This article was published in the Fall 2020 issue
by Chase Harrington President & COO, Entrata
There’s a distinct flavor to Utah tech companies. For over 15 years, Entrata has been building, innovating, and re-inventing property management software in this rarefied atmosphere. And despite our long (relatively speaking) and storied history, each day feels like coming to work at a start-up. The dreams are big, the energy is high, and entrepreneurship pumps through our veins like adrenaline.
But this year has turned out to be something entirely unexpected. (Earthquakes and windstorms and protests—oh my!—not to mention that pesky little global pandemic.) Every time we turn around there’s another “unprecedented crisis” cutting off access to the old way of doing things and compelling us to rework or perish. Here’s the kicker: that uniquely-local “start-up energy” is precisely the vaccine Entrata needed to help us survive each challenge.
In the spirit of reflection, and at the risk of sounding a bit self-congratulatory, I have been looking back on these last few months and marveling at the way things are working out. There have been some very rough days. We’ve had high expectations for our team as they’ve navigated one challenge after another. Without fail, they have risen to the occasion and met or even surpassed those expectations. Why have we been so lucky?
Be the Real Deal. Talk to me Goose. Business in the Front-Party in the Back. Entrata loves our values. If you wander through our offices you see the signs everywhere. But when the chips are down you discover whether your values are just wall art or if they’ve managed to do what you set them up to do: drive your culture.
This year Entrata’s values, built around innovation, integrity, communication, respect, and adventure, have come roaring to the front. They set a standard for decision-making and kept the whole team pulling in the same direction. With the Entrata Values as a framework, our teams instinctively came together to prioritize our clients’ immediate needs, identify new solutions to new problems, and support each other.
Creating a values-based culture takes hard work, consistency, and personal investment from every person in the company. But when you manage to make it work, the payoff is incredible.
Say the word “technology” and people immediately start thinking about things like “automation,” “efficiency,” and “productivity.” Recently we have also heard it associated with words like “cold,” “dehumanizing,” and “isolating.” As a tech company, we try to combat the negative associations by designing tools with the primary purpose of helping people connect with people.
We had the opportunity to stress-test that whole philosophy in March, when our bustling headquarters in Lehi became a ghost town practically overnight. As Entrata joined many of our Silicon Slopes neighbors in transitioning our HQ workforce to a remote one, daily analog interactions were suddenly replaced with emails, chats, and video meetings. The tools were efficient and productive, but they were secondary to the human connections that they facilitated.
We observed our leadership team, managers, and supervisors take extra time to check in with their team members, give encouragement, and identify then resolve potential problems. We saw colleagues find new ways to interact when the daily ping-pong break was no longer an option. We watched while our clients (whose properties were often on the front lines of pandemic response challenges) received not only their expected standard of care, but extra attention and service to keep their businesses running smoothly.
It’s all well and good for a tech company to focus on tech. But as we suspected, and 2020 has confirmed, the real focus should always be on the people using it.
How does that popular internet quote go? “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Maybe Churchill never spoke those exact words, but the sentiment in them still rings true. And by their measure, this has been a year full to bursting with opportunities.
With a strong foundation in our values and the power of our connections, Entrata has found itself in a position to capitalize on many of those opportunities. Updates to our platform’s functionality, additions to our service offerings, and real innovation have been pouring into the spaces created by each new challenge.
It’s that start-up mindset—the hunger that every entrepreneur knows so well—that has gotten us this far. And if it can get us through 2020, it can get us through anything.
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*Read the latest issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine, Fall 2020