By: GreatAmerica on May 12th, 2022
Key Learnings from BPCA: GreatAmerica Attendees Share Insights
Last week, we sent several GreatAmericans to the BPCA (Business Products Council Association) Spring Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. The last few years have certainly presented obstacles, and solution providers have been faced with transforming their businesses continually. It was evident they are more motivated than ever to get back to pre-pandemic performance. This was fitting given the theme of the event this year: ‘Realizing Your Customer’s Full Profit Potential.’ The educational lineup was chock-full of information around strategies to get us there. So what were a few of the most buzzworthy topics? Read on to find out.
Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining High Performing Employees
The Great Resignation continues to challenge businesses and several sessions at the BPCA event addressed this topic head on, including our own Sally Brause, Director of Human Resources Consulting at PathShare® HR Services.
Sally pointed out that the current job market is in the candidate's favor. Whether it be more flexibility or more competitive salaries, job seekers have options, and they continue to quit their jobs to seek out opportunities that better serve their objectives. This challenge is amplified by the diversification of the office technology channel. With new products and solutions being adopted, solution providers have a need for more specialized talent. This is resulting in solution providers needing to place more focus on two specific areas: attracting and identifying the right talent and retaining that talent.
Several of the sessions, including Sally Brause’s keynote on The Great Resignation highlighted this theme. The event offered no shortage of advice for solution providers. One speaker said having a strong brand with a presence on social media will help you attract the talent you need. Communicate through channels like LinkedIn or Facebook about your philanthropy and community involvement because people want to know you care. Beyond that, there was also talk of how important it is to ensure your office space is inviting and is a place where people want to come to work. It should be well lit and optimized for collaboration. There were also two larger themes discussed which were the importance of proper onboarding and using a proactive method to retain employees called ‘Stay Interviews.’
Place a Focus on Developing a Well-Rounded Onboarding Plan
Onboarding can and should be so much more than training the new hire on processes and procedures. It’s also important to include planned opportunities for conversations to build a connection on several levels. First, it is important to build a connection to the culture of your organization. You can do this by sharing stories that demonstrate your culture in action by highlighting the day-to-day activities of the team. Second, build a connection to their career development by talking about their career aspirations and begin mapping out steps you both can take to work toward these objectives. Third, build a connection on the importance of their honest feedback. Let them know it matters and offer them various vehicles to provide that feedback. Provide polls and surveys as a part of the onboarding process to gather their thoughts on what is going well and offer an opportunity to provide suggestions for improvement. Make sure you follow up with action on any feedback received.
Conduct Regular Stay Interviews
Stay interviews were another big topic of discussion. Sally Brause of PathShare® HR Services explained that stay interviews are a purposeful and proactive series of regular conversations to find out what is important to the employee and how your organization can engage and motivate them. It’s not a performance review or a causal chat in the hallway on your way to another meeting, but a planned conversation to find out why they work for you, what drives them to come into work each day, what motivates them to build a career with you, and even what may cause them to leave. Stay interviews are powerful tools to open communication and help you retain talent.
RELATED: To Win the Hiring War, Focus on Retention
Creating High Octane Customer Experiences
Related to retention, another focus area at BPCA was customer retention. In Scott Wozniak’s keynote session, ‘High Octane Customer Experiences,’ he shared how leaders can upgrade to a high octane brand – one that people can’t help but talk about. His session presented ideas and insights on how brands can engage their customers and employees to create ‘raving fans’ and ‘high octane customer experiences.’
Scott has studied some of the greatest brands in the world such as Disney, Chick-fil-A, Nike, and Delta Airlines and has reverse engineered their strategies to understand and replicate practices that have made these brands stand out. He’s found that the ‘raving fans’ for brands like these tend to have three traits in common:
- They buy more, and more often.
- They are willing to pay full price.
- They tell others to buy from you.
So how can you create these experiences? Scott says if you want a different outcome, you need to maximize the post transaction feel. You can do that by creating a story worthy moment, and that starts with customer insight. However, he said it is important to distinguish between customer data and customer insight; most have lots of customer data but are lacking the true insight needed to create the level of personalization that cultivates raving fans. Direct customer insight is crucial because it offers up the small but meaningful details of why customers buy. The best way to get this is through live observation of your customers. You must be deliberate and get out in the field with your customers, especially as your organization grows, to understand how your customers think and why they do or do not buy. As an example, he shared how Chick-fil-A requires all employees (even general counsel) to spend two full days in the restaurants themselves to get this firsthand insight.
He also pointed out that you can have the best marketing in the world, but without the right operational prowess and effective processes in place, you’ll fall short. At the end of the day, customers are asking if they can trust you to deliver what you say you’ll deliver. Being inconsistently excellent will get you the same reputation as being consistently bad. It’s key you have the right people in the right seats, from the top down. Leadership should provide clarity on the things that matter most to the customers, provide a roadmap, and define measurable KPIs to ensure they are being delivered.
RELATED: Learn About Customer Service Training from PathShare HR Services
It is evident the business landscape has changed because of the last couple of years, yet there was so much optimism in the air at BPCA. The goals of the imaging space are lofty, but we’ve seen this industry reinvent itself time and time again. We are excited for the members of the BPCA to take some of the advice and strategies above and implement for continued success. We also applaud the BPCA members for investing in their businesses and spending the time and effort to share best practices, gain perspective and improve.
Level Up Your Business with PathShare® HR Services
PathShare® HR Services can help you finetune your recruitment and hiring strategies, as well as your customer service skills through training and development programs. Visit their website and learn more: https://www.greatamerica.com/pathshare
GreatAmerica is the largest independent, family-owned national commercial equipment finance company in the U.S. and is dedicated to helping manufacturers, vendors, and dealers be more successful and keep their customers for a lifetime. A $2.5+ Billion company with life-to-date finance originations of over $14 Billion, GreatAmerica was established in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1992 and has a staff of over 700 employees with offices in Iowa, Georgia, Minnesota, and Illinois. In addition to financing, GreatAmerica offers innovative non-financial services to help our customers grow.