Freestar, a tailored ad management solution, has grown at warp speed since launching in 2015. And in the process, they've landed themselves the #1 spot on the 2019 Inc. 5000 list (and ranked again at #36 in 2020).
But Jeff Kudishevich, the SVP of Operations at Freestar, admitted their rapid growth has made hiring and onboarding critical to their success.
"In a startup, each new hire is such a big percentage of your team, and you just can't mess [that experience] up," Jeff explained. "And that includes the onboarding.”
So when the Freestar team hit 50 people, Jeff realized that the company's onboarding wasn't consistent - and it certainly wasn't scalable.
Each new hire had a completely different experience and, depending on which existing employee trained them, learned different things about the company. So one person would learn one knowledge set, and another person gets a completely different one that might be missing important need-to-knows.
This dilemma was only amplified as the company transitioned from working out of coworking spaces to everyone being remote.
If Jeff wanted to continue scaling their team at the same rate, he needed a standardized onboarding process that could be implemented from anywhere. And more importantly, he needed to roll it out as quickly as possible.
Dedicating a task force to Trainual
At the time, most of the Freestar team was based in Phoenix - and they kept hearing about another local company that might just be the answer: Trainual.
After looking into the product, Jeff was sold on the fact that he could make documenting their business simple and fun.
As soon as they signed up for Trainual, Jeff dedicated a task force with a representative from each department. He asked the representatives to get buy-in from their teams and work together to document roles and processes. And he would focus on capturing what it means to work at Freestar.
To ensure the project moved swiftly, Jeff even set objectives around building the Trainual. “Once we laid out the groundwork, we broke it into 25% increments,” he shared. Meaning, by the end of the first week, each representative should have about 25% of their department documented. By the end of the second, 50% documented, and so on until it was done.
And as a result, the task force was able to fully document their business in 5 short weeks.
A scalable, hands-free onboarding process
Before launching Trainual, the Freestar team depended solely on manual onboarding and training. New hires would shadow each department manager for 1-hour increments - and the managers would try to fill the knowledge gaps in real-time.
“To actually scale, we couldn’t have it where every time we onboard or every time we release a new product, we had to take 30 minutes from a person to explain the nuances.”
And with Trainual, they don’t have to. Now, Freestar can onboard employees with little to no hands-on training, and managers don’t waste valuable time explaining things over and over again in the process.
According to Jeff, the hands-free onboarding is a really big deal for the company. Because now he feels prepared to bring on the next wave of team members.
“We're at 60-ish people now. But I'm going to blink, and it's going to be a hundred. So being able to scale that process now is important.”
Saving hundreds of hours
Thanks to Trainual, the Freestar team expects to save hundreds of hours during onboarding and training moving forward. “For the next 100 hires, we'll save about a day or 2 per person,” Jeff excitedly shared. “I mean, talk about an ROI, right?”
Plus, Trainual continues to save time even after onboarding. Since the tool is always available, employees don’t have to rely on veteran employees when questions pop up. Employees can simply look up what they need to know on their own inside the Trainual app.
This is huge for a startup that depends on every team member being fully productive. Because now their existing employees can solely focus on supporting clients and growing the business - even as new hires are getting up to speed.
Setting up the long game with Trainual
With their new onboarding process fully rolled out, Freestar is continuing to update and add to the content. And in the process, they’re finding more uses for Trainual than they anticipated. Setting up the company's strategy for retaining top talent included.
“Hiring, to me, is a short term pain for long term gains,” Jeff told us. So after investing so much time in hiring and onboarding the best, he's determined not to lose any of them. And that goes double for employees ready to take their next career steps.
The Freestar team started building out new Subjects to foster the skills team members need to keep growing in their position. Plus, Trainual content to help navigate available opportunities within the company. This way, employees can clearly map out their future at the company and know how to get there.
When the content is ready, Jeff plans to roll out a corresponding 30/60/90 day check-in program. That way, employees can set intentional goals for getting to the next level. And they'll have the support to make it happen.
With Trainual, Freestar is doing more than just filling their roster with top players. With no end to their growth in sight, they're setting up their long game!