Recently, Petra Coach presented a webinar, 3 Steps to Transform Your Company Culture…and Your Bottom Line! with Sherry Deutschmann.
You can find the full recording below.
The below Illustrated Model is from The Vivid Ink Company. Kristin McLane and her team transform the spoken word into lasting and actionable works of art. Check them out on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or their website.
Sherry grew up in North Carolina where her family were all Jehovah Witness meaning:
- No education past high school
- Married at 18
- No skills/experience except in cleaning
At 25, Sherry was divorced, a single mother, and had less than $200 to her name when she decided to move to Nashville with the dream of being a famous singer.
When that didn’t work out, she got a job in the healthcare revenue cycle space. Even though she was a sales rep, she cared and found herself doing a lot of other functions as well. When the company she was employed with was acquired, there were a lot of changes and they started losing customers. Their customer service was so poor, she referred to herself as a “professional apologist” because she was constantly groveling to keep clients’ business.
After reading the book Nuts about Herb Kelleher and the start of Southwest Airlines, Sherry became fixated on his notion that if you take really good care of your staff, the passengers would, in turn, be happy as well.
When she looked at the company she was with through this lens, she identified:
- Problem: Almost all problems were simple human error because the employees didn’t care.
- Epiphany: Employees didn’t care because no one cared about them.
Sherry ran to her boss and wanted to share her newfound ideas for improving morale. He patted her hand and said, “Sherry you don’t know anything about business – just go sell something.” This left her demoralized, hurt and angry because of the way he dismissed her. That attitude made her quit and decide to go into competition with her boss. She was offered money to help start it up, but none of the offerers would let her run it how she wanted to – so she said no, cashed in her 401K and started it herself in her basement.
If the you take great care of employees, they can focus on taking great care of the customers.
The Start of LetterLogic
What Does Taking Care Look Like?
- Paid a fair living wage
- 100% of medical, dental, life insurance and disability covered
- Kids and pets at work
- Supported them in starting their own business
- Profit sharing
- The “best business move we ever made in my entire life”
- Totally changed the game
- Got every team members focused on extraordinary service because they wanted extraordinary results
They were arguably the most expensive in the industry and still grew enough to be 10x Inc. 5000 winners. They had a 97 NPS and rarely lost clients or employees.
3 Most Transformational Practices
1. Make Time to Listen
- Open door policy
- Aside from a few hours a day blocked for peak productivity, the door stayed open
- If she were grabbing coffee, she also grabbed coffee for employees sporadically and checked in on them – and listened
- Lunch with Lucy
- Wednesdays, Sherry took on the persona “Lucy” and went to lunch with employees – any place, any group, and any topic of conversation
- Could be just them, could be them and a spouse or parents, or could be a whole department ganging up on her
- This was the most valuable time spent growing the company
- Got to hear about their hopes and dreams, their unique challenges, their households, heard directly what they thought about her leadership
- The title of Sherry’s book
- Ask Yourself: What might you learn if you spent more time just listening?
- The minutes of every meeting were posted outside of the meeting
- Shared financials with the entire team once a month
- Salespeople could get into even more information – granular levels of expenses
- Gave them a greater understanding of why the business charged what they did and how to target their “sweet spot” audience
3. Profit Share Plan
- 10% of the bottom line split evenly across the board – monthly
- Custodians got the exact same as the CFO because they were all equally important to the bottom line
- Don’t think someone’s role is important? Try to go a few days without them
What Made It Different?
- The results were recent enough for everyone to remember what went right and what went wrong
- Constantly something for them to look forward to
- Do it with a PAPER CHECK
- There’s a power holding it in your hand
Started at $7 and then $70 and the last she signed was about $1,500.
It caused the organization to have an impeccable reputation for incredible customer service and a culture of empathy/taking care of one another.
When she sold the company, Sherry saved 15% to give to employees.
Surprise Benefit of the Culture
- She would tell customers, “I want your business, but I need you to know that the customer doesn’t come first.” And she’d go into detail about why, and it made sales because the customer saw the impact.
- Sales people reported 85% of their sales were a “culture sale.”
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