Sweating the Small Stuff: How I Created A Company Culture Of Accomplishments

Sweating the Small Stuff:

How I Created A Company Culture Of Accomplishments

There are tremendous benefits to cultivating a healthy, happy business culture. In fact, this might be the single most important factor in determining a business’s long-term success. It’s simple, people make up the core of every single business. Happy staff and clients result in a company’s staying power.

Over nearly eight years, I’ve owned and operated six fitness studios. At Pure Barre, I have a staff of 104 people. At the age of 25, when I opened my first business and hired my first team, I knew I needed to prioritize my company culture. Experience has taught me that employees will work harder, for longer periods of time and with more enthusiasm if they enjoy and value their company culture.

In my quest to build the strongest company culture possible, I’ve found that celebrating small wins results in a huge ROI. According to Zip Recruiter, three out of every four companies have recognition programs, but only 58 percent of their staff knows about them. In other words, companies must go beyond simply implementing employee appreciation programs. They should scream staff (and client) recognition from the rooftops. 

Whether you’re showcasing the accomplishments of your staff or your clients, there are many ways to leverage the power of celebrating small wins. Below are several methods that have worked for our business.

It Starts With You and Your Team

Company culture begins with your first hire. It only takes one drop to poison the well. Even with a large staff, it only takes one person to damage the company culture. I’ve never taken the hiring process of my team lightly. Instead, I’ve chosen to keep the hiring of teachers exclusively my responsibility, even after eight years of running multiple studios.

“Company culture begins with your first hire. It only takes one drop to poison the well. Even with a large staff, it only takes one person to damage the company culture.” 

When hiring, I look for people who are achievement oriented, among other things. These are the people who will thrive in an environment that celebrates the small wins. These are also the people who don’t settle for mediocrity. And perhaps most importantly, these are the people who will help their peers celebrate mini successes along the way.

Milestone-Tied Compensation

A decision my husband (and business partner) made early on in our entrepreneurial venture was to celebrate the amount of classes taught by our instructors.

Rather than paying our fitness instructors based on seniority or previous coaching experience, we offer wage increases when our staff reaches various milestones: 100 classes taught, 250 classes taught and so on. Not only do we increase instructors’ pay at these milestones, but also we outwardly celebrate their accomplishments in our community. Using our social media channels and in-studio announcements, we congratulate our team members on their commitment to teaching Pure Barre. As a result, our newer teachers are always working to teach more classes so they too can earn this recognition.

"A standard recognition program might not be the best way to deliver positive feedback. Find ways to honor your team and their accomplishments" - Sami Sweeny (Photo Courtesy of Pure Bare)
Staff Competitions

Another example of using accomplishments to create an impactful work environment is demonstrated by our exclusive staff challenges. Several times a year, we lead fitness and nutrition challenges for our internal team. Often, these challenges are focused on working-out a specific number of times, or building muscle mass (which we measure on a Styku), and/or following a healthy nutritional plan. The benefits of having staff in the studios more go far beyond just building staff morale. Clients are motivated to see their teachers “walk the walk” and take on these fitness challenges as well. Every staff challenge results in a winner, or two, who we celebrate in a big way. We’ve rewarded our staff challenge winners with financial prizes, gift cards, newsletter highlights, social media features and more.

Make It A Game

All-staff gatherings can work wonders for bolstering company culture. Every year we hold an all-staff party accompanied by a heated game of “Team Celebration Trivia.” Our annual game is comprised of questions directly related to staff achievements (e.g. “What teacher had the best new client retention in 2017?” or “What teacher saw the most clients in 2017?”). We make sure to capture all measurable milestones in our trivia game, ensuring that our entire team acknowledges the many accomplishments of their peers. 

Client Loyalty

Celebrating your clients’ achievements can be just as important to building company culture as celebrating your staff. Everyone loves to be acknowledged for his or her hard work. We’ve found that recognizing our die-hard clients is key to keep them coming back. We make sure to email all of our clients when they reach their annual Pure Barre anniversaries. We also do our best to publicly congratulate them for their dedication via our social media platforms. It doesn’t take a lot to let a client know you appreciate his or her long-term business.

Client Milestones

Pure Barre is ridiculously hard. Getting through one class is a victory. To honor this completed hour of sweating, burning and lifting we track attendance and celebrate each time a client reached another class milestone: 20 classes, 100 classes, 250, classes and so on. The number of classes taken directly corresponds to a “club.” For example, someone who has taken 500 classes is immediately welcomed into the “500 Club.” We have specific barre socks and tank tops available for 500 Club members. In each of our studio locations, we’ve mounted “Signing Barres of Fame” where clients can leave their signatures as a stamp of their achievements. We announce the mini-victories over the microphone at the end of class to inspire others to work hard towards their goals. And, of course, we use our social media platforms to capture these milestones.

Client Challenges

My leadership team and I constantly strive to keep our studio environment goal-oriented. Similar to our staff challenges, we offer many client challenges throughout the year. Our clients not only work hard to complete these challenges, but they support each other along the way. At the end of every challenge we hold a challenge finale party where we raise a glass, literally, to all finishers. This party gives us the chance to give out awards, feature slideshows of the participants and celebrate those who accomplished their goals. 

“At the age of 25, when I opened my first business and hired my first team, I knew I needed to prioritize my company culture. Experience has taught me that employees will work harder, for longer periods of time and with more enthusiasm if they enjoy and value their company culture.”

The bottom line is that people will always crave positive feedback. A standard recognition program might not be the best way to deliver positive feedback. Find ways to honor your team and their accomplishments. Celebrate both client and staff milestones and achievements. Nurture your company culture from the inside out.

Sami Sweeney

Sami Sweeney is the owner and operator of six Pure Barre studios in the Seattle, Washington area. In 2010 Sami opened her first studio in Seattle and has continued to grow the brand in the market for the past 7+ years. She serves on Pure Barre’s Franchisee Advisory Board, is a lululemon ambassador and a Fitbit ambassador.

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