There is a consistent crisp in the air, and I’m starting to see holiday window displays go up. I have more excuses than usual to gather with friends. These signals bring to mind warm memories of the past, while ushering in a busy season of celebrating with loved ones. As the work year winds down, I always enjoy taking time to reflect, give thanks, and share my gratitude with each of you. This year in particular has been one of reflection as it’s my tenth at Secure Records Solutions.
Coming out of a particularly challenging Covid year, I started 2021 asking myself, why do we need to grow?One of the unexpected silver linings of the pandemic was more time at home with my young family. This was fresh in my mind as I sat down with Powell, my father and business partner, to plan and set goals for 2021. As I considered what our aggressive growth strategy would demand of our team, I realized I was asking the wrong question. Instead of “why grow?” I thought “what are we growing?” and my entire outlook changed.
Our mission is to improve the lives of others. This begins with our team, our clients, and our community. After re-evaluating our “why,” I was reminded that the reason we strive for growth is not for the sake of growing, but because our mission is worth sharing. So we sketched out three big goals and set to work.
We knew what got us here would not necessarily take us into the next season, so we endeavored to build capacity for future growth. This included a review of our equipment and facilities, staffing, and IT infrastructure.
Our Operations Manager, Brett Barclay, and Powell spent months carefully planning the buildout of a state-of-the-art shred plant, giving us 5x the throughput of our previous system. We are now able to shred twice the paper in half the time – to the tune of 1,000,000 pounds of paper in the last 3 months! Through advancements in equipment and processing, we are not only better able to serve our growing client base, we’ve also magnified our recycling impact. As we shared in our first-ever Sustainability Report, we are committed to measuring and improving our impact on the environment as we grow.
Like most companies, we’ve experienced the challenges of a post-Covid world. Our team has grappled with resource constraints resulting from the pandemic, particularly the worldwide supply chain and labor shortages. Instead of focusing on what we lack, we asked ourselves, “how can we do more with less?”. As “necessity is the mother of invention”, we harnessed the constraints as an impetus for innovation. We’ve since implemented many incremental innovations including the digitization of financial functions, new technology, better communication between teams, and a wide variety of process improvements. As it turns out, these small innovations add up to a big impact.
We’ve always thought we offered a good client experience, but realized we didn’t have a way of defining or measuring it. So we dedicated ourselves to creating a legendary client experience. This started with learning about what it means to be legendary and setting key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure it. In two all-team staff retreats we call Deep Blue meetings, we studied a few of the companies that do it best – The Ritz Carlton, Chick-fil-A, and Zappos. And we were delighted to welcome Becky Tolnay, a 30-year Ritz Carlton veteran, to help us create a culture of service excellence.
Another key to creating an exceptional client experience was expanding our Client Services team. In September, Paige Brand joined SRS as Client Care Coordinator. We’re excited about how the development of this department will continue to surprise and delight our clients as we strive for an experience that is unsurpassed. I’m happy to report we exceeded the KPIs that were set to measure our progress. We believe one indicator of client satisfaction is how frequently our clients refer us. We surpassed our goal of 50 client referrals, and are well on our way to a 50% increase in Google Reviews! Thank you for telling your friends and colleagues about the SRS difference. We hope you’ll keep spreading the word!
Of course, it wouldn’t be goal setting without an objective for sales. Our third goal was 20% sales growth in 2021. Thanks to our amazing clients, partners, and dedicated team, we exceeded that marker and received an exciting recognition. SRS was named to the Inc 5000 list of fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S. In an industry that’s shrinking, SRS grew by 91% from 2017 to 2020. While people generally think of start-ups in big metro areas as the fastest-growing companies in the country, there’s something to be said for steady growth, founded on tried-and-true values and accomplished by problem-solving. As we approach 20 years in business, we’re grateful to you – our clients – who inspire us daily to innovate, enhance, and expand our service offerings.
This year taught us to keep our “why” at the center of everything we do, use our resources well, and take care of the people who make it possible – our team and clients. As I think back on this year – and the last ten years – the things we can’t measure with a KPI, like relationships, have been the most rewarding result of our growth, and motivate me as we plan for the year to come. Thank you for making it fun. Cheers to ten more years of growing together!