How to keep staff moving in the same direction

Posted on 31 march 2017

Guest post by Ken Burgin of Profitable Hospitality 

US online retailer is well known for their innovative approach to online retail and managing their people. They're much bigger than the average cafe or restaurant, but it's useful to take the work they've done and see how it can be applied to our teams.

Their 10 core values stand at the centre of their culture, their brand and their business strategy. They're designed to guide staff forward: short points that are easy to read, explain and apply - everyone can understand them.

At Zappos, the core values drive a highly effective customer service team, strong financial results, effective recruitment and personal behaviour that aligns with the core values. All levels of staff from ground level up to management, live and breathe these core values every single day. Interestingly, this company also has a radical policy of offering new hires $2000 not to stay after their first week of training, to test their level of commitment! Staff who stay, genuinely want to be there.

Ask your team for their understanding of this list - how do they think these could apply? How many are embraced at the management level?

Here are the Zappos core values and how they could apply in your business:

1. Deliver WOW Through Service. Not just average or good service - the best is what's wanted. It's an extreme commitment to customers, staff and partners.

serving food

2. Embrace and Drive Change. You have to be happy about change, improvement and pushing forward. Some of the best change comes from the bottom, not just from the top.


3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness. When staff are happy, customers will receive better service. Weirdness? In a world where everything's the same, every company needs an edge of difference - what's yours?

making coffee

4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded. It's OK to take some risks in the interests of growth and improvement. Think widely and look for new solutions.

creative food

5. Pursue Growth and Learning. Staff have an obligation to learn new ways of working and thinking, for the business and for themselves. Don't stand still.


6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication. Speak up, listen and express yourself clearly. Tell the truth and build trust.

front counter

7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit. A good team is warm, friendly and appreciates the talents of others - they care about each other.


8. Do More With Less. Committed to building efficiency and better ways of working. Keeping costs down and building a competitive edge.


9. Be Passionate and Determined. Positive, optimistic and pushing forward with a sense of urgency. It's not enough just to stand still - change is exciting.

business owner

10. Be Humble. Don't be arrogant - respect others and listen to their point of view. Righteousness doesn't move us ahead, communication does.

getta burger

It's easy to assume that sophisticated 'big business' value statements like this are too demanding or expensive to apply in an independent cafe, restaurant or bar. Maybe that in itself could be an interesting discussion with staff - what is your local or simpler version of this?

If you could only have five, which ones would you choose, and why? Modern businesses of all sizes are finding that positive culture and values are at the core of their success.

Ken Burgin works with food service operators worldwide to help make their businesses more popular and profitable. He is a former restaurant and cafe owner in Sydney, and the founder of, a resource site for the latest information on food & beverage marketing, management and cost-control. He also presents the weekly podcast Profitable Hospitality on marketing and management. He likes finding out the 'why' of business success, and the 'why not' of business problems. He enjoys a long walk in the morning (for podcast listening), sharing photos on Instagram, and finding great bakeries.