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The Power of One – Provide Meaningful, Memorable Service

Provide Meaningful Memorable Service

Customers demand compelling solutions to solve their challenges and relieve their burdens, provided at a fair price. It’s easy in business to get hung up on the transaction part of the equation,  and forget what makes your offering compelling. If the best reason that we give people to do business with us is that we offer the best price, then the relationship that we have with them is merely transactional. Here at VGM, we strive to create a community for our customers to belong to, where we make it easy for them to do business and provide them with peace of mind so they can worry about other important things. It’s a place where they can get what they need from people who they trust and who treat them well. People with a sense of urgency, compassion, and authenticity who can solve their problems for them.

Some of the people who rely on our services are in a vulnerable place. Maybe they’re recovering from a bad accident, dealing with an audit or other serious claim, or operating on what feels like an island.  Maybe they’re a healthcare provider who’s struggling to find their way to profitability in an uncertain marketplace. Sometimes they’re concerned about cybersecurity, but unsure what the threats are or what steps they need to take to protect their business and the patients who rely on it. Whatever burdens they might be carrying, VGM’s staff of dedicated employee-owners are here to help them bear the load.

Our customers aren’t just an account number or a spreadsheet entry to us. They’re the reason why our company exists. Our fifth Power of One Principle reminds us to recognize and respect the humanity and vulnerability in those we serve and to treat their problems like our problems. Because they are. It tells us to act with urgency and passion, always striving to be exceptional rather than just “good enough.” On our best day, we connect with our customers on a personal level and provide them with the same thoughtful service that we would offer to our friends and family members. When we do that, people remember how our service and solutions made them feel long after they’ve received our help, and they know that they can count on us whenever they might need it again.

Thank You

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I’d like to interrupt my Power of One blog posts series this week for some well-deserved thank yous. In the midst of everything that’s going on right now, it can be easy to be so focused on protecting ourselves and our families that we forget about the brave people risking their own health every day to help us do it. So, in no particular order:

· Thank you to the hospitals for going above and beyond, for working long hours, and for bravely facing the worst that this epidemic has to offer.

· Thank you to the healthcare providers, for risking your own safety to serve the needs of others.

· Thank you to the truck drivers for traversing the interstates, refilling the shelves, and keeping necessary things moving.

· Thank you to those working in grocery stores, pharmacies, and all stores that sell necessities. It all implodes without you.

· Thank you to the custodians, facilities crews, and maintenance folks. Cleanliness is more important now than ever, and the work that you do to provide it is appreciated.

· Thank you to the public safety community (police, fire, emergency, security). Your jobs are never easy, and they’ve gotten even harder recently.

· Thank you to the scientists and technicians. The work you do is often out of sight, but it’s oh so important.

· Thank you to those working to get the word out. To inform, to protect, and to tell us the stories of people being decent to each other despite everything. You’re helping us stay safe, and you’re giving us hope.

· Thank you to the parents who find themselves juggling even more than normal as this situation disrupts their work, their income, and their childcare. God bless you all.

· Thank you to the folks out there making tough decisions and providing leadership through this crisis. Your days are long, and there is little appreciation given, but you keep trying to do the right thing anyway.

Even in crisis, there is much for which to be thankful. Reject attempts to divide us. Extend support to those in need. Together, we will get through this and we’ll be better when we come out the other side.

Stay safe.

The Power of One – Find the Fun in Your Day

Power of One Principles Icons-Find the Fun In Your Day

Van Miller, the founder of our company, always made a point of telling us the same thing before any big event or important meeting with customers: “Have fun!” Van liked to have a good time around the office, so it could be easy to miss the greater point of his “have fun” instruction. He definitely wanted each of us to have some fun every day, but his real desire was that each of our customers would have the kind of impactful, positive, and compelling experience that they would remember long after our interaction with them was over. Van knew that our customers, like anyone else, like to be around people who are friendly and know how to enjoy themselves!

This Power of One Principle enshrines Van’s desire for every employee owner at VGM to have fun, take some joy in their work, and thereby make the day a bit brighter for everyone that they encounter. When we laugh, play, visit, toast, and dance together, we partake in the sort of experience that we aspire to create for those we serve. Moreover, we satisfy the innate human need to belong to and be a part of a community.

People are the centerpiece of what we offer at VGM. When we smile warmly, extend a hand, welcome a stranger, talk with an old friend, connect people with other people that they should know, invite someone to an event, or lend someone an ear over dinner or drinks, we set ourselves apart from those who simply seek to conclude one transaction and move on to the next one.

The Power of One – Cheer Each Other On

Power of One Principles Icons-Cheer Each Other On

VGM is in the service and solutions business, and that means that what we do is all about people. VGM has always been a place where extraordinary people give their all every day to provide extraordinary service to our community of customers, clients, patients, caregivers, and vendor partners. We encourage the extraordinary. There are a lot of companies out there that work very hard to maintain sameness within their workforce. We take a different approach.

VGM strives to be a workplace that recognizes, appreciates, and celebrates exceptional performers and performances. Those who always go the extra mile for those that they serve, solve difficult problems while making it look easy, find a better way forward, or dare to forge ahead into new and unexplored territory. Individuals like this serve as powerful examples to all of us while helping us to maintain our momentum and agility. We don’t ask them to slow down or stop so that the rest of us can catch up. We exhort them to run faster and harder while we strive to match their pace!

