Arch + Tower has served firms across various industries and sizes, notably Chick-fil-A and alongside the Founder of the Ritz-Carlton – Horst Schulze. In 2019, Arch + Tower was acquired by Frazier & Deeter, a nationally ranked accounting firm, with offices across the United States and a budding footprint in the United Kingdom.
John has worked with leading brands in their respective industries: SAP, Ritz-Carlton, Coca-Cola, Leadercast, Chick-fil-A, Spanx, Home Depot, McDonald’s as well as many start-ups and nonprofits.
John Hightower is an Atlanta Business Chronicle 40 Under 40 alumni and has been featured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Business Section, Simply Buckhead, and has been referenced/thanked in 10+ books by authors in the business and faith communities. He has served on multiple boards – Ga. Tech Business Network, Wisdom Hunters, and Viva for Children.
With a passion for travel, John has traveled to 33 countries – with a majority of travel supporting humanitarian aid missions. A bit of an adventurer John summited Mt. Kilimanjaro and loves the outdoors.
John, his beautiful bride Bethany and two daughters reside in the Greater Atlanta Area, GA. John is an honor graduate from Georgia Tech, received his MBA from Auburn University and certificate in Entrepreneurship Essentials from the Harvard Business School.
Intro: [00:00:01] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, it’s time for Customer Experience Radio. Brought to you by Heineck & Company, real estate advisors specialized in corporate relocation. Now, here’s your host, Jill Heineck.
Jill Heineck: [00:00:18] Good morning and welcome to this very special edition of Customer Experience Radio. I’m your host, Jill Heineck. I’m a business owner, real estate advisor, and customer experience enthusiast. Today, we’re going to pivot a bit. We’re going to talk about OX or operational excellence, as our guest today will expound upon. I love his definition of OX, and it’s this, “Operations is about harvesting value from the physical or intangible assets owned by an organization. Operational excellence is anchored in a culture of continuous improvement. Be a little bit better today than you were yesterday.”
Jill Heineck: [00:00:54] That is why I am honored to have John Hightower on with us today to delve a little bit deeper into this formula. John serves as a partner of Arch + Tower, a Frazier & Deeter company, where he leads strategic planning and team development. With over 15 years of experience, he has worked with companies in the area of executive level strategy, consultative sales leadership, business process improvement and financial modeling. Arch + Tower has served firms across various industries and sizes, notably Chick-fil-A, and alongside the founder of Ritz Carlton, Hortz Schulze, who was a guest on our show last spring.
Jill Heineck: [00:01:30] In 2019, Arch + Tower was acquired by nationally ranked accounting firm Frazier & Deeter, and with offices across the United States, and a budding footprint in the UK. John himself has worked with leading brands in their respective industries. SAP, Coca-Cola, Leadercast, banks, Home Depot, McDonald’s – a few little companies – as well as many startups and non-profits. And a fun fact about John, he is an Atlanta Business Chronicle, 40 under 40 alumni. Welcome, John.
John Hightower: [00:01:59] Thank you. My pleasure. Thanks for having me, Jill.
Jill Heineck: [00:02:02] I’m so glad to talk to you today. But first, can you give our listeners like a little bit of background of your journey to this point?
John Hightower: [00:02:10] Absolutely. Thank you for the time. And it has been a unique journey. And from understanding, you have entrepreneurs that are listening, and it’s the entrepreneurial dream. I’m a fifth generation Atlantan. My two daughters, five and six or six, are sixth generations. And I’ve never thought I would be living this entrepreneurial dream. And it has been a crazy ride. But where we are today is we’re in the throes of a $75 billion business issue, and that’s the customer experience. And the customer experience is one of those hot topics that have been explored in 2019 and continuing to 2002. And COVID has actually presented opportunities for businesses, which we can maybe delve into a little bit as we talk about operational excellence.
