Never sacrifice your company values—even in times of crisis, Ruby Receptionists founder and CEO Jill Nelson told attendees during her Wednesday morning keynote address at Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week.
In her address, titled “Culture Powered Growth,” Nelson talked about how Ruby Receptionists, a Portland, Oregon-based live answering service for small businesses, not only weathered the 2008 financial crisis, but grew its customer count by 30% in 2009 and its growth has continued.
The business has been named a Fortune magazine Best Small Company to Work For in the United States, one of Inc.’s Best Workplaces and has been among Oregon’s fastest-growing companies for the past 11 years.
But at the beginning of Q1 in 2009, Nelson said she rallied her leadership team and they brainstormed ways to stay relevant to small businesses, which were then collectively cutting their customer service departments by 10% to 15%.
“It was a scary time, and we thought, ‘If we’re going down, we’re going down swinging. How do we want to be remembered?’” Nelson said. “We resolved that we’re a group of friendly people who truly care about the success of our customers and we wanted to be the partner by their side.”
All they did during their campaign to survive the financial crisis, she said, was adhere to Ruby Receptionists’ values: foster happiness, practice “wowism,” create community, innovate and grow.
To demonstrate their commitment to their customers, receptionists sent cards for clients’ birthdays, kids’ high school graduations and weddings. They reflected their “partner by your side” culture in Google AdWords and in all other messaging.
It’s important to stick to your values, especially in times of trouble, Nelson said. It will distinguish you from everybody else.
“Your team deserves a set of values,” Nelson said. “Post-2009 has been a hockey stick curve.”
This morning’s keynote is part of BREW, which continues this afternoon and will culminate Thursday with Get Started Louisiana Pitch Night, hosted by Cox Business, from 5 to 8 p.m. Today’s luncheon keynote speaker is Waitr CEO Chris Meaux. Stay tuned with Daily Report for more coverage.