George and Karaline Loiterton started Wedding List Co in 2003. Prior to starting Wedding List Co, George and Karaline were working in London and engaged to get married in Tuscany. They had one bridal registry for their UK guests and another one for their Australian guests. But they were dismayed at how much more robust the UK registry was compared to the paltry options they had in Australia.
So when they were planning to return to Australia, they debated whether or not they should get full-time jobs or start their own company to fulfill this need. They decided to start their own company because it would provide them more flexibility when they started their family. But on the flip side, George also admitted that it's extremely demanding to be an entrepreneur since the buck always stops with you.
Wedding List Co is now Australia's leading serving provider for bridal registries. They focus on great service, unique brands, and the experience of the couple and their guests. Wedding List Co employs 25 staff now, and George states the company's three most important strategic assets are:
(1) Website - the Wedding List Co's website offers visitors the ability to make online purchases while the major retailers in Australia currently do not offer. This is a massive competitive advantage.
(2) Store / Brand - the Wedding List Co store at Bondi Junction is airy, intimate, and inviting. They carry a selection of great brands - some of which are exclusive only to them (there are also showrooms inMelbourne, Brisbane and Perth).
(3) Team - George Loiterton always receives positive comments on his team especially compared to the larger department store's service.
George shared the following insights that's he learned during his past nine years at Wedding List Co:
*Daily 9:09 Huddle - To improve communications, George holds daily team meetings at 9:09 every morning. He adopted this idea from Verne Harnish, the founder of EO and the author of Mastering the Rockerfeller Habits. He chose a "unique" time to start to make it more memorable. Furthermore, to make sure people get there on time, the last person who arrives goes first. Everyone gets to hear what's going on with the company and what everyone else is working on. George also gets a quick pulse on the mood of everyone. I would highly recommend the book since I also implement techniques from it too.
*Rights versus Responsibilities- This phrase really stuck out to me during our interview. George tries to create a trusting culture at Wedding List Co. Because even though there's a contract between employer and employee, there's plenty of grey area. If a staff member needs to go see a doctor, George won't blink. But at the same time, he expects them to come back and do the right thing for the company.
Some people who he has hired only see the "rights" part of the equation. George weeds these folks out because those are not the people he wants on his bus.
*Leverage Job Description in Reviews - Georege Loiterton admits annual appraisals can be awkward conversations. To ease the awkwardness, he leverages the reviewee's job description and uses that as a template for the review. Since both parties have agreed to the job description upon hiring or upon a change in role. This helps depolarize the conversation and provides structure.
*Love / Loathe Exercises - George performs these once every six months. He gives each employee a week to think about the tasks they love and loathe to do at Wedding List Co. He then reviews it with each person, and he's honest about if it's something that he can help with or change. It provides great insight into the motivations and areas that staff are excited and not excited about. This also offers a healthy communication platform to employees in a non-confrontational manner.
*Conclusion - George and Karaline Loiterton have created an amazing bricks-and-mortar plus online business in the past nine years. They jumped in feet first and built what they needed and also what they thought the broader market needed too.
Today, customers love the staff they interact with at Wedding List Co, and George also cited people as one of the company's top three strategic assets. But at the same time, George admitted that he currently focuses more on pressing company issues than his people. For example, he's setting up meetings for the next round of Love / Loath exercises right after our discussion. It's a good reminder for all managers to think about how much time they're devoting to working in the business versus working on the business.
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