What Does Company Culture Mean for Your Bottom Line?
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What Does Company Culture Mean for Your Bottom Line?

What Does Company Culture Mean for Your Bottom Line?

In franchising, who you are is just as important as what you do. Sometimes, it's more important.

This is a lesson that many franchise CEOs learn the hard way. When you're running one or two locations, company culture is easy because it's you. You're seeing and interacting with your employees, your product, your processes, and your customers every day. But as you grow and expand, it becomes harder to maintain who you are as a brand.

If you're not careful, you can lose the essence of who you are, leaving your brand with nothing but the product or service you provide. No matter how good that product or service is, by itself, it isn't enough to convince consumers to stick around, and it's definitely not enough to draw potential franchise location owners. Whether they're buying a car or a franchise location, people want to be part of something special. They want to feel good about the values and lifestyle their purchase represents. They want to know they're part of a solid, functional team.

The feelings your brand creates for your customers, your corporate team, and your prospects are a product of your company culture. Your brand's culture shines through in everything you do, and it's not something a CEO can mandate. But the CEO can set the right conditions to allow a good culture to thrive, and that starts with hiring the right people.

Hire for heart

The next time you're on an outing, look at the couples and families. You can see who's happy, who's having a good time, who's engaged in what they're doing, and who would rather be doing something else. It's the same with your franchise team. Even if everyone is working hard, it's apparent to observers when the team isn't functioning well.

That's why it's important to hire for heart, not just skills. Online retail giant Zappos, famous for its company culture, has this to say about hiring:

  • At Zappos, we've learned that hiring the right people is crucial to creating a fun and unique working environment. Therefore, we only onboard candidates who we think will protect our culture, regardless of skill sets or revenue-generating potential.

Those two sentences speak volumes because the greatest asset any franchise has is human capital. Hard skills aren't enough by themselves. Everyone on your team needs the right soft skills -- the right heart and mind -- to fully engage in and contribute to your company culture. When people are all-in and are the right fit, skill set is no barrier. You can train for skills, and someone with the right heart will learn those skills. But personality and mindset are harder, maybe even impossible, to train. Ideally, a great hire will have both the heart and the skills to contribute to your team, but if you have to choose, choose heart.

Living the culture

Another takeaway from Zappos is that company culture can't just be lip service. It has to be lived every day. In a Forbes interview, Zappos chief of staff Jamie Naughton had this to say:

  • Don't let your values become a dusty plaque on a wall, somewhere near the front desk. Talk about them and, more importantly, live by them. Make decisions with the values in mind.

This is great advice, but it can't be a top-down effort. The CEO can't dictate the company culture. Everyone on the team has to be invested in a shared vision that everyone agrees on and works toward. You can't incentivize it, and you can't mandate it. You can only make decisions that reinforce it and help it gel.

Good company culture validates where everyone fits within an organization. It empowers and encourages them to be creative and collaborate with other departments. It helps your team take joy in their work. Remember that it's likely some members of your team are seeing each other more than they're seeing their own families. A sense of joy is important if everyone is going to stay happy and engaged in their work.

What are the results?

It's hard to define metrics for company culture. Productivity and employee turnover might tell part of the story, but not all of it.

A skilled leader can see the results, though. You can tell when things are right. You'll see more production, better collaboration, buy-in, and a desire to improve. You can see the level of comfort your team has with each other. You can see the way that their comfort, confidence, and enthusiasm translate to franchise location owners, their staff, and their customers. You'll see people owning what they do, solving problems together, and working toward a common goal.

Your franchise network represents your vision as a CEO, but once you open it to the world it's not just about you anymore. As you expand, keep defining and refining your company culture based on the people who make up your organization, and make hiring decisions that support the vision you -- and your team -- have for the future.

 Charles Bonfiglio is president and CEO of Tint World, a provider of automotive, residential, commercial and marine window tinting and security film services. With Automotive Styling Centers in the U.S. and abroad, each franchise location houses approximately 20 profit centers, ranging from in-store accessory installations to offsite sales and installation of residential, commercial and marine window tinting and security films.

Published: November 3rd, 2019

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