When Carrie and I bought Roots Organic Juice Cafê, we knew the product was great! We were customers long before we were owners. And Roots was well-known for its fresh, organic, and healthy menu. We didn't want to change any of that. What we did want was for the business to begin to reflect our values and personalities.
We are a young-at-heart, laid-back, health-conscious, and somewhat irreverent couple who are active in and supportive of our local community. On Day One, we shared our values with our new team and started the continual process of embedding and reinforcing them throughout our business in how we work and interact with one another. Now, in a series of blog posts, we share those same values and experiences with you.
Roots Core Value #1
A Happy Team Makes Happy Customers
When you read the annual corporate reports from pretty much any major company in the world, you see at least three stakeholder groups mentioned -- shareholders, customers and employees. But notice the order of them. See how shareholders (i.e. owners) are listed first. That's often the case in large corporate environments in my experience. So much emphasis and energy is placed on increasing financial returns to the owners of the business. When I studied business in college, they taught my that the very purpose of a corporation was to maximize shareholder value. But we think these companies and my business school professors have it backwards.
At Roots, employees come first; customers second; and we, the owners, last. Always! One of the very first actions we took after taking over at Roots was to tear-up the incumbent employee discount policy. We replaced it with this:
- Coffee and tea are free while you work
- Everything else is half-off; anytime (whether you're on the clock or not)
- Be responsible and keep killing it!
That's it. That's our "policy." Three lines. No confusing stipulations or if/then conditions. It is rooted, pardon the pun, in the simple notion that our team is made up of responsible human beings, worthy of our respect. We start from a position of trust and go from there.
Another employee-first change we made was implementing sick pay. This may seem like a no-brainer. But many small-business and service-industry jobs don't have sick pay. If you miss work, you don't get paid. Period. Well, that didn't sit well with us. It incentivizes people to come to work when they are not well. This not only compromises their recovery time, but also puts the rest of the team and our customers at risk of catching what they've got. So we pay for sick time.
These are just a couple of examples of how we live this value at Roots. Some will think we're too naive or liberal with these practices. (Shout out to the few Theory X-ers still hanging on out there!) Others may think they're no big deal. But from our experience, I can say that this approach is having the desired effect. We have a team of twelve remarkable, fully engaged people at Roots who consistently act in the interests of both our customers and our business. And beyond this, we support and love one another in ways that transcend the workplace. That may not be the traditional bottom-line in business. But it sure makes these "shareholders" happy.