Why do good core business values matter in today’s market?
The set of values your business is built upon is at the foundation of what makes your product and service unique. In today’s “drink local beer” climate, consumers connect with brands that project good core values that they can identify with more than ever.
So how do you evaluate the foundation that your business is built upon?
Imagine your company’s bill of rights: What would you want it to say? Would that align with what it would actually say?
If you don’t know where to start, think about your personal values. If you care about the environment, green initiatives should probably play a higher role in your business. If you believe that people function best with less government oversight, then perhaps placing more trust and responsibility in the hands of your employees will free you up to focus on the bigger picture.
Obviously, decisions like these come with pros and cons. Placing more responsibility in the hands of employees might lead to an oversight you wouldn’t have made. However, if your overarching set of company values are strong, you will have the kinds of employees you can trust with more responsibility, and who may eventually be able to grow the business themselves. All you must do is to balance these ideals with the reality of running a business.
So what actions might a business take to ensure profitability if it spends more on its employees and the quality of its products and infrastructure?
For one, proper vetting processes for potential hires and proper training for successful hires cannot be understated. You might be the brain of the business, but a brain isn’t capable of much without its arms, legs, ears and eyes.
By hiring knowledgeable employees that are engaged with the beer landscape, they will be able to recommend and sell much more effectively, which can mean the difference between a happy and unhappy customer. If this means offering a pay rate slightly above average, don’t be alarmed, as you’ll get what you pay for.
Investing in the growth and education of employees is also beneficial on multiple levels. Not only are you increasing the odds they will make the right decisions for your business and customers, but you are showing faith in them, building trust and increasing loyalty.
A Harvard Business School study found that a high-performing employee delivers more than $5,300 in cost savings to a company, while avoiding an incompatible hire can deliver $12,500 in cost savings.
So, in practical terms, if you’ve got an eager young bartender or salesperson who needs a little help affording their Cicerone Level 1 Exam entrance fee, it might be a mutually beneficial move to cover that cost so that they may better perform their job.
This sort of civil, workplace-relevant treatment of employees is incredibly important. The same study found that when subjected to uncivil treatment, 38 percent of employees “intentionally decreased” the quality of their work, 25 percent resorted to taking out frustrations on customers, and 12 percent left their jobs entirely.
Remember though, that as an employer you are not seeking to make your employees happy, as that does not directly correlate to improved business outcomes. You are seeking to increase engagement, and to do this you must encourage an employee’s ownership of their role, their future and the future of the company.
Engagement starts at the top, where it will flow downward with the help of open communication (which goes both ways), clearly communicated expectations and the proper management structure to ensure facilitation of dialogue as needed.
By practicing what you preach, you set an example of accountability and engagement, and this becomes the norm within your company culture.
A company’s core values are also a key factor in determining the kind of customers it attracts.
Generally, these values should reflect similar interests and goals as found in your target audience.
These are relatively straightforward concepts. If you want customers to respect your storefront, you must respect it first and respect them as well. There have been cases of businesses within the beer world that have woven a “We don’t care” attitude into their company culture, and over time these businesses have suffered backlash – from negative rumors, PR fiascos, lawsuits and even retailers removing their beer from tap lists. Bear in mind the power of social media to magnify one small injustice into a business-crushing boycott if not properly handled.
These are relationships, and whether business or interpersonal, rules of respect, honesty and integrity apply.
On the other hand, don’t get hung up on being overly noble or attempting to change the world. As a business, you have to survive in order to be able to affect any sort of change or influence on the world, so simply aiming to help the customer and staff achieve what they hope to accomplish is noble in itself.
With this in mind, aim to avoid incredibly specific values and goals, as they can be limiting, and can create a rigid, inflexible workplace. As we often hear, the U.S. Constitution was left vague and open to account for the changes that inevitably would occur.
Instead, think in terms of all-encompassing ideas, like integrity, openness, community or respect, as these will provide a general course of action without dictating an artificial reaction.
Establish a beer portfolio that includes breweries with respectable core values for selling success.
Most retailers offer a variety of domestic and international beer from a wide roster of breweries. Choosing family-run international breweries with decades, or even centuries, of time-tested values distinguishes your beer selection, aligning it with the core values that consumers attuned to the “drink local” mentality can still connect with.
For example, St-Feuillien has incorporated the idea of brotherhood and community, or “confrérie,” into its identity for centuries. This broad idea has manifested itself in both a strong, clear sense of commitment to excellence for those it serves and, more recently, the creation of the St-Feuillien Guild, designed to “create connections between people and bring them together.”
The guild treasures its local history and community, both of which are entwined with the abbey brewery. The result is a powerful communal relationship – a living nucleus of which St-Feuillien is the epicenter.
“All members are connected to the town of Le Roeulx; all wish to help develop the bonds of friendship between the people of Le Roeulx; all are protectors of the town’s venerable traditions; all are champions of the beers of Saint-Feuillien Abbey – both inside and outside the walls of Le Roeulx.”
Or look to La Trappe, run by monks, to operate in an admirable and successful manner:
“Due to their inner conviction, monks treat what God has given us with great care—people and the environment. For them, this is not a trend. Monks have done this for centuries and we continue their efforts. Corporate social responsibility is inextricably connected with La Trappe.
In all the departments of the organization, employees are aware of the value and power of people and nature. By treating people and nature in a respectful and innovative way, they contribute to a more beautiful and healthier world, also for future generations.”
The brewers live up to this creed by contributing to charitable causes in Uganda, creating jobs for those with disabilities, sourcing and reusing local ingredients to support local business and committing to brewing “green” beer.
For reference, here is a set of core values from Coca-Cola. You’ll notice many similarities:
Leadership: The courage to shape a better future.
Collaboration: Leverage collective genius.
Integrity: Be real.
Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me.
Passion: Committed in heart and mind.
Diversity: As inclusive as our brands.
Quality: What we do, we do well.
These values are clear, easily understood and broad, yet easily applied in a specific fashion.
When considering your company’s core values and values of the breweries you represent, aim to keep them true to yourself while aligning them with your target audience: Shoot for broad, well-intentioned ideals that can be tailored to specific scenarios, and lead by example by remaining dedicated and engaged to bettering yourself and those around you. Also, take care to foster relationships and growth of employees, as they will return this effort exponentially. Ideals like these will help orient your business towards success.