A couple of months ago, I visited Las Vegas with two friends who like to sin as much as I do. Surrounded by the sights and sounds of the Bright Lights City strip, I’m sure you’d think that visiting the headquarters of an American e-commerce shop would be pretty low on my agenda, right? Wrong!
One of the things atop my Vegas to-do list was a visit to the Zappos head office. It was definitely a morning well spent and I thought it would be useful to share my key takeaways…
But first, what is Zappos?
Zappos.com is an online shoe and clothing store with it’s headquarters based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Zappos is a pretty special company for two reasons:
- The way the company treats and manages its staff
- The way the company treats and manages its customers
What inspired my visit?
I read a lot of business books. A couple of years ago I came across Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh (Pronounced ‘Shay’) and couldn’t put it down!. If you deal with customers in any way, shape or form then I would definitely recommend that you give it a read.
It was whilst I was reading this book that I checked out the website and found they offered a number of tours, bookable to the general public, that give a 90-minute glimpse into the Zappos culture.
The tour does not dive into the business-related specifics of the company, but does give an inside look into everyday work life on campus. It offers a snapshot of that unique Zappos ethos I’d read so much about.
So, I made a mental note to try and take a tour if I ever happened to be in Vegas.
Rocking up at the Coliseum
When I arrived in the coliseum shaped office (it’s pretty impressive just to look at!) I was greeted by a lovely security guard who instructed me to check in at the desk.
This was the first (of many) time I had to double-take during the next 90-minutes. There were 5 or 6 young children behind the reception desk, running around and playing, in and amongst everybody at work...
I’ve honestly never recalled feeling better when entering a workplace - it was filled with what could only be described as ‘infectious happiness’.
NB: The date of my tour happened to fall on ‘Bring Your Kids To Work Day’.
With around 15 people in total on the tour, we were split into groups of 3-4 and each group was sent on their way with their own tour guide.
My tour guide was Tony (nicknamed the Culture Godfather). He did a great job of giving us a real insight into the company, as well as answering all of my many, many, many questions.
BIG lessons learned
1. Every Interaction Is Important
My tour guide told me of a time he provided excellent customer service to a Zappos customer and the lady called back a couple of days later to let him know she’d told “everybody she knew” about the encounter.
Although it’s unlikely she told every person she knew about this, the story I heard still struck a chord with me. It’s true, every single interaction a person has with your company is important.
Every single person that your business has an interaction with is a potential customer, employee, or at the very least, an ambassador for your brand.
It’s important to go that extra mile for your clients, thank your team for a job well done or take the time to call an unsuccessful job candidate - to thank them for considering your company and explaining why they weren’t the right fit for a particular role.
The way you treat potential employees is so important - and whether they are successful in their application or not, they should leave your company with a pleasant taste in their mouth.
2. Live your company values
Zappos has 10 ‘family values’ and it was evident the moment I stepped into the complex how much effort has been put into bringing each of their values to life.
If you’re interested in knowing what these values are, you can find out here.
One stand out value reads: ‘Create Fun and A Little Weirdness’. This is brought to life through the diversity of the Zappos workforce, and how workspaces were individually decorated in really outlandish fashions (I really wish I could have taken pictures).
At SupaReal, our culture and the way we work together as a team is at the heart of everything we do. We make sure, when searching for new team members, that we measure how they fit against our company values.
In the future we’ll continue to place emphasis on cultural fit as this will become more important to the way we collaborate as our team grows.
We know that by ensuring the values of individuals and SupaReal are aligned, leads to low staff turnover and means staff are committed and have greater job satisfaction.
Skills and knowledge can be learned, but if people aren’t a good cultural fit - it’s unlikely to work out.
3. A happy & motivated workforce will drive success
While customers are critical to the success of a business, without motivated employees you are destined to fail.
The employees we saw on our tour were incredibly diverse, generally young (we were told that the average age is 32), wearing all sorts of clothing and hairstyles, and given free roam to decorate their personal workspaces.
There was nothing but good vibes.
All workplaces have their problems, but Zappos seems to have less of them.
The employees we spoke with just seemed to love the company, and appeared completely genuine when expressing how much they enjoy coming to work every day.
And what’s not to enjoy?
Free/cheap food and drink, dog friendly offices, opportunities to progress, fun company activities, forward thinking management and appreciation for a job well done!
The employees are encouraged to be creative and productive at the same time.
They can sit or stand with their desk setup. There are gathering places so the employees can create ideas. The benefits for the employees and their families are stellar - I wish I had a chance to be their grandmother...even if only for a day!
Zappos even arranged a lift back to the hotel for us! Chatting with the driver, I asked him how long he’d been in Vegas, how long he’d worked for Zappos etc. you know, the usual small talk...
...he said two things that stayed in my mind. The first, was that he wasn’t really a ‘Vegas’ fan and he moved almost 2,000 miles from his hometown, just to work at Zappos.
The second was in answer to my question of “What do the staff at Zappos complain about?” He laughed and said “We complain about occasionally running out of free cereal. Here, our complaints aren’t even valid”.
A SupaReal mission…
As a young, vibrant company we’re always looking for new ways to engage our employees. Incredible stories from innovative companies like Zappos continue to inspire us to do everything we can to create desirable working environments.
We care about wellbeing and make it our mission to put people first.
Earlier in this post I mentioned that I had to double-take a number of times throughout my visit and wanted to share with you one last story...
As I was waiting in the car park for my shuttle ride back to my hotel, two ladies walked past me, casually accompanied by a llama. Yes, a llama.
They saw my face, laughed and said ‘You never know what you’re gonna get here, right?”.
She was completely correct. If you ever get the chance to visit the Zappos HQ I’d wholeheartedly recommend you do it! It was definitely one of the biggest highlights from my trip to Vegas.