In the current issue of Forbes magazine, there is an article buried in the back (Who’d Start A Tech Firm In Chico? Chris Friedland’s Zany Path to Riches) about an online retailer slash “folksy, old school sales” company in a Podunk town. I found it intriguing in a couple ways.

First, there was quite a bit about their sales department, and any article about sales, I love! Second, it was about their company culture which translates to superior customer service on all their sales calls and record revenue per sales rep industrywide—even better than Amazon! And finally, they are not located in New York City, San Francisco, or anyplace “hot” like that. They’re located in Chico, California, yet they are attracting great talent from their local state college. They simply have a get-it-done attitude and they have fun doing it!

Anymore, company culture is all the rage. Every day you hear about the big tech companies trying to outdo one another just to attract talent. But do you really need to offer free gourmet lunches, free laundry service, beautiful shiny new state of the art buildings, and on and on to attract talent? I would beg to differ and say it all starts with attitude about your business or organization.

When I look around our offices we don’t have bean bags in the corners, nor do we have comfy couches, we do have somewhat of an open floor plan with God forbid, some offices on the periphery, we probably could use some touch up paint in some spots, and we’re planning on getting our carpet cleaned sometime this year. I think the only place we compete with the “big boys” is we do offer free coffee, albeit Wal-Mart brand, or as some people call it around here—saw dust.

But I can say hands down, without a doubt, that we have the absolute best people working for us here in little Dayton, Ohio. And yet, even though we don’t have all these luxuries, they love coming to work here.

So why is this? As I am writing this, I am overhearing our Publications Manager work with one of our long time clients who just had a turn-over and this person now is in charge of ‘rounding up all of their performing arts organization’s materials for their next program book to be sent to us. By the sound of the conversation, it is clear that this person was thrown into this blindly, which happens all the time in the performing arts industry. And this is totally understandable because they’re trying to do as much as they can with as little as they can.

On our end, our production department is pulling their hair out because they are getting duplicate bio’s, headshots, wrong content, etc. from this new person. But you would not think that when you hear the conversation. All I hear, is a cherry, calm voice saying “you’re doing a great job, don’t worry we’ll take care of it.” And you could almost hear the sigh of relief on the other end of the phone. And we do this all the time. Our goal is to make it so our clients feel that we are right down the hall from them and they are part of our team and therefore part of our culture.

I can tell you right now, I have never told our Publications Manager how to treat our clients. Sure, there is the expectation in any professional environment that you treat customers with respect, but that can only go so far. All you can really do is create an atmosphere where everyone feels like they are part of the family and they’re treated that way. Do we have our arguments? You bet. Do we get frustrated with each other at times? You bet. But at the end of the day nobody’s holding grudges, or back stabbing or thinking to themselves I can’t wait until it’s five o’clock. As a matter of fact, it’s a Friday afternoon, and our sales team met their sales objective for the week so we have what we call a get-n-split. This simply means as soon as our program book sales reps hit their target as a team for the week, our whole company gets Friday off as a paid day. But guess what? Some of our sales reps are here, our production department is here because they have books to get out the door, but technically no one needs to be here, but they are!

I suppose I could tell you in some fancy industry jargon about how we achieve our company culture here at Onstage Publications and make it sound like we’re part of the unicorn in-crowd. And everyone would be in awe and think to themselves, how can we implement that at our company? But I’d be lying to you, because all I do is treat everyone the way I want to be treated and try to make it as fun as possible to be here.

And that’s my New Year’s resolution—to continue having fun because by doing this I know we’ll continue to be successful selling performing arts program book advertising and making our program book management system the best and easiest it can be for our clients. Good selling!

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