John Hightower: [00:02:51] But this $75 billion dollar issue of the customer experience has driven majority by the employee experience. You can almost think of the customer satisfaction as a lagging indicator to the employee experience. 88% of that customer experience is driven by your employees. And the neat thing is, through the work that we’re done with some great brands, and you mentioned some of those, and it’s been an honor to walk alongside those, but we’ve got a consistent question, what does the Ritz Carlton do really, really well? And then, you’ve had an opportunity to connect with Chick-fil-A. What do they do really well?
John Hightower: [00:03:22] And I’m not sure about you, Jill, but when you go into those organizations, it’s almost like you just feel different. And as a customer, you feel the nuance of how you’re served and the speed. It’s just very unique. And as we’re building our company, that question continue to come up. And focused on three pillars. We focused, at the end of the day, the Ritz’s just excels at a customer experience, and it comes into how they take care of their employees. But the interesting thing is the untapped opportunity most businesses don’t get. They get customers are important. They get employees are important. But it’s this mindset of continuous improvement that I really gravitated to.
John Hightower: [00:04:06] Part of that is from my background, but part of it is just the untapped profit that can come from that. Like, yes, when you reduce costs, there’s multiple ways to do that. There’s, “Hey, let’s just cut the bottom line. It’s cut out any cost.” I had an amazing opportunity to spend time with Hortz Schulze, and I was actually with him earlier today as he was giving a talk. And one of the things I heard him say at one of his speeches, I had the honor of traveling with him to Germany, and spend time in his hometown, and even at his home in Germany, and he said, “When you look at your operations, don’t look at cutting costs. Look at cutting mistakes. And don’t put it unfairly on the employees or the customers. That’s a leadership in a management mindset.”
John Hightower: [00:04:49] And for me, that’s where we took a body of work. At that point, we were three years into this journey, and we’d served Chick-fil-A, and we knew that we needed to pivot and continue to serve other brands alongside that amazing brand. And we started to get this work that was outside the customer and employee experience. We begin to work within supply chain. We begin to work within KPIs or key performance indicators and dashboards for the C suite, looking at strategically, how you’re you measuring your business. And when it came to us putting, basically, a flag in the ground, it was, “Let’s focus on operational excellence alongside the CX and EX.” So, we trademarked the CX/EX/OX framework. And there’s a bit of marketing, if you think about the branding there.
Jill Heineck: [00:05:34] I love it.
John Hightower: [00:05:34] The CX is traditionally for the CMO. The EX is traditionally for the chief people officer or maybe you have an HR exec, a VP of HR. I worked a lot with organizational development and HR professionals there. But also, the COO is really focused on that operational excellence. And if you’re the CEO, be concerned about all three and really thinking about how you are creating the organizational help and organizational strategy to drive each one of those pillars. So, I just want to give you a bit of the background of how we got where we are today. It’s been a phenomenal ride. And it’s just an honor to even be talking and sharing some of those stories. So, thank you.
Jill Heineck: [00:06:12] Well, before Arch + Tower, where was your experience? Where do you go to school?
John Hightower: [00:06:17] So, I did my undergrad at Georgia Tech. And then, spent two years in health care consulting. And never thought I’d get back into consulting, but my path opened back up after grad school. I did my grad school at Auburn and really began working with small businesses. And I was, traditionally, maybe that second or third man in line helping develop a business and building the business, but I wasn’t in that founding circle and I just didn’t have that opportunity to create wealth. And a moment came where I had an opportunity to step out and do my own thing. My father was a home builder and did not go to college. So, it was an opportunity that he worked so hard to give me an opportunity to become an entrepreneur. And through that kind of upbringing, I learned that you get a lot of freedom but also a lot of responsibility, and kind of seize that opportunity three years ago. And then, recently, I did some schooling at Harvard focused on entrepreneurship essentials, and how do you look for do deal flow, and really maximizing shareholder value.
