Container Store operates 59 locations, booked sales of $707m last year and six years ago sold a majority stake to a Private Equity House.  CEO Kip Tindell was interviewed on March 21 by the WSJ. Note the following facts from this interview:

  • People in this company never leave – turnover rate 5.7%
  • Invest an average of 263 hours in employee training, compared with eight hours at most retailers
  • Full-time salespeople earn an average $48,000 per year, double the industry average
  • Belief system -if employees aren’t happy, customers aren’t happy and then shareholders aren’t happy
  • Big believer in many meetings with lots of different people to solve problems

As you define who you are in the marketplace you start to tell a story. That story describes not just the positioning of the company but how you do business. It describes how you treat staff if only indirectly sometimes. Are you playing it safe? Can customers differentiate between you and the next guy? Can potential new talent thinking of joining you really see the difference between you and the next guy? There are two main stakeholder audiences that can seriously help you scale your business – your customers (existing and potential) and your staff (existing and potential). Both these audiences want to engage at a human level, not just a technology level, not just at a price level or a functionality level. Both audiences want to engage in your business on a person-to-person level. And it doesn’t need to be a retailer like Container Store that proves the point. Maybe making your business a little quirkier is the answer. Maybe making your business a little more remarkable, worthy of remark is a winning strategy. Here are some questions worth considering if your business is not scaling, not attracting great talent, not growing at 30%.

  1. Have you established a formal internal training university that’s fun but teaches and builds a more effective workforce?
  2. Does your web site really reflect your personality, your uniqueness, even your weirdness?
  3. Are you allowing your staff to use their initiative to solve problems?
  4. Are you testing out new ideas on staff or on customers?
  5. Do you really understand why customers invest in your service?
  6. Does your interview process turn candidates off or turn them on?
  7. Do you measure the stuff that makes you special?
  8. Have you worked out what your competitors don’t deliver to the market that you know is needed?
  9. Does your culture really allow promotion of people based on merit not experience?
  10. Have you worked out how important the mood, behavior and objectives of the CEO are to the state of mind of all employees?

Winning in any marketplace is about going to a place your competition aren’t or can’t. The middle of the envelope is a very scary and dangerous place. Find your edge.

Reach out anytime if you need help finding a quirkier, more remarkable business model that scales.