Willbanks Inc., a third generation family business, is the largest commercial hot water boiler distributor in the U.S. Started by Carroll and Gwyn Willbanks in 1977, the company is currently headed by cousins CEO Trey Willbanks and President Cole Willbanks — they have 65 employees across four offices in Texas.
As a company on the fast track of growth, the Willbanks team knew they needed a centralized location to store all their documentation and information. And when Cole heard someone mention Trainual at a conference, he and the team soon realized that it was exactly the platform they were searching for.
“As our repository gets deeper and deeper and deeper, and our team gets better at assigning [Trainual], I just think it’s going to help us exponentially.”
<blockquoteauthor>Cole Willbanks, President of Willbanks Inc.<blockquoteauthor>
A updatable software to replace outdated manuals
The leadership at Willbanks knew the importance of having a centralized knowledge base for all their company information — it was necessary if they wanted to continue to scale the business. But they ran into a common “business scale dilemma.”
“We talked for a year about creating ‘a book,’ with everything we needed to run the company. But everytime we created the book, it was no longer relevant,” shared Cole Willbanks, president at Willbanks Inc. Basically, they were documenting their processes and policies, but with every change and improvement came the need for a new version — and making and sharing those updates wasn’t easy or streamlined.
But when attending an Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) conference, Cole asked a presenter how he was able to document his processes and policies, make them accessible to his team, and make updates without having to send new versions out every time. His answer: “We use this really cool platform called Trainual.”
After some more research, Cole and the team quickly realized that Trainual was exactly what the company needed: an easily accessible, updatable platform to store their documentation and train their employees. And with Trainual’s Implementation services (AKA, setup support), Willbanks was able to get their existing documentation into their account with ease.
“The ability to throw a bunch of documentation at somebody [for them] to move it into the system for you, versus having to figure out how to do it inside your own organization. Our team’s always busy, so that would have been a real pain.”
A centralized system to reorient your company and employees
For a company with a history like Willbanks Inc., it’s easy to assume that their employees — from their most tenured to their newest team members — would have very different onboarding experiences. Which is why Cole and the Willbanks leadership decided to focus on building out their company information in Trainual first.
“Step one for us was to get all of our people, accountability chart, roles and responsibilities, and company section completed so that we can re-onboard all of our people,” Cole explained. While this undoubtedly contained some repetitive information (especially for those employees who had been with the company for 20 years), this re-onboarding created a single identity for the company — one that every employee could now align on.
Plus, having all this information documented first meant being prepared for the new employees that were going to come in. Especially so for a company that was focused on scalable growth.
One source of truth for all processes, policies, and decisions
Phase two and three of Willbanks’ Trainual adoption was about building content — and plugging any gaps that would emerge.
“For phase two, I was going to take the department leads and teach them how to use Trainual,” Cole shared. “What I learned is that it was really good for getting content into the system.”
And for all the questions that fell back to Cole — for any processes that weren’t consumable or policies that didn’t exist yet — he would answer them through Trainual. “If someone asked me a question about holiday time, I would go look in Trainual. If it was in there, I would send them the link. And if someone asked me about PTO on a certain day and we didn’t have it documented, I would document it really quick and send it out.”
Over time, Cole and his department leaders had built a huge repository of content in Trainual. And now, with phase three of the Trainual adoption, the company now has a Trainual committee, designed to both refine old content and add new documentation to the platform. It’s about building a fully accessible and centralized location for everything they need to know about their business — from the processes that run their operations, to the policies that guide their employees and the decisions they make to move the business forward.
“The biggest return on investment right now has been having [Trainual] centrally located, always up-to-date, there’s ownership established. And it’s not only how we communicate and share with our organization, but it’s the way we document it to make sure we’re all clear on what it is we say we’re going to do.”
And Cole doesn’t just see the value of Trainual in the short term. He’s thinking about the exponential value it’s going to have as more of the company buys into Trainual — and how it’s going to impact the success of the business.
“We’re sort of going through the adoption phase. There are some people who are leaned in, and there are some people you still need to remind to do their content,” Cole said. “But by the end of next year, I think the organization is going to go, ‘How did we live before Trainual?’”
And as Willbanks Inc. continues to grow and scale their operations, they’ll need a trusted source of truth for their employees and leadership to fall back on. And that’s why they’re investing in Trainual now — to be prepared when that future comes.