John Hightower: [00:07:15] And the other side is my two daughters, we are home educators. And I wanted them to see that as Hightowers, we do not stop learning. We are lifelong learners. So, I said, “I’m going to go to school. Now, I’ll be going to school at night when you go to bed. So, go to bed, so Daddy can take his class.” But there is a higher calling for me and that’s what my girls to understand what excellence is. And that was a pursuit that I want to make sure that was in our family culture and our family values was a lifelong learner. So, part of it was I wanted education; but part of it, I want to make sure that I was presenting to my children the importance of education. So, hopefully, that gives you a little bit more of a robust look at my background.
Jill Heineck: [00:07:57] Yeah, absolutely. And it sounds like that what you’re doing now, definitely, ties into your family principles, right?
John Hightower: [00:08:07] It is. And we walk alongside CEOs and the C-suite that may not understand, or they’ve tried and say, “Hey, how do we get our values from the walls to the halls? And how do we get that systemically throughout our organization?” A lot of organizations have multiple locations. So, distributed workforces. So, we’ve created something called the Customer-Focused Organizational Model, where we flip the org chart upside down. So, instead of the executive team sitting at the top, you technically sit at the bottom because you’re getting the question, is the customer right or the employee right? And there may be a more nuanced question, is it both? So, for me, in the role I sit, I ask my employees, what can I take off your plate? How can I serve you today? If they roll that out to the people that report to them, to the frontline people, you’re going to get that kind of culture and somewhat of a counterintuitive way, and that’s kind of some of those core values and DNAs that kind of bring home into the workforce.
Jill Heineck: [00:09:09] Absolutely. So, let’s talk a little bit more about the framework. So you mentioned it a little bit ago, but can you go a little bit deeper with CX/EX/OX?
John Hightower: [00:09:21] Absolutely. So, you would ask about OX, and we’ll start there, and then we can-
Jill Heineck: [00:09:26] Sure.
John Hightower: [00:09:26] We can move with however you see fit. So, on the operational side, we have found a unique space with maturity models. And what a maturity model is, is it’s a systemic way in which an organization progresses and becomes more mature in a specific area. And it’s interesting because the framework actually came out of the Department of Defense and a partnership with Carnegie Mellon a few decades ago. And basically, it was, “Hey, how do we mature in a software development program?” And there’s maturity models that can replicate in different areas of business. So, let’s understand, are we at the crawl phase? Are we industry best? And what are those five stages? So, we work with organizations to design and personalize a maturity model for themselves. And then, from in that, we survey data on both sides, not only on the employee side to understand where they feel the organization is but also customers. And that tension, that delta that you see between those two differences really drive some unique conversations. So, you start there, like where are we?
John Hightower: [00:10:28] And then, from there, okay, what data do we have to validate this position? What processes are we doing? How are we measuring that consistency? And then, I think, the most missed opportunity is, how are we training our employees on the standard that which we want to achieve? And this continuous improvement needs to be part of that lifecycle of a business culturally. You have a culture of continuous improvement.
John Hightower: [00:10:56] We do innovation training. So, to fortify kind of this operational excellence framework, you can bring trainings in like Stanford Design School has design thinking. It’s a methodology of improvement. So, how are you bringing in some of those employees, kind of undergirding them with more of the rigor that’s necessary to do that, because as you go through the operational excellence piece, your employees have a strong correlation there. So, then, you can go to the employee side and say, “Hey, what’s our selection?” We don’t hire, we select. We like to use that elevated language. Part of that comes from rubbing shoulders with Hortz, which if you have not read his book, Excellence Wins, I highly recommend it.
Jill Heineck: [00:11:34] Of course, we have.
John Hightower: [00:11:36] Rubbing shoulders with him, like we use elevated language. And that’s what we want to do. We want our employees to feel called to a higher purpose. So, even to the point of selection, how do you select people? How do you onboard them appropriately and align them quickly? But then, putting them into the scope of where they fit. And this builds a unique opportunity that most organizations have felt the need to do it but really putting that effort behind it is mapping out the interactions between your customer journey and your employee journey.
