Robert Finfrock thought all his employees understood all the guiding principles of his company, FINFROCK, a vertically integrated manufacturer of pre-cast/pre-stressed concrete panels and erector of concrete parking garages, hotels, and multi-family dwellings.
Then, some 25 years ago, an employee came to him questioning whether or not they should refund a customer for several thousand dollars of work he paid for but, in the end wasn't needed and wasn't done. Just a week before he had given a talk about the company's guiding principles.
"It shocked me," said Finfrock. "All of us think that everybody understands what you understand, but it's not true. This guy should have known this. He has worked here for 10 or 15 years."
So he decided to write down all the company's principles: Guiding, Strategic, Management, Operational, and Individual. Then he put them on the walls.
"We really do need to lay these things out, the expectations, so people will understand them," Finfrock said. "They are not going to understand them by osmosis."
Codifying the company's culture, business ethics, operations, goals and strategies has made all the difference in the company that has since grown to be one, if not the, biggest builder of free-standing concrete parking garages in the country as well as a manufacturer that has cracked the code to become a vertically integrated commercial contractor (see story).
Constantly employees and managers refer back to the company's principles when they have ideas, to see if they fit into the principles. Yearly, the principles are reassessed to make sure they are still cogent or if they need tweaking.
"Every year, whenever we are coming up with our strategic plan for the year, we cross check plans with the goals and ask ourselves 'Does it fit?'" said Gail Kroll, Finfrock's executive vice president of marketing.
"It keeps you from making bad decisions," said Finfrock.
Finfrock offers his company's list as an example. Obviously other companies will have different goals, different principles, or additional tenets that they find important.
To experience the challenge, pride and rewards of design-manufacture-construct.
Dominate the mid-rise building market.
To provide exceptional customer value by delivering buildings as a product rather than as a series of services.
The ability to provide exceptional customer value by delivering a complete project solution using our design-manufacture-construct process.
Practice Integrity in all that we do
Demonstrate a commitment to Excellence
Treat all individuals with Respect
Ensure our future by expanding our Knowledge
Use Differentiation to escape commodity competition
Deliver Benefits to customers to ensure company growth
Use Innovation to create value
Practice Long-term Thinking to ensure company success
Strive for Win/Win relationships
Use Vertical Integration to create customer value
Embrace Product and Process Simplicity to improve productivity
Develop Relationships to create opportunities
Monetize our Intellectual Property
Maximize Repetition to lower costs
Use Design, Manufacture, Construct Knowledge to optimize economics, functionality, and aesthetics
Offer Customers what they need not what they ask for
Provide Guaranteed Price at little or no cost to customers
Use efficient Systems Integration to reduce project costs and increase speed
Use Positive Reinforcement to improve behavior
Use Objective Thinking to optimize decision making