The one thing we never want to have to restock is good people
Did you see the interview? MarketingSherpa’s Daniel Burstein caught up with me at IRCE, and he asked me to talk to him about how we get and keep talent at ReStockIt.
I gave Daniel more than he bargained for. Here’s what we talked about.
The importance and challenge of finding the fun in what you do
News flash: eCommerce is a big opportunity for retail business. Forrester says it’ll account for 9% of all retail sales this year and that figure breaks out to about $1,740 per person. But despite its importance, solid ecommerce talent is getting harder to find to power your brand.
At ReStockIt, we make sure our customers don’t run out of about 200,000 different items, ranging from toilet paper to martini glasses. And while marketing and selling toilet paper may not seem all that sexy – and eCommerce overall can be a little dry and transactional – I’m looking to bring the fun back to the business. And a big part of doing that is finding, keeping, and developing employees who love their jobs.
Your business and your talent are as boring as you want them to be
Daniel was interested in how we can find and keep good eCommerce and marketing talent. I have an answer, but here’s some advance warning. It works for more than these two groups of employees.
Developing good team members starts with how you view your own company. If it’s “just” an eCommerce company, you really should just go ahead and yawn. At ReStockIt, we make the commitment to bring fun into what we do every single day.
And why shouldn’t we? We work too hard at creating success not to enjoy it along the way.
A novel solution
Where do you find the talent that understands how to go beyond just transactions?
I’m not going to pretend we’re Disneyland. Yes, it’s eCommerce. Does that mean it’s just pay-per-click and SEO? Unless you are the geekiest geek in the world, that kind of job outlook is going to kill you with boredom before the next quarter’s sales figures come out.
Life is about laughing. And fun. That’s what we aim to bring back into business at ReStockIt. Here’s how we do it.
Actually, it’s the c-word times 2. “Company Culture.”
But here’s the thing, you don’t create it. You culture it. And it’s based on what your employees enjoy. If you don’t as a leader every day ask yourself, “What lights up my people?” you’re already losing the best ones.
You need to ask the same thing about how you interact with your potential business partners and vendors, too. Meeting? Lunch? Boring and expected. Do you both like to shoot hoops? Why not engage that way? If you’re wondering how you’re supposed to know what they like or don’t like, here’s a critical question for you:
Have you ever looked at your vendors as people instead of business opportunities? If you have, you’d know some of their likes and dislikes – beyond their financial and operational preferences.
Apply that same philosophy with your employees. They’re not just spokes in your ecommerce wheel. They’re people, with history. The more you know about them, the more you can understand how to motivate them.
It starts at the interview stage. If the only thing you learn from a potential employee you plan to hire during their interviews is their skill set, you’re missing an opportunity to build a powerful and supportive foundation. Are there things you’re legally prohibited from asking potential employees? Yes. But you are allowed to ask questions that help you understand someone as a person and not as a business asset.
“What do you do for fun?”
Questions like this do more than help you get an idea of this human being who’ll become a part of your organization. They also make a simple, but powerful statement:
Invest in your employees the very first day they start. These investments don’t require you to go rob a bank. What’s the actual cost to have people write “WELCOME STEVE!” on a sign in their office lobby? Think about the impact on Steve on his first day.
Steve comes home after his first day at ReStockIt. We don’t want his spouse or significant other to wonder how the day went. So ReStockIt sends a gift basket to the house. We’ve told Steve that he matters. Now the people important to him know that he matters to us, too.
But we don’t do this to indoctrinate or play mind games with our people. We’re investing in them. We want our people to feel a sense of ownership. That’s important. People who “just work here” are transactional. People who own their jobs are transformational.
A different point of view
People who “just work here” seldom care about what’s happening in other areas of your organization. At ReStockIt, we start off with a daily huddle. We communicate.
What’s the result?
We collaborate. The reason this happens is because we’ve all taken the time to understand what’s happening outside our own sphere of influence. We create a context.
When you have context, you understand what’s important. You also understand that if something’s broken, you’re not a scapegoat. You’ve got people who want to help you fix it.
The fallacy of “purely business”
Sorry to burst your bubble, but you can and should mix business with pleasure. In this case, pleasure means enjoyment. We all want to do business with people we enjoy.
And whether it’s someone who works for us, or it’s one of our valuable vendors, we want to do business with people we care about. And, we want people we care about to be healthy.
That’s why if you were to give Health a position on your company org chart, I’d push it all the way to the top. Make health your CEO. We’ve found at ReStockIt that when we encourage our people to put health and wellbeing first, they come back stronger and better for us. The reason is simple. They’re enjoying themselves.
People just like you
I won’t mince words. It’s difficult to find good people. But, we can and do find great people to join our team at ReStockIt. It’s no closely guarded secret. Our source is the people who already work for us.
If you don’t already have a referral program at your company, start one right away. Let’s take the gloves off for a minute and talk about some realities. Your employees are not going to recommend that you hire their friend for a position unless that person is qualified. Especially if you have instituted some of the things I’ve shared so far.
