How can a company that sells the same product at the same price as its competitors differentiate itself?
The Scooter Store has found its competitive edge by being passionate about its people. That's the conclusion I came to when I recently worked with this quarter-of — a-billion-dollar business that provides power wheelchairs and scooters.
Based just outside San Antonio, The Scooter Store dominates its industry sector with more than 30 percent of the market. The company's culture is built around three key tenets, patterned on the principles described in Verne Harnish's Mastering the Rockefeller Habits:
HAVE CLEAR GOALS — At The Scooter Store, they call them “rocks,” and they re-prioritize three to five rocks every quarter — to be finished in that quarter. Where do the goals come from? The employees. (They call them “employee-owners.”) Front-line managers submit ideas suggested by their employee-owners, and front-line teams come up with priorities by asking simple questions such as “What can we do better?” And there are plenty of employee and customer surveys for additional input.
INVOLVE PEOPLE IN ACHIEVING THOSE GOALS — The Scooter Store does this through “huddles” every morning for 10 to 15 minutes. Each employee-owner describes his or her No. 1 priority for the day and any barriers to achieving it. Everyone votes on the top team priority, and then the manager passes the group's No. 1 on to a second-level huddle that is held right after the first huddle, all the way up to the executive team. On Fridays, The Scooter Store breaks its “meeting rhythm,” as they call it, for “IQs” (ideas or questions) that every employee has for achieving that quarter's rocks.
CELEBRATE — This is a company that likes to have fun! How else can you explain having a full-time employee whose job is to blow up and deliver balloons all day long to deserving folks? Or the fact that they use more confetti than any other enterprise in Texas? Or the fact that they have a “Vice President of Celebration”? The employee-owners of The Scooter Store have dozens of themed, celebratory events each year, culminating with an all-hands gala that recognizes individuals who best embody the company's core ideologies.
Sounds like a great place to work, right? You could check it out yourself, but they're all likely to be on the five-day cruise the company is hosting for all employee-owners and their guests to celebrate its 15th anniversary. I almost forgot to mention that!
Bob Nelson, PhD, is president of Nelson Motivation Inc., San Diego; best-selling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees; and a frequent presenter to management groups and conferences. For more information, visit www.nelson-motivation.com.