Storytelling About Wurk With Deborah Saneman

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast! Today we have Deborah Saneman from Wurk. We’ll be talking about the use case of Wurk and why their customers stand by them.

Wurk is unique in its focus on this niche market and in its ability to assist clients in staying in compliance. By focusing on this industry, Wurk has become brilliant at it and has expanded its reach to other industries. Wurk primarily serves clients in the cannabis industry, including cultivators, growers, manufacturers, distributors, dispensaries, and any of the providers in the supply chain that support the cannabis market.

Wurk’s founder decided to have a niche market because the cannabis industry was so underserved. Cannabis dispensaries and everyone in the cannabis industry were having difficulty finding financial institutions for which they could do payroll services and pay their employees. The whole key to serving this market is making sure that financial institutions are comfortable serving the market. Wurk has focused on continuing to grow and expand banking relationships to ensure compliance and assist clients with staying in compliance.

Wurk is unique in its focus on the cannabis industry and its ability to assist clients in staying in compliance. By focusing on this industry, Wurk has become brilliant at it and has expanded its reach to other industries. Wurk’s solution is primarily for clients in the cannabis industry, but the company also works with those that serve that industry. The banking relationships are the key to serving this market, as financial institutions must be comfortable serving the market. Wurk has focused on expanding its banking relationships to ensure compliance and assist clients with staying in compliance.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 21 minutes

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Deborah Saneman
CEO Wurk

Thriving in an entrepreneurial environment, I provide the leadership that delivers on the company vision and outcomes while remaining committed to driving operational performance in the rapidly growing cannabis industry.

As COO, I bring an unmatched level of operational excellence and a laser focus on processes and accountability to ensure the proper operational controls and administrative systems are in place for Würk, a fast-growing human capital software technology company.


Storytelling About Wurk With Deborah Saneman

William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup and you are listening to the Use Case podcast. Today we have DEIB on from work and we’ll be learning about the business case or the case use case. Sometimes people call it the cost benefit analysis, but why her clients, prospects, et cetera, why they’re excited to work with work, and that’s work with a U.

So Deborah, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and work?

Deborah Saneman: Yes, thanks William. Sure. My name’s DEIB Sandman and I am the Chief Operating Officer at work. Work, I would say is the [00:01:00] gentle giant of the cannabis H c m offering for primarily for clients in the cannabis industry.

William Tincup: And is with the cannabis industry, which is multifaceted, right?

So there’s suppliers, there’s distribution there’s dispensaries, there’s all kinds of things. I’m not naming right. So there’s the industry itself, and then there’s people that serve the industry. Does work. Are you focused mostly on the folks that are directly in the cannabis industry or the do you sometimes play outside and also work with those that serve that industry?


Deborah Saneman: Great question. A lot of our clients are vertically integrated, right? So we will be working with cultivators growers, manufacturers, distributors and the dispensaries themselves and any of the providers in the supply chain that support the cannabis market. Oh,

William Tincup: that’s cool. So what a lot of [00:02:00] folks get wrong in work tech or HR tech in particular, is they don’t focus on, they don’t get small, they don’t focus on an industry and then become brilliant at that and then maybe expand into other contiguous industries, et cetera.

Y’all, y’all came outta the box focused on, this industry. It’s big enough especially globally, it’s big enough, but So tell us a little bit about the solution now that we understand the industry that you serve. What’s the what’s the solution look like? What are, what’s the product look like?

Deborah Saneman: Sure. So when Works founder decided to really just have this niche market it was really because the cannabis industry was so underserved, right? Cannabis dispensaries and everyone in the cannabis industry was having difficulty finding financial institutions for which they could do payroll services and pay their employees.

So there was a lot of cash transactions in terms making [00:03:00] sure employees were being paid and then you had the taxes that had to be paid for that. So our founder really focused on serving the underserved and while work is unique and why we are very focused in, in this area, Is the banking relationships that becomes the whole key to serving this market is making sure that financial institutions are comfortable serving the market.

