How to Fly Above the Profit Line in Your Business

Last week I met with Gary Kelly – the CEO of Southwest Airlines. He spoke to our group – the CEO Club about Southwest’s flight plan, so to speak.

Southwest Airlines (SWA) has had 37 years of profitability, even with a doubling of fuel costs. Here’s why:  People first, low cost, great service.

People First

SWA puts their people first. Who are their most important customers?  SWA EMPLOYEES. Gary said, “If your employees are not happy, then the customers who use your services will not be happy. You HAVE to have a team that is thrilled to be working with you.” The SWA culture is wrapped around this principle. Employees are recognized via awards, banquets, parties, certificates AND EMPOWERMENT. Everybody at SWA has the power to make suggestions, make changes, and have fun.

Low Cost

SWA knows the consumer wants value at a reasonable cost. And, SWA realizes we are tired of being charged for everything from a pillow to an exit row seat. Their decision NOT to charge an extra fee for checked bags has become a huge selling factor and an even greater ad campaign – “Bags Fly Free”.

Great Service

Gary explained the SWA “foreverism” concept – how they aspire to create a positive   lasting impression with everyone who flies with them. Sometimes things do go wrong. Every challenging situation is handled with a personal touch. Unhappy flyers get a personal letter and a follow-up connection with SWA. Every email is handled with a ‘servant heart’.

I live in Dallas – and I’ve flown Southwest Airlines many times. They’ve grown from a fleet of 3 to 540 airplanes; and 100 employees to 35,000. Even after all of these years, and their tremendous growth; I see why this business has succeeded.

What Executives Need to Know about Keeping Jobs in Their Organizations

Imagine you are living on a park bench……. you’ve dropped out of college. You had the lowest scores in the history of your high school…..you have no incentive and no money.

In this blog, I want to share some ideas from Tony Harvill, one of my clients a few years ago. Tony talks about how to keep jobs in your organization. He also talks about how he made it off of that park bench to the mahogany corner office.

This extraordinary and humble individual offers these seven questions. The answers to these queries will help you strengthen your business and keep it healthy.

1. Are you willing to listen and learn? (Rethink your thinking.)
2. What could you learn from the people below you in your organization?
3. To what degree are you utilizing technology?
4. Do you have a fear of technology?
5. Are you willing to restructure the organization top to bottom as required? Every organization has one common goal for a highly successful business: make money. If you don’t make money all the other goals are gone. Hourly and salary people have to be aligned on this issue. If you think that the one common goal is quality – you are wrong. Quality is a given.
6. Do you know exactly how the employees are using technology that has been placed in their hands?
7. Are you willing to put egos aside and be unconcerned with status in order to improve the business?

Tony made it to the presidential corner office in several industries because he was clear on these questions and these answers. He credits making it off the park bench by the good fortune of marrying a great woman who believed in him before he believed in himself. Tony wanted to identify with the people around him.  He was never one for a bunch of plaques and certificates. But if he did, his office would’ve been adorned from floor to ceiling.

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