Pose the following: “You want to do business with us? Here’s our culture,” Libey said. “People are infatuated with the DNA in [successful] companies. They know their role, communicate it to customers and customers respond that they love the culture.”
Bad culture exists when owners and CEOs run the business with a “Do what I say” approach. Other bad culture warnings include turf wars between merchandising and marketing, siloing of information, a lack of communication and employees afraid to ask questions because they may not be along the lines of the party line.
Finding good people to buy into a solid company culture is a challenge for catalogers too. “This industry doesn’t produce 42,000 college grads a year,” Libey noted. “Ninety percent of the people here probably came into this industry from another field. Develop your very own universities inside your company for every opportunity you’ll need to fill in the future.”
6. Tools. Never skimp on spending adequate money on the right tools, Libey noted, particularly new ones.
7. Niche depth. Be the best in your niche, Libey advised. “Most companies are vague about niche depth,” he noted. “About one-third of them know who they are. A lot of them can define their niche. But when the analysis is done, they’re all wrong.”
8. Trusted advisors. Find printers, online service firms, list brokers and other vendors that you can entrust. Don’t practice vendor bending, he advised, in which you take your best trusted advisors and reveal nothing about the financial performance of your company.
Instead, show all your trusted vendors financial statements, your balance sheet, circulation numbers and all vital information. “Say, ‘here’s what I’m looking for’,” Libey said. “’If you can figure out how I can get 10 percent better performance and profitability, you can have half of it.’ That way, you get 40 to 50 ideas that work. Open up and grow together or close up and die. Don’t bend over your paper buyer for another 2 percent off. It’s stupid.”