Does a company’s internal culture really matter to customers? Nick Sarillo thinks so. He founded Chicago-area Nick’s Pizza and Pubs in 1995 with the idea that his company's culture would always be welcoming and would create positive, memorable experiences for his customers. However, Nick didn't share his vision with his staff; and when employees didn’t exhibit those values, he was stunned.
Sarillo needed help communicating the culture he wanted, so he enlisted the aid of a business consultant; together they came up with a company purpose and a set of values. Team members were also taken off-site for intense cultural training.
The results were tremendous. Within months, the restaurant was packed and employee turnover slowed to a near halt. Today, Sarillo has two locations outside Chicago, less than 20 percent turnover (“amazing when you consider that 150 percent is normal in this industry,” he says) and brings in $6 million yearly in revenues.
Here are four tips on creating a company culture that attracts the masses.
Define your values. For Sarillo, it wasn’t until he sat down and outlined the purpose and values behind his business that he was able to create a tangible culture. He recommends striving to “create the business you’ve always wanted to work for yourself.”
Involve customers in employee fun. In 2010, when 99designs, an online marketplace for graphic designers with offices in San Francisco; Melbourne, Australia and the U.K., was competing for a Webby Award, they asked customers to vote for them. In return, they promised to do something silly. “When we won, we made a video of our team singing ‘We Are The Champions’ around the streets of Melbourne. It ended up getting more than 800 comments and generated a lot of goodwill with our customers," says Patrick Llewellyn, CEO.
Get employees and customers involved by hosting your own fun contest; you can post pictures on your website and social media pages.
Give back. Both Nick’s Pizza and Pubs and 99designs are active in their communities, hosting fundraisers and participating in community service projects. As Llewellyn explains, this dedication has helped build brand awareness and attract community-focused clients.
Invest in your staff. Stop by one of the 99designs offices and you are likely to see a group of people hovering over the ground in plank position, doing pushups. “It gets us pumped for the rest of the day,” says Llewellyn.
Employees are also encouraged to use a nearby gym (membership paid by company) and attend aerobics classes together. On weekends, Llewellyn regularly invites the entire office to his house for a barbecue dinner. It’s these activities, in addition to competitive health benefits and compensation, that make employees satisfied. And happy employees usually translate into happy clients.
Llewellyn says, “Most of our growth has been from word of mouth, and I really think our success is due to the fact that our people feel loved so they treat customers well.”
How do you enforce your company's culture?
Image via Nick's Pizza & Pub