How to Build an Organization That Will Last
Within the first year, 20 percent of new businesses fail, and after 5 years from starting, that rate increases to nearly 50 percent. So, what is the secret to your “Staying Power,” or remaining competitive and guaranteeing you’ll still be in business 20 years from now? From what I have seen in more than a decade of recruiting talent and working with organizations of various industries, including parking, there is one common thing that guarantees success and longevity and that is good management - both of the business itself and your people.
1. Start with Hiring for Fit
The first step to having “Staying Power” is hiring the right people to begin with. Skills, background, and experience are all incredibly important, but fit is the most important thing that needs to be considered. When you are looking to hire a candidate, make sure that personalities, values and work styles will complement yours, and the team’s, and support the vision for the future. Failing to carefully look for a good fit in a candidate will result in losing the employee within the first six months. This creates a new skills gap, reshuffled responsibilities, lost knowledge, missed opportunities and wasted resources. Additionally, your reputation can quickly become tarnished if this happens repeatedly - to the point where great talent will avoid you altogether. Your business is only as strong as the people who work there, so hire the best talent you can find that is the best fit for your organization.
2. Develop Strong Third-Party Relationships
Let’s face it, no one likes to be treated like a cog in a wheel or have a transactional working relationship. “Staying Power” doesn’t always mean retaining your own people, it includes retaining the vendors and partners within your product and operations ecosystems. By establishing positive, trusted relationships with vendors, partners, and third-party suppliers, they will choose to continue working with you. The way you treat these vendors sets the example for and impacts your employees’ perceptions of how you may eventually treat them. Everyone is a lot happier and productive when there is little conflict or contention among teams and external vendors. Additionally, if a partnership ends with a supplier or vendor, it will cost a great deal of your team’s time and resources to find, vet, select and onboard a replacement vendor.
3. Branding Isn’t Just for Customers
A lot of companies think that branding means the logo, colors, and design that you use in marketing, but most forget that the “Experience” is the most powerful part of any brand. The employee experience is important for not only attracting the best talent, but retaining it as well. Follow through with promises to your team members and assure they feel valued and appreciated. This helps create a better workplace culture where your team members trust you and are motivated to perform. Building and creating a positive employee experience is an ongoing effort and will always have an impact on the customer experience. When it comes to sales and support this is critical. A motivated and happy sales or support team will perform better, hit milestones sooner and add more value in their relationships with customers. This affects not only your bottom line, but your reputation within the industry by attracting new talent and building customer “Staying Power.”
A large part of why parking businesses fail in the long-term is culture. When talent and people leave because of culture, this means they feel undervalued, unappreciated or disrespected in the workplace. Building a culture is more than just benefits, perks, compensation, and rewards - it’s about building a strong team of people who value one another as colleagues and as individuals. This starts with your team being fulfilled in the work that they do and how they contribute to the organization. Ensure that your team members enjoy the work that they do by asking:
• Are there any areas they would like to gain more experience in?
• What plans do they have for their career in the next few years ahead?
• Does an employee have a good working relationship with their manager?
• Does leadership communicate effectively, consistently and clearly?
Building a positive culture across the organization will not only help you retain your top performers for years, but also build a stronger employer brand for hiring future talent.
5. Reflect and Learn.
No company or organization is perfect - even the ones that have been around for over 30 years. Every once in a while, we all make mistakes due to any number of reasons such as inexperience, personality clashes, accountability and more. The most important thing is to reflect and learn from it. Remember that mistakes and failures have value - but only if you look back honestly at what you did in the situation and learn from the experience. Failing to take a closer look will result in the same mistakes happening again in the future. Ask yourself:
• What could have been avoided or done differently?
• Was there a better course of action for correction?
• How has this affected my team emotionally and physically?
• How has this affected the business monetarily?
• Was the consequence a fair reaction to the situation or problem at hand?
To truly have “Staying Power” as a startup in parking, you will need to have the right management in place. Implementing a strong hiring process and creating a positive employee experience will result in a great culture. Committing to partnerships and relationships with vendors and learning from any missteps will result in better management of the business. Happy employees translate to happy customers, and happy customers are less likely to move on and look elsewhere for a similar product or solution.
Kathleen Laney is the founder of Laney Solutions, a solution for recruitment within the parking industry. Learn more at LaneySolutions.com.