Buy NZ Made in 2020 and share eight productivity boosters that enabled the organisation to scale at a time of unprecedented growth and demand. We could have easily missed these opportunities had these productivity boosters not been in play.

Who this article is for…

I’ve written this article to inspire New Zealand businesses to look for different ways of doing the same tasks using productivity levers such as…

outsourcing levers…

automation levers…

contracting levers…

and digitisation levers.

Find your own tactics that plug in to these themes or copy the productivity boosters below and make them your own.

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. ” Archimedes

1. Outsourced Inventory And Logistics

OUTSOURCING THEME

Logistics for us means processing orders for merchandise, labels and stickers. The tasks are physical tasks such as putting inventory into envelopes, sending out welcome packs to new businesses and adding a packing slip and putting an address label on and sending by courier.

The primary imperative to outsource logistics was to free up daily order processing time and recommit that resource time and effort to marketing.

How We Did It

To achieve full outsourcing we moved all the stock from our 6th floor office to a 3rd party logistics company in January 2020. That freed up office space and eliminated the distraction of picking and packing orders daily.

Every approved business receives a couriered Welcome Pack from Buy NZ Made

We then got our CRM provider to automate the delivery of packing slips directly to the 3rd party logistics company. We had no idea that Covid was coming to New Zealand at this stage.

The Result

The outsourcing enabled us to a) cope with the huge increase in new businesses during Covid-19 and b) continue to send Welcome Packs out without any access to our physical office. These two points alone were absolute lifesavers for the organisation and justified the shift and the investment.

2. Business Onboarding

AUTOMATION THEME

Onboarding a new business to NZ Made means ensuring they know how to apply the Kiwi trademark to their licensed products and how to get the most out of the licence holder status.

There are a dozen key concepts to get across and these used to be sent in a single welcome email which overloaded the business owner or marketing manager. Sometimes the email didn’t get through so a separate email was sent by the licence processor. This doubled up on the work and didn’t solve the problem root cause of too much information solely in a digital format.

The imperative to automate onboarding was to standardise the experience and provide a single daily actionable task that a business owner or marketing manager could take action on each day.

How We Did It

The single welcome email was atomised into actionable tasks using Mailchimp email automation.

Each email is automatically sent a set time after the previous one.

One hour after a business licence application is approved, they’re receive their first email. The single call to action in this email is to pay the licence fee (as that unlocks the ability to download the artwork).

A day later, the business receives instructions on how to add the website widget to the website to display the Kiwi trademark.

A day later, we send them instructions on how to purchase labels and stickers and a link to the dashboard store to purchase.

There are nine more emails, each on a different topic covering when you’ll receive your printed certificate, listing your licensed products, getting set up on ShopKiwi, how to order product labelling and lastly an NPS survey a few weeks after the onboarding is complete.

Each email leaves a fingerprint of engagement showing us who is engaged and who needs more assistance. Open rate and clicks are a great signal to show how engaged new members are.

The Result

More engagement in the first emails sent out. Less questions from newly approved businesses. Less work to answer standard questions.

3. Digitise Inbound Sales Leads

DIGITISATION THEME

Business owners interested in joining NZ Made usually have two kind of questions. The first is eligibility questions…. Will my products qualify? what is the eligibility criteria? Where do the raw materials have to come from?

The second kind of questions are benefit questions… What will I be able to do with the NZMade logo? Where am I able to use the logo? What promotional support can you provide?

Both types of questions are purchase intent questions so should be treated with a high degree of priority. If business owners called during business hours that was the case, however many applications came in over the weekend and in evenings outside of business hours — we were missing those, or worse (in my view) forcing businesses to fill out an unwieldy contact form.

The imperative to digitise inbound sales leads was to delight Kiwi business owners even before they had apply to join.

How We Did It

On the Plans & Pricing page the Check Eligibility page and the Apply Now funnel we implemented a digital chat app called Drift.

Any questions received from hot leads on these pages, go straight to my phone. Yep. Directly. No contact form… no waiting until someone checks their email. It’s a hot lead and they get their question answered within 60 seconds ideally… or at least within an hour.

Drift chat can be setup as an automated bot. We don’t do that. It’s a call centre function — except we don’t treat it that way. Instead I recommend you load the app on the phone of the most senior person in your company who can unblock barriers for potential customers.

