Company culture is everything

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I had a meeting today between the owners of Cauldron Ice Cream – an emerging food concept in our Fransmart portfolio that I am fanatical about (and you should be, too) – and a potential franchisee interested in building the brand’s stores in their home market – and both sides were talking about company culture. That topic made me happy.

Company culture is so damn critical to the sustainability, identity, growth, and success of a brand; yet it’s difficult – almost impossible – to directly measure.

And because of this, a lot of company owners just don’t give it the attention it needs – sadly and to their detriment.

“What gets measured, gets managed” is more important, right?

Wrong.

Think about your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, kids, domestic partner, and/or best friend. Can you directly measure how much you love someone? Not really; but you can absolutely see its results: How much time you spend together, how you can complement each others’ thoughts/sentences/actions, how you stand up for each other, the tenure of your relationship, and the list goes on. Loyalty game is strong.

Because you can’t measure love – do you refrain from trying to pursue, enjoy, and expand it? No fricken way – life is all about relationships.

Starbucks, Amazon, and other life-changing companies of our time have legendary culture; and their success is very correlated to their focus on building an environment of loyal, fanatical employees and customers.

How you do that and what you do is up to you, and each industry and organization has its own unique way of achieving this. But if there’s a common denominator that jump-starts your thinking…it’s love.

Love defies gravity, love overlooks mistakes, love grows exponentially when you invest in it, love doesn’t try to shortcut, love is patient, love is kind (yes, I’m stealing from the Bible, too, lol), love makes your life rich and worthwhile.

Going back to the above example…do you notice that when you get into a fight with your loved one, nothing else really matters? For me – I can close the biggest deal of my life or win the lottery – maybe even both at the same time – but if I got into a fight with my wife that morning…you can forget about trying to enjoy any of that. I’d even trade those circumstances for a chance at reconciliation.

You can have an amazing handle on your COGS, labor, marketing, etc…but if your employees hate working there or your customers don’t love you…don’t expect to be around for long. There’s little-to-no forgiveness when they aren’t taken care of.

On the flip side – what if instead, your employees were loyal to you? What if your customers are head over heels for you?

Employees offering to stay longer; long lines and wait times; making mistakes on orders; high costs; little-to-no marketing; etc. They are all forgivable.

So why are people driving all the way from Los Angeles, San Diego, and traffic overall; willing to wait in line for sometimes an hour; pay a premium on ice cream they easily get half as expensive and immediately at their local Baskin Robbins or even supermarket? The answer is a culture of love in the product, delivering the customer experience, and team. Think about that when constructing or recalibrating your organization.

So yes – manage the facets of your business that easily pump out data for your analysis. They help you survive, and it’s good to measure.

But don’t forget the part of your business that you can’t see but feel. They help you thrive. Beyond measure.

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Real estate & insurance policies

One of my favorite jobs is helping franchisees look for real estate. It’s one of the three biggest ingredients for a successful store (along with having the right franchise partner and operations team); and arguably the most important since it’s pretty permanent (for 5-10 years at least); it’s a fixed cost that you can’t really change, no matter what you do; and it doubles as your marketing vehicle.

Anyway – I was checking out sites for my 3-unit Cauldron Ice Cream franchisee today, and taught him a few things that might be helpful for you, too:

  • You will pay for bad real estate, but good real estate will pay youDan Rowe, my mentor, legendary franchisee and developer for Five Guys Burgers, The Halal Guys, Qdoba, etc; and CEO of Fransmart.
  • Add part of your marketing budget to your real estate budget. When you are in an area where people easily see and drive/pass by your store every day, you will eventually get potential customers to enter your store and give you a shot. That’s the best type of marketing – being conveniently where the customers are, so that you are pulling instead of pushing. After that, the trick is WOW-ing and keeping them.
  • It’s not just about density around a particular site – it’s about TARGETED density. If there is heavy population but none of them are your type of customers, then you’ve used the wrong data. As it relates to desserts and fast casual concepts – you need a high concentration of residential/day-time populations with high incomes. You will be relevant to them and there will be less price sensitivity or confusion.
  • “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together

I call these bullet points “multiple insurance policies” against failure or sub par performance. While I cannot guarantee success or a specific dollar amount of revenue/profit – as there are a lot of forces out of my control – this definitely sets you up for a better chance of winning.

Anyway – hang tight. One of the most delicious, innovative dessert concepts is coming your way. 40K+ Instagram followers can’t be wrong.