Just because you figured out how to manage a few people in your office doesn't mean you are ready to scale your company. More people means more voices, more opinions and potentially more headaches if you don't get everyone aligned around mission, vision and values. Spread them across multiple locations and you could have utter chaos.
On a recent episode of my podcast, YPO's 10 Minute Tips From the Top, I interviewed Christine Sfeir, who owns numerous Dunkin' Donuts stores throughout Lebanon (Yes you read that right, apparently Dunkin' Donuts is very popular in the Middle East).
Sfeir, a member of the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO), runs more than 30 stores profitably and has expanded her new Mediterranean restaurant chain Semsom worldwide; she already has one location in Manhattan at Astor Place and is set to launch two more in May and June. Sfeir was named the 15th most powerful Arab Woman according to Arabian Business Magazine and also placed 19th on Forbes Most Powerful Arab Women.
Sfeir often takes months to check in on every Dunkin' Donuts store and says that having the right employees and guidelines in place is key to maintaining a consistent infrastructure across numerous storefronts. She shared her tips for keeping the quality and culture consistent company wide.
1. Pick passion over skills.
Skills are crucial to any job, but potential means nothing if there is no desire. Sfeir noted that there are structures in place to teach the right skills for working at her restaurants, but the most important ingredient in an employee is passion. "Anything, [such as] how to do hummus or brew a coffee can be taught, but the behavior is difficult to be taught," Sfeir explained.
2. Test candidates for real.
Even when you interview prospects, there is no way of knowing how they might interact in the work environment. How will they get along with colleagues and customers? Part of Sfeir's interviewing process is to bring them into a store and see how the prospective employees interact with the world they will inhabit on a daily basis.
3. Cross-train to identify best skills.
Having many employees with distinct talents helps to cover the workload. But teammates that overlap each other's skills help the business grow. Not only do you have "backups" in the event that one employee is unavailable, but employees learn different ways to approach the same challenges and figure out more effective ways to do a given task. This can then be expanded across other locations.
4. Put rigid assessment in place, but make it positive for everyone.
To ensure high performance is consistent, Sfeir noted that having company-wide KPIs and internal auditing in place was essential. It gives consistent and common goals to all employees, making it easy for managers to surface issues and instill improvement. More importantly, Sfeir's KPIs ensure a win-win experience for everyone involved. "If the store is performing well, then everyone in the store gets something out of it," she revealed.
5. Give them an awesome experience.
Despite all your efforts to build a strong culture, employees will not enjoy working for your company if their experience is unsatisfactory. At her stores, Sfeir strives for what she calls a "Smiling Culture." "I always say we are in the smiling business." Sfeir noted. "We really need to make sure that people like to smile and make people happy."
Each week on his podcast, Kevin has conversations with members of the (YPO), the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.