How to Build Company Culture to Increase Business Success

Post date :

Feb 26, 2024

Building and maintaining your company's culture — aka the shared values, priorities, and behaviors of everyone on your team — is essential to the success of your business. Doing so can reduce employee turnover, increase efficiency and productivity, improve the customer experience, create a strong sense of community, and promote innovation. However, the key to creating and maintaining a strong company culture is to do it thoughtfully and deliberately. To get started, here are key questions to ask yourself and recommended actions to take.

Key Questions:

What do you want from this company?

Write out the goals for your business. It's best if there are timelines associated with them. For example:

  • In 1 year, we will look like…

  • In 5 years, we will generate XYZ revenue from ABC customers…

  • In 12 years, we will be able to sell the business for 3x revenue at a value of $12M

These goals do not have to result in a sale. For instance, your goal could be to “build a profitable business that allows me to get out of the field, work less than 40 hours per week, and create an income of $200k/year while attending all of my kid's events.”

Having the goal is the point here. Think about the reasons you're building this business and what you wish to get out of it. Then, you can start setting up plans to accomplish those goals. You can also revisit these goals from time to time (monthly, quarterly, annually) to make sure they still align with your current plans. 

What will be required to attain your goals and objectives?

Once you have your business goals in place, you can start thinking about how to achieve them. Some of the big areas to set specific targets are:

  • Timelines: How long will it take to hit your goal? Can you break this into smaller annual targets?

  • Metrics and milestones: Take your end goal and break it down into a series of measurable milestones. If you want $1M in revenue in 3 years, how much should you have at the end of Years 1 and 2? 

  • Headcount: How many people will it take to build and support your business at each major milestone? If you want to have $1M in revenue in 3 years, what does that business look like and when would you need to hire those people? 

  • Your time and effort: How many hours a week/month/year will be required of you right away and throughout your plan? Do you have those hours available and are you willing to give that much time and effort? 

  • Money: What is the cost of setting up and building this business? This is where having some solid financial advice can help you immensely. We recommend speaking with experts — even if only briefly — to get some guidance on the costs associated with your overall plans. FRAXN, which specializes in pest control, is an example of an industry-specific financial team.

What motivates your team?

It's essential to understand what your team members are looking for in their careers. Is this a ‘9-to-5 job’ where they just want to clock in and clock out? Are they looking to learn and eventually start their own business? How about promotion or salary expansion? Some of your employees might be really into perks and time off or travel. You won’t know unless you ask. Figure out what motivates them and what they want to accomplish inside your business so you can align their goals with your business outcomes.

Actions to Take:

Work ON your business vs. IN your business

If your goal is to build a business that you ultimately run and do not provide services yourself, then you will need to spend time working ON your business and not IN your business. In the early days, this will be a tug-of-war with your time, so schedule time to work on items that expand the company rather than just scaling your own service hours.

  • Marketing and sales: Time and money spent on growing your customer base will help drive revenue to expand your team and your business overall. Look at hiring a local small marketing agency to help you with things like your website, social media, and Google placement. If the spend creates equivalent revenue, then it’s worth it. In addition, tools like GlassHouse can help you collect happy customer reviews to boost your online presence. 

  • Hiring and training: To increase revenue, you’ll eventually need to increase your team size (you don’t scale infinitely). Before you start adding headcount, make sure you have a way to train new hires and get them up to speed quickly. Also consider how you plan to recruit new employees to your business. 

  • Documenting your SOPs: Write down your playbook. How you sell, how you engage the buyer, how you behave on-site, what follow-up looks like. This will help you with training but also with being consistent in the delivery of the services you offer. If it’s not written down, you’re either going to be explaining everything to every employee or the employee will just do things their own way. 

  • Accounting and finance: Set up an easy-to-use accounting process. This will serve you well in two key areas: 1) invoicing effectively and getting paid quickly is very important as you look at your cash flow; and 2) your ability to produce accurate financial reports will unlock access to debt financing or investment should you want to look at those growth options. No one is going to lend you money if your books are a mess. 

Present your mission and values up front

When you hire new team members, take the time to onboard them into their job and also into your company. Talk about your goals, your company mission, and what you believe in. Your ability to clearly communicate the way you expect your team to behave and how you want them to treat customers and each other will set the tone for the entire organization. 

Don't forget you’re the owner

Not everyone wants to start and build a business. It’s a risk and it’s hard. Keep in mind that your team is signing up to work IN your business, and unless you're going to make them equity partners, they don’t have the same long-term incentives that you do. This is useful when determining the expectations you set for your team. Consider things from their perspective as employees, and remember, likely no one will care about your business as much as you do. 

Remember you are in the people business

Your business may offer home services, but you are also in the ‘people business.’ Your business is based on person-to-person delivery of your services and products. Don’t forget to consider the human element when making decisions that impact your customers and/or your team members. People often forget the details of an encounter, but they’ll almost always remember what you did and how you made them feel. Delighting your customers and your team will help you build loyalty from both. 

Treat your team well

Your team is going to take their own experience working in your business and express that to your customers. If you have happy and motivated teams, then you will have a better chance to create happy and loyal customers. If your team is disgruntled and unhappy, your clients will likely feel that during their interactions with your employees. 

Pro tip: If you can find time even once a month/quarter to get in the field and run a route or interact directly with customers, you can get a better sense of your team's working conditions and the challenges they're facing. 

Another way to collect this information is to use a tool like GlassHouse to collect feedback from your clients AND your team members to see where there are any potential issues. If you have clients or staff who are constantly unhappy, dig in and find out why. 

Set standards & hold people accountable

A big part of your job as a business owner is to set the standards and expectations for the team. 

  • Make sure you're also holding yourself to the same standards. If you can ignore them, so can the team. 

  • Set the bar high, even if you come up short sometimes. You’ll have a high starting point from which to measure performance. 

  • Clearly articulate your expectations to the team. Write them down if you can. Ambiguity will allow everyone to set their own service level standards. 

Ask for feedback & then apply it

Collecting feedback from your customers helps you in many ways. Google reviews can boost your online reputation and help drive business. But that's not the only value in the customer feedback. You can also review this information to identify training opportunities, market opportunities to introduce new products or services, and areas where your team is struggling. Take the time to review this feedback and look for trends. If you have a tool that lets you quickly and easily look at this information, make sure to do so. 

An often-overlooked type of feedback is from your internal team. Get feedback from your staff on their working conditions and the jobs themselves to get a better picture of how your business is operating day-to-day. GlassHouse can help you collect and compare both types of feedback and see where there are gaps in the experience of the customer or the service team. 

Follow the "trust equation"

There is a popular equation for how trust is built. It comes down to doing what you say you will… consistently. This goes for your engagements with clients, vendors, staff, investors, partners… everyone. All of your stakeholders will look at whether you consistently deliver on your promises to them when assessing if they can trust you to deliver in the future. 

Every company has a culture. Regardless of what you do or don't do, a culture WILL be created in your company. The difference is whether it's created by you (with intent) or for you (based on what you tolerate from others). This decision will have a big impact on the success of your business, so choose wisely.