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Small Business Digest


Employees Should Be Challenged, Rewarded For Helping To Build Brand

As companies grow, they often invest a great deal of money into defining and refining their brand.

A key element to building a brand are the firm's employees.

This type of endeavor can be challenging for employees to understand and embrace. The Beryl Companies, a healthcare-exclusive call center, has overcome this challenge and even helped reinvigorate an already lively workforce.

The Beryl Companies (, based in Bedford, TX, is a provider of outsourced telephone and Web-based communications. They have been repeatedly recognized as a "best place to work" locally, statewide and nationally. CEO Paul Spiegelman attributes a lot of his continued success to a philosophy that he calls the Circle of Growth, which simply is that happy employees deliver exceptional customer service, which builds customer loyalty, which drives profits, a portion of which Spiegalman has committed to reinvesting in his people.

Beryl just completed an internal rollout of their redefined brand.

To facilitate this change and encourage workers to be more proactive in building the brand, Beryl invested a great deal of time, money and talent into engaging the employees and did it in a creative way.

As part of the rollout, employees voluntarily participated in an "Amazing Race" competition. Over a five-week period, 20+ teams of four members had to complete a myriad of tasks all on their own time and using creativity and resourcefulness to come up with the supplies needed to carry out each task. Along the way, teams were eliminated. This was all part of an effort to build understanding of and enthusiasm about the redefined brand. On top of this goal, Beryl found that employees are becoming reinvigorated in general about Beryl.

"Throughout the Amazing Race, Beryl coworkers, whether participants or spectators, learned about Beryl¹s clients and our brand. They were able to see exactly how they contribute to building and supporting our brand inside and out," says Nancy Lecroy, Vice President of Marketing Communications at Beryl.

Teams received a challenge at the beginning of each of five weeks. The instructions had to be carried out in full.  A team was eliminated each week based on how they "cross the finish line."  This was determined by timing, creativity, following directions, incorporating the brand, teamwork, and accuracy. 

All teams met at the starting line where they received their first clue and challenge. Teams were directed to the location of the next check point where their next challenge and clue would be located. Teams has to work from one check point to the other until they crossed the "finish line".  Each week, the last team to cross the finish line was eliminated from the race.

At any time during the race, a team could receive a detour, road block or intersection. 

The team that had the most points will win an all-expenses-paid trip to a metropolitan city in which Beryl has a hospital client (Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Miami or San Diego).  The trip included all the sightseeing and fun, plus a visit to and tour of a client location. (Many of the employees do not have the opportunity to travel for business or pleasure so this is an especially desirable prize.)

The Weekly Challenges

* Week One: Virtual hospital - Teams were assigned a client hospital, for which they had to build a model of the hospital with a focus on what makes the client a provider of choice. The final reveal will be a part of the presentation at the end of week five. Teams will work on their hospital throughout each leg the race. This leg of the race will be judged at the end of the race.

* Week Two: "I am the face of the brand" - Teams had to find and illustrate who is the face of the brand and why. They had to interview co-workers and ask for brand stories that highlight a component of the brand.

* Week Three: "I am the face of Beryl in the community" - Each team focused on one new idea in which Beryl can benefit the community. This leg of the race required a detailed presentation and design that shows how coworkers will be the face of Beryl in the community and what they would do as part of the new idea.

* Week Four: "I am the face of Beryl" - Teams had to find three examples of how Beryl exhibits compassion and personal touch on behalf of its clients.

* Week Five: "I am the face of our clients" - Using the client hospital from week one, teams must find facts that tie into client assets (other than using Beryl) which make that client a first choice provider within its community.  For instance, maybe it has the latest MR imaging solution, or its parking lot attendants have "official patient greeter" as part of their job descriptions.

Judging, which was done by other coworkers at each leg of the race, measured:

* Brand alignment
* Creativity
* Teamwork
* Hospital likeness (illustration of client assets)
* Overall execution ­(week five only)

Lecroy says the company would definitely recommend this approach to other businesses that are going through change efforts.   She says, "This type of activity is a great way for employees to be creative and test their knowledge and apply it to their daily jobs. It also helps them feel that they are participating in the change instead of feeling as though it is happening to them."

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