John Hightower: [00:12:06] We just executed this virtually with a company in Oklahoma that has 60 locations, a thousand employees. And going through the nuance of mapping how their customers are interacting with each department opened up a world of conversation internally with their team. And now, we’re working into work streams on improving the correlation between the customer employee experience. I gave you a lot there but I wanted to kind can bring you through parts of the framework as we-
Jill Heineck: [00:12:32] No, that’s fantastic. So, what you just mentioned kind of resonates with me when you are looking at the customer experience and the employee experience. What are you seeing when you’re with a client? Are you seeing that they are parallel? Are you seeing that they are working together well? Or are you seeing a lot of having to work the kinks out of one and the other in order for them to work well together? I mean, because, obviously, you can’t have one without the other. And so, how much … I guess the question really is, there’s always one vertical that is more advanced than the other, which is probably the case, I would guess, but then what are you doing to kind of get the other one up to speed, so that you can bring it to the forefront of operational excellence?
John Hightower: [00:13:26] Wonderful question. And it starts with the story behind Arch + Tower. So, when we were really wrestling with our brand, like what do we want to be, we had, definitely, a really interesting conversation. I wanted the name to be selected fast and furious, and let’s get this done. Part of that is my personality profile. I’m a big fan. I’m learning EQ is 80% of success, which when organizations realize that, IQ is an important part. And that number came from Harvard. 80% of success is actually emotional quotient. I know I have a blindside on speed. And sometimes, I never see risk, Jill. I see opportunity. And others were like, “That’s an incredible amount of risk.”
Jill Heineck: [00:14:08] Yeah, right.
John Hightower: [00:14:08] And so, just being a nuance. One of my partner said, “Hey, can I have the weekend?” And the name that came back was Arch + Tower. And arches span gaps and carry weight. So, think about is it a department. It’s one department talking to another. So, how do we make that homage? And then, a tower leads people to see strategically over whatever area they’re in. So, that’s where we get our name, Arch + Tower.
Jill Heineck: [00:14:08] Love it.
John Hightower: [00:14:30] And it fit directly into CX and EX [crosstalk] together.
Jill Heineck: [00:14:32] Love it.
John Hightower: [00:14:32] Because what I see consistently is that they’re siloed information. So, when they’re siloed information, there’s a siloed experience, not only for the employees but customers. And if you don’t rustle that down with a cross-functional approach, you’re leaving margin on the table. It’s not just about margin for margin’s sake because when I say margin, everyone in the call immediately went to finance. Everyone thought, “What’s the profit? What’s our cost?” And that’s a very valid point and data supports that, but there’s also time. And the most important asset people have right now is time. I’m surprised my two daughters have not stormed through the doors in my office down here.
Jill Heineck: [00:15:16] I can’t wait to meet them.
John Hightower: [00:15:18] But time is the essence, right? I’m making a decision, that tension. So, if we can look at time efficiencies, as well as financial efficiencies through these processes, almost going to triple bottom line depending on your business if you [crosstalk]-
Jill Heineck: [00:15:31] That’s right.
John Hightower: [00:15:33] … go back to community, which I’m a big fan of. So, to your point, and I want to pull that back out, you said, one usually outpaces the other. I’d say you’re correct, depending on the culture of the business. If the business is focused strongly in digital, but they sometimes disregard their physical experience, I’m sure the digital experience is going to be weighted, but I think you have to have those connected.
Jill Heineck: [00:15:56] Yes.
John Hightower: [00:15:57] So, if we had more time, I can go story after story. But since you led with a Chick-fil-A kind of reference, I’ll go there as a customer. I’m going to tell the chicken dance story. My family during COVID, we had to get out of the house. I love my family but it was time to get outside the wall. So, we went on a hike up in North Georgia, and we stopped particularly twice, once on the way there and once on the way back. But when you watch the employees … have you been through Chick-fil-A drive-through recently?
Jill Heineck: [00:16:29] Yes.
