Balance 3 Bottom Lines

In this episode, Ron Mauer, Managing Partner will share why Open Book Management and the way you plan for the future could help you run a more solid business.

Ron runs the Service Network as a centralized business unit designed to facilitate essential business functions in a more streamlined manner than each Zingerman’s company could possibly do on their own.  Also they can get people with more knowledge than each company could get by themselves.

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Notes taken during the editing of the podcast.

Department for people, not Human Resources.

The Zingerman’s Service Network runs the following: Benefits and administration, graphic design, IT development, marketing, web development, Department of people, community outreach, service steward (connect dots with all the service initiatives, financial administration, (each company has their own accountants), they handle relationships with banks, law firms, financial firms, real estate, etc.

What is ZCOB? Zingerman’s Community of Businesses.  Ari and Paul’s business as well as the 10 separate operating entities.  Each of the businesses have their owner and operators called Managing Partners. Dancing Sandwiches Enterprises (Paul and Ari’s business entity.) also owns a part of each business.

All the partners belong to a Partner’s Group that make decisions

Support Network is a stand alone business. They charge a fee on sales to each of the businesses. The guiding star is that the ZSN will provide more value than the money each business gives them.

How does the ZSN measure success? Are they solvent. Surveys with the businesses getting a rating on how they’re doing. Grow the capability of the organization.

Which element of the Zingerman’s way is he most passionate about? Open book management. Because it engages everyone in the organization to care and to make a difference. They’re always asking, what can we do today, this week, and this year to improve the way we’re running the business? The huddles spend 80% of the their time looking forward and planning for the future. The longer forward the view seems to make a bigger difference.

Openness takes more time, the willingness to listen, and it is harder. But you will enjoy the work and relationships better.

Describe a time when a tenet of Zingerman’s conflicted with real world decision: The have 3 bottom lines, great food, great service, and great finance. These three will often conflict, so how do you work and balance these?

How is Zingerman’s run differently than other companies? How they plan. Everyone plans. There isn’t one planning department. People within the organization are willing and excited to help. So they work hard to involve more and more people in the process. April – June is the planning season.

They listen to people in each business but also in the other businesses because they all affect each other.

There are dream sheets where they start with what they dream to achieve and then work those through the process.

They often look at “what they want to do”  more than what they want to make financially. So they put a vision together to see how what they want to do will look in the future and fit into the 3 bottom lines.

How do you measure success of the marketing team?  The relationship of the marketing staff with each managing partner. To do more than simply designing a flyer but look at a more strategic marketing plan. More marketing campaigns than just one offs.