Nonprofits like many other organizations focus on how to grow their business, gain exposure, and increase productivity. With many businesses turning to simple technologies like social media to help excel their business, some nonprofits are using infrastructure technology to assist in their daily operations. Because technology is always advancing, both for-profit and nonprofit organizations may struggle to stay up to date on their tight budgets, however, effective use of technology can span innovation, improve efficiency and better deliver their mission. Dan King shares with us his work with the Goodwill and how they use technology in their daily operations.
Harry Brelsford 0:08 Hey Nation Nation, Harry here with long time SME Nation, member Dan King out of the state of Oregon at New West Technologies. Hey, man, that’s really cool. We have known each other for quite a while.
Dan King 0:23 Quite a while, several decades, it seems like
Harry Brelsford 0:26 Yeah, well, this is a different kind of podcast, because usually we’re double clicking down into some, you know, stack or segment or solution. This is a little bit different with your work with the Goodwill, in a professional capacity. And you just blew me away when you talked about the orchestration that goes on and Goodwill with their workflow go, What’s the story?
Dan King 0:51 Well, it’s a common sight one, from our perspective, the It’s a unique business, you know, I mean, I think we all wish we could get our products for free, which is what they do. But it lends itself to a lot of challenges, really, because they never know what they’re going to get or when they’re going to get it. And that puts them in a spot where it’s very hard to manage inventory, and to, to do the intake of the inventory as well. So, of course, the Goodwill’s missions are pretty commonly built around trying to help people get back into the workforce. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of people, and it’s a really great organization. But that in itself presents its own unique challenges, because oftentimes, they have workers that are less skilled, many of them are not English as their first language speakers. So there’s a great need to automate some of their workflow and to make that automation, very clean and easy to use, easy to train on. Because they also have a great deal of churn in terms of these folks, they get them in there, they train them up, they get them out of the workforce, and they’re, you know, on to the next person or group of people. So there’s a lot of turn and and so we spent quite a bit of time with one of the first Goodwill’s, that we went through this exercise with. And they had a great guy who was a, like a operational efficiency expert, he had a PhD and something of that nature. And so we went through and spent several months analyzing exactly how they’re operating from end to end. What happens when something hits the back dock? Where does it go? How does it get sorted? You know, how do they get it into the system? How do they track it, how they move it around store to store? Because Well, these folks are generally running a number of stores, maybe eight, allow the sort of more powerful ones are there up like 25-30 stores? And so that, you know, and not all of those are donation centers. So some of them are donation centers. And that’s where they say that those ones are they produce there. And other ones just simply are stores that sell. So we spent a lot of time looking at their processes, looking at the workflows trying to figure out what they were doing today, and how we can help them, you know, be better, faster and more efficient and get better data out of the system tomorrow.
Harry Brelsford 3:18 Yeah, I almost imagine what we are talking about a supply chain here. So I’m almost imagining labeling and barcoding and tagging and tracking. And I have to assume there’s some of that going on. At some level.
Dan King 3:31 There is Yeah, so we actually put together a specialty vertical app that sits on top of an out of the box point of sale solution, and inventory control solution. Where these folks, if you can imagine, they’re just they’re putting things on racks. And then they’re they’re tasked with the idea of tagging it with a barcode and pricing the item. So okay, it’s a woman’s shirt, and it’s either good, better or best quality. And depending up on that they they figure out what the price level is for it. So these folks, you know, it’s kind of a, it’s kind of a big job, because if they don’t price it, right, it doesn’t sell. And it winds up going to the outlet center gets sold by the pound. Yeah, so they’re pretty curious about trying to make sure these guys are pricing it right and, and making easy for them to do. So essentially what we did was we built a solution where they just go up to a screen, it’s all sort of up and running for them. And they say okay, well I just produced 100 women’s shirts that are better. And it prints out 100 tags, barcode ID, and essentially a serialized so it’s a granular, it’s a granular tracking down the garment itself, and has price on it. And then they go tag those items. And then when they get through with those shelves or those racks, they figure out okay, well it wasn’t quite 100 maybe, maybe there was only 89 of the shirts. So they have to correct the inventory because when they print the barcodes it creates essentially a transfer in Or is essentially like receiving a PO. So it fills, fills inventory in the store, and so on so forth. And so when they get done and realize they only need us 89 of those tags, they go back and say, Okay, well, I still have 11 left, and then that balances it out and pulls the other 11 out inventory.
Harry Brelsford 5:17 Yeah. Yeah, man, really sophisticated. I, here’s where I set in terms of my donation strategy. And I’ve I’ve morphed a little bit along the way. So in the past, I only went to Goodwill. Okay, and don’t get me wrong. I’m a supporter and is back on Bainbridge Island. And you had to get there before noon, because the container truck would fill up over in the Ace Hardware parking lot. So there, there was a little bit of a daps to do with that. And then over the last year, so spoke with someone who said, you know, with some of the the clothing and maybe silverware, we’d like you to consider the Catholic charity St. I’m gonna say yes, anVincent. So that’s gonna say St. Francis of Assisi is, but that’s for dogs and cats. Um, that’s the animal person. But so what I’ve done and again, respectfully, but I’ve I’ve started to think about my donation strategy, maybe like a billionaire would write that they say billionaires put as much time into thinking about their giving, is they did to making it right, in some popular names you and I know, but it’s, it’s not random. Right, that there’s there’s kind of a strategy. And so that that’s what I’ve been thinking about. And then the the Catholic charity, they’re not as interested in the business donation, the file cabinet, the maybe even some of the furniture there. They were more interested in things that were here and now, right, that get clothing on somebody now. Yeah, if that makes sense. So. But you know, I’ll continue to give us I’m able to Goodwill, and I just wanted to add that value to the listeners that folks give Goodwill have a fair shake. Now that you know, they’re sophisticated operation and quite frankly, doing good work. But whatever you do, pick a strategy and get back to the community or as we say, send the elevator back down.
Dan King 7:20 Yeah, it’s true. There are a number of these organizations symptoms. St Vincen De Paul, you’ve got savers. And there’s quite a few of them and, and they’re all trying to do some good work out there. Yeah, to help people and use those donations as best they can to help the community around them.
Harry Brelsford 7:39 Alright, my friend, well, we’re gonna see it back out on the road before you know it at some industry events. So thank you for your time. Thank you very much.
Dan King 7:47 Great to talk to you again . We’ll see you soon. All right.