In a competitive industry like the restaurant business, it’s difficult to differentiate one fast-casual restaurant from another. But that hasn’t stopped b.good from standing out in a crowded field. They’ve accomplished this with one special ingredient—the community they serve.
“When we started the business, my partner and I were very naïve and had never worked in a restaurant,” confessed b.good CEO Anthony Ackil. “When we opened, we didn’t do so well, but the one thing we did well was build community. We realized that becoming part of the community and building relationships was the key to building a business.” Their strong ties to the community kept the restaurant afloat, while they worked hard to fix their rookie mistakes.
From day one, Ackil and his childhood best friend and partner, Jon Olinto, treated every customer like gold and gave back to the community, right from the beginning. “It’s inherent in our culture,” states Ackil.
“We involve employees in everything we do to give back to the community. When we donate 800 meals to the community, employees are serving those meals.” Organizations that nurture the souls of their employees are somewhat rare these days, as so many merely focus on profit.
The company also operates a farm located on an island in Boston Harbor, where they partner with Camp Harbor View, a residential summer camp for at-risk youth. There, employees work side by side with volunteers to farm the land. Seventy-five percent of the crop goes directly back to the community, with Camp Harbor View receiving the first harvest.
“Employees want to feel good about what they are investing their time in,” notes Ackil. This may very help to explain why employee turnover at b.good is lower than the industry average. Those who feel a connection to their work and think highly of their employers tend to stick around.
There is a higher purpose to the business than just selling burgers. The co-founders are quite intentional in their efforts to create a workplace where employees feel good about going to work. “You have to nurture the culture in the business,” states Ackil. “We then have to make sure this trickles down to the managers. Everyone has to believe in the culture and as we expand, we have to be mindful and continue to focus on this.”
In a recent study published by Deloitte University, the firm uncovered five major elements that drive engagement. Meaningful work, a positive work environment and hands on management were all on this list. Keep this in mind, as you look to build an irresistible work place where employees love to come to work, customers love to do business and community members are thrilled to have you set up shop in their backyard.
Ackil believes that finding the real estate to expand the business is the easy part. Real estate is always available. The key is finding people whose values align with that of the organization. “We’ve got to find the right people. We need people who can really push our mission forward. Those who really believe in what we are doing,” states Ackil.
Speaking of people, it’s interesting to note that b.good has quite a few employees and locations and does not have a traditional HR department. This is extremely uncommon for this size and type of business. “Finding that right person to lead our HR initiative is not an easy task,” notes Ackil. “The culture building aspect is so precious that it has to be run by senior level management.”
No doubt this is one company that has a recipe for success worth replicating. Here’s to doing good by being good to your people, customers and your community.
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