I want to welcome you to the last and final competency on our journey: reinvention. Congratulations for making it this far, conquering packaging, positioning, influence and acceleration. You've earned what entrepreneurs and socialpreneurs all crave -- trust. Welcome to the other side, my friend, and start to imagine what you could do with that... with the freedom to explore something new.
Last week we looked at a way to achieve magnetism through building a platform and leveraging previous reputation to have greater impact moving forward. But what if there was another, just as powerful way to continue to achieve more impact? And what if instead of building off of what you've already done, it was more about reconsidering what could be done differently?
In Demand, authors Adrian Slyawotzky and Karl Weber speak to the key behaviors of magnetism, citing the grocer Wegmans as a prime example of a company mastering the concept. While Wegmans has created a cult-like following for itself by investing deeply in employee expertise and customer relations, what I think really sets themselves is core for this competency. I think Wegmans is magnetic because they aren't afraid of reinvention -- in fact they are blessed with dissatisfaction. Or as The Atlantic described it over a year ago, part of Wegmans' secret sauce is that it is "the anti-Walmart."
Wegmans was born out of a dissatisfaction with the status quo, and since first being founded in 1916 it has continued to push the boundary and look for more out of what the grocery experience should be.
Dating back to its earliest days, Wegmans has always embraced new thinking, technology, and what could be better. Going back to the 1930s, Wegmans built a cafeteria with seating for 300 inside of its store. Looking at the Ikeas, Wal-Marts, and Targets today, you won't find a single one without this service. Furthermore, in 1932 Wegmans became the first grocery store in Rochester to introduce refrigerated display windows and vaporized water sprays to keep produce fresh and eight years later Wegmans first started stocking frozen food items. The store outside of Rochester, New York was one of the first to adopt the new bar code technology Universal Product Code (UPC) in 1974, revolutionizing the way we checkout. Well before customer loyalty and discount programs became the trend for businesses, Wegmans was already testing out their "Shoppers Club" program in their Corning store in 1990. They are the first chain in the country to introduce fresh irradiated ground beef under their own label in 2002, and in 2007 they established their own organic research farm off the shores of Canandaigua Lake, assembling a team of experts to research organic farming and to share their findings with partner growers.
Beyond innovations in their operations and store capabilities, Wegmans also found itself dissatisfied with the role it was playing in the larger community. It didn't want to just be where people went to grocery shop -- it wanted to be where people went to nourish themselves... to live healthier lives. In the 1990s the big marketing push at Wegmans was its "Strive for 5" program, which sought to educate shoppers on the importance of getting your daily allotment of fruits and vegetables. It wasn't just another flashy campaign to get customers in their stores, though. Wegmans hired a registered dietitian to work with their chefs to design and execute on the program, offering recipes with nutritional analyses to promote better health and wellbeing. Today, go to the Wegmans website and you'll see an entire portion dedicated to "eat well. live well" with a greater mission to inspire and support each other to enjoy healthier, better lives using four simple principles. When's the last time you saw your local Safeway, King Soopers, or Piggly Wiggly trying to improve your health? Wegmans has gone as far as banning the sale of all tobacco products within its stores in 2008, out of concern for the role smoking plays in people's health. A bold move, but also one in complete alignment with their values and one focused on improving the community.
Starting as a grocer, Wegmans has consistently reinvented itself to become a community partner nourishing each and every family walking through its doors. They've assumed the responsibility of the entire industry to work with the community to make everyone better. In doing so, they've not only created amazing relationships, but they've solidified and enabled their customer base to be stronger. A savvy business move considering that your business is only as health as the market supporting it. It is this commitment to reinvention, driven by always asking what could be done better, that has landed Wegmans on Forbes list of the "Largest Private Companies in the US."
So What Are You Going To Do Now That You're On The Other Side?Are you someone blessed with dissatisfaction? Are you ready to make what you've already done even bigger...to take on something even greater? Watch the video below as we look more specifically at:
- The gravity of success
- The opportunities that open up for you now that you are on the right side of the mental barrier of the buyer
- The responsibility that comes with that opportunity
- And the importance for every hero/heroine to "answer the call"
After you watch, ask yourself what have you always wanted to do but feared you never had the reach to accomplish. Is it a bigger business? Is it to influence social policy? Consider now how the success and momentum you've generated on this journey will give you a leg up in making this dream a reality, and go pursue it.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Peter Sheahan on the topic of Making It Happen in Small Business, focused on turning those with the ideas into those with the influence. To see all of the posts in the series, click here.