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Creating a Culture Employees Don’t Want to Leave

Special Guests

Joe Zucarello returns with a big question – what are you doing to keep your employees? Tune in for Joe’s five steps to create a culture your employees won’t want to leave. Increase your engagement, retention, and loyalty.

  • What do customers and employees have in common?
  • How do I keep my employees engaged?
  • What does “high touch, not high tech” mean?
  • How can I reduce a lofty vision into one that’s easy to follow?
  • Do I have to achieve perfection to improve my team’s culture?

Tune in to find out.

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Transcript
Announcer: Welcome to “Hey Joe!”, a podcast answering questions asked by our listeners, created by pet professionals for pet professionals. And now your host, “Hey Joe!”‘s very own Joe Zuccarello.

Joe Zuccarello: What’s up everyone? Joe Zuccarello here, and welcome to “Hey Joe!”, a podcast brought to you by Paragon School of Pet Grooming. Check out our site at paragonpetschool.com for lots of really cool information on a variety of programs, products, and to connect to educational resources such as webinars, podcasts, current events, special news, certifications, and lots of other helpful information to help you grow yourself, your team, and of course your business. Let’s get started with this week’s episode.

Hey everyone, this is Joe Zuccarello, your host of the “Hey Joe!” Podcast, and this week’s episode is sort of unique for us. We’ve been doing a podcast now since probably the mid point of 2018, and we have had some spectacular guests along the way. And kicking off this new year, one of the things that I’d like to do is bring a couple of patterns or a couple of series to all of the podcasts listeners out there, and the very first one that I wanted to introduce and kind of take solo for this first episode is culture, and trying to define what a culture means, and just the power and the influence that a culture has in your business.

And you know, if I’m asked anything, it’s oftentimes the most popular question that I’m asked when I’m wrapping up a seminar or being asked to do a seminar or even just speak to any group of people, even individuals who approach me at trade shows and such, and that one question is, “Where do I find good help? Where do I find good employees? Where do I find groomers? Where do I find great pet lodging attendants or daycare attendance or trainers?” Or even, “Where do I find great receptionists?”

And I get that question asked more and more often, and it started to kind of shape maybe why maybe I was inspired to bring this particular series to you, because I get asked that more. What I get asked less of the time is, “How do I keep good groomers? How do I keep good receptionists? How do I keep good daycare attendants,” and such? So I started to kind of unpack this concept a little bit, and it goes, in my opinion, it kind of comes down to the culture that you’re creating in your business.

So over the course of this series of interviews with future podcast guests, I’m going to be taking a little bit of a deeper dive into the different elements that maybe some special businesses out have created in their culture. And what’s interesting is that I don’t believe that everybody does it the exact same way, but I bet once we start interviewing and uncovering some of those key elements, we’re going to be able to start recognizing some of the commonalities, some of the things that most of these successful culture creators are doing in their business.

And so to kick it off, I did want to kind of maybe bring a couple of these topics front of mind, because it will guide the way that we talk in the series with future guests. And the very first one is kind of a challenge to you, and that might be focusing on retention and less on recruitment. And you know, when I look at that, I think, okay, well then it kind of goes back to my business background, my business degree background, and when you start talking about the different types of customers that we have. So we have internal customers and we have external customers. Well, the external customers are easy to define, right? They’re the clients. They’re the ones coming in and spending their money with us, right? But as we start to look at the other type of customer, that customer is our internal customers. Well, some of you are familiar with this concept while maybe others of you are not.

So let’s take a moment to talk about these internal customers. Yes, believe it or not, you have these internal customers that are in some cases maybe even more important than the external customers, because I think without first having the internal customers established, the external customers are going to be even that much more of a challenge to get. So here’s the big question. Do you give as much attention to keeping your employees as you do keeping your clients? Let that soak in for a minute and just marinate in that for a moment. Do you give as much attention to keeping your employees as you do to getting and keeping your clients? And if all of a sudden you start to see that as an imbalance one way or the other, it might be that you’re struggling with creating that culture then and focusing on the culture in your business.

Now, whether you are owners or managers of grooming or pet care provider services out there, or pet care provider companies out there, or you are a member of a team, everybody has a role to play in developing culture. And even though this might seem like we’re speaking just to the owners and managers out there, that couldn’t be further from the truth because everybody has that important role, so we need to understand what that role is and how we play it. So there’s, just like a good stage performance, everybody has a part of the act, a part of the show, if you would. Take a play out of Disney’s leadership training. Businesses forget sometimes that we are on stage, that we are bringing a show to our customers, and as I start to use the word “customers,” I want you now to start thinking about internal and external customers.

