Starbucks announced this week that it is partnering with Arizona State University to make an undergraduate education available at a steep discount to 135,000 US employees who work at least 20 hours a week. Workers will be able to choose from 40 educational programs and they won’t be required to stay at Starbucks after earning the degree.
Why would they do that?
Bill Simmons, who lives in Billings, Montana, owns a small change of oil change stores, called “MasterLube.” More than 30 years ago, he realized that the people working at his one and only oil change shop had ambitions, talents and drive – but they were changing oil for a living. And they would never get to their potential if they kept doing that. So he devised a plan to do something meaningful for them. It turned out that it made his oil change business prosper as well.
In his own words, he created a "principle centered service business” that he describes like this:
“MasterLube is a principle centered service business that recruits people into a temporary workplace experience of extraordinary vision, discipline, and excellence in which they are encouraged to discover their own extraordinary capabilities and then trained, energized, and eventually launched into the specific direction of their greatest potential.”
Bill proudly displays a “where are they now” gallery in each of his now seven Montana locations that proudly track the history of his past employees. Much like Starbucks has discovered, he provides people with a high standards work environment that demonstrates the value of those same high standards; spends countless hours coaching, teaching and providing connections to all of his team members; and runs seminars and discussions on their future plans, careers and goals.
He runs a 3 week full time class for all of his team members, including career planning and a session on “where are you on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human needs.”
He has 100% turnover every thirty-six months because he doesn’t let people stay any longer than that. His goal is to get each of them promoted – and then stay in touch as they continue their journey to to their goals.
And, as you would expect, his customers love MasterLube. Measured on every scale –changes per year, lifetime value, service satisfaction – MasterLube is off the charts. He’s been asked to replicate this program in a wide range of places and businesses – and always successfully. The embodiment of this idea in these two businesses – very different in scale - is the same. It focuses on serving the aspirations of employees well beyond the requirements of the business as a core value.
Yes, it’ll obviously provide great returns to the business in performance, reduced turnover and its associated costs, and a very high level of customer service satisfaction.
Maybe that’s enough. But Bill’s “Wall of Fame” is a pretty cool reward as well.