with guest Brian Scudamore #FranchiseSecrets Ep 44
Something I’ve always been awestruck by, and one of the main reasons I wanted to have Brian Scudamore on the show today, is how he has been able to create an award winning culture among not only his employees, but his franchisees as well. Amazing company culture is one of the most important, yet overlooked aspects of building a modern business. Simply put, most owners don’t understand the importance of it, and even if they do, many have no idea how to build it.
Due to his experience, Brian brings a unique perspective to the table and has a great deal of wisdom to impart on the rest of us — myself included. As he explains the keys to his success, specifically his methods of hiring people and treating his employees, the answer becomes so clear, simple and obvious you can’t believe that every business owner doesn’t already understand it.
Brian describes the first major problem he faced as a business owner was realizing that his employees didn’t like him, didn’t like their jobs, and that a toxic environment had been created. Where many business owners choose to ignore this problem, Brian realized that it was the cause of a great deal of burden for him — unhappy employees don’t perform well and quit the first chance they get. He got to work on correcting the problem, and it has been a major factor in reaching half a billion dollar revenue with 1–800-GOT-JUNK.
He discusses 2 key areas today, the first being the heralded Beer and Barbecue Test.
The Beer and Barbecue Test
Brian has been able to create great company culture across all 3 of his operations by treating hiring as more of a friend finding mission than simply finding the guy with the tightest resume. Instead of simply rattling off questions, which he says only indicate a person’s ability to speak and think on their feet, Brian wants to get to know people he might hire on a more personal level.
Are they friendly? Passionate? Unique? Most importantly: can he picture himself and the rest of his team kicking back at a barbecue, having a beer, and simply enjoying each other’s company? If the answer to these questions is no, then the person is most likely a bad fit for the company, and Brian moves on.
Putting an emphasis on each candidate’s personality allows a natural culture to emerge among employees and franchisees. When people like each other, they tend to work well together and overcome stressful situations more easily, which builds camaraderie and makes everyone’s workday more fun.
Treating Employees & Franchisees as Family
The Beer and Barbecue Test is a great first step towards creating a good working culture, but if you truly want to thrive you need to follow that up by treating everyone who works for you the same way you would treat a friend or family member. Hiring people you actually like simply makes the real work a much easier process.
One of the most important rules you must have in your work environment is good communication. Your partners and employees need to know what is expected of them, and that there is someone to guide them when they hit a stumbling block.
Brian advocates always making sure your team feels respected, trusted, and that they can trust you as well. He achieves that by taking time to listen to everyone he works with, making sure they know their opinion is valued and that they are considered to be more than just a business associate or a number.
Providing an in-house coaching team that his franchisors and employees have access to, with many materials and courses is also a significant advantage that leads to people enjoying their jobs. Putting your people in a position not only to succeed, but to learn and grow, goes a long way towards having happy employees who look forward to coming to work everyday.
Of course, literally having the occasional barbecue, dinner or drinks is also important, but this should be considered icing on the cake. If you have a happy workforce, they will thoroughly enjoy coming together to get to know each other, but if they are not happy at their jobs and don’t feel well treated, many of them won’t even show up.
Hiring People Smarter Than You (Keeping Your Ego in Check)
Brian didn’t actually mention this last element explicitly, but it was a theme if you paid attention and it’s something I personally respect about Brian: his ability to keep his ego in check. There’s nothing worse than a boss whose ego is off the leash. Keeping that ego tame is important in all elements of your business, but an uncontrolled ego can spoil what would be a good company culture all by itself if you’re not careful.
There are two elements to Brian’s approach that deserve highlighting. First, as we discussed early on, being able to hire people who are smarter than you is a great advantage but an area many people struggle with. An overly sensitive ego may feel threatened by not being the smartest person in the room. A wise ego is excited about the opportunity to learn and achieve greater things together.
You’ll also notice in this podcast that Brian refers to his franchisors as ‘partners.’ That is a subtle but significant action that let’s his team know that he views them as equals. Brian is fully aware, and acknowledges in this episode, that he depends on his franchise partners just like they depend on him. It is a mutual relationship and they couldn’t exist without each other, and Brian makes sure his employees not only know that, but know that he knows that as well.
This isn’t easy for everyone, but it’s a big advantage for those that are able. By managing to keep your ego in balance, hiring people you like and treating the whole team as a big family, you will build more than just a great company culture, you will build a rock solid team that will go to the mat for you and have your back at all times!