So in business, as I mentioned before, we have these external customers and we have these internal customers. Again, it’s very easy to identify the external ones, but sometimes it’s those internal ones that kind of slip under the radar or maybe this is the first time you’re being introduced to that concept, but if it’s not the first time that you’ve been introduced to the concept of internal customers, maybe it’s a good refresher to you or maybe you’ve forgotten the importance of these folks.

So we do focus a lot of energy on keeping and getting these external customers. We encourage word of mouth referrals. We have a stronger and growing presence on social media. We are trying to master and figure out what we can do to market our business. We’re working on relationship skills with these external customers. We’re working on, “How do we provide better service?” And we’re even sometimes working on our selling skills, or like what we’ve called in our previous podcast episodes, or the JZ 10s on learn2groomdogs.com for the members, as recommending with conviction.

So you think about all of the effort, all of the energy that we’re pouring into all of those different elements, and then there’s probably 10 more online that we focus on as well, maybe it’s safety, quality, efficiency, all of those things, in order to keep our external customers coming to us, do we spend this same amount of attention toward keeping our internal customers? Do we work on trying to recruit through word of mouth referrals or do we promote what we do as a team on social media? Do we look and see, “How are we marketing ourselves and our culture to our internal business and working on our relationship skills with our internal customers?”

My guess is, listen, I’m as guilty as everybody else in forgetting sometimes that this is very important. So I would say myself, I would say that I fail in this aspect from time to time as well. And so it’s okay if all of a sudden this is kind of a dose of reality, a splash of cold water in your face saying, “Oh my gosh, I don’t spend that amount of time.” So I’m going to give you five different topics to kind of focus on as we go through, not only as you go through your day, but as we go through this series of interviewing podcast guests that do these things really, really well. And some will do some of these things better than others. Some will do one thing really good, and they’re still working on the other four, and some are just master. Some have just really just got it hammered and figured out, hammered out and figured out on how to master all of these five elements of developing a culture that employees don’t want to leave, and that’s the magic. That’s the big goal, is creating a culture that employees don’t want to leave.

So stick around also to the end of this podcast because I’m going to give you an opportunity to download this free guide, this Culture Check Guide, and on the guide there are all of these five elements are on there, and maybe this serves as a roadmap for you moving forward into this wonderful new year that we are all in, and in a great industry as well. So let’s go through the five elements of the culture check when we’re talking about creating that culture that employees don’t want to leave. And again, focusing as much on retention of our internal customers as we do our external customers.

So the very first one, and there’s a reason why it’s number one, but the very first one is, “Why do you do what you do?” Have you ever really sat down and asked yourself that question? Do you have a clear vision for why you or your business exist? Does your team have a clear understanding of what your vision is for your business and why you do what you do? It’s a really big question, but it’s number one because it’s really big in importance, and that is answering that question why. And we’re going to come back around in item number three and help you to try to identify or to kind of check to make sure that you’re doing what you want to do in your business from a why perspective.

There’s an author out there that I really, really enjoy reading and watching his videos, and basically I consume everything that he creates. And that’s Simon Sinek, S-I-N-E-K. So do a quick Google search on Simon Sinek, and you’re going to find somebody who has really great why-based skills that you can master to help grow not only you, but your team and your business. So Simon Sinek is one of my favorites out there. So number one is, “Why do you do what you do? And does your team have a clear understanding of what that is?”

And here’s kind of a little secret. For all of you that are parents out there, you probably already understand this, but for all of you that are not parents just quite yet or have not been parents for some time, number one of this, “Why do you do what you do?” I’m a big fan of modeling, and believe it or not, however you’re behaving, however you approach business, your team is watching you, and they’re watching you when you don’t even realize they’re watching you. So I’m a big fan of learning through observation and teaching through observation and modeling, and that is one of the things that kind of fits right into that number one topic of creating a culture that your employees don’t want to leave, which is, “Why do you do what you do?”

Number two, that second element is, “What does it look like when it’s done correctly?” And this is one of the things that the team at Paragon School of Pet Grooming and learn2groomdogs.com, we ask this question constantly of each other, of, “What does it look like when it’s done correctly?” Why do we ask that? And some people say that there’s another way of framing this, and it’s kind of starting with the end in mind. What it means is, if you were going to draw a perfect picture for somebody to emulate, for somebody to duplicate, for somebody to be inspired, what does it look like when it’s done correctly?

