C-Suite Strategist, Jeff Kiesel offers tactical, actionable ways businesses can create smarter, safer, socially responsible organizations that increase efficiency, productivity and profits.Tweet This

It’s rather shocking to know that fully 96% of businesses fail within 10 years of existence, but what’s even more distressing is that many of these failures are entirely avoidable. Even once-mighty Corporate America behemoths are not immune to preventable peril, as exemplified by a glut of high-profile implosions. Untold others are currently struggling to adapt and stay agile within the digital age—an era where business dynamics on multiple fronts are a fluid, ever-elusive target.

While many business and franchise owners embrace information technology such as cloud computing, ecommerce, cybersecurity and emerging robotics, many also make the erroneous assumption that innovations capable of boosting safety and digital defenses, operational efficiency and bottom line-impacts are financially out of reach. Indeed, often overlooked is the opportunity to significantly reduce, or even entirely eliminate, omnipresent and recurring expenses in both the short and long term.

Others either underestimate or entirely disregard how powerful a company culture can be and even how issues like workplace safety play a key role. Multiple millions of non-fatal workplace injuries needlessly occur each year, resulting in absenteeism and Workers’ Compensation claims that chip away at a company’s profit margins.  And then there are brand identity, perception, reputation and service issues wreaking marketplace havoc, as both small and large companies, alike, fail to “speak human” and meaningfully connect with their customers.

While such concerns are nothing new, technological innovations and other modern and strategic means of contending with these issues is a landscape that changes monthly and weekly, if not daily. Solutions, both physical and ideological, are available that can readily result in far smarter, safer and more efficient workplaces that also enhance morale, reduce staff churn, bolster profitability and elevate industries at large.

With this in mind, I sought insight from C-suite strategist Jeff Kiesel—a former GE executive and current corporate CEO of Restaurant Technologies, Inc. who’s earned a reputation as a business innovation voice of authority. Given that his firm boasts a roster of multi-billion dollar customers that includes titans of industry like McDonald’s, KFC and Marriott Hotels, I asked if he could share some of the key business lessons he’s learned from working with world-leading brands. This is what he had to say:

Utilize Customer Insights:

World-class companies understand the importance of analytics when it comes to customer relationship management (CRM). These insights include data on areas such as whether their product or service is saving customers money; how it’s impacting employee, customer and vendor retention and referrals; if it’s increasing operational efficiencies, productivity or creating a safer work space; and how their offerings, as well as their vendor’s offerings, are impacting their customers.  In today’s market where competition is typically neck and neck, the insights gained from these analytics can be a determining factor that sets your operation apart from its closest competitors. 

Embrace Adaptability:

In any industry, businesses would often rather stick to tried and true methods than risk shaking things up with major changes. However, global corporations know that the business practices, equipment and other assets they have been relying upon can quickly become outdated and probably due for an upgrade. They understand today’s environment of adapt or die. They embrace emerging technology and breaking new ground with fresh thinking from everyone and anyone that may very well “build a better mousetrap” and increase efficiencies that boost bottom lines. They curate a culture of ingenuity, seeking input at every touchpoint—from the inside, out and the bottom, up—revising best practices with customers and employees seemingly in real-time. Global brands know that complacency kills and take proactive measures to stay agile and mindful of shifting standards.

Incorporate Technological Innovation:

Much of the technology found in the food service industry centers around reducing costs, improving efficiency and service quality, and helping managers better handle their teams. However, this technology is viewed with eye toward what will provide the best return on investment and improve an operation’s bottom line. To achieve this, the highest caliber operations focus on technology that’s easy to implement, is scalable and also provides metrics that are of primary interest to executives–things like customer visits and staff costs as well as employee retention through job satisfaction. The analytics must be easily discernible, providing exact numbers and trend patterns on what it costs to continue operating the old way versus what it would cost to implement new technology. Top-tier operations will analyze this data to reveal key insights on multiple fronts. In doing so, the most successful companies are able to demonstrate the value of a tech-driven solution within 30 days of deployment.

Ensure Operational Excellence:

Companies successful at a global level also ensure their management teams at every level, from the C-suite to the front-line, understand their role in ensuring their teams and departments are trained, enthused and working cross-functionally while adhering to standard operating procedures (SOPs). They have a lot on their plate, needless to say. It can be an uphill battle for sure. However, high caliber companies utilize proven technologies and protocols allowing managers to establish a simpler operating environment where they can focus more on cultivating people, both employees and customers, and less time on administrative tasks.

Strengthen the Workforce:

World-leading brands understand the importance of a strong company culture. An effective way to build that is to ensure team members understand the company’s history, purpose, vision and strategy. These companies also understand that a culture of mentorship can help foster on-the-job achievement and growth as employees move up in the organization, taking on bigger and more complex roles. As an employee, ongoing training and education as well as an investment in active listening, understanding and bringing new ideas to the table is key for demonstrating loyalty and attaining career advancement. When companies cultivate an employee base that’s enthusiastic, well-trained and well-equipped to do their jobs with an understanding why they are doing any given task, it creates an environment of respect that will foster higher accountability and ownership by employees.

Practice Good Corporate Citizenship:

Top-tier businesses take corporate social responsibility seriously and consistently participate in philanthropic projects. Whether that’s establishing and continually contributing to an educational foundation offering merit-based college scholarships to employee family members as Kiesel’s company does, donating goods or providing services pro-bono, or literally picking up litter in the neighborhood park, successful global companies wholeheartedly embrace corporate citizenship and make it a foundational pillar of their organizations.

Kiesel’s takeaways from working with top global brands makes clear that a holistic approach to business—one that keeps talent cultivation, character and efficiency top-of-mind—creates team loyalty and support, and fosters increased market share. As well, Kiesel is eager to underscore that a company’s culture is nothing short of imperative for building a successful, growth-oriented operation, noting, “The investment is in the long-term success of our clients, for sure, but in gaining the loyalty of our people within the company, as well.” And I completely agree.

Ready to build your first corporate social responsibility program? Get started in five easy steps.

 Photo Credit: agatha, Twenty20

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