Questions from Drift Chat as they fill out the application form.

The term ‘Abandoned carts’ can be solved with this app. But more than that, this is a real productivity booster. I can answer questions with a couple of minutes back and forth instead of a longer phone call. Digitising inbound sales leads allow you to scale in the way that phone calls have never been that good at. Ask any business with a contact centre — phone calls are the highest contact cost.

The Result

We’ve removed 485 phone calls or ‘abandoned carts’ from NZ Made during 2020. That’s a measurable improvement in customer experience and conversion rate.

4. AI Driven Content Creation

AUTOMATION THEME

Transcripts of every business interview is the written ‘scaffolding’ that business feature articles are created from. Initially we didn’t transcribe the whole interview, Hugo did transcribe the short 3 minute videos that were posted to social got transcribed to solve the problem of people watching newsfeed content with sound off. That limitation was because transcription can take 3x the time to complete as the original interview and Hugo was already running the content editing suite.

The imperative to automate transcriptions was to go beyond short captions and transcribe entire interviews for business features on ShopKiwi, NZCode and NZMade.

It took a few go’s at finding the right software. The first was great at video captions, however wasn’t great at exporting to a Word doc and only worked on a Mac. The software that really set the whole process going is called Sonix AI.

We could upload an audio file from A Kiwi Original and then add a label to manage the workflow of who would edit once the AI had transcribed as much as it could.

The Sonix transcription AI is a very confident piece of SaaS software about 90% of the time. The other 10% requires human finessing.

The Result

Transcriptions are now a default yes for every business feature we do. This reduces the time it takes to write a business success story down to 2–3 hours each. Each business success story added to NZCode (like these ones)and added to ShopKiwi (like these ones) increases the content density on our site which ultimately helps drive search ranking.

5. Adding Zoom Professionalism

CONTRACTING THEME

Not all Zoom calls are created equal. It’s a platform after all and a relatively new one where the social norms are still being worked out. That means that guests on A Kiwi Original would arrive in various states of preparedness that matched their own norms — which would be fine for a chat, but not for a podcast and video recording. The quality variation impacted the listening and watching experience for the audience downstream, which would reduce the value of the business feature if less people were engaged with the story.

The imperative was to contract out the process of guest preparation so that one person had full responsibility for ensuring the guest arrived at the Zoom call ready to produce a high quality Zoom recording with us.

Finding the right person was really a stroke of luck as a result of some LinkedIn scrolling seeing who was up to what. That person is Sarah Johnston who has managed the programme of guests on the show for the last 30'ish podcasts. We manage the show using Trello as none of the three of us who produce it are located in the same location.

This is a feature not a bug. Distributed teams allows us to work in our own time at a faster pace collectively.

The Result

Less no shows. Reschedules don’t impact our ability to deliver 2–3 new business features every week. Most importantly…and this is hard to under-estimate. Our guests are truly prepared to give their best performance and share their most powerful story thanks to Sarah’s approach. That has resulted in business stories that are real, raw and some shared for the first time.

Of course, the pace of delivery has truly accelerated past what was possible in 2019… but the depth of the story is the real winner for the NZ Made audience. The show is the 4th most listened to management podcast in New Zealand, in the top 10% of podcasts listened to worldwide and is even in the top 10 management podcast in Korea bizarrely! Thank you Sarah.

6. Building ShopKiwi

OUTSOURCING THEME

ShopKiwi is a platform to discover businesses who are NZ Made or NZ Owned and was stood up during Covid as a place that Kiwis could shop local. The first site took just 4 hours to build with 135 businesses onboard. It was hacked together but it proved the concept.

The imperative was to build something in a weekend that took the initial concept, added a creative brand and enabled us to capture a moment in time during Level 3 lockdown that wouldn’t present itself twice.

A weekend later we had a functioning site and over 1,000 businesses listed thanks to outsourcing the build and launch to our business partners NZDigital. They ran hundreds of posts for us on ShopKiwi during launch week, removing the pressure on the internal team.

ShopKiwi Manager Dane Ambler stepped up and not only painstakingly added the thumbnail images for each business, he lent on his PR skills and nabbed a primetime slot with TVNZ to talk ShopKiwi.

