Corporate culture has been a buzzword in the business world for as long as anyone can remember. Every company has one, and the term itself is used in hiring literature, marketing materials, and board room meetings. And every company wants you, the customer, to know about their corporate culture and how great it is. But, just what is corporate culture?
Defining Corporate Culture
Its always helpful to start with a definition. So, according to Wikipedia, corporate culture is an idea, “which describes the psychology, attitudes, experiences, beliefs, and values (personal and cultural values) of an organization.” Well, that’s only moderately helpful. Lets rip that apart a bit. So, corporate culture is an idea. That is, its not something tangible. You’re selling an idea, or a spirit, or a value system which you hope permeates your corporate structure. Next, it deals with psychology, attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values. So, its not something merely dictated from the top down. In order for it to “work” it has to be believed and practiced by the majority of people at a company. And, here’s the catch, it has be experienced by the majority of people in a company. So, it can’t simply be an idea; it has to be put into some sort of practice. Finally, it relates to a specific organization. That means, it has to deal with the way the business as a whole interacts or does business. Merely having an organization full of people who are committed to fantasy football, and play in their spare time doesn’t qualify. It has to relate to every aspect of business.
To recap, it has to be something that a majority of people believe in, that a majority of people put into practice, and it has to relate to the way in which a company does business (at some level).
Corporate Culture in the Real World
Yeah, like this…only less Rock-Ish
As I stated earlier, every company wants to have a corporate culture. Its like living in a penthouse in New York City: you say your apartment has feng shui even if you have no idea what it is. Why? Because all the cool kids are saying it.
Clearly, some companies get it. Southwest, Zappos, Google all have very real corporate cultures that set them aside. For Zappos its an absolute commitment to customer service, above all else. As CEO Tony Hsieh puts it, they’re in the business of delivering happiness. For Google, it seems to be a combination of extreme innovation combined with their founding motto: Do No Evil.
But what does it tell us that these handful of companies come to mind so quickly? Why don’t thousands of other companies pop into your head as well? Because some companies are “doing” corporate culture in the right way, and others just want you to think they are. There are plenty of companies, for instance, who say they’re committed to customer service. But when it comes time to return something, or get assistance from tech support, their claim to a customer-oriented corporate culture seems a cruel joke. Its as if they’ve determined that their real corporate culture is to fool the customers. We’ve all dealt with these types of companies, and we’d prefer never to do so again. Our love or anger for a particular company ultimately stems from its corporate culture. So, how does this play into our industry?
State of the Home Security Industry
The home security industry is hard to nail down. Its been fragmented for so many years. On the one extreme you have the “big guys” who have been entrenched at the top for so long they survive merely on name recognition. On the other you have the local one man show dealer/installer. He fights for business on a local level, and may do very well, but rarely makes a significant impact on the market. Most fall in between.
Despite this fragmentation, there are a few generalizations to make about the home security industry and its’ collective view of corporate culture. For the most part, the companies that make up the industry desire to present a view of their corporate culture as being professional, courteous and helpful, and committed to the welfare of individual homeowners. Many are also turning to social media to present a view of an up-to-date, modern company ready to engage the world on its terms. Is that reality, though?
Most Companies’ Real Corporate CultureNo. Take a moment and read some reviews on the various companies in the industry. You’ll read horror stories about bad tech support, sleazy salesmen, and long and confusing contracts. So, customer service for the industry at large: Negative. Now, what about really looking out for customers? Most companies, large and small, charge a premium for home security monitoring. They’re banking on two things:
- Most other companies charge that much, so you won’t think you’re being ripped off
- Because security monitoring is so important, you’ll think its fair to pay that much
The reality is otherwise. They’re playing games to hoodwink you into signing up with them. ”Free installation”, “free system”, “only $99 down”, etc. And it sounds great; really, really great. But, if you look at the numbers, and what you could pay elsewhere, you realize that you are being overcharged, again and again.
But that’s not all. If you read those same reviews, you’ll find out that cancelling is a giant hassle. Somehow, its very difficult to cancel with most of these companies and you end up being auto-renewed for another 3-year term. Now, I have no doubt that the lawyers for these companies very carefully drafted their contracts. And, I have no doubt that if customers retained their own lawyer, they would know exactly how to cancel. But is that good customer service? Does that qualify as a great corporate culture? To ask the question is to answer it.
How is SafeMart Different?
As I mentioned yesterday, we made the Inc. 5000 again this year. And I attributed that to our complete focus on customer delight, and a desire to offer our customers the newest and most innovative services. This, in large part, makes up our corporate culture. But, that could be just all talk. How can I prove it to you?
First, with our pricing. We’re competitive. We sell you equipment that you pay for up-front. We don’t sell you a “free” system and then add the cost in to your monthly monitoring rate.
Second, with our monitoring. We don’t force you to get it. We think you should. I think I’ve written about monitoring more times than I’ve written about anything else. We’re committed to security, and don’t think you’re being fully secure without monitoring, but its your choice. You don’t have to get a system with monitoring.
Third, with our monitoring price. Standard, phone line monitoring is only $9.95 per month. Is it lesser quality monitoring? Nope, its UL-listed, central station monitoring. They have all sorts of protections in place for redundancy, meaning no matter what, you’re covered. They are a well-respected and reliable central station. Your monitoring is not any different if you go with us vs. “the big guys.” So, why do we charge so little? Because we’re not trying to rip you off. We want you to have monitoring, and we want it to be affordable.
Fourth, with our contracts. We only you have sign a one-year contract, rather than the industry standard 3-year. Why? Because even though we’re convinced you’ll stay with us after a year, we want you to have the option to go somewhere else if you’d like. Its your system, its your security: it ought to be your choice.
Finally, with our customer recommendations. Check out our reviews on Google. Look on our site to see what our customers have said about us. Check out our BBB rating (its an A+). And for immediate proof, check out what one customer had to say about our team:
I am absolutely certain that I saved well over 50% of the cost I would have paid a commercial installer by dealing with SafeMart. I have the satisfaction of having first hand (sic) knowledge of my system’s capabilities and peace of mind that, should I encounter future issues with the system, SafeMart’s technical support stands behind the product.
Now that is corporate culture in action.
To conclude, in the security industry, corporate culture does matter. It affects your savings, your peace of mind, even your security. And the real corporate culture (not what’s portrayed) by too many companies in this industry is bad. Its bad for business and its bad for you, the customer. At SafeMart, our corporate culture is the real thing. We are devoted to the customer and delighting them. In the end, to customers, that’s more important than overpaying to go with a company just because its the “big guy.”