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  • Writer's pictureNick Andriacchi

Creating Raving Fans

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

All businesses strive to create a customer base that become raving fans. Renowned author Ken Blanchard (Raving Fans, One Minute Manager) coined the term “raving fan” to describe a customer who is so overwhelmed by the customer service they’ve received that they can’t stop telling everyone about it. When the customer base does this, it makes lead generation and conversion to new customers much easier. And for staffers, raving reviews from contract placements help with recruiting efforts.


What is the best way to score this? In my experience, in order to create a fanatic customer base is to first create raving fans among the staff. They must believe in the vison, goals and objectives of the company and it is up to leadership to create that environment. They must also feel like they are a stakeholder in its success.


Think of it this way – most of us spend a large chuck of our waking hours working. Since that is the case, why not make it great experience! A vibrant work environment is paramount in retaining and attracting top talent, creating a raving customer base and growing sales.


A strategy that has worked well focuses with on four core pillars: Vision, Ownership, Communication and Leadership.


1. Vision

Vision statements need to be clear, communicated frequently and followed on a daily basis. Employees want to know why they are here and what they are trying to accomplish. They need to feel like their role makes a positive contribution in the success of the business.


2. Give Employees Ownership of Their Job

Leaders provide them with help or guidance when asked, but don't be afraid to let them fail. Resist the urge to micro-manage – or tell your employees how they should work. As long as the decisions are well thought out, the employee will more often than not make the right one.

3. Open Door Policy (Communication Style)

Sure, closed door meetings are important for many reasons. You can’t share all conversations with all employees. But, be conscious of the message a closed door sends to the people inside the room and outside the room.


4. Don’t Gossip (Effective Communication)

This is a momentum killer that is usually done by under performing employees. The rest have to remember not to doubt in the dark what they’ve seen in the light.


5. Create a Team Environment (Productive Communication)

Even the largest and most complex teams can work together effectively. The sales team in the “field” and departments in the “factory” are not advisories competing against each other but instead team mates trying to solve the same puzzle.


6. Leaders Lead by Example

Owners and senior level executives need to take the lead. If they don’t believe in the company’s vision, no one else will. Powerful leaders bring people together to serve a common purpose.


I have worked closely with two organizations that were limping along in an unhealthy work environment. We turned it around by simply believing that we are all here for no other purpose than to build a successful organization. In both cases, not only did the work environment improve, but both organizations became vastly more successful.

Success Stories

I was part of the senior executive team at Damian Services, a full-service funding company for the independent staffing companies. Like most small companies, we experienced lots of growing pains. Although, the company was financially solid and growing in spite of itself, it didn’t reach its full potential until it changed its internal environment.


Let me tell you, the company was a real zoo in the late 1990’s. There was lots of in-fighting between employees, department heads etc. and not a lot of motivation to grow the company or service the clients. After replacing the management team, we hired Mark Himel as CEO. Mark did not have a strong financial background, but he had a strong background in customer service and team building.


By implementing the above strategies, the office environment changed quickly (we brought the Blanchard folks to help train). The company was able to retain key employees that adapted to our new company vision and the ones that didn’t left on their own.


The upshot. We provided legendary service and grew the company five-fold until we sold it for a very high EBIDA in 2015.


The second example involves a not-for-profit, St Therese Chinese Catholic Church & School in Chicago. I have served in multiple roles but my key role is of Finance Council Chairperson. One would think there would be a lot of kumbaya in a religious organization – unfortunately think again. Unlike Damian, our problems went beyond in-fighting, we were put on list of parish closings due to poor financial performance.


Before we could cure the latter, we again had to get most everyone on the same page which was difficult. There are different cultures that represent the parishioner base. The school mostly consists of non-Catholic families which represented another challenge. Needless to say, nobody really trusted each other.


Like Damian, we hired two very strong leaders in Fr. Francis Li, Pastor and Phyllis Cavallone, Principal. And we had a core group of parish leaders that believed we needed to bring all stakeholders together first, before focusing on stabilizing and growing the parish. Dedicated employees & volunteers received ownership of their roles and communication to everyone become more frequent and clearer.


The upshot. School enrollment is up to capacity and is nationally recognized by twice winning the prestigious Blue Ribbon award. The parish on the whole is now financially stable and growing. Phyllis was recognized by the Archdiocese of Chicago and was promoted to Dean of Academics of the entire school system.

Vision, Ownership, Communication and Leadership create synergy in a dynamic work setting. A vibrant workplace creates raving fans among employees and customers alike. Not only that, it attracts new talent and new customers.


In the words of Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.

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