And what I really like about this is that this kind of helps define how we guide our team, right? Or how we guide each other, and believe it or not, people like to be told what to do. And what I mean by that is, people appreciate clear guidance, and what is expected of them. And so the question here is, do you provide clear direction and clear expectations of what “correct,” quote-unquote “correct” looks like? And what I really like about this one, this is a really simple one to solve for, and that is not only being able to speak about a clear vision, but let’s just go ahead and show a clear vision.

And sometimes people get caught up in saying, “Well, vision is very big and vision is very lofty.” It doesn’t have to be. I have sometimes a vision of what a perfectly mopped floor might look like, and so I know that sounds silly, but if I were to ask, which I have, a lot of the people that listen to this podcast are just people in the industry that I know, “How do you demonstrate or how do you describe what a perfectly mopped floor might look like?” And I know I’m using an extreme example to make a really clear and simple point, but it’s important, right? Do you have a checklist? Okay, well maybe that’s great. Maybe that’s a checklist saying that they’ve accomplished a task or that they’ve done a task but not necessarily how to do the task or how they’ve done the task. So some then will say, “Well, I have an employee training manual, which describes exactly what they should be doing and what products they should be using and what tools they should be using.” And I think that’s a huge step in the right direction, but not necessarily where we should stop.

Here’s a challenge for you. In a world where we’re so inclined to consume our inspiration and our education visually, believe it or not, you might have to just video this. You might have to have somebody holding a cell phone, a mobile phone and capture video of you doing this process to the level that you want your team to do it. And then you can build this video library that is all about how they do certain tasks. Is this worth your time and investment or your investment of time? I would like to think that it absolutely is, because it leaves very little up for interpretation, right? And it’s so simple, and if, hey, if you’re not the best at doing this, then pick the superstar that’s on your team that does this the best, and record them and show this.

I’m often asked about uniforms and appearance, and what does correct look like from a professionalism or image standpoint? And I say, listen, find somebody that’s on your team that is of average body size, average looks and appearance, whatever, and take a picture of them, right? Take a picture of them wearing your uniform and say, “This is the model. This is what it is that we want to look like.” And of course everybody comes in different shapes and sizes and heights and ages and everything else. But it gives you an opportunity, and if you want to get very creative, and I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they do this, they take several pictures of several different people that are doing it correctly and that’s part of their digital manual as well.

So maybe the idea or maybe the concept of a written manual is starting to kind of move its way out of our system, because we are a very visual type of industry. Again, I like to say that we are a high touch industry, not necessarily high tech, but in this case, I think using tech to help us solve everyday simple guidance or simple direction and expectations is a perfect application.

So number one was, “Why do you do what you do?” Number two was, “What does it look like when it’s done correctly?” And number three, like I promised, this kind of ties a little bit into the number one and back into the why. This is the element or the idea of “because,” right? So if you answer everything you do starting with the word “because,” then you’re most likely focusing on the why you do what you do versus the what you do. Does that make sense?

So if you’re looking at this and if somebody says, “Well, why do you do that?” Or, “Why is this that way?” Well, then your very first word out of your mouth typically is “because.” Now, it shouldn’t be the only word, right? It’s not like when your kids are little and they say, “Why are we doing this?” And you say, “Because I said so.” No, that’s definitely not the right answer, right? But if you can describe everything you do by starting off with the word “because,” then you’re approaching everything you do from the why perspective.

Let me give you an example. So if somebody were to ask me … They don’t even really have to ask me. I say maybe, “Because I want to provide the best convenience for my customers, I will open my business a small amount of time earlier than the people I share the market with, my quote-unquote ‘competitors.'” Okay? “Because,” there it is naturally, right? “Because I believe we can grow through convenience, that is what we do.” So you see, after you start to kind of get in the groove of operating from a why perspective, these becauses, these because answers happen pretty, pretty easily.

Number four, continued education. Obviously I’m in the education business. So Paragon School of Pet Grooming, learn2groomdogs.com, both of our solutions are geared and aimed at continued education. So one thing that I recommend that you do is, don’t shoulder this burden yourself of bringing education to your team. Now, if you don’t do it at all, well then you have to start. Maybe you’re the one that kind of gets people inspired to do this, but encourage a culture of seeking and sharing information from the outside, not necessarily something that you’re going to bring to them that they’re going to learn in a day’s experience or dealing with customers throughout the day, which that’s a great learning opportunity, but not the only learning opportunity.

