New Kensington-based sustainable workplace finds document workflow efficiency success
Trademark Threads' successes
- Reduced order errors to nearly zero with document feedback and approvals
- Transformed their entire order fulfillment process to be digital and paperless
- Reduced order fulfillment time by days
- Increased customer satisfaction from new efficiencies that resulted in customer loyalty
Built with client value in mind
Incorporated in 2012, Trademark Threads - a printing and embroidery business - and owner Michael Wentzel found their way to New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Wentzel had his eye on the city for a while, a classified HUBZone, or historically underutilized business zone. The program has specific requirements to be certified that revolve around the community the business is located in. Since opening, Trademark Threads has built an effective small order, fast turn business model, with local talent and values at the forefront of its business practices.
“Everything we do is based on 1) how can we make our clients more competitive and 2) how can we help them with employee retention. This kind of stuff is what fires us up.” -Michael Wentzel, Owner, Trademark Threads
Evolving from error prone to error-free
In 2015, Michael realized that he needed to adapt his business model to grow. Handwritten orders and taking them over the phone were causing internal miscommunication. The business relied on lots of manual processes for quality assurance, logo approvals, and custom store creation. As the business started growing, so did the number of human errors. This resulted in longer lead times and unhappy customers. “The redundancy of passing off emails was not airtight and led to lots of errors,” says Wentzel. “We'd go back to 2-inch-thick legacy files to see what the last thing that was approved was.”
To simplify client communication and reduce error rate, Michael chose ShareFile®. “The pivotal deciding factor with ShareFile was customer service. We got fantastic upfront onboarding, and ongoing customer service was quick and simple,” said Wentzel.
Wentzel immediately began to set up a new process for logo collection from prospective customers. Previously, logo files had to be submitted to Trademark Threads via email, causing Wentzel and team to spend more and more time combing through emails to find necessary files. The process that Michael set up with ShareFile was simple – whenever clients were interested in working with Trademark Threads, they would first have to upload their logo to ShareFile straight from the website.
Using the document feedback and approvals in ShareFile, Wentzel’s team sent customers an artwork preview. Customers could leave comments in a centralized place accessible to Wentzel’s team. Instead of sifting through email, artwork approvals were organized inside of ShareFile, making them much easier to find and review.
“There’s no paperwork shuffle, no email trail, just the memorialized approval,” says Wentzel.
New outcomes for Trademark Threads
Clients were also pleased with the simplified processes, from logo submission to order completion. Adding a logo was easy from the website through ShareFile, approving was simple, and choosing items that were added to a custom store felt customized and special to clients. “We would be in fear of issues at any point. Our greatest fear was always that someone would open their box and it was wrong. If that was fear on eighty percent of the orders, that is now zero,” says Wentzel. “We have absolutely no complications because we know from the beginning that it’s been approved.”
An unexpected but welcome improvement Michael hadn’t forecasted was an increase in his own efficiency and peace of mind. “We used to send an email with an approval form and worry – did they get the file? Could they open it? Did it make it through their firewall? Things like that would consume my bandwidth. Now I can send this triggered moment through ShareFile and I can immediately go to another one and just work at the pace that the client wants to”
Searching for document workflow efficiencies
Michael continued the effort to simplify the buying and order fulfillment process when adopting Podio, a ShareFile product. With a wide array of embroidering and printing options available in the market, Michael strategically leveraged the capabilities of Podio's Webform. Michael was able to curate a new personalized shopping experience harnessing Podio's functionality, making it a more simplified and streamlined experience for each client.
“There’s no decision fatigue. They’re not exhausted looking at these things. All they have to do is memorialize the order and pick sizes.”
Using Podio for internal project management was the next addition, creating apps to keep track of where orders are in the fulfillment process. This single source of truth was the final piece of the puzzle to digitizing and automating the order process.
Michael is also building out Podio to include apps for employee onboarding and a learning management system for new employees and necessary training. He’s found that these additional process improvements are cutting hours out of fulfillment by allowing him to spend less time double checking orders and scrambling for onboarding documents and more time speaking with customers and building community relationships, the things he enjoys the most.
“If we can automate some of these decisions, it makes the conversations even more meaningful.” -Michael Wentzel, Owner, Trademark Threads
Continuing the vision of sustainability and community
With Trademark’s focus on building the business with strong core values, they recently earned designation as a Platinum sustainable workplace, the highest achievable. With it, they became the second workplace in the Pittsburgh area to receive the distinction. “It’s changed everybody,” Wentzel stated. “It’s changed business practices. We now think about it every time we’re making a decision about anything.”
In the next year, Michael hopes to expand the Trademark Threads workforce to 75 employees with most, if not all, coming from right in New Kensington. He also is looking at investing more in the local area to be able to accommodate that larger workforce. Wentzel is so passionate about the sustainable and diverse HUBZone model that he is also looking to other HUBZone’s for expansion. His ShareFile and Podio story will continue to grow as he builds out more apps and workflows to improve his processes.