Each individual has their own personality that is known to those that know them. Some people are gruff, some people are social, some people are always happy, some people are tight fisted with money, some people are gracious, and on and on, but all of us have traits that we are known for. Acquaintances know and remember us for whatever the personality is that we have exhibited to them.
For the last decade or so, business also have became know for their “personality” or what is commonly referred to as their “Corporate Culture”. The corporate culture that you create with your staff and employees can become a big advantage in gaining business for your firm or it can, if you don’t watch out, become a big albatross around your firm’s neck when you are trying to grow the business or hire new employees.
I thought of this topic yesterday when reading an article in our local paper by our Chamber of Commerce Director about how a culture can help or hurt your business. You can read that article here.
While I didn’t set out to create a corporate culture I know the business that I managed had an air of professionalism to it that funeral directors enjoyed working in and we also had a positive role in always being a community partner that created good will with potential consumers.
In the work environment the one thing that stands out to me that created a positive professional culture was that we asked each funeral director to “be in charge” of their family clientele. What I mean by this is that if Funeral Director “A” made the initial arrangements with a client family, then Funeral Director “A” carried out that funeral service as the “Lead” director from arrangements through disposition. No manager or owner took away the opportunity from that funeral director to serve the client family in the best way they thought possible. In my opinion, that created leadership skills, self-satisfaction, and a positive self-image for our funeral directors. So, leading or managing your own families became part of our corporate culture that our directors were happy with. That corporate culture item helped when trying to employ new directors as needed.
A couple of outward “towards the consumer” culture items we had was that we “Served regardless of ability to pay” and we “responded to death calls immediately” at all hours. I found over the years that both of those items, and how we were seen in the community because of them, added a number of calls to our yearly call number which resulted in higher profits. Even pastors and priests in our community knew that we would not ask financial questions on first calls and suggested us to families many times because of that.
Most business experts would tell you that you should never “serve a family before finding out their ability to pay”. However, over my career, I found out that no one really wanted to cheat a funeral home out of the money owed them. Families sometimes struggled to pay and sometimes we had to offer a discount, but in the long run, because we were willing to work with them we gained other members of the family that we had never served before. At the end of the day, I believe we came out ahead.
So, I would say that our corporate culture or image to the consumer was 1) They have a heart, 2) They are prompt and professional, and 3) They are a big part of our community. I think that thought process about our culture helped us gain market share and profits.
Take a real good look in the mirror and decide if your business culture is helping attract employees and clients, or is it hurting?