Friday, October 10, 2014
It's been awhile since I posted anything here, and I thought I would take things in a different direction as I return to writing.
I had an interesting experience yesterday. I was finishing up a ride in the 95 degree heat and thought I would stop at a relatively new smoothie shop on my route for a refreshing, cold snack. While tasty, the shop was very expensive...I posted my thoughts on Yelp and got a response from the owner:
"Dana, Thanks for the review. Our smoothies and juices are prepared and produced with the highest integrity. We use raw, organic all natural produce, spring water (rather than purified tap), and glass bottles (as opposed to plastic). We constantly work on efforts to pass along savings to our customers. Check out our deals/coupons on our website/social media. Please come back in, and before ordering we would be happy to serve you up some samples on us to make sure you purchase a product you can enjoy. Thanks again"
My immediate thought was "this is a bunch of marketing BS...how do you prepare a smoothie with integrity? Is there anything other than all-natural produce?" I shared my thoughts with him, and we proceeded to have a nice conversation small-business-owner to small-business-owner. As we spoke, it slowly emerged in my mind that perhaps my customers don't know what I mean when I say I run a business with integrity. I am now going to spell it out:
For me, running a business with integrity comes down to four essential values. The first is how do you treat your employees. From day one, my staff have always been paid a liveable wage, with paid vacation, holidays and sick time. What is liveable, though? According to Federal standards, the poverty line for a family of four is $23,850. I don't need to read any studies,though, to know that someone needs significantly more than that to live alone in Los Angeles, let alone raise a family of four! Several sources suggest that $40,000 is the minimum amount that a family needs to pay modest rent and be able to eat. So, rather than focusing on how little I can pay my staff, I have done some research to find out the cost of living for someone in Los Angeles, and make sure that my lowest paid staff are making more than this.
Integrity also includes where we source our materials. In the manufacturing chain, it can be pretty difficult to determine where everything is coming from, but if at all possible, we source from local manufacturers. Our in-house bags are made in Santa Barbara, our tubes for Carbent are made in Utah, and many of our accessories are made by small manufacturers on the West Coast.
For all of us here, integrity has to do with how we treat our environment. We all ride our bikes to work. There are no paper cups here...yes, washing dishes is more tedious but wouldn't you rather have your fresh cup of coffee in a real coffee cup? Customers enjoy the fresh fruit we have for snacking on - it comes from local farmers and is seasonal and organic. We use cloth towels instead of paper towels. Finally, our trash company ensures us that they separate recyclables when they collect the garbage.
Lastly, integrity is defined by how we do our daily work. We believe that the final product you receive should be perfect in every way. We use torque wrenches when working on your bike and don't count on parts being assembled correctly from the manufacturer, we have redundant systems in place to make sure that your bike or trike is set up correctly before you pick it up. Yes, sometimes we make mistakes, but rather than try to hide them, we accept that we are not perfect and do what we can to make things right. Finally, we hope that you leave here feeling appreciated. All of the above is meaningless unless you enjoy coming here and keep coming back!