John Hightower: [00:16:31] It’s like a dance, watching the employees dance with the vehicles, right? And then, what’s going on inside of that restaurant? Like we had the honor of working with them and understanding the nuances there, but as a customer, they were taking care of me physically, they were having that communication face to face, then they had the digital aspect. They had an iPad right there taking my order. And then, I was internally being communicated through digital systems at the back of house, in front of the house, into the drive-through window, and all those things that most businesses have, but they do it to the next level. And the interesting thing there is when you walk and you went through that experience, it was so seamless. With the amount of work that has to get there is where most companies say, “This is hard.” It’s like it is absolutely hard. That’s what business is. That’s what entrepreneurship is. That’s what leadership is. That’s what America’s great at is taking on tough things.
John Hightower: [00:17:24] And just calling back to Hortz, one of the unique aspects is hearing kind of behind the scenes and hearing the unvarnished stories. He’s like, “John, if I won 1% in selection, and then I won 1% on the customer experience, and I won 1% in the dining room, that’s all I had to do. That is how to win it 1%. But do it multiple times, you win at aggregate.” Maybe that’s a helpful point for someone out there maybe on a jog, or they’re listening, and they’re riding into work, or riding off somewhere else. It’s like, how can I win 1%? And that’s what I encourage people. Jill. Don’t try to master everything all at once, get creative as principle, take data. What’s the one or two points? We call it points of excellence. What’s really fun are points of excellence. We may have a burn sheet of 20 that we need to work on, but let’s focus on one and do it really, really well. And then, we take the next one, we take the next one, continuing to measure and improve throughout that process.
Jill Heineck: [00:18:19] Well, and that’s fun. That’s interesting you say that because our very own Stone, our producer, he said, “The quick, the little wins are important. They’re just as important as the big ones.” So, you have to take the baby steps. And interestingly enough, in my business in corporate relocation, we find that there is a lot of siloed experience happening where HR is siloed potentially from relo, and then relo is siloed from the agents on the ground who are trying to help the transferee with a smooth move, a smooth transferring experience with the job, and to get them on the job productive, quicker, faster, et cetera.
Jill Heineck: [00:18:59] So, it’s been a challenge over the last 15 years to try to get those. I mean, I’m one person, but I do try to bring some of this idea of let’s talk to each other, let’s collaborate, but let’s first look at the KPIs that are holding us back or that were not implementing or that we’re ignoring. So, I love that what you’re talking about here. So, should we go into a little bit, talk about the employee experience and how you kind of work through on a high level, how you kind of work through some of that with the client?
John Hightower: [00:19:40] Absolutely. And I would be remiss if I didn’t say keep going, keep [crosstalk] situation for people because think about it, the person that’s most impacted, maybe not the employee. The person that’s most impact is probably the spouse, or child, or children that come along in that corporate relo.
Jill Heineck: [00:20:01] You’re right.
John Hightower: [00:20:02] And you you keep doing you because that’s an important aspect because they’re coming into a new culture. They could be coming into a new environment. And your effort of helping others, probably, because they have blinders on, unintentionally having blinders, I think anyone puts them on purposely, they’re just doing their job and saying, “Well, can we take a step back and think bigger picture here?” To me, that’s how to start the employee experience. Let’s be empathetic to the employee, especially as leaders, especially during this time right now in which there’s a lot of things being thrown at employees across life. It’s really hard for people to separate life in my professional role, because they collide. They collide digitally, they collide in conversations, at a deeper level now. So, we just need to be empathetic to people at another gear. If you have five years, his year six to really be empathetic.
John Hightower: [00:20:55] I love the fact that we get to do Zoom calls. Why? Because I get to know people at a different level. Like, hey, people get to know a little bit about me on the background here. Different things I have associated virtually. I’m telling people things. I’m extroverting data here in a noncommunicative way where I’m physically telling about world experiences or my appreciation for history or whatever it may be. And leaders have the opportunity if they keep their eyes open and maybe a new aperture to say, “Tell me about your son. Tell me about your parents,” and see where people really are. So, empathetic, I think is the key to employee experience.