Encourage your team to seek education and training from the outside and then bring that in. Now, sometimes they’re not going to understand or be able to figure out when they can share that information and what’s most appropriate. So maybe part of creating a culture of learning, creating a culture, a sticky culture, where customers, your internal customers don’t want to leave, maybe you give everybody an opportunity, maybe it’s a once a week. We’d like to say that with learn2groomdogs.com, for example, our members tell us all the time that they have a brown bag lunch every Friday or every other Friday, they give a topic out there, the team goes and watches the videos or they find something even outside of traditional grooming industry education, and they bring that in, and what’s great is that they translate that into a learning experience.

Let me give you another extreme example to make a point. Let’s say that you’re going to encourage your team to learn anything, anything, and maybe even encourage them to learn something outside of pet grooming.

Just something out there that helps make them feel fulfilled, or successful, or educated. And let’s say it’s knitting, right? Let’s say you’ve got somebody, I know it sounds crazy, but just bear with me just for a moment, but let’s say it’s knitting. Well, something I would bet that is very, very important to being successful in knitting is patience, because that’s probably what rules it out for me, is the patience aspect, right? But patience can be important in a variety of different applications, so you probably already see where I’m going with this. So if even they’re learning knitting outside of grooming and sometimes you want to encourage them to get outside of the industry, to learn something outside of what they do every day so that what they’re learning outside of what they do is not work, right, but encourage them to translate those things.

“So what did you learn, Suzy, from taking a knitting class?” Or, “taking a ballroom dancing course?” Or, “taking a cooking class at the local culinary institute?” Or even grocery stores that offer those now, which is kind of cool, right? What are those elements that maybe they learn? Not the specifics, but what are the elements? Like I said, find those little nuggets of gold. Like in knitting, it might be patience. So encourage a continued education.

So to recap real quickly, we’ve gotten through four. We’ve gotten through number one, which is, “Why do you do what you do?” Number two is, “What does it look like when it’s done correctly?” Number three is “because.” Remember, trying to answer everything that you do with the word “because.” That helps us focus on that we’re doing our business from a why perspective, and then continued education is number four.

And number five, which is one of the most important, right? We cannot be successful, I believe, without doing this, and this is supporting our internal customers, supporting our team. Do they dread getting up and coming into work every day? Do you dread getting up and coming to work every day? One of the best ways to support them is simply creating this place where people want to work and where they want to learn and where they can feel successful and fulfilled. That’s sort of, folks, that’s sort of the magic bean out there. Again, I’d like to say that I’ve found the person that does this perfectly. I am far from the person that does that perfectly. I understand these things. They are an important part of my daily routine. They’re an important part of my daily interaction with my team, but I still have, and probably … Not probably. I will always have work to do in all five of these areas.

So just kind of start. Just start somewhere, and the best place to start, and I know that I rattled through these really quickly, and I know a lot of our podcast guests out there listen to this on their way to the office or maybe even during a lunch break or even during the day in your earbuds while you’re grooming, or while you’re providing professional pet care services. But that’s okay. We’re going to make it really simple for you. You can go to paragonpetschool.com and we’re going to make this PDF a free downloadable resource for you. If you are growing tomorrow’s leaders, share this with them, but share it as much as we possibly can.

Because I really believe that these elements, in any industry, but specifically the professional pet care services industry, is imperative to not only driving success in each business, and success in each person, but success for the industry in general. How can we do our parts so that our industry is viewed as a more professional industry, governing and commanding even greater respect out there? And I think that by bringing elements like this and focus like this does nothing but give us even more ammunition, more credibility to what it is that we do every day.

So again, this is a kickoff. This is an introduction to a series, and I don’t know. I hope we have several, several different podcast interviewees. I’ve already got some really, really great ones lined up for us in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned to the “Hey Joe!” Podcast. We always appreciate that you’ll listen out there, and for anybody that has any questions or any feedback, please feel free to send that along to us. I see all of those firsthand and directly. It’s easy to do. Simply email us at heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com so this is Joe Zuccarello, your host of the “Hey Joe!” Podcast, and until we talk again, I wish you the very best.

About Joe

Joe Zuccarello is VP of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, leaders in grooming education on campus and online. He possesses more than three decades of experience in the pet grooming, product development and pet business consulting disciplines.
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