Through my business, my training on sales, customer service and building a winning team culture is driven by research of world-class organizations – market leaders, customer service champs and companies that, in many cases, are also considered to be the best places to work in the world. What did these businesses do to achieve their market superiority? What are the best practices and principles that guide and motivate their culture, engage and influence their customers and deliver high-performance results? And, most importantly, how do you apply these winning elements in your organization?
As I pinball around North America training market-leading tire/auto service businesses, we learn (and strive to institutionalize) the answers to those questions. Answers that would take far more time than we have here and now.
However, there is something you can (and very much should) do now that will have a substantial positive impact on your business’ performance. That something is practicing PRIDE in all that your organization does.
As I’ve referenced in several previous articles, PRIDE is an acronym for Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence. PRIDE is an executable of productivity and, ultimately, success. PRIDE is so important to me, my business and, most importantly, the success of my clients. In fact, it’s the license plate on one of my vehicles.
I want to be clear here: Most executives already believe they have PRIDE. If you’re the owner or a senior manager at your tire business, then it’s safe to say that you’re likely committed to delivering excellence in your organization. That’s not the problem.
The problem is that results of any organization are rarely the result of the senior executives’ efforts alone. By and large, results originate from the employees who meet, greet and interact with customers (and potential customers) during their interactions with the business. It is here that PRIDE is most vulnerable and often falters.
Let me give you an example. One of the companies I cover in training is a leading gourmet retailer. I’m intentionally leaving out their name here, but they are a very popular, recognizable brand that most likely has a location a short distance from where you are now. Their sales/customer service model for employees is a fairly straightforward three principles: Connect, Discover, Respond. This is how employees are trained and what they should be doing on a customer-by-customer basis to deliver the best results for the customer and, ultimately, the business.
The reality is that this model, and every other training model, works only when the employees who need to carry it out have true PRIDE. When I teach about the “Connect. Discover. Respond.” training the gourmet retailer gives its employees, I often hear “I’ve been to their stores… that didn’t happen to me.” Sadly, that is often true, and the reason why is usually because of the employee’s lack of PRIDE.
Another example: a popular restaurant chain (again, leaving its name out intentionally) with locations throughout North America trains its staff to squat down to eye level or sit at a customer’s table if a seat is available upon greeting them. Then, they ask if guests have been to the restaurant before so they can welcome them appropriately. In my frequent travels, I have dined at dozens of different locations of this restaurant chain in the last 10 years. In that time, I have seen this simple two-step greeting performed maybe only 30% of the time, and I’d bet that percentage is fairly accurate for all guest interactions across the entire restaurant chain. Again, all staff is trained that way, not 30%. A major factor, if not the biggest culprit for this deficiency, is a lack of PRIDE.
The sad fact is many employees who attend training (and ultimately work for a business) are tourists. They’re just along for the ride and really don’t care what the company wants. The most important thing to these disengaged folks when they attend training is “What time is lunch?” and “When do we get out of here?”
Can We Train for PRIDE?
In short, not really. However, companies can look for certain qualities in individuals and hire based on those characteristics. As the first letter implies, PRIDE is something personal. While it can (and should) certainly be reinforced in training, PRIDE is born in the individual, then fostered and enriched by effective leadership and a winning team culture environment. Creating that culture starts with leadership, but it takes your employees to carry it through to create a culture of PRIDE in your business.
In my April 2016 article “Winning Customer Service,” I wrote that world-class service organizations require world-class employees and the importance of hiring people who best fit the model you’re seeking to achieve. If you do this successfully by hiring folks with a winning personality (attitude) and who have a genuine passion to serve others and succeed themselves, the likelihood of those employees having true PRIDE and executing it on the job greatly increases.
Leader Lesson – Zappos.com
Zappos.com is the ideal example of how a winning team culture can create PRIDE and sustain a successful business. As an online retailer of shoes and clothing, the company has revenues in excess of $1 billion annually with approximately 75% of their orders coming from repeat customers.
According to Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, the company’s mission is to “deliver happiness” to customers by providing the very best customer service and customer experience overall. This “delivering happiness” model extends to its employees as well. They know that happy employees create happy customers. Their focus on creating a winning team culture has made Zappos repeatedly rank on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list.
A great workplace culture is so essential to success, 50% of all Zappos’ hiring decisions are based on applicants being a good fit for their values and culture. Once hired, 50% of all performance reviews are based on the employee living these values on-the-job at Zappos.
Zappos understands that every employee contributes to the culture so, regardless of their position in the company, each employee goes through the same four-week initial training process. There, they learn Zappos’ core values, the importance of a great culture and their customer service philosophy.
At some point during the training, Zappos offers between $2,000-$4,000 to each new employee to quit and walk away from the company before they begin their official employment. This is done to weed out the people who are just there for a paycheck and to ensure that all employees who complete training are 100% committed to the Zappos’ culture and their customer service methodology from day one.
PRIDE: The Executable of High Performance
Prior to starting my training business in 2005, I worked for a prominent small business management consulting firm. I recall an expression about employee performance that speaks directly to PRIDE: “Don’t watch their mouth; watch their feet.” It’s true. If asked, most (if not all) employees will say that they indeed have PRIDE. That’s a good start, but it’s what they do (or don’t do) that matters most.
You and/or your executive team may be preaching and teaching world-class practices and principles, but if employees are simply going through the motions and don’t truly buy in and commit to practicing PRIDE, then the results will surely suffer. To maximize results at your business, all employees must practice PRIDE every day in all customer interactions.
Steve Ferrante is the CEO of Sale Away LLC. As producer and host of the highly acclaimed “Pinnacle Performance Training” program, Steve is recognized as the leading provider of sales, customer service and corporate culture training and coaching for independent tire/auto service businesses across North America. Steve can be reached at 866-721-6086 ext. 701 or [email protected].
Check out the rest of the June digital edition of Tire Review here.