Rene Savelberg is the brains behind the national growth plan in Holland. A very nice man. He is also the author of “Groeikracht”, which translates into Power to grow. It is in Dutch, but it definitely deserves an English translation.
The secret, according to Rene, is standardisation, partnerships and people. Based on his years as CEO of McDonald’s in Holland and working with lots of companies with his acceleration programmes. Why companies are there to serve staff and clients. That needs to be anchored into the DNA of an organisation. Only then can your business grow. Why half of the human energy leaks out of a company. Only 20% of your employees are truly energetic about the work they do.
How standardisation is the most underestimated management tool in the 21st century. Think about it, only through standardisation can you create a multiplier to scale. His rule is 1-2-3. Stop doing half of the work, do the other half twice as good and become three times faster. It improves your quality, makes your product more recognisable and more important increases the speed of your organisation. Speed is a pre-requisite, particularly when you want to serve lots of customers. More speed, less friction, happier clients. With his McDonalds background, you would understand, and he uses the example of the grain of salt that McDonald’s use. Every grain of salt is described and specified exactly, and every restaurant uses the exact same salt. You can also imagine what standardisation does with your purchasing and your cost structure. It makes life a lot easier. Every business should develop a franchise handbook for that reason alone. Quality becomes a lot more manageable, and that will result in happier clients and happier staff. Happy clients and happy staff are the best advertising you can get. Read “Talk triggers“.
Partnerships. Don’t go it alone
The largest brands are a network of businesses. Why would you not follow that example and start building relationships with the best of the best? Creating win-win-win. Preferably long term relations with clearly defined roles, goals and expectations. With honesty and mutual respect as the cornerstone. An ecosystem of businesses as family or friends. It will make your life a lot easier and pleasant and create the economy of scale of a network of relations you can trust. Imagine using that ecosystem as the advisory board of your company. When was the last time you asked a supplier what he/she really thought of your company?
Rene thinks there are three elements to an organisation and it is shaped as a Xmas tree. The trunk, which are the core values, the support organisation as one part of the tree and the sales organisation as the other part of the tree. The start on top is the client. The Xmas ball at the lowest part of the tree is the CEO. You are responsible for the well being of your customers and your staff. Starting with a clear definition of the core values. By defining your core values, you create collective leadership and accountability. It only works if it is authentic and you should regularly check if they fit with how your clients perceive you. Core values are a fundamental part of your brand. Read “Fusion“.
You need to know what you stand for and it is highly unlikely to be products, process and money. It is more likely to be about people, love, attention and respect. Do that well, and the money will follow. You can copy any product or process, but you cannot copy an authentic culture. Successful companies are nice places to work, where the management team serves the employees, help and coach, share knowledge, train, and give positive attention. These type of companies are also twice as successful. Read “Lovability“. CEOs, CFOs, COOS, are there to serve the shop assistant, mechanic, rubbish collector and not the other way around. Read “Legacy“.
You are here to serve as a leader. Making sure that the emotional electricity moves towards the clients and not towards the CEO. The only job of a CEO is to make sure that all barriers are removed to ensure that a client is happy. You lead by example and an epitome of the core values. You network, you ensure the feedback flows, you consider the future, you energise and most of all you are the metronome and beating heart of the organisation. You pave the road and set the direction.
When Rene talks about sales organisation, he does not mean just the salespeople. He means everybody that has contact with the client. Direct or indirect. Helpdesk, toilet cleaner, the truck driver. Everybody. Do you know who they are? Have they been instructed to ensure that the client gets the best experience possible? That their job is to deliver happiness. The book “The connected company” asks if you are designed for delight? Are you?So you need happy staff that are genuinely interested in people and want to make them happy. As part of the core values of your company. With your support structure, making sure that everything is available to make that happen. All you want is fantastic customer service, reducing the cost of marketing. Marketing is the price you pay for being unremarkable. Read “The laws of brand storytelling”
The final thing you need are smart feedback loops. A good information system increases your ability to learn and grow. His suggestions:
- no spreadsheets, but (client) stories. Ensure that the feedback loop works with all units within the company.
- Let your employees use their common sense on what information they need.
- Use formal and informal structures.
- Feedback can come from anywhere. Suppliers, clients, staff, etc.
Realise that organising the feedback is a management role. If you do it right, the feedback loops ensure that your workload gets diminished. People know what to do themselves. Shared leadership.
Rene uses examples from McDonald’s, HEMA, Cool Blue and the Efteling (my favourite park). The Efteling works with the best in the business, and everything is centred about making their visitors feel good, making them a fan (like me), who come back to visit regularly and whose brand is a love mark. That is what you want. Your business needs to become the Efteling of your sector. Where every client has a positive, authentic, human experience. Where clients become fans and friends, where the client is not part of your work, but the work. If you do that you will grow.