We don’t fall into the trap of thinking of our co-workers as competition. Every member of the VGM family makes a unique contribution to our company’s success, and none of us could do what we do quite as effectively without everyone doing their part. As those around us make sales, score wins, get promoted, build relationships, and generally succeed, all of us share in the benefits together. When one succeeds, we all succeed. That’s the Power of One.

This third principle reminds us to celebrate our achievements, both individually and as a company, and to view our fellow employee-owners as valued teammates and family members. It also represents our commitment to lift up and celebrate our top performers, those who routinely go above and beyond the call of duty, so that all of us can take inspiration from the example that they set. As we cheer one another on and celebrate each other’s victories, we elevate one another and prosper together.

The Power of One – Protect Our Company

Power of One Principles Icons-Protect Our Company

Being a business owner isn’t easy. If it were, I suppose everyone would do it. There’s a lot of risk that comes with owning a business instead of just working for one, and a lot of hard work and sleepless nights that go into protecting what you’ve worked so hard to build. If you want to continue serving your customers and offering them solutions, then you need to be vigilant against the things that might stop you from doing that. In our business, the most obvious threat is cybercrime. With the healthcare industry under constant attack by hackers of all kinds and setting records every year for the size and severity of its data breaches, we spend a lot of money and effort to keep ourselves safe.

Protecting our company isn’t just a problem for the hard-working people in our IT department though. Hackers don’t just target computers and networks. They target people. It may seem counterintuitive, but the biggest threat to your company’s well being can often be the people who work there. Without proper education and training, a well-meaning associate motivated by a desire to be helpful to the person who placed a call or sent an email to them might provide information or access that could be used to devastating effect against our organization, not to mention our customers, clients, and patients.

Protecting our company also means pushing back against those things that could damage or weaken it – apathy, indifference, lack of urgency, arrogance. Each member of our team must guard against all behaviors and attitudes that harm our ability to serve our customers with distinction. The second of our Power of One Principles reminds each of our employee owners that our company’s well-being and reputation are in their hands every day. It also represents our commitment to them that we’ll do everything that we can to make sure that they’re well equipped to safeguard both.

The Power of One – Own Your Ownership

Own Your Ownership

 

Van G. Miller, Jim Walsh, and John Deery, Jr. are the founding fathers of VGM. They started this company back in 1986, and they nurtured it with determination, passion, and courage. In 2008, they made the monumental decision to sell their company to its employees, and this choice has resulted in over a decade of boundless opportunity, prosperity, and meaning for everyone fortunate enough to be a part of the VGM family. Ownership is more than shares and dollars. It’s a mindset, a point-of-view, and an attitude that drives us to serve our customers and engage with our colleagues at a much higher level so that we can achieve things that would otherwise be unimaginable.

I’m proud to be an employee-owner at VGM, and a champion for broad-based employee ownership in general. I sincerely believe that it’s the most desirable and fair way to run a business. At its core, employee ownership is about people embracing the responsibilities that come with owning a business so that they can partake in the rewards. Ownership allows people to accumulate wealth over time, sure, but it also gives their work a whole new level of dignity, meaning, and permanence. Everyone who comes to work for us gains access to a dependable paycheck, great benefits, and an amazing workplace culture, but they also have the opportunity to share in the ownership of the company. They don’t just work here. They own the place.

Our first Power of One Principal is, perhaps, the foundation for all of the others. It invites every person who comes to work for us to recognize the opportunity that they’ve been offered and behave like an owner. On our best day, when we do this successfully, it changes the entire workplace dynamic. We aren’t just co-workers who happen to work for the same company. We’re colleagues and business partners. We treat one another with respect and trust, and we’re trusted in return. Our customers aren’t just voices on the phone or tasks on a checklist, but valued clients and members of a broader community that our organization exists to serve. There’s nothing we won’t do for them, they know it, and that’s what keeps them coming back.

Values – The Power of One

Power of OneOur companies are the sum of the people who work for them and the customers that they serve. Further, people have wants and needs that go beyond getting and spending. They aren’t just looking for a paycheck every week or a non-descript service to buy. Today, more than ever, they’re looking for a community that they can belong to full of people that share their values. Values are a powerful part of our identity, both individually and corporately. If they’re taken out of the equation, then everything can veer toward the transactional. A transactional mindset leads employees to apply at the company down the street if they offer a few more cents per hour, and our customers to get what they need based only on who can offer the lowest price.

In an effort to affirm the humanity in our employee-owners and our customers alike, VGM has recently made an effort to articulate our core values to the people who work here and those who might like to in the future. We call them our Power of One Principles, a set of eight pillars that show what we stand for as the owners of this great company. These are values that each of us can embrace to get better at what we do individually so that all of us can go forward together. Our Power of One Principles are not an effort to change culture. We already had a great culture! Rather, they are an effort to capture and communicate our shared sense of purpose and energy.

Every company has a set of values that characterize its culture and its mission. Clearly articulating them is a great exercise, and it allows people to take our measure and decide if we can meet their needs. Not just the financial ones, but the human ones: A place to belong. The chance to find friends at work. A sense of shared meaning and purpose in what we do each day. If we can offer people that, then they’ll offer our customers meaningful and memorable service that will make them want to choose us forever.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll describe each of the Power of One Principles, provide some examples of how they relate to what our company does, and explain why each is an important part of what makes us us.