Can being happy make you rich?
Walk into any successful food retail outlet and business is pumping. With their sleeves rolled up, employees are waist deep in customer orders and energy is high; the atmosphere spirited and invigorating. This is the result of a great company culture.
SO WHAT IS COMPANY CULTURE AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Company culture is not just about having a pool table in the middle of the staff kitchen and ‘casual day’ on Friday’s; it goes deeper than that. Company culture is about providing an environment that people want to be in. A culture where they feel valued, appreciated and their contributions acknowledged, and all positive workplace cultures start at the top.
As a franchisor, setting a good example to your franchisees about the kind of culture that will build a successful enterprise is crucial. The short term gains of a positive company culture mean employees of the various chains of your venture will be happy, energised, enthusiastic and active, while the long term gains mean improved staff retention and an increase in profits for both yourself and your franchisees. When you think about the cost of replacing staff, retaining a good employee for an extra two years makes a measureable difference to your bottom line.
The strong bonds formed between employees is demonstrated when they actively start to work for and with each other, and not just for the money. When people are happy, they give more, which then leads to greater job satisfaction and the upbeat energy created in the workplace is felt by all the stakeholders of the business.
When Richard Branson first started up Virgin Records, he had no idea about setting up a bureaucracy, so when someone in the team had a great idea, they just ran with it. It’s a business model he still adopts today (and obviously quite successfully!).
In short, the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers!
ONE BAD APPLE CAN BRING THE CART DOWN
All it takes is one franchisee to spread negativity and not be aligned with the values and goals of the organisation, and they can bring the entire company culture to its knees. This tells us that from the very beginning of the hiring process you need to be asking the right questions. Tony Hsieh, CEO of the multi-million dollar company, Zappos, offers potential employees US$4,000 to walk away, if, after the workplace induction, they think that Zappos’ culture is wrong for them. This is Hsieh’s culture filtering mechanism.
No matter how valuable a potential employee’s skill set is, if they don’t fit the company culture, don’t hire them. The same goes when choosing a potential franchisee. They need to sincerely share your culture vision, which will then be passed down to their employees. If they don’t fit the company culture, don’t sell to them.
THE CULTURE ALWAYS FILTERS THROUGH FROM THE TOP DOWN
What are your business’s core values? Hsieh’s are to “be adventurous, creative and openminded” and these are some of what drives his company culture.
Richard Branson’s foray into business involved a planning process that ensured each individual had fun working together and everyone who had a good idea was included in the decision-making process. Branson discovered that fostering an environment that was tolerant of mistakes, and inspired innovation, was then able to provide the best possible solutions for their customers. What these successful entrepreneurs can teach us is that employees emulate their leaders. Set your culture from the very beginning and then walk the talk. If uniforms are part of your culture, you also need to wear the uniform with pride. If being happy and positive are in your culture statement, then you should set the example by being happy and positive. As a franchisor, you are a leader to your franchisees.
For your business to reach its full potential, ask yourself these questions:
• Does my business have purpose and drive?
• Does my business have a strong culture?
• What more can I do to make my franchisees happy?
• What’s the worst that could happen if I let my franchisees be themselves?
• Why do people want to work for me?
Ensuring your franchisees are happy, and creating a culture where people WANT to be a part of your business, will only have positive implications on your bottom line.
SO, HOW EXACTLY CAN YOU IMPROVE COMPANY CULTURE?
Here are some tips that you can implement today to start creating an outstanding company culture. Remember, your workplace does not need to be like ‘Google’ or ‘Zappos’, but it also should not be like the movie ‘Office Space’! Find a good balance between work and fun and you will find this will have immediate positive results.
REMIND YOUR FRANCHISEES THAT EMPLOYEES ARE NO. 1
The more you free people to think for themselves, the more pioneering and reactive they can become. Guide your franchisees on how to treat their employees. Show them how to let employees make mistakes and give credit where credit is due. Teach them how to listen to their employees’ ideas, no matter what their position is, and give acknowledgement, consideration and feedback.
Bonding is an integral part of any business’ success. Getting to know each others personalities and creating a sense of ‘togetherness’ is an approach that is then taken back into the workplace. Again this behavior is learnt and trickles down from the top. You can think about regularly meeting up with your franchisees for over dinner, drinks or a concert and show them the value in getting to know your team.
At Positive Training, we have a very strong company culture, which we attribute to our regular activities. Recently, we attended a football game at the MCG and flew our team to Sydney to see Anthony Robbins live. A result of our fun workplace culture are loyal and dedicated employees who WANT to be a part of Positive Training, as opposed to employees who see their employment as merely a vehicle to pay the bills.
CREATE A FUN OFFICE ENVIRONMENT
Offices tend to have a knack towards being grey, bland and drab. Given that we spend a majority of our lives in the office, if our environment does not inspire us, how can we be giving 100 per cent? The initial layout of a franchised operation is ultimately with the franchisor, so a lot of thought needs to be had as to how best to set out an environment that is both practical and inspiring.
Create a relaxed, spacious environment in which all of the franchise’s employees can freely interact, take a break and be inspired. TerraCycle issue employees with a ‘Nerf Gun’ upon commencing employment. Once or twice a day for a few minutes the office turns into a 50-75 person war zone! This creates a really fun interactive activity which allows employees to blow off some steam before getting back to datasheets. It’s a fact that children learn so much more than adults because they learn through fun. When you’re in a state of happiness and energy, your brain naturally absorbs more information. It’s also a fact that if your employees are having fun in their work they will retain more information, treat customers better and are more likely to stick around for the long haul. What activities could you promote to your franchisees to help them inspire and motivate their employees?
Some leaders prefer to share good news but hold back on bad. Though this may seem like it’s a good approach, it does in fact have the opposite effect. Franchisees have the right to know what is happening with the business, especially if it is a matter that may concern them, and likewise you should be encouraging your franchisees to share any and all news with their employees. Though the ‘what you don’t know doesn’t hurt you’ theory sounds great, once employees do find out what they weren’t told, this can result in resentment towards management for lack of honesty. A good way to practice a transparent corporate culture is for management to provide updates in a monthly internal newsletter.
A lifetime entrepreneur, James has amassed over 20 years of hands-on successful multiunit food retailing experience opening his first retail pizza outlet at the age of 19 and was a millionaire by 21. He franchised the Pizza Lovers brand in 1999, which was acquired by Domino’s Pizza five years later. James is now Founder and CEO of Positive Training. Positive Training, delivers cost-positive ‘Nationally Recognised’ retail training and assessment programs to Food Retail businesses located in Australia.
Since founded in 2004, Positive Training has expanded from one key client to over 1000+ clients. Growth is triple digit and staff turnover extremely low. Follow James’ FREE Online Blog ‘Culturvating for Unprecedented Results’ at www.JamesGrima.com.au.
Phone: 1300 POSITIVE (767 484)