And so work has really focused on continuing to grow and expand our banking relationships so that we can assist our clients with making sure they stay in compliance. Oh,

William Tincup: I love that. And you know what’s interesting? When y’all started it was probably even taboo, right? So but because thankfully a lot of the attitudes, it’s become more mainstream and laws have been changed throughout the country.

I’m in Texas, of course nothing’s changed here. But in other places more progressive areas of the country, [00:04:00] laws have changed and it’s become not as taboo. I’m sure there’s still some taboo with, in certain areas. Like I get it, but I, I. I could see certain industries that just don’t get served because people are like, okay that they’re doing something that we don’t want our brand associated with.

It’s they still need to pay people, like in your case, they still need to pay people. Like you might not agree with whatever that is you, but they still need to be paid. So I love the market focus again, I like the industry niche market as you said it. I love that. And the product. I just wanna make sure that I understands it’s core HR or hrs and payroll, or maybe even benefits management.

Deborah Saneman: Yes, absolutely. So I would say more foundationally is payroll time and attendance time and labor management and hr. And really, as you define hr, that really broadens the spectrum for what does, what do you define as HR needs? It really starts [00:05:00] from hire to retire for the employee life cycle.

So employees need the recruiting aspect. Candidate selection. Then you have the onboarding piece and work handles all of these functions with our technology. And we’ll talk a little bit in a few minutes about some things where work is unique with some of our product offerings. But to go back to the employee life cycle, after they’re onboarded, there is a training component.

After they’re onboarded, making sure that they understand the role that they took on properly having training. And then it’s basically we’re into the HR functions. Giving them access to their pay history, their benefits, any that are offered by the company. And that includes retirement as well.

William Tincup: What are you displacing? And I know I don’t wanna lead you, but I do, I’m really curious as to what they’re established. So let’s just say it’s a,[00:06:00] owner of dispensaries and so they’ve got, a hundred dispensaries in California or whatever. They are paying people somehow.

It’s through Excel or whatever else. So there are QuickBooks or somehow what are you displacing when you go, when y’all go into a new company, what do you, what are you ripping out? I would say

Deborah Saneman: The biggest thing that we’re providing is the stability for managing and moving money from, from the client through the financial channels for direct deposit, live checks tax payments.

And we are doing that with a fully integrated solution. So that our clients don’t have to go and seek and do the due diligence to bring together all of these different types of vendors and try to take this data and co-mingle it, right? We’re able to provide them with efficiency so they can focus on running their business, their dispensary.

Instead of all of the [00:07:00] more HR administrative task.

William Tincup: So what were I love that. What were they using before? Were they using like Excel in Word to do some of those tasks? Or were they using another system? Like what were they using?

Deborah Saneman: Believe it or not, some of them were just using a product like QuickBooks.

Yeah. And so they were using that to do their gross to net calculations. Wow. What became the most challenging is they know what the net calculation is, but really making sure that how they can pay individuals. And so there’s no reason that any employees of a cannabis company can’t have the same offerings that other employees view as very important for their benefit offering.

William Tincup: And the thing is if you’re doing it in QuickBooks, which is great for accounting or bookkeeping and I’ve used it for that and I’ve tried to use it for peril and it’s not a, it’s not a payroll. It’s not a, that’s, you can use it for that, of course, especially in a pinch, but it’s not, [00:08:00] it wasn’t built with that intention.

I’m just staying on, you know this, because of the back end of the technology, payroll, libraries are always changing. The from a federal, state, even municipal level they’re always changing the the minimum wage in Seattle goes up a dollar. And if you don’t know that you’re out of compliance, which is another thing I think is really important that you brought up earlier.

It’s listen, a they should be given access to the same, if not better technology, regardless of their industry. Check. Also when doing so, there’s a bunch of compliance stuff that they should also be aware of and in doing so you help them with that as well. Absolutely.

Deborah Saneman: So we have a full compliance newsletter because you’re right, there is constant legislative updates, that need to be administered. The state tax withholding in it of itself is very daunting. And when you’re using a. Software that might not be [00:09:00] geared towards human capital management and looking at that entire respon corporate responsibilities, having a organization like work there that has the expertise in payroll filing, making sure that just federal and state legis legislative updates are part of that software.

