At the age of 41 and with a wife and young daughter to support, I left a cushy job in the “corporate” world to start my own business. I purchased the license to operate a franchise in the property damage restoration business and although I had been managing people for big corporations for the past 16 years, I was all of a sudden, getting a wake-up call in the area of leadership.
I had hired a couple of young guys to help me, in this physically demanding business, and it immediately became apparent to me, that “my” guys didn’t have the same understanding of business protocol that I left in the “corporate” world. They didn’t show up on time, they didn’t do what they said they were going to do, they just didn’t follow my unspoken “rules” of how to conduct yourselves in business!
By God’s grace, the business that I had purchased was a franchise license from a values based, franchisor, who is now called Neighborly Brands. And by God’s grace I had fourteen years previous to this, married a “rule following” wife who had visited the franchisor’s office with me during Initial training. While at the initial training, my wife, had without me realizing it, picked up a framed copy of those Values and hung them, on the office wall of my new business right above the water fountain. I drank a lot of water in those days as I was often overheated from my newly chosen career that called for physical labor or from being so frustrated with my employees that I internally overheated!
One day, as I was fuming about one of my employees being 15 minutes late, I was drinking water at the fountain, and it hit me that my new company needed some “rules”. I lifted my head to contemplate this newly developing thought, and I saw the Neighborly Values hanging on the wall, just where my wife had hung them. Not remembering what those Values were, and trying to figure out my first rule, I began reading the Neighborly Values, and the first line under Respect read, “Treating others as you would like to be treated”. I said to myself, “that’s a good rule, I think I will steal that one”. I skipped down to the section title Integrity and the next line read “making only make agreements that you are willing, able and intend to keep”. I again, had the inspired realization of that too, being a good rule to use. As I continued to read, every Value made sense as rules for my new company! Then it hit me. We didn’t need a set of rules… we just need these Values! I realized that these same Values could help frame and shape the type of company culture that I had been struggling to instill on my own.
On that day back in 2004, I began to understand that having a culture with a strong set of VALUES as the foundation of the business is the best way to build a company or organization’s culture unique to the business leader’s vision and congruent to his or her personal values.
The property damage restoration business that I started in 2004 flourished and I believe that having a Values based culture as the base of the business was a key to the success. In 2016, when I purchased the 30 year old FASTSIGNS businesses in Richmond and Fredericskburg from the original owner, one of the very first actions was to establish values to be the foundation of this business. I realized that although these FASTSIGNS businesses had been successful for close to 30 years, the culture was destined to change under my new ownership, and I needed to start right away to establish the type of culture that fit me personally and as a business leader.
I named the LLC that purchased the business TREXLO, an acronym for the Biblical principles of Truth, Excellence and Love. Even if you don’t believe in the Bible, I don’t think you could argue that TRUTH, EXCELLENCE and LOVE are not three good things upon which to base a lifestyle. These three lifestyle principles were translated into a business Value set, by adding CLIENT FOCUS as the foundation and enhancing TRUTH with INTEGRITY and LOVE with PASSION and RESPECT. The four values of FASTSIGNS Central Virginia are now:
- CLIENT FOCUS
It has been a thrill for me to watch these TREXLO Values not only impact the business and personal practices of my 25 team members at FASTSIGNS, but also continue to challenge and impact me, as a person and as a leader. I love it when my FASTSIGNS teammates call me out for not acting in a manner consistent with one of our values! I love it when they challenge each other (and me) in regard to EXCELLENCE or CLIENT FOCUS, and I love it when they proudly recant stories of when a FASTSIGNS associate filtered a decision through the Values in a time of business or personal uncertainty. I’ve learned that these values help cover some of my weaknesses as a leader, and I’ve learned that by having these Values as the base of our culture, I have ample opportunity and challenge to work on “getting better” everyday!
We walk in truth with integrity by:
- Doing what we say we are going to do, when we say we are going to do it.
- Making our best effort to keep all agreed upon commitments.
- Always operating with moral uprightness.
- Communicating honestly and openly without exception and without gossip
We will strive for excellence with every product, every service and every interaction by:
- Making our best effort to go through the details, and evaluating ourselves by asking,
“Would you put your name on it?”.
- Re-establishing our position everyday by seeking constant self-improvement.
- Giving our full effort and attention to every personal interaction.
- Humbly taking responsibility for our mistakes.
Love Passion Respect
We live out love/passion/respect by:
- Maintaining a positive attitude in all situations.
- Having a true passion for our work.
- Showing respect for everyone by treating others as you would like for them to treat you.
- Displaying a love of life and an appreciation for God’s blessings by giving back to those in need
We will maintain our focus on our Clients by:
- Keeping the Client’s best interest in mind in every situation.
- Striving to exceed the Client’s expectations.
- Maintaining a “sense of urgency” with all internal and external client requests and projects.
- Giving our best effort to turn every client into a Promoter of our brand.