How To Manage Rapid Growth Without Sacrificing The Customer Experience

Chris DeJong, Founder and President of Big Blue Swim School, is a five-time U.S. National Champion swimmer.

I’m a big proponent of businesses growing quickly, but at the same time, a business leader must be able to keep their finger on the pulse of the customer experience, or they risk losing what enabled that growth in the first place. You need a growth strategy that maintains quality while enabling quantity. This might sound complicated, but it can be boiled down to four principles. When packaged together, this simple strategy can be replicated at almost any level of your business, from the C-suite to the ground floor.

1. Have a flexible vision.

As a leader of the organization, you are the keeper of the company’s vision. It is your job to share this vision with others and inspire them with the possibilities of the future to create company buy-in. But it’s important that your vision remains flexible.

In the early stages of business, concentrate on hiring great people. Not good people—great people. Good people will follow your vision to the letter, but great people will have their own opinions on how things should be done, which is what you need in order to foster company growth. Having flexibility in your vision means that you’re willing to share the vision with others who want to leave their mark.

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A flexible vision has multiple benefits. Individuals can work on what they want to work on, which can sometimes be an even more powerful motivator than compensation alone. This, in turn, leads to greater work satisfaction and improved work quality. As Daniel Pink says in his book Drive, “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”

2. Establish a unified core.

Your team needs to have the autonomy to steer their own ships, but as a leader, it is your responsibility to make sure that those ships move in the same direction and in a coordinated way.

The most effective way to do this is to establish a core mission and set of values. These will act as an organizational compass, helping teams navigate business decisions on their own while keeping everyone moving toward the same destination. Without this uniting center, your organization will grow in so many different directions that it will pull itself apart.

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The mission must be inspiring but also broad enough that others can see their own personal values reflected in it. This creates core values that people want to live up to every day rather than a set of rules that feel more like obligations.

3. Grow your culture.

What arises from your organization’s adherence to its mission and daily procedures is your company culture. Culture is not something that a leader can dictate; it happens on its own, based on your own execution of what you set out to do. In many ways, it is a business’s first piece of new growth.

The best way to protect this culture is to seek out culture adds rather than culture fits. Attempting to keep culture the same stifles future growth for the organization and for those within it whom you want to see flourish. So, lean into your vision for the company’s future. Try to envision how you can add to your culture and help it continue to grow and get better rather than trying to maintain a stagnate status quo.

4. Scale for experience.

This framework of flexibility built around a guiding core mission is also the key to repeating a quality customer experience without the risk of it growing stale. The foundational framework lays the expectations for how to interact with customers while still leaving room for interpretation.

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For example, we constantly collaborate with instructors on our curriculum, providing a basic framework to work within. Not only does this give them ownership, but it also gives them the ability to adapt lessons in a way they think will be most effective for their students’ unique needs. We have also applied this concept to technology, allowing our franchisees to roll out the flexible scheduling system parents have come to expect. This provides franchise owners with the tools to create schedules that meet the unique needs of their customers while also maximizing returns for themselves and investors.

When your business is experiencing rapid growth, you must make a lot of split-second decisions that have long-lasting impacts. If you have a strong core mission to act as your guide, and if you give your team the flexibility to make their own decisions while following that same guide, your ship will sail itself to smoother waters in no time.

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