Kirk Morris agreed wholeheartedly with Jon Wolske, a representative of Zappos, as Wolske shared the fast-growing company’s belief in the power of company-wide core values at the recent Remodelers Advantage 2013 Summit in Las Vegas.
“We are convinced that, like Zappos, the unique culture that we created with our strong core values is what really sets us apart from our competition, makes us different, and insures our success,” says Morris, owner of Morris Builders Inc., in Rockford, Mich.
“We always had a strong set of values that resonated with our clients,” says Morris, “but as the company grew and new people joined the team, we realized that we had to be much more proactive in solidifying the culture and communicating our expectations consistently if we wanted our uniqueness to remain.”
Well before he ever heard the Zappos representative, Morris called an all-staff meeting for a discussion to formally identify the company’s core values as well as the behaviors that supported these values. Once everyone was on the same page (see list), “We couldn’t just put it in a drawer and never talk about them again,” Morris says. “So we developed a meeting structure that we use every week.”
Each meeting begins with a staff member reading the company’s vision and mission statements. Then Morris asks those assembled, “What did you do this week to exemplify our mission?” Staffers share stories and discuss whether their actions represented the core values and whether they strengthened or weakened Morris Builders’ culture. The group also reviews GuildQuality surveys of customers to make sure their efforts deliver the best possible experience.
Morris says that these simple tactics have helped craft an atmosphere of enthusiasm among the team members and the clients alike.
“One lead carpenter visited a client who had a small problem with a piece of trim,” Morris recalls. “Because everyone understands what’s expected of them, he didn’t waste time calling the office to get permission or anything like that. He took it upon himself to purchase the trim and replace it quickly. The client was delighted with the quick turnaround and we were delighted with his action.”
In another instance, Morris says, “A client called about a leaking shower pan two years after our warranty ended. She wanted the leak fixed and was happy to pay for it. However, when we assessed the problem, we could see that the original job wasn’t up to our standards, so we fixed it at no charge.”
The client was flabbergasted and demanded to pay, but Morris wouldn’t accept the payment. “I just asked her to spread the word to her friends looking for a great remodeler.
“One of the biggest benefits in sharing these stories about our culture is the attitude of our younger field employees,” Morris adds. “They see the affect that these actions have on both the client and the carpenter who made it happen … and they can’t wait for their opportunity to come!”
— Victoria Downing is president of Remodelers Advantage, an organization dedicated to helping remodelers build high-performance, profitable businesses, and home of the industry’s largest peer organization, Remodelers Advantage Roundtables. Victoria@remodelersadvantage.com.