It’s Not About The Game


As Culver’s was a sponsor of the Milwaukee Brewers spring training, I was able to attend two games this year.  I went one time each with one of my daughters.  It is very rare for me to be able to spend any time alone with just one of my children, let alone a 4 hour block without multiple distractions.  It helps that they have to watch for a foul ball to come our way so their phones are used very sparingly. 

  • The Brewers play in a small 8,000 seat stadium where you feel like you are almost on the field with the players.  The players are great at signing autographs for fans and tossing multiple baseballs into the stands.  It really seems to be the team’s way to help build the long term ROI (return on investment) with the fans and build a relationship.  The fans would clap and cheer every time a ball got tossed into the stands.  Even the visiting team would take time to interact with all of the fans.  It really is a unique experience that should make it on everyone’s bucket list.   
  • Here is the reveal, I am not even a big baseball fan.  I will watch the world series on TV but the only time I go to a game is for spring training.  This year as I was able to spend time with my daughters, I realized that it isn’t about the game at all, it is about spending that 3-4 hour time block with someone.  Baseball leaves a lot of down time for basic conversation, some coaching time where you can explain what is happening and of course you get to indulge with all kinds of overpriced food.  Food is always a great bonding experience, even when your daughter drops her spoon for her Italian ice twice and you get to go get her another one and another one.  It is these experiences that leave a lasting memory on people’s minds.  Thinking back to when I was young, a baseball game was one of the few times where I had some real alone time with my father.  I didn’t realize it until I was sitting there with my daughters and at the end of the game both of them said how much fun they had.  They created Instagram stories and even took a selfie with dad. 
  • This post isn’t a commercial for spring training, it is a reminder of how important it is to take the time to invest in building relationships with those that are important to us.  Did I have other things that I could have done with 4 hours of my time on a Sunday afternoon?  Yes, but what will have a lasting impact?  We need to remember that children and I believe team members spell love “T-I-M-E”.  I once heard my business partner Brian mention that we need to floss the teeth that we want to keep.  It was a great way to remind us that we need to make a daily effort in connecting with those that are important to us.  Take a few minutes every day or every shift and try to connect and build a relationship with the people that you spend time around.  You never know how much just one simple conversation can mean to someone.  As mentioned earlier food is a great bonding experience.  We are lucky to be in a restaurant every day where we can help create those special moments for others.  If people feel a connection with us they will be life long brand ambassadors.   

It Starts with Heart

Last week I touched on how we need to work on building our relationships to thrive in building and sustaining a great organization.  I am so lucky and blessed to be part of such an organization in Culver’s.  It’s rare to find a billion dollar company in today’s world that still lives and believes in the values which made its very first location so successful.  This week I have been in Chicago meeting with various Culver’s owners.  The theme of the week has been, “it starts with heart.”

  • When the Culver family started their very first store in 1984, Ruth Culver treated everyone that came in as a long lost friend, as if she was welcoming that person into her own home.  She was really the driving force or the secret ingredient if you will to Culver’s reaching the heights it has reached today.  Craig Culver will repeatedly say that we are in the people business and we just happen to serve pretty darn good butter burgers and frozen custard.  When people taste our food with their heart first, it always tastes just a little bit better.  I can still remember the time during my 16 weeks of training in Wisconsin getting ready to open my very first Culver’s when it really hit me and I started to understand what makes Culver’s so special.  This is the day when I quit my job and really went to work.  Culver’s has become part of my life and living these values everyday have completely changed my life.  To really succeed in anything you do you need to have passion.  Passion is what gets you ready to plow through the wall every day.  Passion starts in the heart and passion is what makes your mind tell your body to act.
  • This week we were able to listen to a talk given by Simon T Bailey.  This was one of the most inspiring talks I have heard in quite a while.  He made a comment about hugging people with your words.  When we talk about Culver’s hospitality and the presence that we feel in the dining room with our guests, this statement sums it up perfectly.  He also talked about creating, owning and sustaining the moment.  This was a very powerful concept to learn about as he points out that the average person can have about 19,000 potential moments a day.   Think about our business and how many potential moments that we can “own” when we deal with our guests and our team members every day.  Think about how we choose to react in various situations and how those moments are altered either for good or bad based on our reaction.  Every time we interact with someone there is a potential moment. 
  • As leaders we need to lead by example and actively look for those moments every day that we can create and own.  As leaders it is up to us to not only own the moment, but then do everything we can do every day to sustain the moment.  Sustaining the moment comes back to doing all of the little things perfect every day and “chasing consistency.”  Consistency comes back to our leadership and what we do day in and day out in our locations.  We need to do the little things right ourselves if we expect others to follow suit. 
  • A few final thoughts to remember:
    • 1. Everyone that chooses Culver’s leaves happy.
    • 2. It takes two people to say no but only one person to say yes.
    • 3. Details matter and details are the difference between good and great.
    • 4. Look for ways every day to “create the wow” and own the moment.
  • Here is a link to Simon’s blog for more inspiration:

Embrace the Suck

army-soldier-iraq-795439-hFor some reason this military term has hit home over the past couple of weeks with our new store opening.  As with any new business we are crazy busy and most team members have been employed for only a few shifts.  As hard as we try to get every order correct we do sometimes fall short and make a few mistakes.  As the phone rings during the first couple of weeks we all cringe as we answer it.  We are all hoping it will be a “are you open” call vs. a “you got my order wrong” phone call.  We all tend to shy away from even wanting to answer the phone at times. 

  • I believe that this is the time it is even more important than ever to look forward to answering the phone to gain as much feedback as we can from our guests so we can correct any training opportunities moving forward.  I always believe it is easier to retain a guest than it is to acquire a new one.  So many companies spend more money on getting new customers instead of placing those same resources in keeping their current ones.  By embracing the suck as they say we can learn a lot from our business.  Sometimes when we are in the business every day we fail to see it from the lens of the guest.
  • I have found that some of our most loyal guests at one point had an issue and it was how we resolved the situation that turned them into a loyal, raving fan of Culver’s.  Culver’s does not compete price wise with other fast food options but our secret weapon is our level of service.  This is why we must go out of our way to be different and embrace those opportunities to improve.  Smart competitors can steal everything we do except how much we love our customers.  By creating a relationship with our guests we set ourselves apart from our competition.  The best way to build a relationship with the guest is to be present and engaged during your shift and be available to the guest as much as possible. 
  • I read a statistic the other day that mentioned that 80% of companies surveyed said that they give superior customer service, yet only 10% of customers surveyed said that was the case.  This is where we as the company need to really ask and then listen to the guest.  In the past, most complaints were made in private, today, customer service has become a spectator sport.  Customer service is one of the new forms of marketing.  Embrace every opportunity to turn a complaint into a loyal raving fan of your business and remember that we are always on stage!