The Most Critical Tool For Business Success

As a business executive or owner, the success of your business hinges on one key area:

Your corporate culture.

Yep. When you boil it all down, how you treat your employees and your business will bring you customers or drive them away.

How you value and treat your staff will model how they treat every customer that walks into your door. No amount of money pumped into marketing or advertising will work effectively if you are not treating your employees like they matter. And, with all the social networking tools today, if your staff isn’t happy, they have the potential of letting lots of people know about it.

Have you ever walked into a business that exudes great energy? I always think about Trader Joe’s – I love going there even though it takes me 25 minutes each way. Why? Because everyone there seems to like serving their customers. It feels good, and I always end up buying more than I expected.

Ever walk into a place that has bad energy? Last week I walked into a local retail shop that I’d never been in before. The owner was telling one of her staff about some very personal issues – loud enough so I could hear as well (I was the only customer in there). Eventually, she looked up to let me know they were having a sale – then she went back into her drama. There was also a salesclerk straightening inventory, and never offered assistance. Needless to say, it felt icky being in there. It was sad to see the business owner fostering the culture of “it’s about me, not our customers.” Even though they had great prices, the energy was so bad that I just had to leave.

What is your corporate culture like?

Do you value your employees by providing training? Have a clear, compelling vision of what you want? Get curious about what they want? Teach them about your company? Give them the ability to provide input? Empower them to make decisions? Reward them for good work? Have fun?

Do you listen to them? Like, really listen – not thinking about a million other things when they are talking. Do you ask them questions and authentically value their thoughts and ideas?

Do you ask them for help? Ask them what they notice about their customers? What could work better? What do they think their customers would enjoy?

Everything starts from the top down. One of my first questions in talking with a potential client is “What’s your corporate culture like?” If your employees – the people who are meeting and working with your customers every day – are thriving in a culture-rich environment, you will have happy customers that will go out of their way to do business with you – and they’ll tell their friends, too.

And, if you have a negative environment, you’ll have people that will walk out your door – and tell their friends about that experience as well.

Which one of those interactions do think will add to a positive bottom line?

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