January 2

State of LIFT Enrichment:  Q4 2023

Blog, Business, Featured

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By Eric Horwitz, CEO of LIFT Enrichment

It’s been a minute!   Writing the newsletters has always been one of my most rewarding tasks at LIFT Enrichment, but with lots of traveling, starting a new venture and even moving in the near future, I took it off my plate.  It was delegated, but then I brought it back.  

As a writer (English BA from UCLA!) it’s fun and reflective.  As Quarter 4 comes to an end for 2023, I’m looking back on all that we have accomplished, the mistakes made and where we’re heading.  A lot has changed for me too, but let’s start with the business wins first.

1)  We Expanded to Texas

One of the biggest challenges ahead I saw for LIFT Enrichment was adding some more diversification to our portfolio of states we service…which right now is just California.  California has amazing after-school grants and there is a lot of opportunity to provide culinary enrichment…but what if the grants change?  What if the funding shifts?  

One of the core principles of my life is DIVERSITY.  I don’t want all of my eggs in one basket.  

I’ve ingrained in my staff this moto:  “2 is 1 and 1 is none.”

Do you have a new area to staff?  Get more Chef Teachers than needed so we have backups ready to go.

Do we need a new Recruiter to staff Chef Teachers?  Hire 2 so we can train both and use one to help onboard if necessary.

Our big goal in a few years is to be diversified across at least 3 states.

But what’s the best one to start with?

We looked around at the landscape and looked at how many Title-1 schools were in each state.  California has over 5,100 and Texas has 4,500.  Other big states with 2,000+ include New York, Ohio, Illinois, etc.

Texas, a state known for having high obesity among children, seemed like a place where we could plant a flag and teach healthy eating.  

We pulled a list of school districts and deployed our 7 person sales team to cold call and share our success in California.  Within 2.5 months…to our surprise as well…we got a new client!

We are welcoming El Paso ISD to our clientele, a school district in El Paso, Texas, where we’ll be working at 7 sites in 2024.  

The doors are now open for business in Texas!

2)  We’re Still Experiencing A Record Year

All of my dreams and goals for LIFT Enrichment I ever had when I started the company back in 2010 have been hit…but we still keep growing

One milestone was hitting $1 million in sales, which I wrote about here

The team kept expanding and now November 2023 was our BIGGEST month of all time.  We did in one month what we did ALL OF LAST year in terms of revenue!

Our big goal for the year was $2 million in revenue, and we already hit $3!

I attribute this success to having great sales and operations teams.

Our current team number is now: 112 members!  We have 87 Chef Teachers and 25 internal staff from around the world including Philippines, El Salvador, Ukraine, Venezuela, Honduras and more!

We’re still growing…but it hasn’t been without its challenges.  However, we’re still averaging a 98% workshop success rate.  This is a key metric to that we look at weekly:  If we schedule 250 workshops, we want 98% to happen.  Sometimes workshops don’t happen because a client moves a few dates around, but rarely is it an issue on our end because we didn’t have enough staff or a backup.

Plus, we regularly check our Net Promoter Score from customers.  Each one of you who is a current client should have received a google form asking you to rate your experience with us and we look for good scores and service!

3)  We learned to invest in software and automations, and         are doing a LOT less things manually.

As you grow a business, systems break.

What worked organizing payroll for 40 Chef Teachers doesn’t work at 80+.  You’ve got to adapt.

One big step we’re taking in that direction is creating our own internal software to organize our 266 sites that we partner with.  We had lots of google sheets with lots of notes and it got confusing for our admin support and account coordinators.

We looked at what some of the other vendors in our space were doing and decided that a custom-built software would reduce a lot of staff hours doing menial work such as:

  • Organizing payroll for each Chef every 2 weeks
  • Updating our logistics sheets for hundreds of sites
  • Sending our automated reminder emails to our Chef Teachers every Friday about their schedule next week (which can take 5-6 hours to do manually!)

This new system will be built for our needs and we can’t wait to see what happens.

But fast growth comes at a cost:  Here are a few mistakes we made along the way.

Mistake 1:  Not hiring middle managers soon enough.

I have a rule in business that always seems true:  Never have one supervisor be in charge of more than 4-6 full-time staff members.  It just becomes too much to handle at some point.

Our sales team has 1 supervisor and a staff of 6, which works out.  We won’t need any new sales reps for a while.

In Operations, we had 1 supervisor and a team of 12:  3 Account Coordinators, 3 Admins, 1 HR Assistant, 2 Chef Teacher Recruiters and 3 Chef Teacher Onboarders.

It was impossible for one person to effectively manage that team, so we redid our accountability chart so we’d have two middle managers.

One Account Manager would oversee the Account Coordinators and Admin, and an HR Manager would oversee the Recruiter and Onboarders.  Then the Operations Director would have just two direct reports.

Mistake 2:  More People Means More Paperwork, And You Gotta Sort It

With a lot more Chef Teachers, we get a lot more paperwork from the Employment Development Department (which is the government-run organization that tracks all things related to W2 staff in California).  

We had a lot more mail than usual and didn’t have a good system setup to process it all.

Usually, it’s pretty standard mail like an unemployment claim being filed.  Other times, which is less common, it could be documents on garnishing wages from a staff member from unpaid taxes or child support. 

It’s required more time spent learning the ins-and-outs of California regulation, but it’s just a part of business that has to get done.

The Road Ahead (A Few Personal Updates)

Since I’ve heard that you all enjoy hearing bits and pieces of my travels and personal life, here are some of my own updates from the past quarter:

  • Japan!  I got to experience a once-in-a-lifetime trip to explore Kyoto and Tokyo with my EO Los Angeles crew and it was all led and organized by a member originally from Japan.  We had fantastic food, met Geishas, toured famous shrines, learned to use a samurai sword, watched sumo wrestlers in action and had a great time.  
  • New Business Alert!  I started a second company, which has always been a dream of mine.  It’s called Net Profit King and it’s a business consulting agency to help entrepreneurs lead their best lives, build a team of in-person and remote offshore staff like I’ve done before and have more wealth and freedom.  One unique element is that it’s EXCLUSIVELY for dentists.  The reason is because I wanted to be in an industry that wasn’t Education and after a lot of research on healthcare practitioners, I found that dentists are great at being dentists but less-so at running a business.  They’re like bakers that are great at making bread, but not not running the bakery.  My expertise using remote offshore staff can help them a lot and we just opened the doors a few months ago.  If you know any dentists who could use support to grow their practice, let me know!
  • Moving to Dubai  Here was my old post about my first experience living in Dubai in January 2023.  After more research and prep, I’ve decided it’s time to start my international life living in Dubai for the Winter when it’s 80 degrees and sunny!  It’s a great travel hub, with an amazing international vibe that suits my preferences.  Here’s a good video on the history of Dubai.  I’ll still be working with LIFT Enrichment, and will be in the USA for BOOST, but the majority of my work is delegated to our massive team.

And that’s it!  Hope to see you all in BOOSt in a few months.  Have a great holiday break

To Book A Meeting With Our Team to Bring Culinary Enrichment to your Title-1 school: Click Here

Best,

Eric Horwitz


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Eric Horwitz

About LIFT

Eric founded LIFT Enrichment in 2010 because he wanted to help young kids develop their culinary skills so they could make healthy foods for friends and family for the rest of their lives.  He has worked with kids for over 15 years and enjoys their energy and enthusiasm for learning new things.  Eric studied abroad in Italy while at UCLA and discovered a passion for cooking.  

Eric Horwitz, Ceo of Lift

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