John Hightower: [00:21:32] Then, taking that empathy and reverse engineering it. So rather than it’d be an onboard into a system where you get a binder of stuff, what would it look like to say, “We were expecting you. Thank you so much for joining our team. Let me understand more what you would like in your career. Now, we can explore different career paths that we have here, but that’s not what’s important. Today, you’re here and you’re joining a vision. Let me tell you about that vision. Let me share with you how we got to this point. From there, we’re going to begin to equip you with things, but we’ve got time for that.” Traditionally, that’s not that first-day experience, right?
Jill Heineck: [00:22:05] No.
John Hightower: [00:22:06] It is, “Here’s our documents. We got to get you through benefit.” And those are all important things. I’m just asking people to reconstitute it a different one. But then, don’t forget about the employees that go through survey consistently. Let’s understand where employees are at yearly, if not quarterly. We do net promoter scores on a poll survey quarterly with an organization and we don’t leave it there. We say, “What other questions can we ask?” Surveys are great longitudinally. And what I mean by that is look at them over time, but there’s a latitudinal piece of surveys that is underappreciated, and that is the question we ask, usually, allows us to ask better questions based on the answers the employees give us. So, don’t take the answers at first glance. Really interesting, can we ask more nuanced questions? And that will tell you and guide you are where you need to improve your employee experience.
Jill Heineck: [00:22:57] But first, you have to ask. And that is what we find in most of the organizations is that leadership is very busy with what’s on their plate. And so, many times, the questions aren’t asked. And that, then, impacts the service delivery and the experience on the end user. So, we have to, I think, start, like you said, with working through the employee excellence issues. I mean, I know we could talk about that forever and a day, but talk to me about some success stories where you went through the exercise of improving this employee experience and how that impacted CX.
John Hightower: [00:23:51] So, I think one of the best examples that I would give is when you think about the employee experience, it’s how is it really connected to the customer experience? And recently, we were working with an organization mapping all these different components together. And what the sales team realized is they were early on in their relationship with the customer, but who also was there was a support system that came in later on, what their perception on was later on the customer journey, and that was support services from accounting. And when you start to realize, “Hey, that employee experience is tied directly to the customer journey,” depending on what point, the opportunity to connect and share best practices with one other, where that customer sits in the pipeline, that’s when things really began to happen.
John Hightower: [00:24:42] Another illustration I would say on the employee experience side is removing departmental frustrations. And typically, that happens between sales and delivery. And they hear sales, “What did we just sign ourselves up for?” And then, on the delivery side, they’re saying, “If we could just get a cleaner communication from sales, we can serve our clients better.” So, there’s no one at fault, per se, except, in my personal opinion, leadership and saying, “Hey, we need to figure out things.”
John Hightower: [00:25:12] A previous career stop, I sat on both sides of that fence. And when I moved over to the sales, I built relationship with the person who headed delivery, and we were riding off basically 14 cents of every dollar we sold. It was getting washed out through either miscommunication or inefficiency. And if you think about it, that’s the downstream of the employee experience into the point of bonuses and stuff like that. That’s all tied together and you have to take time to really understand the moving parts there. But when we kind of bridged that gap and said, “Before we finish a quote or send a quote out, let’s make sure we double down and talk to delivery. Do we have capacity? What’s the right time?” All these principles or project management, insert that in the sales function, what we did is we actually decreased write-offs by 50%.
John Hightower: [00:25:59] So, if you think about that, there’s a meaningful bottom line impact from this process. But the real win is employees, they understood more about what they were supposed to do, they knew their timeframes, were able to look at manageable timelines and project deadlines. So, if you think about it, there’s a multiplier effect to this work. We’re big fans of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and if you’re familiar with the psychology principle, there’s the bottom layer of survival and security, and you can move up in these layers. And there’s the nuance of what does it mean as a person in general. And survival is food, shelter, water. And then, you move into security, and then relational where you’re building the relational aspects. We ask people to take a look in the mirror for an organization. And are your employees in survival mode? Do they have unmanageable project deadlines? Do they have unmanageable things where they can never move into security and relational aspects in regards to the organization because everyone’s hair is on fire. Same way, just bringing a little bit, maybe a slight psychology side to what we do. That’s the important part of the employee experience is really thinking differently about how employees are engaged with.
