How A Former Flight Director Came to Manage Online Booking Software for Habitat for Humanity

  • December 15, 2022
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Editor’s note: Habitat for Humanity locations use Vonigo’s online booking software to accept and organize the donations of building materials, home decor, and furniture for their ReStore locations.

Joe in his previous job in the sky

For Joe Norman, a former Flight Director with Air Transat, the sky wasn’t the limit. He’s found career satisfaction in an entirely new role as the Residential Donations Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Vancouver.

As an in-flight cabin crew leader, the long hours and time away from family began to take their toll, and then when the pandemic grounded all flights, it forced Joe to take inventory of his career options. “Nobody really knew in the beginning how long this was all going to take,” says Joe. “An opportunity came up at Habitat Greater Vancouver, handling the incoming donation offers from our residential program.”

New Career, Same Focus on Customer Service

“I’m able to bring my decades of customer service experience into the role,” says Joe, who started with a few hours a week and was soon after offered a full-time position. “I started taking on more responsibilities, and then in the summer of this year, I was hired as Residential Donations Coordinator. Now I look after the three pillars of our residential program: in-home service, curbside service, and our ReStore drop-offs.”

In the air, Joe was responsible for leading the cabin service teams. Computers rarely factored into his day-to-day work, and his keyboarding skills were a bit rusty.

Still, after trying out the software they were using to manage donations, Joe quickly identified an opportunity to make himself indispensable. “When I started, and not to say anybody was doing anything wrong, but I believe Vonigo was being underutilized,” says Joe. “It was just in use for booking, but I think people skipped over what it could do. It was one of the first pieces of feedback that I gave to the procurement manager — I said ‘you have all these different things that you can do with it, but nobody is using it.’”

habitat for humanity restore

Training Habitat for Humanity Locations on Using Vonigo’s Online Booking Software

Joe saw an opportunity not only for his ReStore, but for all six locations within the Greater Vancouver Habitat family. “I’m the first person that gets any kind of donation request that comes through,” says Joe. “I’ve created templates and I have made little changes to make things easier, and now I’m training staff members on Vonigo.”

After taking the role as Residential Donations Coordinator, and once the pandemic risks were abated, the greater Vancouver ReStores restarted their in-home service under Joe’s stewardship.

“We had done in-home service with mixed results years ago before Covid and now it is doing phenomenally,” says Joe. “I can take some of the credit but having Vonigo as a software program to use has really made a difference. It’s almost like it’s a living program — constantly updated. I hit one button, and everybody else has the same information.”

Joe’s Advice: Take the Time to Understand the Potential of Online Booking Software

During our interview, our last question for Joe was about what advice he would give other Habitat for Humanity locations, about whether to use Vonigo. “I really can’t imagine not having Vonigo to use for our bookings. It keeps me organized, and ensures that everyone accessing the system has the same information. The best part is that it eliminates the use for paper and filing cabinets!”

habitat for humanity donations

Joe was so content with his new role that when the opportunity to fly again returned, he chose to stay the course and continue working with Habitat.

For Joe, working at Habitat means more time with his family, less travel and more job satisfaction from having an impact beyond his immediate sphere at the Greater Vancouver head office and warehouse. And there were other bonuses to his career shift. “I love how the work I am doing translates directly into income for Habitat, so they can in turn, be able to give back to the community and build affordable housing for families. What I didn’t see coming was that I get to experience two levels of job satisfaction… I fulfill my need to do something I’m great at — customer service. I also get to help my community, and that fulfills a deeper need that I didn’t even realize was there.”

Are you a Habitat for Humanity location or another charity retailer that is curious about using Vonigo’s online booking software to handle donations? Request a free, private demo of Vonigo and we’ll show what’s possible.