In late October I spoke to a roomful of restaurant marketers and shared a little known story about Whole Foods Market. This story has become a Whole Foods company campfire tale and for good reason… it’s a story that helped to shape the culture of the company in its early days.
As businesses grow, so does the need to hire more people to handle the increasing workload. Eventually all growing companies face the situation of needing to combine the talents and perspectives of long-time (old-school) employees with those of recently hired (new-school) employees.
The ancient philosopher Plato made significant contributions to humankind. His philosophical fingerprints can still be felt today in how we think about mathematics, science/nature, morals, politics and the arts. Perhaps it’s time we add “brand strategy” to the long list of contributions Plato has made to civilization.
We conclude our series sharing summaries of principles The Container Store follows to achieve its long-lasting success with a manifesto. While not written as a manifesto, these words from UNCONTAINABLE are inspirational, aspirational and actionable. Enjoy.
The Container Store would love to, in Kip’s words, “hit the triple crown every day—offering a well-edited, carefully curated collection of 10,000 products, free expert advice and service that customers delight in, and prices competitive with the mass merchants.” But they can’t.
Most of the products sold in The Container Store are either proprietary or exclusive. This truly requires a strong vendor/retailer relationship where The Container Store needs to understand how these vendors define success so that everyone wins.
he company culture at The Container Store is based upon communicating everything with everyone. Employees, according to Kip Tindell, feel included when everything is communicated with them. Kip delivers the same updates to the company’s board of directors as he does to employees. The only topic that’s off limits are salaries, everything else is discussable.
“At The Container Store, we don’t immediately try to sell something to a customer; we can’t, because we don’t know enough about her yet. We simply start a conversation first, to open the door a bit, and earn her trust so we can begin exploring how to help her.” – Kip Tindell
Astonishingly, full-time employees at The Container Store receive close to 300 hours of paid training in their first year. Read that again… nearly 300 hours of paid training. Not 30 hours but 300 hours. Part-time employees get almost 200 hours of training and no employee gets put on the sales floor without first receiving 40 hours of training.
Finding great employees isn’t easy for any business. It helps to have the reputation The Container Store has to attract great employees. Many people want to work there, but less than 3.0% of the people who apply to become front-line employees at The Container Store get hired. Once hired, people rarely leave. The Container Store enjoys an unheard of store-level employee turnover rate of less than 10%.