Get to know your people
You and your employees need to share a
common purpose and have a plan in place
for how to make it happen. For Zinn, the
overwhelming goal is to service the customer at his organization that has revenue
that exceeds $140 million.
“I started in the car business washing
cars and putting parts on the shelf and
delivering parts and seeing that the whole
business revolves around the customer,”
Zinn says. “If you don’t relate to the customer’s needs and wishes, you are dead.
What you’re trying to create is a culture of,
‘We’re here to assist the customer.’”
Obviously, you can’t do it all by yourself.
So you need this culture to support your
employees in their efforts to help your customers.
Zinn promotes the idea of “kaizen,” the
Japanese philosophy of striving for continuous improvements in all aspects of life.
He brings it up with his employees constantly.
“Every time we get together, we discuss
situations and how we dealt with them and
how we can improve those situations,”
Zinn says. “We do it with role-playing. We
do it with training. We do it with bringing in
people that are not in our industry who
come in and motivate strictly in terms of
talking about how people organize their
It can’t just be about work if you expect
your employees to buy in to your desire to
serve the customer.
“I’m spending more time with my sales-people and my managers than I am with
my family,” Zinn says. “I need to have
respect, and I need to have earned that
respect. Not by saying, ‘I’m the boss, and
you do it my way.’ But you do it by saying,
‘This is how we would like to do it,’ and you
allow input, and you always keep that feedback door open.”
The idea of bringing in breakfast is just
one example of showing that you’re not
looking for a bunch of automatons who
are just there to put in their time and go
“When you wake up in the morning, did
you go over your daily planner? Did you
review what you need to get accomplished today?” Zinn says. “We talk about
time management. We talk about health
and mental attitude. Did you go to the gym
this morning? Did you eat a good breakfast? These are all things that many companies doing the right things do. They get
involved in their people’s daily lives.”
By supporting a culture based on the
idea of ladies and gentlemen serving
ladies and gentlemen, you create a positive environment.
“You have everyone believing in positive things that happen,” Zinn says.
In any business, especially one in which
you’re trying to make a sale, the effect of
positive attitudes is tremendous.
“When I go into any business and I
sense that people really love what they
are doing, they are very quick to share
and very quick to tell you how great it is
to work at this company,” Zinn says. “At
the same time, people that are negative
are going to be even quicker to tell you
how bad it is. That’s getting on the positive side of the curve and allowing the
people to feel that they are running the