A Vision of Success: Strong Workplace Values Drive Growth Culture

A strong leader needs to define their vision for success, effectively document it, and communicate it over and over again.

We have two jobs: 1) providing the systems, and products for our current stores to succeed; and 2) spreading the Cartridge World message so more entrepreneurs join our franchise. Motivated entrepreneurs who seek a path to fulfill their financial goals and are able to communicate the value of a product and service will succeed.

We are reinvigorating both our current business support systems and franchise development efforts with the help of focused internal and external people power. We have partnered with a very strong franchise development organization to jump-start this process.

8 workplace values that drive success

Defining, communicating, and living specific values create the culture of an organization. At a company earlier in my career, we took the time to discuss and crystallize our values. To this day, they remain an important influence on me, and on Cartridge World’s daily business decisions.

  1. Customer service. Serve the customer in a way that you would want to be served as someone else’s customer. And if you’re not directly serving the customer, you had better be serving someone who is. The true test of a company is its ability to respond appropriately when things don’t go well. (It’s easy when everything goes well.)
  2. Hard work. Nothing good comes to those who are lazy or only wish for good things.
  3. Accountability. Clearly defined and communicated roles, responsibilities, and expectations of performance.
  4. Teamwork. 1 + 1 > 2. Together, we can come up with a better answer than either of us would have come up with on our own.
  5. Fiscal responsibility. Too many businesses and business people don’t have the capability to understand the financial consequences of decisions made. We always have to ask ourselves: Is this action or this decision going to create value or destroy value? What are the cash-flow implications in the near term, medium term, and long term? How is our capital structure affected by this decision?
  6. Integrity. Without integrity, nothing else matters. It is the foundation on which the house is built. It is the basis on which trust is formed.
  7. Continuous learning and improvement. Formally and informally, we should be learning each day. Sometimes we learn by our mistakes. I like to say that the only person who doesn’t make mistakes is the person not doing anything. You just don’t want to make the same mistake over and over.
  8. Empowerment/enablement. By sharing the vision, understanding capabilities, and creating an environment that rewards initiative, much greater outcomes are created than by trying to control the processes. Managers control processes. Leaders provide vision and inspiration.

Additional success factors

  1. The business proposition. Cartridge World sells remanufactured laser and printers, and related products. The business model is successful because it is so logical. We sell products that are consistently used in nearly every business and home; that are lower cost than the OEM; that have a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee; and that are environmentally friendly. We’re in an $80 billion industry with an incredible opportunity for growth.
  2. Community involvement. In addition to selling ink, toner, printers, and related service solutions, Cartridge World is involved in the communities we serve. We also offer a recycling/fundraising program for schools and community organizations. We also support Earth Day, America Recycles Day, Veterans Day, local business organizations, and philanthropic causes. This year we launched a national breast cancer awareness and drive in conjunction with the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
  3. Earth-friendly. We use state-of-the-art remanufacturing processes and inks and toners, resulting in an economically and environmentally responsible business model. We offer a variety of recycling programs, annually recycle about 4.5 million printer cartridges, and many stores are e-waste recycling centers.

Bill Swanson is North American CEO and global CFO of Cartridge World. The brand has 600 stores in North America, 1,600 total, and hopes to add 1,000 more in five years. Swanson, who joined Cartridge World in May 2011, previously was COO of TonerHead, a manufacturer of ink and toner printer cartridge refilling and testing equipment. Before that he held finance positions as the corporate treasurer of Staples, CFO of Staples’ European Catalog division, and vice president of finance at Quill Corp. His operational experience includes serving as general manager of Medical Arts Press.

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