Hi, readers! I’m Mike Monfredi – CEO of our family’s small business, founder of MikedUp Blog, and I dabble as a forensic scientist (for my day job).
MikedUp Blog is all about helping readers unlock a better version of themselves through improvements in fitness, personal finance, small business ownership.
It’s not me up on a high horse, but rather us growing together.
And as I’ve found a lot lately, I have plenty of “teachable moments” that have cropped up throughout my life.
I am thrilled to be writing for you today, and I can’t thank The Money Mix enough!
I want to be known as the business owner who pays his employees “too much.” And believe me – I’m on my way.
At the end of each month our accountant sends me a month-end summary that includes our P&L (Profit and Loss Statement), income report, and expenses by category (among many other things) – and one of the metrics I love checking through at the end of each month is a comparison of our expenses against industry-standard percentages.
When it comes to overhead, supplies, fees, and marketing, I will pinch every last penny and squeeze every supplier. I’ll pit equipment salespeople against each other to compete for our business, I painstakingly negotiated our current lease, and I’m not afraid to tell our marketing company when they’re not getting the job done.
I’m not a jack-wagon when I do these things, I’m a matter-of-fact professional that has it in his job description as CEO to maximize profits…
But when it comes to employee expenses, if our percentage doesn’t exceed the industry standard, then I’m wondering how we went wrong
I recently published a post on my site (From Broke to Ballin’ – How to Up Your Business’ Profit the Right Way) that detailed how we went from near-bankruptcy to a passing grade in our first year of business ownership. We grew 18.5% and earned 150 reviews as a dental office amidst many hurdles and crazy circumstances. It was a wild ride…
And as I sat down to write out our plan’s steps – how we grew so efficiently – the first two steps were entirely focused on our staff. Our Team (as I refer to them):
- Hire/keep the right people
- Institute Extreme Ownership as our business’ culture.
Why were those steps the most critical factors in growing our business successfully?
Because there are no more essential assets in your company than your people – And here’s why
1- Your Teammates are your frontline troops
Sure, you as the CEO, boss, or owner may have your picture on a billboard or the website, but when the actual work needs to get done – it’s one of your employee’s faces that greets your customers. And when the customer walks in through that door, the emotions one of your employee’s faces will set the customer’s opinion of your operation in an instant.
Happy and pleasant tends to lead to a great first impression and, more likely, a positive experience.
Annoyed and watching the clock… Not so much.
What we do
First, we make sure that one of our most happy, upbeat, and welcoming employees is planted in the role that will interact with our customer first. We want to set the mood in such a positive direction that the customer will end up loving anything we do from here on out.
We also train that first interaction. We’ll practice the greeting, as well as discuss the customers we have coming in for a day during our team’s morning huddle. That way, our all-star up front is prepared for who’s walking through the door (i.e., what’s the wife’s name? How many kids? New job? – How’s it going?…).
With an employee that’s generally upbeat and prepared to know our customers on a personal level, it’s not incredibly challenging to make a great first impression.
And if that’s done well, you’ve earned the opportunity to send a walking advertisement out of your office in the form of a happy customer.
2- Your customers will see how much or little your Team respects you
If there’s one thing that a customer can see plain as day – it’s whether or not your people recognize you as a person.
When the relationships are toxic, and no respect is shared, your customers subconsciously lose respect for you and your business. However, if you outwardly treat your team with respect, and you work together as a unit to solve problems, the customer will take notice.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. All other things equal, if one option treats his employees with respect and courtesy while the other is rude and overbearing… Who are you choosing to give your money to? Yeah – me too.
3- You won’t enjoy going to work with a lousy Team
Enough with the customer’s point of view, let’s talk about your favorite subject for a minute… YOU (the business owner)!
You owe it to yourself to invest in the relationships you build with your team, because whether you’re on good terms or bad – you’re still spending 40 hours (minimum) per week with these folks.
And are you ready for some hard truth…? If these relationships are terrible, there’s no one else to blame but YOU. You hired/kept them, “developed” them and ultimately created the culture they work in. So take Extreme Ownership of your business’ culture and build some great working relationships with your Team.
You’ll thank yourself later.
4- If a customer doesn’t know you but loves a member of your staff – they are a loyal customer
My wife and I are incredibly fortunate as business owners to have Rockstars across the board on our team… But there’s one person in particular that our patients love unconditionally (we’ll call her Jess)
Patients ask for Jess when they schedule appointments, they’re always excited to update her with current events, and when they write positive reviews about our business (which is often) – 50% of the time they’re about Jess.