William Tincup: So where do you find and again let’s we’re gonna, I wanna do the uniqueness of the second, but what, where do your sales team in particular, where do they run into objections? When you’re, you’re obviously serving an underserved market, so I’m assuming the objections aren’t as heavy as they are in some of the overserved markets, but I don’t know that to be true.

So what do you hear that gets bubbled up? Like, why would people say no to this?

Deborah Saneman: Yeah, I think what really the biggest challenge right now is they, we have some generalist payroll providers really trying to enter the [00:10:00] space and they don’t have the expertise, especially with doing the banking due diligence, making sure that the financial institutions fully understand the nature of the role of a payroll provider.

And many are just like a little overwhelmed with all of the requirements. And so we are a specialist in terms of providing core payroll, HR time, and labor management. And there are some specific things that are tied to time and labor for taxability two 80. As an example. And so I just think that some of the smaller dispensaries that we see, they are a little overwhelmed with their corporate responsibilities.

And so it’s really how do they get started? How do we see when clients come to us, they have so many different needs and it’s really let’s focus on what is the core and foundational to the organization, getting those [00:11:00] employees paid timely and accurately. And then we really see our solution selling all of those different services to help those clients again, deliver best in class benefit offerings to their employees.

William Tincup: Love this. So you mentioned uniqueness before as it relates to work. Why don’t we talk about that? What makes you, I’m sure you’ve now, because y’all have focused so much on this industry, you’ve seen some people try to either come into the market, et cetera that were maybe outsiders before or didn’t even look at it as a viable market.

What makes work stand outside and and be unique.

Deborah Saneman: I would definitely say it is just starting off with work. We have a tremendous process for doing our due diligence. We are making sure that the business licenses are accurate. We spend a lot of time on making sure that the banking relationships and the way the company is [00:12:00] structured.

Is appropriate. And we do a ton of transaction monitoring. That’s really important for the financial institutions and the companies in the institutions we work with really appreciate all of the due diligence that we do in bank vetting.

William Tincup: Are you are, do you think that the, because you’re focused on this industry, do you, are they.

Is there a scrutiny that’s levied against that industry that’s, that’s higher than, if the, let’s just say as a convenience store industry do you see anything different? Oh, absolutely. Are they held to a higher standard, I guess is the layman’s question?

Deborah Saneman: Absolutely. Transaction monitoring is a big part.

We have all, every transaction is monitored that we do. So not only to who is we are debiting that from, but who is also, we are crediting making sure there’s we have to comply with Annie money laundering. And [00:13:00] be very forthright with all of our financial institutions.

William Tincup: That’s fantastic.

So where do you see this evolving over the next let’s just say two or three years? Do you see you add adding more like talent management, recruiting and performance and learning and, more of an H c M suite? Do you see it more moving that way? Or do you see partnerships with people that already do that stuff?

Deborah Saneman: Yes. We’ve actually over the last 18 months have really expanded our integration. So it’s all about the data and the transmission of data. And as more and more vendors add new technologies, we want to make sure that our cannabis clients have exposure to those. Things like wages on demand, something that wasn’t really popular a couple years ago is something that we’ve just recently rolled out to our clients.

And it’s basically early wage access. We all say, oh, that’s cool.

William Tincup: Earned wage access. So once they were, oh, I got this right. Once they do a shift, they can [00:14:00] clock out, if you will, and then get 50, 60 whatever percentage of their, what they worked. Is that what. Do I have that

Deborah Saneman: right?

Absolutely. That is early wage access. Nice. And that’s something that’s more Main Street and the industry hadn’t had that exposure. It’s been wildly popular since we’ve rolled it out last fall. Oh that’s cool. And these are just some of the examples. So because of our technology and our development resources that we have, we are using Integrations and we’ve seen from our clients wanting us to integrate with everyone from equity management software to early wage access to learning management systems, performance management.

A big thing in this industry is a lack of compensation data. Yeah. Because we house and have. Had for the past eight years acu, like accumulating all of these very important data elements. It’s very valuable as it’s a competitive [00:15:00] landscape now, and we’re seeing more and more states come online legalization.

