A long time ago I spent time in a Harry and David call center as an Order Entry Associate. I took the job out of a little desperation, not thinking that I would learn another lesson about why certain companies are successful and others are not. The lessons of how and why they do things the “Harry and David way” are practices that should be used by every start-up and established business today.
Know Who You Are
This sounds like an easy statement to live by. But often times young companies have a personality crisis from their inception. Lack of identity, whether as a company or a brand(aren’t they the same thing?), can hobble a company almost as badly as the lack of funding. H & D built their business from 1934 to today on two things: 1. Pears and 2. the finest guarantee possible. From this foundation, they have built a company based on gifting that is unrivaled. To this day the Royal Riviera Pear is the cornerstone of their market that has grown to include gift baskets, baked goods, and plants. The company focus remains the same, however; the finest quality and the best customer service that can be provided. They know who they are.
Let Your Employees Feel Empowered
This can be difficult for an emerging company because there is often times the battle over fiefdoms as the company experiences success. H & D has delineated policies in place that states the importance of each employee and how important they are to the success of the company from the manager to the orchard worker to the phone associate. There are incentives and benefits in place that allow for employee ideas and judgment to be rewarded. There is not just the kegerator next to the ping pong table in the breakroom that so many young companies tout, but actual financial and personal recognition that allows the employees to gain an actual feeling of ownership in the company. H & D embodies the “know who you are” in not just product and brand but in the realm of happy, healthy employees.
Happy Customers Bring More Happy Customers
Sounds like common sense doesn’t it? But H & D has taken it to a new level because it has “generational customers”. These are the sons and daughters of customers who equate the superior products and services with the Harry and David brand. I was astounded by the number of people who told me their great-grandparents had been customers. The common theme was the great quality that never seems to change and the tradition of wonderful customer service. Think about the stability that being a generational brand brings to a business model. This is where the inability of today’s start-ups to see long-term, other than an exit strategy, harms their potential from the beginning.
These were the most prevalent things I learned. The customers were happy when they called in. They were at ease, almost excited when they gave their orders. This was due to the fact that they loved the H & D brand and products. But also knew that they would receive wonderful customer service that is so uncommon today. Harry and David is a part of their holiday traditions that they rely on and love. This love was built on a foundation that so many start-ups could learn from today.