Because of all the love that Jess gets from our patients, I find myself treating her more like a star quarterback than a fullback in a pass-heavy offense. I do that because I know that if Jess is happy in her role, then we can count on that positive feedback through customer reviews, Facebook posts, and interactions on social media.
You can’t buy that stuff with your marketing dollars…
5- You can’t do everything yourself
It may be a day, a week, or a year, but eventually, you’ll realize the above point. And when that time comes, it is V-I-T-A-L that you have people to rely on.
Having a team you trust takes work off your plate. Period.
But more than that, you literally cannot be everywhere at once. I’ll default to the dental practice because that’s what I know – here’s an example:
If you’re up front because you don’t trust your team to handle the money and insurance claims, who is with your patients making sure the experience is a great one? If you’re with the patients, who is handling your money, scheduling appointments, and seeing that the practice’s lifeblood is flowing?
You with me?
Can’t do it all, Boss. So you’d better start building unique relationships with your team now because you will need to trust someone with your money or your customers… And you can’t stay in business without both.
6- A Rockstar Team can grow your business exponentially
If you’re investing in your team’s personal development and your workplace’s environment, you’re giving your people the tools needed to think up crazy new ideas. And believe me, that’s phenomenal.
In fact, we incentivize innovation in our office.
We kickstarted the innovation process by asking our people for ideas and by soliciting their help to develop and fine-tune the crazy ideas my wife and I came up with. By showing our Team that it’s cool to think outside of the box – it freed up our people to get ‘crazy’ with their ideas as well. Here’s what I mean:
- We’ve had one employee call our dental laboratory to negotiate lower fees for the products they provide.
- Another developed a membership program that helps to provide lower-cost procedures to our patients without dental insurance.
- One teammate developed a kid’s corner that highlights all the cavity free kiddos that visited our office for a month. At month’s end, we draw one name for a Dairy Queen gift card (who doesn’t love ice cream?)
Without the environment that supports each other’s ideas and encourages innovation, we’d be paying more for lab work, missing out on uninsured patients, and probably treat fewer kids.
So when our people bring these ideas to us, we make a point to provide some financial/benefits compensation for increasing the business’ bottom line. That positive feedback for innovating at the office feeds on itself. Now we’re always thinking up new ideas that are both good for the bottom line and for the patients we serve! Win-win.
7- A bad team will eventually cause you to fail and may land you in court
“People do business with people they like.” Have you heard this expression? Well, I have, and I’ve seen quite often that this is the case.
If customers don’t like your staff for whatever reason, and they don’t like you, there will eventually come a time when that customer is no longer yours. Extrapolate that one customer to your entire customer pool and pretty quickly your business is trending toward the red.
Then, so help you if the “terrible review police” come out and let the Google machine know about how bad you are… In this day in age after you get a few 1-star reviews, just put up that white flag and get ready for the “rebrand.”
And all kidding aside, if your Team is terrible to the point of negligence or has some other terrible attribute, you could wind up defending yourself in court for something that one of your staff did to a customer.
I don’t even want to think about that option, let alone write about it… But, I do remember all those legal fees we had to pay while setting up our business, negotiating our lease, and whatever another crazy thing we had to do to get started. And I don’t want to go back to that place.
So let’s focus on developing our people, creating an environment for innovation, and crushing the hell out of excellent customer experience, eh? Cool.
8- Happy team, happy life
“Happy wife, happy life.” I’m stealing that and “making it my own” (as Simon Cowell used to say). When the business is running smoothly, your staff is happy, and ultimately your customers are having great experiences visit after visit, your amount of input required is more on the maintenance/watchdog level.
Conversely, when your staff hates their job and can’t wait to go home, you might imagine the constant source of small fires cropping up daily at the office. And to put them out you’re either spending actual capital or mental energy, both of which could be focused on more proactive measures to advance your business. But once you’re stuck in reactive mode, it’s so difficult to dig out.
You invest in your people has an exponential return on your investment. When you care, your Team sees that and most often respects you more, finds ways to help the business improve, and they might enjoy coming to work. Then, your customers observe that respect and teamwork when they visit your office, and it positively influences them. And ultimately you have happy customers telling their friends about your business.
So when we’re making decisions about raises and benefits, my philosophy is to pay them well and keep them forever.