Access to fun

Employees at ACCESS Destination
Services work hard to plan fun destination events for client companies.

And Christopher Lee, the company’s CEO,
says it is important that his 60 employees
also have the chance to experience fun
events, so those who reach their goals are
rewarded with getaways, ski trips or spa

Lee says these rewards create a sense of
trust, loyalty and teamwork among employees and keep them reaching goals, helping
grow the company 25 percent a year since
2000 to reach 2006 revenue of $18 million.

Smart Business spoke with Lee about
how to create and communicate a vision
that reaches the goals of both your company and your employees.

Q: What are the keys to growing a company?

It takes a grand vision. You need to
have a sense of purpose for the organization, and I like our team to feel like
we’re on a mission to grow. It’s not
something we hope for, it’s something
we plan for and pursue.

It starts at the top. People need to
know that their leaders are committed
to the vision and are willing to go the distance to achieve it. It’s leading by example. Not just talking the talk but walking
the walk. It also includes sharing financial success by rewarding everyone as
goals are met and exceeded.

Q: How do you create a vision for
your company?

It has to be a stretch; it has to be something that’s beyond the horizon of where
the organization is today. It needs to be
realistic and measurable, and there needs
to be benchmarks along the way. It has to
be something that people can truly picture
themselves and their organization achieving.

We ask each employee, ‘Where do you see
yourself in five years?’ and, ‘Where do you
see our organization in five years?’ We listen
to them and what their goals are and integrate them into the bigger company vision.

It has to be communicated in clear terms
to everybody in the organization. If it’s such
a high-level vision that employees don’t understand it, buy in to it or see any value
for themselves, you’re not going to get
them on board.

Q: How do you communicate the vision?

Communication comes in many forms.
There’s laying out the vision, then taking it
down to the individual level and understanding and communicating what the individual visions for each person’s career are
and where do they see the company. Then

it’s constantly checking with those individuals as you grow and pursue your vision.

The biggest challenge is not that somebody outgrows their position, it’s that the
position outgrows the individual.

Q: What is the benefit for employees of
working together to create the vision and

It’s not only creating the vision and goals
but living and working in an environment
that has a well-defined vision, values and
goals. People know where they stand and
have a sense of purpose. They know what you’re going for, how it’s being measured
and how they’re rewarded in conjunction
with that.

It takes a lot of the ambiguity and questioning out of it. People know where they
are in regards to their own career opportunities, compensation and incentives.

Q: How do you create a positive working

It starts by understanding the culture of
your organization. It is as simple as putting together quarterly team outings,
getting people outside of the office,
any type of activity where team-building is involved.

There are hundreds of ways to
bring your team together in an environment that is fun, educational, and
fosters bonding and loyalty. Seek out
unique opportunities that people
wouldn’t do on their own and think
outside the box.

Q: How do you prepare and develop
plans for growth?

Try and stay one step ahead of the
growth and anticipate it as best as you
can. Make sure you have the right people in key positions who are capable of
expanding their roles as the company
grows because, otherwise, the job will
outgrow certain people, and that
begins a downward spiral.

Constantly evaluate your marketplace, know where your competitors,
allied companies, vendors and other
affinity groups stand, and look at the
segments of the economy that affect
your business.

Monitor customer service closely. Don’t
sacrifice service levels for growth and
customer satisfaction because that will
stop the growth as quickly as it helped it.

One mistake that a lot of companies
make is that they’ll accept the rapid growth
and financial rewards but won’t pay attention to the customer service. Oftentimes
your customer service level is what contributed to the growth, so focusing on that
throughout the growth is important.

HOW TO REACH: ACCESS Destination Services, (619) 299-2200 or