Business executive emphasizes employee happiness rather than customers

Business executive emphasizes employee happiness rather than customers

Despite the economy’s recent downturn, businesses should put their employees, not customers, first, the CEO of The Container Store said Wednesday at the Tandy Executive Speaker Series.

If employees are satisfied, they will take better care of customers, Kip Tindell, chairman and CEO of The Container Store told students and Dallas/Fort Worth area business professionals. Tindell said if customers and employees are happy, company shareholders will be better off.

The Container Store ranked on Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the ninth consecutive year Tuesday. In 2007, The Container Store’s sales exceeded $600 million, Tindell said.

Tindell said he owes his success to high-quality customer service that “makes the customer dance.”

“What we’re trying to do is to get you to be so excited and so passionate about your closet that you do a dance every time you go in there,” Tindell said.

Tindell said creating products that made customers emotionally attached to them, hiring great employees and practicing superb communication are key to making the customers dance.

“We’re into the business of customer service rather than the mass merchant style of competing on price and convenience,” Tindell said.

Tindell said The Container Store ensures exceptional customer service by hiring exceptional employees who can do the work of three people, equipping workers with 241 hours of training rather than the typical eight and clearly communicating everything to staff members. This is because of his philosophy that communication is leadership.

Tindell started his first store in 1978 in Dallas. Almost 20 years later, The Container Store has 40 locations across the country.

Dan Short, dean of the Neeley School of Business, said the business school invited Tindell to speak because it is important to expose students to a wide range of innovative business leaders.

Sam Wang, an MBA student, said Tindell motivated him to go into retail, despite its trials.

“He was so passionate about retail,” Wang said. “He inspired me to find what I really love to do.”

The business school invites two prominent business professionals each semester to speak at the Tandy Executive Speaker Series, Short said.

The next speaker in the series will be former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts on April 23.