For every entrepreneur, running a successful and industry-leading company is the goal, but what happens when you feel you’ve reached that destination? What do years 10, 20, 30, and beyond look like?
Many legacy organizations become stagnant and content with producing the yearly profit they’re accustomed to. But with our fast-changing world, businesses that are not adapting won’t have long-term, compound success. The question is, how do you continue to drive growth and innovation in your legacy organization?
Few legacy organizations initiate actions to drive new growth and innovation, but nostalgia alone is not enough for continued brand success. There’s a delicate balance between leveraging your core identity and nostalgic roots, and leaning into the future to adapt and drive change in today’s landscape. By striking that balance, you can build a brand that will truly stand the test of time.
With a combined 70-plus year history, FullSpeed Automotive is one of the largest franchisors and operators of automotive aftermarket repair facilities and is home to flagship brands Grease Monkey and SpeeDee Oil Change & Auto Service. This year, FullSpeed celebrated the opening of its 700th location. Along with this huge milestone, the brands are experiencing record-breaking sales across the system, and franchise development has surged alongside this strong performance. In 2021 alone, across the FullSpeed platform, there were 80 combined new units, including 23 acquisitions comprised of 68 competitor conversions, and 51 awarded franchises.
With a successful legacy brand, it can be easy to become complacent. But, remember, complacency is the enemy – if you’re not staying up-to-date with new trends, you can quickly become obsolete.
It’s important to continue to evaluate and expand your services to meet new demands of your customers and franchisees. Below are some tips for balancing your legacy brand’s identity and continuing to strive for innovation.
1. Perform a culture diagnostic
When starting on your brand’s journey to innovation and growth, begin with a culture diagnostic. By understanding your brand’s cultural strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to lean into the strengths and address the weaknesses.
Look at your brand through the lens of the changing market. It’s critical to understand the intricacies of the new market, consumer demands, or industry shifts, and how those will impact the brand (retail landscape, labor shortage, or industry-specific updates).
For FullSpeed, an industry-specific update we’ve been keeping a close eye on in the last decade is the growing interest and production of electric vehicles. Popularized by Tesla, automotive brands like Toyota, Chevrolet, Audi, Volvo, and more are starting to introduce their own versions of the electric car. With the planned increased production for these vehicles, more people will have access to owning an electric car. Our team identified this trend as something that could impact our business and has taken the opportunity to look into expanding our available services to include battery servicing and change-outs for electric vehicles.
While the electric vehicle trend won’t fully impact our industry for many years to come, we’ve identified the opportunity and are adapting accordingly – that’s the key to a culture diagnostic that will set your brand up for long-term success.
Once you have evaluated your brand with a culture diagnostic, you can then move on to creating a game plan for how to expand your current offerings to meet new industry trends.
2. Collaboration and idea generation
One of the simplest ways to combat complacency is to build a collaborative environment that drives idea generation. For ideas to flourish, you must first create a safe place to share thoughts and ideas. The more accepting and supportive your office environment is, the more innovative and creative your people will be.
It’s important to encourage candor and frank discussions with your employees and franchisees. This can be done by hosting a town hall-like video call where anyone can share ideas, setting up an email account for people to send in suggestions, or holding small group brainstorming sessions to help build on ideas.
Make sure you are transparent by bringing all challenges and opportunities to the forefront, and show respect for all ideas. By asking others for their opinions, you are including them in the process and making them feel heard. When including key stakeholders in the discussion, they will be more receptive to change.
The best ideas come from the people within your organization who know your brand like the back of their hand. Your people are your best resources, tap into them and utilize them to help propel the brand to new heights.
3. Invest in your team
People are everything – and they’re the ones who will execute your brand’s vision. Make sure to prioritize creating a positive and healthy work culture. Having smart people in the right positions that are driven toward the same goals is the only way to drive growth in a legacy organization.
Happy employees are motivated employees, so try to listen to what your employees are looking for and keep an open mind. This could include adopting new work-from-home or hybrid options for employees, investing in leadership training, or creating more bonding opportunities.
At FullSpeed, we aim to give our people the best tools to help lead them to success. We have implemented many forms of support and professional development opportunities for our franchisees and employees.
This includes a visit for our franchisees to our headquarters to receive week-long training before opening a location, as well as employee training onsite prior to opening. It doesn’t end there – we’ve also created FullSpeed University, a training platform that’s available 24/7, with access to over 200 courses and leadership training.
Without investing in your people, their professional development, hiring fresh talent etc, you become stale. People are your greatest asset – budget for that.
4. Adopt a people-first mindset and prioritize innovation
To stay relevant, legacy brands must shift from a traditional mindset, and ultimately understand they’re in the people business – this will strategically impact brand culture.
When customers feel like they can relate to and connect with a brand, they’re more willing to support them. This can include brands being involved with charities, becoming engrained in the community, or offering superb customer service.
Both SpeeDee and Grease Monkey brands offer customer guarantees – SpeeDee Total Trust Guarantee and Grease Monkey’s Pit Crew Guarantee. By providing these, our brands are helping to provide ease to the customers and showing how much we value their time and business. If there are any issues, it also allows both brands to resolve the issue before it escalates.
Now more than ever, leaders must build caring, compassionate, authentic relationships with their people – both internally with their team, and externally with customers. By doing so, you’ll intrinsically motivate your team for maximum productivity and with a consumer-centric strategy, you’ll be able to prioritize innovation that meets demands and prepares you to stay relevant in the future.
5. Adjust, refine and improve your customer-driven value proposition
Today, a company’s value proposition must be continually tuned and re-tuned to match solutions being sought by information-rich consumers and businesses alike. Be willing to reexamine your company’s value proposition and shift accordingly, rather than being stuck in your original silo.
This might be a shift in your business model, an operational change, a digital enhancement, a new product or service offering and so on. Look at what you highlighted as your company’s strengths and see if there is a way to capitalize and expand on them.
In an ever-changing world, a brand should not be stagnant. For those looking to continue to grow, you must start the process of evaluating your business and you must continue to adapt and innovate to stay relevant. Your company needs to reflect the wants and needs of today’s customers – this is vital for sustained success.
Prioritizing and committing to innovation and growth is a great way to elevate your legacy organization.
5 ways to drive growth and innovation in a legacy organization
- Start with a cultural diagnostic
- Build an environment of collaboration and idea generation
- Invest in your team
- Adopt a people-first mentality and prioritize innovation
- Adjust, refine and improve your customer-driven value proposition
Kevin Kormondy is the chief executive officer of FullSpeed Automotive, one of the USA’s largest franchisors and operators of automotive aftermarket repair facilities – home to flagship brands Grease Monkey and SpeeDee Oil Change & Auto Service