In just 12 months, Michael and Te-Aumihi (Tee) Odgen have taken Confidential Document Destruction from a business locked in manual and legacy processes to a future-focused and agile company offering a diverse range of products and services to its customers.
Learn how they did it through a strong support network and a commitment to offering more sustainable waste disposal solutions for their customers.
Building the business—step by step
Michael and Te-Aumihi (Tee) Odgen had a short, sharp introduction to being business owners of Confidential Document Destruction. Throughout the Bay of Plenty regions of Tauranga, Katikati and Whakatane, commercial customers dispose of sensitive documents and other waste products via wheelie bins which are emptied on a contracted or casual as-needed basis. The service is hassle-free, environmentally responsible, and offers a simple solution for waste disposal.
While the 16-year-old business was well-established in the local community, it was operating with no automated systems or processes in place, with all details recorded manually in notebooks. Michael and Tee spent hours sifting through paper records, putting information into an Excel spreadsheet in an effort to determine customer collection cycles. They adopted Xero and built a website. With no business plan or marketing strategy, and little financial management knowledge, they started looking for support. It was a bit daunting, says Tee.
Because we don’t have business backgrounds, we were unsure of what to do next. We didn’t know how to grow. And we didn’t know the next step to take.
It was important to Michael and Tee—and to the success of the business—that they had the business skills and expertise to ensure the business remained profitable and financially viable, with a plan for its future direction. “For the first few months we looked at how the business was running,” says Michael. “Once we figured it out, we then started to look at how we could do things differently. We knew there was a lot of room to expand, as it was more of a lifestyle business for the previous owners. And that’s what got us excited about buying the business; the potential to do a lot more and working out the direction we wanted to take.”
A Google search for business support set Michael and Tee on the right path. In April of this year, they registered with the Regional Business Partner Network and completed a discovery session with Roz Irwin, a Business Growth Advisor. The outcome of this session was a true understanding of the challenges that lay ahead, the importance of having a business plan and cash flow forecast, a marketing plan and strategy, including digital enablement. It was also vital to build efficiency, and optimise performance and profitability, so workflow and field management software programmes were also discussed. “Initially we had no clue and we couldn’t see where we were going,” says Tee.
But after the initial session, we had all the help come to us. We then just needed to work out what to do with all.
Michael and Tee were connected to a wide variety of organisations and service providers to help them on their journey. These included Poutama Trust, the Tauranga Māori Business Association (TMBA), Amotai, Maori Women’s Development Inc, and the Tauranga Business Chamber.
Through Maisey Harris & Co Michael and Tee secured an accountant, and participated in financial management training, including cashflow management. With this newly found knowledge, they were able to take early steps to conduct a costing analysis and implement a field and job management system with customer communication functionality. Online courses with the MBIE digital skills training Digital Boost programme through the Tauranga Business Chamber have also given Michael and Tee the skills to take care of their online presence, including the website, digital marketing and Google profile.
Michael also says they found that the current systems and processes were not going to be suitable for where the business was heading.
Our business is growing, so we’re getting the basics sorted now, and then we’re not going to be stressing out in the future. Everything will just fit together.
Diverse service offerings secure a more sustainable future
Through the work Michael and Tee did with their business consultant, it was apparent that they needed a plan to sustainably grow the business to a point where they could employ staff and have more than one truck on the road. They also realised that with many businesses going paperless it was essential to diversify and introduce new products and services, and work towards a more circular recycling model.
Confidential Document Destruction now has a relationship with the worm farm MyNoke. The regular fibre bin service collects paper and fibre waste, which is diverted from landfill and turned into vermicast, a valuable soil conditioner ideal for improving soil health and function. With this in place, the plan is to provide customers with reports to track their waste disposal and document their sustainability efforts.
There is also a new relationship with SaveBOARD, a business in Hamilton that produces building materials using soft plastic waste from items such as plastic bags, bubble wrap, cling wrap, Tetra Pak containers and packaging, and coffee cups. This opens a new customer base in the hospitality sector of cafes and restaurants.
Establishing a business community of support
Next up for Michael and Tee is building their network as members of the Tauranga Business Chamber. “We’re not that well known yet, and with some major national players in the market, it’s important to get our company name out there and start working with local Tauranga companies,” says Tee.
She says they’ve been overwhelmed with the support available and the relationships they’ve built this far. “After we reached out to Roz there was help coming at us from everywhere. Everyone was so willing to help.”
Yet it seems that often people are afraid to ask for help, or just aren’t aware of what’s available says Michael.
People are sometimes just happy, and a bit stuck in their ways, thinking their business is working so why would they want to make things better or do things differently? But often talking to an expert or peer gives you more ideas and options —and you’ve got nothing to lose!