Topshelf

“IDEAS ARE THE CURRENCY OF THE FUTURE,” ACCORDING TO SETH GODIN.

That’s why we love stories about the person who had a good idea that solved a problem. That story speaks to us because we all solve problems, and we all have ideas. If ideas are the new currency, technology is the catalyst.

The Company

Kim Pouncey has no shortage of business ideas. She has so many that her partners limit the days per week she’s allowed to give them more new ideas. She started Topshelf as an idea to make life easier for businesses. Topshelf trains, certifies, and organizes the total training and compliance package for restaurants and stores. Topshelf trainers and technology make it easy and cost effective for clients to do business and stay in business.

Recently, Topshelf was tapped to train 15,000 people in diverse businesses that were in a do-or-die situation. In response, Topshelf worked with Efficience to evolve a technology solution. Now, Ideas can be rapidly translated into action, the business model was redefined, and the potential reach can be expanded to other industries across the nation. The Topshelf story relates to any business that trains employees and must gear up to meet new industry requirements.

“Efficience took my brain with 20 years of training and compliance experience and converted it into an online application.”

KIM POUNCEY

Founder of Topshelf

The History

Before she became Topshelf, Kim Pouncey was a long-time restaurant manager. The restaurant world changed dramatically, and that change began with MADD. The public perception of drinking changed from rampant fun to social responsibility. In turn, bartenders and servers needed a better understanding of their responsibility.

Kim endured the required alcohol server training. She wanted it to be more useful. She also recognized the business reality of compliance for a busy manager. When the knock came at the restaurant door during rush hour, how many licenses would be expired or never even picked up, or just simply not on file in the office? The compliance checklist was a moving target of incoming and outgoing employees and changing requirements. Kim solved that problem as a one-stop training and compliance solution.

She was one person with an idea to make life easier, armed with a glue stick and then an Excel spread sheet back when a Fax machine was the latest technology. Her idea quickly expanded across restaurant chains statewide. After solving problems for hundreds of restaurants, a bigger challenge and larger audience was ready for the Topshelf solution. It was a defining moment for Topshelf to transfer its expertise into a different industry with exponential opportunity.

WHEN YOUR BUSINESS IS FUELED BY IDEAS AND KNOWLEDGE, THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO SCALE YOURSELF UP QUICKLY. YOU PLUG INTO THE POWER OF A TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM. YOU “APP” YOURSELF.

The Problem

Signs went up in hundreds of grocery stores across Tennessee, proclaiming that wine would soon be here. When prohibition was repealed in 1933, a set of tiers was put into place regulating who could sell what, when, and where. In 2014, seven years of debate culminated in approval to set up new tiers. Empty shelves waited for gleaming bottles. Months passed. As Tennessee waited, a high-stakes game of negotiations and concessions between lobbies and interest groups was being played. In this debate, it was deemed that grocery clerks were ill-equipped to prevent potential problems associated with alcohol sales. Legions of grocery, retail, and liquor store clerks who rang up wine would now have to be trained and state-certified quickly. In addition, a person at each store would have to be designated and specially certified to place orders on July 1. You can sell it, but you can’t stock it until you have that designated person. In a matter of months of meetings and thousands of road miles, that was the topsy-turvy world of Topshelf. When industry requirements and regulations change like a puzzle made of moving parts, businesses turned to Topshelf.

The Solution

The sparks of the right idea at the right time will attract the right people. Kim happened to meet a publishing VP who was an expert in creating adult education online. She met Jacques Palin, who applied his creative skills. Jacques knew about Efficience, the technology connection to global resources. Now, you have people and you have access to top-notch technology a continent away. Together, they are taking your experience and making you into an ‘app’, an online resource.

The Steps

When online training was approved to meet the requirements, Efficience stepped in to deliver a next-level solution that could be deployed quickly and broadly. They brought the latest web technologies (php and mysql) backed by the quality standards of a Laravel framework. For online testing and training to work in a store environment, employees would need to be trained as time was available, returning to duty or taking a break as needed. A tracking system was implemented to track user action that required active involvement during the training session. The user tracking was developed using open source tin cap api standards.

The Big Ticket

At some point, sweat equity pays off. “With wine in grocery stores, we had the opportunity to justify jumping off the debt cliff.” Did it work? Ask yourself the next time you buy a bottle of wine at Kroger, (or many other stores in Tennessee). The clerk who rang up your purchase may be one of about 15,000 who completed Topshelf training in less than a year. Powered by technology tools and expert advice from Efficience, Topshelf stays on top of all the changes to help businesses stay on top of their game.

In a world where ideas are the new currency, those who are the knowledge and idea brokers need an Efficience solution.

The Next steps

With an online resource in place, the opportunity can go national. It can be adapted to any business. With a platform to develop new concepts, Kim needed an ‘idea catcher,’ someone with technical expertise to facilitate between the flow of ideas and the technology to navigate the process. An advisor works with Efficience on her behalf. When your dues are paid, you can reward yourself with the resources that allow you to rediscover the strengths that gave you that first great idea years ago.

So, what’s the next step for Kim Pouncey? Her eyes widen. She smiles. “Wherever the next idea takes you.”