There's a small cult out there.
One you probably didn’t know existed.
Hidden amongst the mountains while others sleep, operating in the early morning shadows and deep into the dark night.
It’s a curious thing, I often think, to be excited by, neigh obsessed with ski rental delivery.
I’m not sure there’s any who have spent such time pouring over the finite details of the job as the Snopro team.
2018’s Westpac Business Awards allowed us to spend time analysing the company. In fact, it gave us the chance to breakdown Snopro, learn about it and build it back up. It only took 50 hours digging through:
Years in Operation: 9
Skiers delivered too: 15066
Software updates: 306
High fives: 20,000
While we could have easily stood by, pointed out what makes Snopro successful and patted ourselves on the back, it was digging deeper into those areas that offered real insight and the added unexpected results. The roots of the company have grown through years of trial and error, working harder to work smarter and pow day high-fives to keep the stoke alive.
Working harder to work smarter
3 Important Takeaways
1. High performing company culture through innovation
Innovation runs through Snopro’s core from the disruptive business model to the proprietary software. We're delighted to be named finalists for the Westpac Business Innovation Award in 2018. The base of our application relied upon system innovation that creates Snopro’s foundations.
‘Before any business can run to its full potential, it must first build a system. Let the people run the system and the system run the business.’ - Michael Gerber.
Everything is systemized at Snopro, skis have their exact place on the rack, orders are forensically packed, proprietary software enables automation, heck even the coffee machine is on a timer. I’d say rarely a day goes by when we're not tinkering with the systems to find better results. It could just be Colin working out a quicker way to pick up a boot. Or a major technology idea that eliminates repetitive human tasks.
A surprise result of constant innovation was something no one expected. A more positively engaged team. The removal of menial tasks like data entry or working out 'height to ski pole ratios' has a remarkable effect. Staff members have time for quality interaction to build relationships. With each other and the customers. Spending reduced time on logistics and admin allows more meaningful interaction between the team. Management maximizes time for staff coaching and development creating a high performing company culture.
2. Collaborative growth through accountability
In the ski industry, you have 5 months to make your mark. Then, the doors close, staff move on and you start rebuilding, so when the snow returns you’re stronger than you were before. But still, you’ve got to start afresh. New staff, new kit, new customers. It’s tricky to repeat success season on season. In breaking down the Snopro Core Values we found an element that fostered an interesting company trait.
Accountability. It’s probably one of the most boring words on the list but provides the biggest motivator. As fun as the ski tech life is, how do you motivate staff to work when Coronet Peak glistens in the office window. Take the window away? That helps.
Accountability drives the most surprising motivator. Technology allows us to see everything about staff performance in live view, like a professional sports team, although we don’t make them wear heart rate monitors, yet. Customers are empowered with instant feedback, live data reporting gives management performance analysis and automated order flow means we know whos working on what job. Heck, we even monitor successful ski boot fitting statistics.
On the face of it, it sounds a little OCD micromanagement but it actually creates the opposite effect. Monitoring individual staff performance reveals strengths and weaknesses. While it may seem confronting, combined with an open management style allows results to be shared for collaborative growth. In the long run, staff work together to grow in their roles, achieve specific goals and ultimately become strong independent workers.
3. Bringing customers closer through technology
We all know the benefits of technology but in business, it often builds a barrier between company and customer. As an online ski rental solution, we are really aware of this problem. Our shop front is our website and equipment is warehoused. There’s nowhere for a customer to stroll in and have a chat. Although, some still do find the Batcave.
While we use in-house developed software as the backbone of the business, in recent seasons Snopro has focussed on using technology to bring the customer closer. The booking process is simplified removing long forms and excessive scrolling with perhaps the world’s most advanced ski rental booking engine. A closely monitored live chat enables you to talk directly to our team. That same person could even be at your doorstep in 10 minutes to change some kit.
Snopro also builds skier profiles for returning customers enabling us to help you extract the most out of your time on the slopes. Some skiers have used the service every year for nearly a decade now. Kids have grown up using Snopro equipment and beginners have transformed into all-mountain explorers. Our technology allows us to see where you are in your skiing journey, what skis you prefer or what you need to get to the next level.
Do you use an insole or need a wide fit boot? We can remember even if you don’t. The results? Growing customer retention, customers use the service year after year. Technology and systems allow us to provide consistent customer service despite the abnormal challenges of running a seasonal business.
Working hard to work smarter
Before breaking Snopro apart and understanding what drives the business we could have told you - yeah we’re knowledgeable, caring and tech-savvy but it is unplanned benefits that are amazing to see. Unearthed through season after season of trial and error. At the heart of it all is building stronger human relationships and striving to be better. As operation manager Colin always decrees
“to guarantee a 5-star service you must aim for 6-star service.