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Create a Culture That 'Eats Strategy for Breakfast' Relentless commitment to core values is crucial for a business leader.
By Steve White, President and COO of PuroClean
For leaders of multinational brands with hundreds of locations, one of the biggest obstacles can be creating a culture that permeates throughout the entirety of the organization, resonating with each individual employee and franchise owner. As we approach the end of 2021 and I celebrate my 35th year in franchising, I have taken a moment to pause and reflect upon my journey, from the time I spent on executive leadership boards at Dominos and Allegra Network to the past eight years leading the charge at PuroClean. I brought many of the lessons I have learned over the past three decades with me to my role here, creating and cultivating a truly unique PuroClean culture—one we share consistently with our franchise owners and team members globally, helping equip them with the tools they need to better connect with their own communities.
One quote that has stuck with me throughout the years is, "culture eats strategy for breakfast." Over time at PuroClean, we've eliminated departmental silos, bringing team members together in an effort to establish a "One Team" approach that puts employees first, all with a shared set of core values. It's paying off, and this is something other brands can embrace, too, as we all continue navigating these very interesting times and head into a promising new year.
A three-pronged approach.
No company is single-faceted. Thus, a culture must reflect multiple values that leaders within the organization live by every day. When building the backbone of your brand, try to identify a unique mission that your company can gravitate toward, supporting a cause that is authentically tied to you that the company can support. For PuroClean, those values are "Servant Leadership," "Extreme Ownership," and "Active Collaboration."
Our values are inspired by the United States armed forces, where I and many of our team members served. Our culture revolves around servant leadership, leading your team boldly with the heart of a servant, and this starts at the top. As a leader, you are there with the sole purpose of helping your team, and you must lead by example. The notion of Extreme Ownership piggybacks off of that sentiment, which is: "be publicly accountable to demonstrate that your word is your bond." Finally, Active Collaboration refers to working hand-in-hand with franchise owners to operate as one unified team.
As the leader, you must "walk the walk" in front of your employees and embody your own core values. In franchising specifically, the agreement is a promise to serve franchise owners whose hard-earned capital has been invested into your company. Sitting down to listen to any negative feedback isn't always easy, but it is arguably the most important part of understanding where your franchise owners or members of your company are coming from. Doing your best to actively listen to every issue and frustration of franchise owners – those out there on the front lines – can and should empower you to develop solutions that can become long-term improvements.
Overcoming unexpected obstacles: 2020 and beyond.
Like virtually every industry in 2020, PuroClean pivoted to ensure we were cutting edge, employing innovative tactics to help communities across the country. This included rolling out enhanced, deep cleaning procedures to help our customers (homeowners and business owners) combat the pandemic.
While infusing our culture into the way we develop and deploy products and services, the other thing we've had to navigate over the last year, in particular, is how to continue humanizing our approach, providing the relentless service to our franchise owners for which we are known. Our leadership team put our heads together immediately to develop new courses and training initiatives around our new offerings; this ensures our owners are prepared for anything they may face and to considers what they themselves need. We spent longer hours online and digitized our resources for owners to ensure they had the support they needed throughout this pandemic and prioritized this conversation to strive to be better each day. Again, getting back to a "One Team" approach.
Fast-forward to today, almost two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, and we're living in a new normal. When navigating these times safely and effectively, we've also begun shifting our most important meetings and events back to in-person, as that connection is so critical. One recent example of this was our annual International Convention, which we hosted in-person in June and gathered to celebrate successes, learn through shared experiences, and build stronger strategic relationships. Bringing everyone from franchise owners, employees, and investors together from all rungs within the company and key partners within our network allowed members to make new connections, at a time when every connection is so important.
This year, we further expanded our training to enhance our cleaning processes, taking it to a new level with the introduction of a groundbreaking, one-of-a-kind, specialized process for biohazard remediation and forensic cleaning. This process restores properties affected by bloodborne and other infectious materials resulted from crime and trauma scenes, unattended deaths, hoarding, bioterrorism, and more.
In addition, I'm so proud to share that at PuroClean, we have worked to introduce advanced technological solutions to a virtual world, all the while motivating our team and network, growing staff, and showing how critically focused we are on our corporate culture.
To anyone who asks me about our successes, I always let them know that it is our culture that has ultimately defined our current strategy, allowing us to grow to where we are today. I recommend that everyone and every executive board member, no matter what their business, take the time to re-evaluate their core principles, especially after the last two years. Remember your "why" and ensure it permeates through your entire organization. Focus on things like service and innovation, and as you face challenges, remember that consistently focusing on your culture will position you for long-term success.