How To Motivate Employees

4 Jan

What Drives Your Team?

Keeping employees highly motivated is challenging.  At least it was for me, during the seventeen years I ran an advertising agency in Honolulu. It was no wonder, when I went to Lex Brodie’s Tire Company to buy tires, I was dumbfounded.

When I pulled up to park the car, a service representative came up to greet me.  Let me repeat that.  When I pulled up to park the car, before I got out of my car, a service person was there to greet me.

With clip board in hand he asked how he could help me. He took down my information and that of my car and asked me to proceed to the office where another equally friendly person greeted me, took my work order and proceeded to match me up with the type of tires I needed given the parameters of my budget and how I drive.

Employees are proud to strive for excellence.

By being a Lex Brodie customer, explained the sales representative, flat tire repairs and tire rotations will be free, for the life off my tires. “We even offer free air,” he proudly boasted. (Something we use to expect from our friendly corner service station).

While I sat in the customer waiting area, I was mesmerized by the efficiency and enthusiasm of the staff.

I poured myself a cup of complimentary coffee while watching sales people, mechanics and office workers running from one side of the building to the other, getting customers in and out as efficiently and smoothly as a well oiled small block 350 c.c Chevy Nova with a dual feed four barrel carburetor. (Editor’s note: that was my high school muscle car).

Aside from having world-class customer service, Lex Brody was a terrific marketer.  He put the customer first, back in 1964, before it became a popular business phrase.

In fact, he became famous by creating his own buzz phrase.  It was simply, “thank you very much”.  He used it at the end of all his commercials and ads and said it with conviction and sincerity as did his employees.

But I digress.

How To Motivate Employees

Being a naturally curious person and always interested in improving myself and my business, I went to the front of the large open aired facility, walked past the front service counter and up a few stairs so I could introduce myself to none other than Lex Brodie, himself.

I easily recognized him from this TV commercials and where I was sitting having my coffee. I thought it would be interesting to meet this legendary business person who became famous for selling tires and thanking people, very much.

Not to my surprise, Lex warmly greeted me and invited me to sit down after I asked him if he minded if I asked him about his business.

I told him how impressed I was with how his organization is run and what his secret was in how to motivate employees.

“Easy,” he said. “I pay them and treat them well, I promote within and I practice the Nowall Theory”.

I looked at him trying not to look puzzled. As a business person and marketer, I should know about his last point, the Nowall Theory.

I scanned my brain trying to remember what it was but just could not recall studying it in school or reading about it.

I confess, Lex”, I told the larger than life tire magnet; “I don’t recall ever hearing about the Nowall Theory. What is it”?

Look around”, he said. “What do you see”?

I panned the expansive garage facility trying to notice something unusual like a giant thermometer with sales goals in place of temperature readings, but I saw nothing unusual.

No walls”, Lex shouted out, as he raised his hands to show me he could see everything.  That’s the Nowall Theory.

My office has no walls and my desk is elevated so I could inspect the entire operation from where I’m sitting.  My staff knows I am always watching and they know I always expect their best “.

Lex Brodie sold the business several years ago and has comfortably retired.

To the good fortune of our community, the business has maintained the ‘customer first’ culture, even with five stores. You can still see his elevated desk at the Honolulu location and to the credit of the new owners and managers has maintained the brand and reputation.

And for that, I say “thank you, very much”.

Lex Brodie’s employee motivation tips: 1) The ‘No Wall’ Theory: Set expectations and inspect, often. 2) Set a Good Example 3) Treat and pay employees well 4) Promote within.  Make them a part of the organization.

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3 Responses to “How To Motivate Employees”

  1. Ron Martin January 5, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Lex Brodie was one of the first people that I met (out surfing) when I moved to Hawaii 31 years ago. He was open and friendly; willing to share stories with this new boy to Hawaii and surfing.
    Strange as this may sound, I have never once pumped gasoline in my life. I don’t feel that I should have to. It has become increasingly difficult to find stations that do. Even though they still call themselves “Service Stations” most have no service at all. Lex Brodie is one of the remaining few that do, and as a result I get my gas there quite often.

    • alan January 5, 2012 at 11:46 am #

      Great point, Ron. They aren’t ‘service stations’ any longer and ‘Self-Service Stations’ just don’t have a ring to it. Oh, those good ol’ days…

  2. Peter Kay January 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    I remember Ron making that “I don’t like to pump my gas” comments > 10 yrs ago and think about that from time-to-time when I’m pumping my own gas…

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