I sometimes say to people that what we are trying to build a business that will one day make me redundant. Why? Essentially because we are trying to build a business that is bigger than any individual, and which replicates exceptional service as an embedded value across the entire organization.
So I am going to give our competitors a free kick here by letting them see our philosophy. I recently heard that one of our competitors was making much of one of our people leaving. Why? Because they don’t understand our business.
It might seem quite contrarian when we put such a high value on people, but what we are building is greater than the individual. We are building a culture of excellence with systems and structures to support that. So if a key person leaves tomorrow – we have regrets, we wish them well – but the business goes on and the key thing is that the service to the customer continues as it was before.
We deal with many businesses that rely heavily on the expertise of key people in their business. We understand in professional services businesses that is often the reality, and that the business can lose a great deal of intellectual capital and strength in relationships when a key person leaves. It is our strong preference to retain our key people and outperform the industry in retention of staff, but at the same time we are determined to create a model where all our team can flourish even if a key person departs.
It was always our ambition to be a leader in our space. We think being a leader means you get the best out of people, and if you can get the best out of people, you can find someone of quality to replace people who leave. Hiring practices and training are crucial in attracting and developing team members, and we are striving for excellence in that area.
In our first year I remember we used to do marketing lunches where we talked about our business and how we wanted it to look. In one of those early lunches I took the team, quite small in number then, to McDonalds. Not because I admire their cuisine – far from it. We went there because they have a simple and effective business model that is replicated around the world. Different store, same burger, same service delivery. While we aren’t peddling burgers, and many would argue that our industry is far more complicated, the principle is the same. Consistent and high quality service across the organization. Yes it is a little more complex to train someone and yes it takes times to gain experience but it is far from an insurmountable task to maintain and deliver consistent ‘go beyond‘ service.
So it is my ambition to crown the business – so the business is King, not the founder. In the same way, we develop a sustainable business model and a business that can weather people leaving and maintain the type of consistency which resonates with our brand purpose – going beyond.