By 2007 Steve Hall, founder and CEO of driversselect, had taken a four-year-old car dealership from startup to $70 million in annual sales. He was working hard, growing the business and was making money. However, something was missing.
In a recent Conscious Capitalism panel discussion, Steve said he kept thinking that once he achieved his next goal the business would finally become more fun. Then the next goal. Then the next. But the goals would come and go and the fun was still missing.
He said, “I did not realize how out of alignment the business had gotten with my personal values and how we really had no core purpose.” He went on to say, “I was attracting people who were growing the business, but they were not people I enjoyed.” These people were not only employees, they were also customers and suppliers.
He had a major wake-up call after the Great Recession took a toll on the dealership starting in 2008.
After downsizing the business and working hard just to keep the doors open, he decided that if he was going to rebuild it he was going build it differently.
Steve decided to let the experience of the Great Recession refine him rather than define him.
I have found this philosophy to be a key leadership trait.
Leaders realize that success is not about what happens to them, rather success comes from how they respond to what happens to them. Great leaders refuse to let setbacks and failure define them.
To truly enjoy his work and keep his personal and professional values in alignment, Steve decided to rebuild the culture while rebuilding the company.
He wanted an organization built on the right values that attracted stakeholders whom he wanted to spend time. He wanted a culture that was about more than just driving sales and making money.
One of the first moves he made was crafting the following purpose: to infect the workplace with highly contagious C.A.R.E. (Caring Acts Randomly Expressed).
Many people and companies say they care, however, listening to Steve and his leadership team discuss how they live C.A.R.E. with all stakeholders, every day, was truly inspiring.
For example, their weekly leadership meeting begins with each executive offering a CARE award for someone in the tribe who best exhibited the core values from the previous week.
They also work hard to intentionally brighten the day of each and every supplier. They pay on time, are courteous to every stakeholder and they create a fun and inviting environment.
Additionally, Steve said he always picks up the tab for dinners as a way to show their suppliers how much he appreciates the relationship. That is a unique approach in the world of any business.
driversselect is the antitheses of a typical discount used car dealership. You get a good view into their culture in the short video on their Core Values page. Take a minute to check them out and experience their culture for yourself.
As you do, remember that their transformation came from a crisis that threatened the company’s very survival. driversselect is thriving today because their CEO and founder leveraged a setback to refine them, not define them.
I believe Steve’s story demonstrates that life does not happen to us, but that it can happen for us. Sometimes we need the setback, challenge or failure to force us to change and to prepare us for something bigger.
How has this worked for Steve? In the last five years the company has grown from $50 million in annual revenue to more than $240 million in annual revenue. With future expansion planned into Fort Worth, Houston and other cities, driversselect’s future looks very bright indeed.
You can read more about creating an intentional culture at http://www.riseperformancegroup.com/four-steps-to-creating-a-sustainable-culture/.
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