At Change Strategists, we’re always on the lookout for ways to do things differently or ways to do old things with a different twist.
Recently, under the heading of “Meals and Manicures,” in Forbes – a title that’s certain to capture the imagination – the business success of Zhang Yong in China was described. Zhang is a high-school dropout who is worth $6.5 billion. He’s the chairman and cofounder of the popular restaurant chain Haidilao. And what do his restaurants offer – ? Hot pots – which are basins of boiling broth in which diners cook their own meat and vegetables at communal tables. Somewhat like roasting marshmallows around a campfire, as Forbes describes the experience. There are numerous hot pot restaurants in China, so what has caused Zhang to have a string of successful restaurants and amass billions in the process – ? “It’s better to scale fast and be everywhere instead of having a single towering presence,” he says in explaining why he grew his chain fast and maintains the momentum. But the difference between Zhang’s restaurants and others in the same restaurant category is the fact that Zhang has discovered how to make a certain restaurant ambiance work to the great delight of his customers. He works hard to please diners – something that businessmen often lose sight of in the press of doing “business.” Zhang will provide tableside manicures, if those are appealing to the customers, and has initiated a service that will print customers’ selfies at the table – always very popular, so that actual photos can be shared with those enjoying the same dining experience. He has also assembled a carefully crafted organizational structure, in which well-trained young employees rise through the company’s empire of apprentices and managers – all who must pass rigid training in the process. Zhang only promotes from within (we’ve had these discussions in previous posts regarding the pros of internal promotions to management), and he provides his managers with the ability to earn a cut of their restaurant’s profits. (In earlier posts we’ve discussed a similar process that In-N-Out has consistently used to gain their success.) Zhang explains his views about the process by saying, “Putting faith in my staff has paid off for me – giving them responsibility and autonomy is how you show trust.” Indeed it is – always good to revisit that age-old lesson, and even more interesting to hear of it being played out in another culture. The great truths of business span continents and cultures, without exception. The difficult part for busy (and often, stressed) business people is to remember them.
ALL THE MOVING PARTS – having a company’s five central elements move in harmony and work together toward the company’s goal is certain to guarantee business success.