Jill Heineck: [00:27:09] Right. So, when they’re engaged, and they feel included, and they feel like you as the leadership has been transparent as to managing expectations, what’s expected of them, and performance-wise, what they expect, then the at the end of the day, that person is going to feel like they’re part of a team, they’re part of something, they’re valued, and then will that and be able to perform in a way at a high level. That’s the goal at the end of the day. I know there’s a lot more to it, but that is what I gleaned from what you just said.
John Hightower: [00:27:40] Absolutely. Another version, align people with the function of why they should (crosstalk).
Jill Heineck: [00:27:40] Right.
John Hightower: [00:27:45] And then, from there, make sure they’re executing it with accountability, and systems, and to measure and-
Jill Heineck: [00:27:49] That’s right.
John Hightower: [00:27:51] Common sense is not so common. And a lot of folks, leaders specifically have so much on their plate. These are just some of those principles that we’re bringing in for maybe a different point of view and a different voice that helps create some clarity and ideally progress for companies.
Jill Heineck: [00:28:04] This is why they need you. This is why companies need you to take some of that off of their plate, and you can plug in.
John Hightower: [00:28:11] Jill, those are very kind words. Usually, the answers are in the room. They just need an outside voice to maybe facilitate and get in there.
Jill Heineck: [00:28:19] That’s right.
John Hightower: [00:28:19] But your answers are already in the room.
Jill Heineck: [00:28:21] That’s right.
John Hightower: [00:28:21] They just needed a guide to maybe help them along that path. And we’re thankful to partner with the clients that we have, and it is an honor to work alongside them. But majority of the work is already in the room, and they get it done. They just needed some help getting there. And we do roll up our sleeves [crosstalk].
Jill Heineck: [00:28:37] Or they need help, actually, to acknowledge that it’s in the room. Your just need direction and someone to hold your hand on the path. That would be me. I mean, when you’re running an organization, you have a lot of moving parts. So, having someone take that off your plate who is an expert in that area, I think, makes all the difference in the world. And I think implementation then, becomes easier once you kind of peel back the onion. So, what current trends are you seeing right now in the marketplace?
John Hightower: [00:29:11] Oh, I get excited talking about this because the world needs excitement right now in a positive way. Organizations have a net new level on how to connect with employees. I believe we can engage in levels we never have before. One, because there may have been something in the way of engaging people at a different human level. And that curtain’s coming down a little bit or that resistance to have direct dialogue is coming down, which could be intimidating for some people, or it could be exciting for others. And I see it as excitement to say, “Okay, we can be much more human about life.”
John Hightower: [00:29:52] I was on a call earlier today. I was the only one with a caller on, and that’s great, and I don’t mind that, but you just get the reality of authenticity that’s desired by most humans. It’s interesting, I was reading an article recently. You can’t ask some questions in the interview process and legally and to understand, but it’s almost the expectation of the ploy on the flip side to say, “Hey, I’m a human. Connect to me on another level,” But because of some of those nuances, you have to honor that. So, really, I think, COVID is a great opportunity to create new dialogue, create a new way for the people to feel appreciated and supported. We’ve created a a scalable process for organizations to engage with their employees and bring them back to the office. And I encourage people out there that as they return to work, people are working. It just looks differently right now [crosstalk]-.
Jill Heineck: [00:30:39] Right.
John Hightower: [00:30:39] … the office. And even that nuance in language has an employee experience impact. That’s one area. Secondly, it’s bringing the staff together. Digital and physical are now slammed together. And how do you look at things differently? How do you look at your digital experience to your physical experience and even to remote communications and really exploring that at a deeper level. And inside a of supply chains, depending on the size of the company, I was in North Mississippi Monday of this week exploring how to help a tire company on some of the things that they’re doing with software and process inside of their warehouse. They were sourcing things from Southeast Asia and different parts of the world, and how are you re-examining supply chain. Just some fascinating times right now.
