31 Oct 2. Valued Asset
‘I’ll Invest My Money In People’ – Will Keith Kellogg
The secret to a successful business lies not in the fantastic product you may have invented, not in the much-needed service that you might supply, nor even in being in the right place at the right time. Of course, all of these play an important if not crucial part, but they are not the difference between success and failure. So, what could possibly be your most valuable asset in making your business the success it could be.
You. You and your staff. Most people buy people, attention and contact. Try shopping from a grumpy till operator and see how undervalued you feel. Try buying from a good salesman who laughs with you, telling you in confidence that he has your dream purchase, going out of his way to show you what you want and the add-ons. You feel special, you feel a kinship, you feel important as a client, not a number or meal ticket. The chances are you buy the item.
Successful businessmen such as WK Kellogg or John Lewis realise it is the people in their staffroom that made them who they became. Looking at the philosophy behind John Lewis’s success; every member of staff at John Lewis which includes local shops such as Waitrose is a partner in the business. It is a visionary idea that ‘happiness of all members’ and their ‘worthwhile and satisfying employment in a successful business’ to quote from their own website, brings a proprietary need to allow the company to succeed.
John Lewis is a large national company that hardly equates to Gillingham High Street or the varied and diverse members of Gillingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The sentiment though still encapsulates how an employer should regard and treat his staff. Investing in staff can be the biggest line in your profit and loss statement, but it will also be the line that pays the most dividends or profits back into the balance sheet. It is those same staff who will sell your business. They will be the ones to promote your product. They will be the people who will work late without question to hit that deadline or target.
Staff can make or break a business so investing in the right people is essential from the start. We are lucky to have Chamber member Octopus Personnel in the High Street. They can guide you in your search for employees, providing staff for all kinds of industries, on flexible and short-term contracts alike.
Gillingham Chamber has many smaller businesses who don’t employ staff so how can they possibly become successful. If we look back at the John Lewis model they have partners. There is a multitude of definitions for a partner depending on where you look but they include colleagues, co-workers, associates and collaborators. A lot of small business owners have already realised the value of partners and will outsource their back-office jobs to people with the skills to do them. Thus, freeing themselves to excel in their own field of expertise.
Gillingham Chamber already recognises the value of people and have joined with Gillingham School in promoting and showcasing the wide diversity and opportunities that youngsters leaving school can now follow. The Next Steps evening has universities, apprentices, Armed Forces through to local retail and service businesses in a myriad of trades and commerce all contributing to this fantastic evening. They will get the opportunity to meet the youngsters offering guidance and advice on choices and possible collaborations.
Children from Gillingham School and the local communities are invited to attend and see what is possible after they leave the environs of academia at different ages with differing levels of qualification. There is so much on offer these days for children of all abilities that it can be mind-boggling, exciting and scary. These are the children of the future, the workforce that will take our success and run with them to ever loftier heights. They are the people WK Kellogg would have delighted in investing in.
Gillingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry are happy to invest effort and time in the young assets of our business community. We thank Emma Vallender from Gillingham School for all her hard work and for allowing us to work with her on such a worthwhile event.
Our next networking event will be Happy Hour on Thursday 8 November at the Wine Bar, Queen Street in Gillingham. Come along from 6 – 7 pm and meet us all, we are a friendly bunch and can’t wait to meet up.