You’re creating a culture of ownership, empowerment, and collaboration. You’re rewarding people for putting their health and wellbeing first. Why would they jeopardize all of this by recommending an unqualified person because they’re a friend?
Don’t insult your people with a stingy referral bonus. Everybody knows how to use Google. Why should somebody on your team get a fraction of what you’d pay a professional recruiter? Again, it gets back to what builds up your organization.
Focus on the individual
Deciding you want to work for a company is like entering into a relationship. The recruitment process is a lot like dating. Either side might hold back a few relevant things while they weigh options. But, why isn’t it also okay to show a little vulnerability?
Computers and websites transact. People do business. You get to decide your own importance and your ability to make a difference. If your people decide they “just work here,” it’s because you made them feel that way.
When nature calls, remember that only bears go in the woods
Bears have quite an appetite — especially before hibernation. And, the seasons have a lot to do with what they eat, how much they eat and how they find it. In fact, bears are omnivores, like most people, which means they eat both meat and plants.
And not only do real bears go number 2 in the woods, fictional bears do, too! You remember those sassy little guys who are always bragging about how clean their bums are? Well, the prices on our TP would knock the expensive, left-behind pieces off of little bear’s bum—for good.
But what about you? You’re not a bear—even when you eat like you’re about to go into hibernation—and that means your bathroom needs are a little more sophisticated than the average ursidae.
Yes, my friend. You have the glorious honor of walking on two legs and donning a crown each time you visit the royal throne, indoors. And you only deserve the best on your throne.
Ascending that majestic porcelain gives you time to ponder the important questions: the meaning of life, when and how the planet got started, where toilet paper goes when you flush, and the drastic measures people must take when they run out.
‘Cause you wouldn’t know. You’re not only royalty, you’re also smart. So smart that you know how to answer before nature even calls. You trust ReStockIt to deliver your favorite bathroom essentials before you run out. ‘Cause that’s just what royalty does. [Flush]
So is it time for you to start ordering your bathroom paper products through ReStockIt?
Well, does a bear poop in the woods?
(Yes. The answer is always yes.)
We’re dishing the dirt on public hand washing!
You don’t have to admit it, but we know it’s highly likely that you could be one of those people who skips washing your hands in public restrooms. Because the reality is, you’re not alone. In fact, a study that surveyed more than 100,000 people revealed that a whopping 62 percent of men and 40 percent of women don’t wash after using a public bathroom.
Most people simply prefer not to use the facilities in public for anything other than doing their business. But if you think about the actual uncleanliness of leaving the john without washing up, it’s a bit hard to understand why anyone would skip a simple squirt, squish, and rinse. With that in mind, let’s get to the dirty truth!
They’re into saving time
When asked, many folks will tell you that they don’t wash after using a public bathroom because they’re in a hurry. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that it only takes 15-20 seconds (the equivalent of singing the chorus of happy birthday to yourself twice), to get a clean sweep of all the germs you just collected from your bathroom visit. And when you think about how long it takes to get over a flu or cold, well, that excuse just doesn’t wash.
Non-washers have 50,000 reasons
50,000 CFUs, to be exact. That’s the number of bacteria “colony forming units” that were found on a sink in a public bathroom swabbed by scientists. And this number is nearly as high for the soap dispenser and faucet, not to mention the paper towel lever. That’s a whole lot of germs swarming around, waiting to land on an unsuspecting, healthy soul’s hands. So it only makes sense that people would prefer not to touch the sink, soap dispenser, and faucet. A solution? Touchless technology, including a hands-free soap dispenser.
They’re exempt from the germy implications
This reason for non-washing comes mostly from men, who believe tha a public restroom. So if you’re the one tasked with keeping a public bathroom stocked, order these automatic products right away—and get ready to hear a lot more “Happy Birthday” humming.
Open Letter: Dear person in charge of ordering bathroom supplies for restaurants…
I don’t usually patronize restaurants that feature all-you-can-eat anything, except maybe salad bars. I know, I know, I sound like a snob. But truth be told, I have never gotten my money’s worth at any all-you-can-eat buffet in my entire life. I mean really, who can eat that much? Read more
The saga of the office bathroom: mishaps that make people cringe!
We’ve all been there. You’re at the office, doing what you do when you just got to go. Although most of us would rather conduct “our business” at home, there are times when the need arises and you just can’t wait until you’re in your own private, comfortable bathroom. You know what we’re talking about! And while your office bathroom may be just fine, sometimes you walk into a restroom with unpleasant, unexpected circumstances! With that in mind, tell us, which of these cringe-worthy events would make you want run all the way home with your knees locked? Read more
Because bathroom germs love living up to their full potential.
Bathrooms get a pretty bad reputation — and with good reason. Some of your grossest, yuckiest, and most private of all moments go on in there. But you’re not the only one who uses that communal bathroom at work. Each and every coworker you come across uses it — meaning you probably don’t even want to think about the germs growing in there. Well, too bad. Because we’re going to have a look at some of the unmentionables in your office’s bathroom. Read more