Every bank or credit union wants to build a successful brand. But what if you focused on building a financial institution that was “uncontainable?” You can if you read Kip Tindell’s new book Uncontainable. He just happens to be the chairman and CEO of The Container Store and in his new book he shares the secrets of how he and his team have built one of the most successful niche retail store empires.
The book’s subtitle—how passion, commitment and conscious capitalism built a business where everyone thrives—summarizes the book’s concepts pretty well. As banks and credit unions, we must think more like retailers and less like financial institutions. And following the ideas Tindell outlines in his book is a great place to start that transformation.
Much of Uncontainable is spent dissecting The Container Store’s seven Foundation PrinciplesTM . Rather than giving employees a giant policies and procedures manual, The Container Store is guided by seven key tenets. Tindell spends a chapter on each and why they are so important to driving success. Below are three of the seven and how we can apply them.
(1) One Great Person = Three Good PeopleSM
Your growth and brand all start with your people. The Container Store’s hiring philosophy is pretty simple: hire greatness and don’t settle when it comes to your people. As Tindell says, “This is the whole ballgame.” But it is not just a hiring philosophy, it is a pay structure as well. “We’re not advocates of paying mediocre people well, but we’re huge advocates of paying great people well.”
- Application: Honestly review (and I don’t mean giving a formal evaluation) your current employees and determine if you have good or great people working for you. Determine what your own hiring philosophy is. Many banks and credit unions just want a body in the front line teller or service representative positions. Taking that approach results in mediocrity.
(2) Man in the Desert SellingSM
Selling gets a bad wrap—but not at The Container Store. Tindell eloquently illustrates the story about someone living in an oasis when a water deprived barefoot man shows up shouting “Water, water, water.” Tindell goes on to emphasize that in that scenario you wouldn’t just give the man water. You would offer him food, shelter, clothing (more than just what his immediate need was). He elaborates by saying, “The most important part of Man in the Desert Selling is getting to know the customer well enough to propose a solution.”
- Application: Make sure your service philosophy emphasizes solution based selling. Remember, service = sales. We tend to separate the two. But in reality, if you are truly serving the consumer, you will offer products and services that make their lives better. Selling is not evil and not a bad thing—especially if you are improving lives.
(3) Intuition Does Not Come to an Unprepared Mind. You Need to Train Before it HappensSM
At The Container Store you get 40 hours of training before you ever reach the sales floor. And those first forty hours are NOT spent on system and H.R. training. Rather you learn their Foundation Principles and what The Container Store is all about. Eventually during your first year as a new employee you receive over 200 hours of training. Tindell includes some powerful quotes from Container Store employees including, “Training is more of a burden or an afterthought at most other companies. The intent in training is so strong at The Container Store it’s not like anywhere else I have ever been.” And “Training is the time to let the culture wash over you.”
- Application: Stop just giving lip service to your training efforts. Make training your employees are a top priority and not a line item on your expenses. Invest in sales and service training, leadership training and engagement training. Ignore training at your own risk.
Those are just three of the seven Foundation Principles. To learn the rest you’ll have to read Uncontainable, which I highly encourage you to do. Tindell’s writing style is conversational and he tells many captivating stories. My copy is filled with notes and underlines. It is also a great book for a management group to read as a team.
If you want to build your brand and grow your credit union or bank, then read Uncontainable.