If you want Raving fan customers don’t start with them…

Scott Beck, a good friend of mine and a serial entrepreneur behind the rise of Boston Market, Einstein Brothers Bagels, and more, has a favorite saying that he considers to be his secret sauce. Scott says, the secret to growing a business is to reduce negative variance and increase positive variance. It didn’t make sense to me at first, but when I framed it in light of Remarkable Service, it took on a whole new meaning. It all clicked for me when I realized that this saying exactly mirrors the Remarkable Service building blocks we talked about last month: First Mile Service and Second Mile Service.

The First Mile is all about reducing negative variance – how do we take the mistakes we’re making and reduce those to zero as best as we can? The Second Mile is all about increasing positive variance – it’s the 10% more effort that yields 100% better results. Put simply, reducing negative variance is about fixing all the problem areas where you’re not delivering what people expect, and conversely, increasing positive variance is about creating moments and generating ideas that people don’t expect so you can win them as customers.

Second Mile Service or increasing positive variance means taking the road less traveled – it may never feel urgent to increase positive variance, but it is critical. On the other hand, it’s almost always an urgent priority to fix the problems that are staring you in the face and threatening the bottom line. The problem for most organizations is that we don’t get around to the important things because we’re so consumed by the urgent problems. We have to remember that fixing the problems will always be urgent, but increasing positive variance can ultimately have the biggest payoff. Why? The return is 9:1 as you’ll see in the study cited on the graphic below!

This concept holds true when we examine the service we are providing to our employees: In the same way that we are trying to fix problems and create Remarkable moments for customers, we need to do that internally for our employees. It can’t just be left to chance, but must be an intentional choice each and every day.

I have found that the strongest cultures have the strongest intentionality when it comes to creating Remarkable moments and fixing problems – for their customers AND their employees. Yes, they conduct standard employee surveys and are diligent about identifying and attacking problems, but they also lean into opportunities to create Remarkable moments. For example, Chick-fil-A is intentional about creating those moments for employees, whether that’s the Vision and Values tour that new employees embark on over their first 12 months (more on that in a future newsletter!), or celebrating a birthday, baby shower, wedding shower or work anniversary. In the same way we try to do meaningful things and thoughtful gestures for our families at home, we can create those Remarkable moments that stand out when our employees are looking back on their career.

A major consulting organization conducted a massive study of several hundred thousand people, in which they examined the difference between what employees are looking for in a career today versus what the previous generations looked for in the past. In years’ gone by, two main factors marked a worthwhile career: product and profit. In contrast, when considering a place to start their career, today’s generations care less about a company’s product and profit, and more about purpose and growth. The employee value proposition is migrating over time, from product and profit to purpose and growth, and employees are hungry to be a part of a growing organization where they can do meaningful work and grow personally and professionally all in one place.

As a result, we have to do our part to follow the moving target and intentionally create a Remarkable culture that values purpose and growth, while creating Remarkable Moments along the way. How do we do that? That’s where Second Mile Service comes back on the scene. Opportunities to grow personally and professionally is the Second Mile Service that organizations can offer their employees to create, and keep, raving fan employees. 

What are we doing to enable people to grow personally and professionally? How are we taking a more holistic interest in people’s lives? 

At Chick-fil-A, we did this by hosting annual workshops on topics employees may not expect to learn at work such as “How to Be a Better Parent” and “Personal Finances.” At our core, we didn’t want to limit our thinking to helping people grow within their career, we provided tools and training that impacted their lives outside of their 9-5. While these may not have directly benefited Chick-fil-A, they almost always made an impact, because happy, healthy employees build a happy, healthy culture. If you’re interested in all aspects of their lives, employees are more interested in all aspects of your business.

Beyond providing growth opportunities and a holistic approach to work and life, employers can benefit from thinking about how to infuse what they do with purpose. A Chick-fil-A Operator once told me “I feel like I’m a Leadership Development Academy masquerading as a fast food restaurant,” and that was one of the highest compliments I think our company has ever received. Between the lines, this Operator was saying that he’s essentially selling chicken sandwiches to fund his Leadership Development Academy, and his Leadership Academy is filled with bright young teenagers that not only work for a paycheck, but are put on a fast-track to develop as a leader.

It begs the question: How do we view what we’re doing day-to-day? Do we view it as just selling chicken sandwiches? Or do we view it as selling chicken sandwiches as a funding mechanism for something far more important that will impact generations?

Do we view our platform of business as an opportunity to GET RICH monetarily, or do we view our platform of business as an opportunity to BE RICH in connection, purpose, culture, impact and so much more. 

In an earlier newsletter, we talked about how we were in the business of creating raving fans, and raving fans were customers that would do three things: 1) they’d be happy to pay full price, 2) they would come more often and 3) they would tell other people about us. So, in doing that, we created raving fans who became our greatest ambassadors to recruit new customers for us. Well you’ll never have raving fan customers unless you’ve first created raving fan employees! The level of excitement, energy, and enthusiasm behind the counter will dictate the level of excitement, energy, and enthusiasm over the counter. It’s almost like the level of excitement and engagement you create with your own employees is the level to which your customers will rise; you’re creating a lid of sorts. If your employees aren’t excited, there’s no way your customers will be, so we have to focus on creating raving fans behind the counter through intentionally creating Remarkable moments and, as a result, a Remarkable culture.

I’d love to connect with you on social media, you can find me on these platforms:

Together, we can Spark a Revolution of brands more defined by meaning than money, brands that achieve success in a manner that redefines it.

David Salyers
Founder, Spark A Revolution

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