The Result

Dane’s PR skills and drive to ensure the ShopKiwi site looked beautiful and presented businesses accurately have helped drive ShopKiwi to new heights now with over 2,500 businesses on the platform.

The learning here is not to be afraid to outsource when your own organisation doesn’t have enough hours in the day. Focus on the market opportunity and don’t be tempted to right size to your organisations capability and then miss the opportunity.

7. Invoice & Billing

OUTSOURCING THEME

The influx in over 500 businesses joining in 2020 created substantially more work at payment collection. As 2020 was an unusual year, I initially thought cash would be king (pre wage subsidies) so billing payment was prioritised as a top 3 core activity.

The imperative was to ensure we were in a strong cash position going into 2021 and that bill payments were handled by a known and trusted member of our team.

We brought forward the annual licence renewal date to give us time to collect payments and then added an extra 30 days to pay for business owners. That way it reduced the potential influx of calls I was expecting for businesses needed more time to pay. That didn’t eventuate but it did highlight just how much resource it takes to collect cash.

The Result

Anna led the licence renewal function and without her methodical, line by line approach we wouldn’t have gotten to 98% payments received four months later. So this isn’t an outsourcing activity rather a decision not to outsource because of it’s importance to the business at a volatile and uncertain time. Next year this decision would likely be revisited.

8. AI Driven Trademark Breach Tool

AUTOMATION THEME

As the volume of new businesses joining NZ Made increased, so did the volume of businesses unaware that the NZ Made Kiwi trademark requires a licence to display. In a normal year we’d get a student in to identify breaches and coordinate with our legal team to follow up with cease and desists if the friendly reminder went nowhere. 2020 was different. We didn’t have the scale to address a potentially much bigger problem.

The imperative was to maintain the integrity of the trademark, identify businesses using the logo without a licence and ensure those with a licence use the correct artwork.

Again AI came to the rescue after a conversation with Asa Cox — Founder Arcanum.

He said on the podcast that they could build a service for us. After I wrote a detailed spec, the Arcanum team got on to developing it. Less than 3 months later the service was launched. We called it The Logo Hunter.

Tony Zhang from Arcanum talks with NBR about The Logo Hunter tool and how it’s not available through them to anyone wanting to protect their brand.

Creating Space To Pounce

Each of these seven productivity boosters helped create space to pounce on new initiatives. In a volatile environment, intensely listening to what might be needed next is a skill.

Each productivity initiative reallocated and freed up our scarce resources in a year that has been the busiest in record for Buy New Zealand Made. We coped when we had to during lockdown thanks to outsourcing, automation and digitisation…. without missing key windows of new opportunity.

For ShopKiwi, that window of opportunity was April 27th 2020 when Jacinda Ardern said you could ‘shop local’ on the Thursday before the country moved to Level 3.

The site launched the same day and subsequently gained critical mass by end of May when Dane launched the new site on TVNZ.

For Buy NZ Made, there were two unexpected windows of opportunity. The first was to help businesses show they were NZMade and pick up business from the ShopLocal trend. Over 500 businesses joined and Anna Heyward was dedicated to processing these applications. Thanks to outsourced inventory and logistics, the Welcome Packs continued to be sent out (something that would have stopped if our stock was stuck in the office)

The second window of opportunity was helping a quarter of a million New Zealanders purchase face masks from NZ Made sources in August 2020.

See that little traffic bump in April 2020? I made a call back in April to go against WHO advice and work with Lanaco after speaking to CEO Nick Davenport to setup a distributed NZ manufacturing supply of face masks and list the face masks on our website.

For NZCode that window of opportunity was to show a way forward from Covid towards the end of October 2020. Frances Cook from the NZHerald picked up on it and we were away.

Questions For Your Business in 2020

What could I outsource to a specialist that is transactional in nature, time critical and repeatable?

What could I automate through software that is repeatable and menial?

What key skill do I need that doesn’t exist in my team or isn’t a priority for my team?

What could a shift to digital and scale that is currently done offline and doesn’t scale?

One More Thing

As you outsource, automate, contract out and digitise…don’t forget to fill some of your new time space with activities that don’t scale. Things that don’t scale that I make time for now include handwritten Christmas cards, hand signed Certificates of Licence and answering more inbound calls from business owners.

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