John Hightower: [00:31:25] And there’s two areas to work from, work from fear or focus. And if you can work from focus, like, “Hey, let’s acknowledge this is difficult, but we’re America, we’re going to get through this. It’s part of our DNA. We can all agree on that, that we will get through difficult times.” And I believe for companies that focus and say, “Let’s go,” yeah, you have to make some very difficult decisions. We’ve made very difficult decisions. I don’t want to underplay that. However, when you are creating focus and you’re giving people energy, empathy, and focus, you can win the day. And that’s what I see. I’m excited about that.
John Hightower: [00:32:01] Digital acceleration is key. People became very familiar with a lot of digital tools. We started. That was one of our core strategies was we want to be digital first in the way we deliver professional services. So, our firm, digital, it’s ubiquitous. Digital transformation is part of what you should be doing anyway. But I think people like that digital transformation language. So, hey, that’s a hot topic as well. I mean, we could set up another time to talk and just explore that, but those are two or three trends I’ve seen – connect with their employees and empathetically; create focus, not fear during this season; and think about your digital transformation steps. Those would be three takeaways I would give our listeners.
Jill Heineck: [00:32:44] That was fantastic. I have absolutely have been thrilled that we’ve been able to connect here and have this conversation. This may call for another in-depth conversation down the line, but I really appreciate you taking your time out to talk with us today. And I know. I mean, I took furious notes, so I know our listeners have too. Is there any parting words of wisdom that you’d like to leave our listeners with?
John Hightower: [00:33:17] For the leaders, what you feel, the pressures you feel, I need to be at home, need to be in the workforce, those are real. Take care of yourself in this time. I know I have neglected that, and I want to encourage people to make sure that you’re doing that. What we’re feeling is real, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. On the other side of that coin, this is also where leadership is needed the most. And I just encourage people out there, step into that void, step into those areas that may be fearful. We have a core value. One of our service standards is step into the arena. Take that challenging conversation on. That is one of Arch + Tower’s standards that we employ term poise. So, I just encourage leaders out there, step up into the arena. If you need help-
Jill Heineck: [00:34:00] That’s Brene Brown.
John Hightower: [00:34:00] Well, yes. She has talked about it. I have appreciated that from a mentor of mine, sharing with me that Teddy Roosevelt’s speech of the man in the arena and all that. And I created derivatives off of a bunch of other people’s work. Brene is awesome. She’s an amazing collaborator. And so thankful for our time. Jill, if anyone would like to communicate, I do have a couple of assets. We have a four pillar framework that can people during this time. I’m not sure if you would give that. People can reach me at John@archandtower.com. And I’ll gladly give you that resource. I mean, we can put it in the show notes if you desire that as well. So, I just appreciate the time, Jill, and I look forward to a deeper conversation in the future.
Jill Heineck: [00:34:50] Absolutely. Thank you so much. And thanks everyone for listening. I am proud to share the show with you as these stories prioritize the customer experience as a legit business strategy, reminding us that no matter the business you are in – consulting, accounting, sales and marketing real estate – the customer experience should always be the heart of the business.
About Your Host
Jill Heineck is a leading authority on corporate relocations, and is highly sought after for her real estate industry acumen and business insights. As a published author, frequent panelist and keynote speaker, Jill shares her experience and perceptions with people from around the globe.
Jill is a founding partner of Keller Williams Southeast, established in 1999, and the founder and managing partner of Heineck & Co. Her real estate practice specializes in corporate relocations, individual relocations, luxury residential, and commercial properties. Jill’s analytical approach to problem-solving, along with her expert negotiation skills and sophisticated marketing, deliver superior results to her clients. Her winning strategies and tenacious client advocacy have earned her a reputation for excellence among Atlanta’s top producers.
While Jill has received many accolades throughout her career, she is most gratified by the personal testimonials and referrals she receives from her clients. Jill’s unwavering commitment to the customer experience, and her focus on the unique needs of each client, serve as the foundation of her success.
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