And so we’re e excited to be able to be there to continue to support our clients as they grow and expand into new markets.

William Tincup: So let’s do some of the buy side stuff for a couple a couple minutes. The, you probably don’t do demos every day, but you have a sales team, et cetera. So what do you feel is like the favorite part again, this is an underserved market by a factor of a thousand.

What’s the favorite part of the demo? When they get somebody on the line and it’s an HR person or a TA person, or an operator, and they get to actually talk to ’em and say, Hey, let’s, we can actually help you with a part of your business that you just, you know, you need help with. What’s that part of the demo?

I call it the aha moment, but sure, there might be more than one, but what is, what’s, what do you think is the favorite thing that kind of comes out from a work demo?

Deborah Saneman: I think probably the biggest thing is that we understand the industry better than anyone else out there. Yeah. We [00:16:00] understand their employees, the employee experience what matters to those employees, and I think our clients really appreciate the fact that we are specialists and not generalists because there’s a lot of payroll providers out there, but they really don’t understand the challenges that the cannabis industry faces.

So we’ve been very proactive with our client advisory board, listening to our clients and saying, how can we help you with these challenges? And so we have a great rapport with those clients. And another thing that that I wanna say that really is unique for work is our onboarding process.

We have a team that really guides our clients through the onboarding process. And again, we’re bringing together multiple different product and service offerings. And having that ability to have that alt together configurable and all the data [00:17:00] together that is interacting is really, it changes the way that they were operating before and helps them become more efficient.

William Tincup: Love it. So two last questions. One of ’em is on the opposite side. What what questions do you wish. Customers would ask work, like buying questions in particular, like what should they’re going from an inefficient system, let’s say QuickBooks maybe even software that, that was proprietary or Excel or Word or whatever they’re using.

What buying question. Maybe they, they haven’t bought hr or work tech software before. What should they be asking? Asking of work, and again, this is more on the sales side, but if you could script the questions, what would you like for them to ask?

Deborah Saneman: Yeah, I would first have them really look at if they’re considering a different alternative solution is really looking at the banking relationship.

So many times, and it’s all over the news. I will say. We have a major [00:18:00] payroll provider. Who had entered this cannabis space in the H C M space and just served notices to clients on or last week and have given them 30 days to exit. That is so disruptive. Two, just day-to-day operations, but typically it is a 12 week process on onboarding and this very large payroll provider.

Is basically given these clients 30 days and I think on average many cannabis organizations have been dropped on average of two times in their history. That is staggering and you have to think of the major disruption and stress. To not only the HR professionals in the organization, but to those employees.

And so right now we are working to offer as many opportunities and solutions and accelerated onboarding because there’s a large group of clients that are [00:19:00] without a payroll provider, come May 1st.

William Tincup: Wow. I didn’t just, you schooled me. That’s wonderful. So last question is success stories and without, you don’t have to name names.

I don’t really care so much about the the, that stuff. It’s more the things where, work has just changed a business. You’ve left an indelible mark. It was poor before and it looks great now.

Deborah Saneman: Yeah, gosh there’s quite a few success stories. We have I think I told you I was in the Maryland area and there was, or there’s a ver vertically integrated cannabis organization and they recently are expanding into some new markets and unfortunately their benefits provider, their workers’ compensation provider, Cannot write business in the new states, in the new markets.

They’re expanding. And so they called us up and we have a tremendous relationship with them and we were able to not only place them with a [00:20:00] worker’s compensation carrier but. Help create efficiencies. They were doing a lot of manual processes in terms of their payroll reporting, and so we’re able to provide some tremendous automation and efficiencies for them to help them save again time, where they can then focus on the needs of the employees.

William Tincup: Drop spike. Walks off stage. This has been absolutely fantastic. I love y’all. I’ve had one of your people on before and you’ll just have a wonderful company and I, I just really appreciate it, especially going after an underserved market. It’s just it’s it’s just a wonderful thing to do and see them get the same level of software that other just, you know, other companies get, other industries get.

Great. Thanks. Absolutely, and thanks for everyone listening. Until next time. [00:21:00]

The Use Case Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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