I walked into the offices of Komet Sales in Medellín, Colombia, with an open mind and a blank note book.
This, even though I know a good deal about the company and its growing influence in the Floral industry having followed the progress of the company owner and founder Alejandro Pérez. With a bit of floral experience and a degree in Information Technology, Alejandro started Komet sales 9 years ago and has never looked back.
There are two stories to tell here. There is Komet Sales the Internet based floral platform that, according to their website is: “A system that allows you to simplify processes, connect with your customers and achieve your goals in the floral industry”.
And then there is Komet Sales the Silicon Valley styled technology company where some 50, under 40-year-old, employees work in a work environment that is so unlike any I have ever seen.
Let’s begin with Komet Sales the Floral platform. Simply put this subscription-based system has finally pulled off what many other companies have tried to do before and failed. This includes this author. Fifteen years ago, I was president of a company called World Commerce Online. Turns out we were too early in the new internet world and we failed but many of the ideas that we and others had Komet Sales has succeeded in implementing and more.
Flowers are bought and sold several times before they reach the end consumer and all along the distribution path data is created that needs to be shared with trading partners. Historically this data was shared on paper or in files that needed to be input and re-input into various databases along the way.
Komet Sales platform works with growers, logistic companies, importers, wholesalers and even retailers via their branded K2K program, to seamlessly share this data. With very sophisticated programs Komet Sales can manage your sales, inventory, accounts receivables, e-commerce and more all the while protecting your company’s margins and confidentiality. Allowing floral companies to do what they do best, sell flowers and not try to become software developers.
One look at Komet’s impressive customer list and you can start to grasp the scope of how this platform has been embraced by some of the largest players in the industry. Komet Sales has five teams of employees to manage the ever-growing number of industry members that are subscribing to this service. Sales; Customer Success, Marketing, Implementations and Programing.
With this level of service, it is no wonder they now service over 140 accounts representing over 350 shops, or doors as they call them. If you are in the commercial flower business, then this is a program worth your time to investigate.
Komet sales the company is a case study in how to manage a business in very new and innovative ways.
To start one needs to look no further than the physical work environment. Komet is operated out of two large warehouse looking floors in a lovely part of Medellin. There are no offices, just tables you can write on, computers and people all doing the days task in a very un-orchestrated fashion.
The teams work together and are measured by statistics that are displayed on large monitors hanging from the ceiling. From these screens team members can see the tasks and the level of completion among other statistics. Alejandro explained that Komet Sales is the patient and the teams are the doctors, so constantly monitoring the vital signs is key.
For example, they measure the number of customer comments or concerns and strive to respond within 5 minutes. With each minute over 5 the screens begin to post sad faces and red flags which are taken very seriously by the Customer Success team.
A conversation with the very energetic Alejandro is like diving into a bowl of self-help, inspirational, psychological and success books. A ferocious reader he has applied many of the concepts that others have proven to work, and the results are easy to see as you watch the teams in action.
For sure not every company can operate in this very open work environment but there are many lessons that can apply.
Alejandro is a very hands-off owner and uses trust as a key component in his family first, management style. There are no time clocks, no set work hours, no limit to vacations, no dress code, and so much freedom that not every new employee coming from a structured corporate environment can handle lack of top down control.
Team leaders get a corporate credit card and are expected to use it when needed to accomplish a task. The task could be buying donuts for the team or toner if the printer, that they rarely use, needs it.
If a team decides that they should visit a customer or potential customer they need not seek permission from management, they are free to buy a ticket and make it happen. The teams also have the responsibility to hire and fire members. Alejandro only asks to review the exit interview to learn why but never second guesses the decision.
This makes the teams self-motivated to meet goals and cover for each other. While on vacation team members are forbidden to respond to emails or calls as their team is responsible to figure it out without them.
Looking around the room there are many anti-stress stations. Four Play Station tables, an entertainment area equipped with guitars, remote control cars, punching bag, a quiet area with two bean bags roped off where anyone sitting there is not to be disturbed.
Tuesday intercompany soccer, Friday music day……… I could go on and on but I think you get the picture of how a company can be managed in new ways.
Alejandro’s goal is for Komet Sales to become the standard trading platform for the Global floral industry. That is a big goal, but my guess is that he and his teams will make it.
To be fair there are other software companies out there with similar products but none have gone this far to becoming the standard.