Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

I was out the other day catching up with a good friend of mine when he made a statement that I thought was powerful. In our case it was referring to a company that we had spent some time together, but maybe it will ring true for you in an organization you may have or still may work at today.

In any successful organization it is key for all the functional areas to be working together. Marketing, sales, procurement/ finance, manufacturing (where applicable) and a few other that are around to support the ultimate goal of success depending what success is for that organization. Over the last several years working well together has become increasingly challenging as organizations are challenged to keep manufacturing facilities manufacturing or keeping employees employed to achieve success. The definition of success often depends on where you are sitting within the organization and when there isn’t alignment around goals and objectives, things can go sideways. When each area focuses on their own goal without understanding the overarching goal, the results tend to suffer. If the finance/procurement teams are focused on keeping the costs down and buying the cheapest raw materials or marketing material, it can inadvertently eliminate the story for the marketers to market or the sales guys to sell. When the marketing function thinks that what they do is more important to the brand than sales or finance you usually end up with a bunch of activities that build the longer term health (no guarantees) of the brand, but there are no funds left for sales.  The finance guys end up wondering why the numbers aren’t coming in. Finally, if the sales guys focus only on their goal, which usually requires distribution and throughput (including discounting), but don’t worry about the cost or the brand strategies you can usually keep the boat a float in the short term, but the long term health of the brand will suffer.

As of late it seems that many organizations have been defaulting to having the finance team lead in order to count the beans.  The only issue becomes that it is a short path to the bottom (unless short term success is the ultimate goal). No offence to the finance folks out there, but if the true objective is to keep the company afloat in the long run, step back and look at the big picture. It is great that you can deliver the bottom line numbers, but at what expense. Are the brands still delivering great experiences, are the sales guys able to get the product into the right stores and in the hands of key influencers to try? Do the marketers have investments in sort and long term brand building activities? Without investment in those as part of any strategy there will soon be no beans to count and everyone will be looking for a new place to do their work.  Don’t let self interest (be it money or praise) get the best of you. Work together to achieve the team success. That way everyone wins and the long term prognosis should be good for the brand, the team and the organization.



Rob Ford – I like him…

 Wow, that got you excited….

 Rob Ford has now been the mayor of Toronto for just over a month and no matter what you think about the policies of Rob Ford, you have to appreciate his commitment to customer service or great customer experiences. He understands, as his did in his riding by returning all phone calls to constituents within 24-48 hours, that communication and delivering good experiences is a big part of the political game. Yes there will always be people on either side of the spectrum that you cannot please, but the average consumer understands that there are limitations to what can be done based on money, time and manpower. What they will however appreciate is that someone gets back to them in a timely fashion and follows up when requested.  Responding to your constituents is no different than responding to your business customers.

 When you spend money at a business and you get good value, you come back. When you don’t,  you go elsewhere. In our case we had a government that was not providing good value (in the mind of the voters) and thus, we the consumer, decided to take our money elsewhere. That somewhere else was Rob Ford and so far I like what I am hearing. It still remains to be seen if he can live up to all the commitments of great service, but if he even comes close to what he was delivering previously,  I am sure we will all be much more satisfied with that aspect of his leadership versus that of the previous government…Whether you agree with his policies or not.

 I don’t call mayor often, but if I do I am looking forward to the experience.


The Keg – Just can’t get enough…

 The Keg gets it. Not sure why, how, when or who created the approach to the business originally, but it works. It works in good times and it works in bad times. It works when you are celebrating with friends, having dinner with the family or just pulling up a chair at the bar and going it alone.

 So what is the “it” and how do they “get it”? Well there is a lot more to it than what I can put into a single Blog, but it really comes down to people and consistency of experience.

 The staff at the Keg are called “Keggers”. If any of you have worked at the Keg you probably still find opportunity to use the handle in conversation. Keggers are a special breed. They love the hospitality business or at least they do when they are on stage at the keg. I don’t think I can ever remember an unhappy staff member at the Keg…any Keg. I have likely been to a Keg in every province of Canada and in the US as well. No bad staff. How can it be? I think it has to do with hiring the right people and then treating them like they are your most important asset, because they are. The company spends boat loads of money on staff engagement parties, trips and activities to ensure that their staff know that they are important and appreciated. In addition, it keeps the staff connected and creates the stories and the culture that legends and great friendships are made of. My good friend Mac still tells me stories of his day as a Kegger 20 years ago and still has a special rapport with other staff he comes across in life.

 The consistency of experience is really about providing the fundamental aspects that are important to every dining experience and occasionally going above and beyond when required. The fundamentals (in addition to great staff) includes a great environment (who doesn’t love the new look of the Keg), quality food, cleanliness and the occasional product feature to inspire a new experience for a repeat customer.

 Take the above two ingredients and add a dose of empowerment to let staff and management address any situations that do not deliver the “Keg Experience” and you have the perfect recipe for success in good times and  bad. 

 Looking forward to my next trip back for another great experience.



Home Depot – Pre Shift Meeting

 Was in the Home Depot the other day at 7am and walked in to see the entire staff having a pre-shift meeting. It appeared that there was a great culture as everyone was standing around chatting, having a laugh and likely just getting pumped for their shift. I asked for help from a gentleman who took me to where I needed to go and when Iasked, told me that everyone is updated on activates for the day and for the upcoming weekend as part of the pre-shift meeting. Love the habit of having pre-shift meetings and informing the staff about all areas of the business. It helps deliver two aspects of a Great Customer Experience. The first, it builds a sense of camaraderie and teamwork when everyone gathers to start the day and this is felt when you see staff interacting in the store. Secondly, having the ability to answer all questions from a consumer and/or directing them to where to get the answer is always appreciated.  

Well done Home Depot. Hopefully with the right people on the team and engagement from the team members you will be able to consistently deliver Great Customer Experiences at this store and others.