Wholly Exemplary Whole Foods! (Sounds like something a modern day Batman would say, no?)
Whether you are starting a business, or wanting to inspire yourself for good business sense and dollars, go check out this post (“I’m moving in with Whole Foods”) by Jackie Huba at Church of the Customer. There is a four point bulletin, replete with good commentary, that I highly recommend.
Here is the recap:
1. Cater to the niche, baby.
2. Business is theater.
3. Hire for attitude, train for skill.
4. Let fans spread the word digitally.
Taking a helicopter view of the four points, I note that point #1 is all about the product. Point #2 is about the location. Point #3 is all about the people. And point #4 is about access to the new technologies. And, of all of them, hiring for attitude and TRAINING for skill is probably the most potent. Point in case? A “bio” or “organic” product needs to set up/presented by people with the right disposition and attitude otherwise it comes off as too phoney. Then comes the need for training (or education as I am used to calling it).
Expanding on the second point that “business is theater,” I like to consider that the brand is a story. Whenever a company is created, there’s always a portion of luck as the founders battle through the startup and growing phases. At some point, with a healthy amount of retrospection, the story crystallizes and, as the company moves into the “establishment” phase, the story comes to sound as if it were created at the outset. As any entrepreneur will know, the startup is rarely as romantic as the story that is recounted years later.
I’m a major advocate of creating a story for a business. It contributes to the humanization of the brand (and the company). Just as Huba talks about creating a theatrical environment, the key is having a brand story into which the theater fits. And, for the story to work well, it is also very appropriate to create a culture which requires actors to play the part. And there, attitude is everything. Moreover, as Huba indicates, a culture is not possible to replicate. It then becomes a true competitive advantage.
And the fact that Whole Foods is all about natural and organic foods, with a strong stance on sustainable development, is a bonus!