Ramon Ray and Ben Brewer met up at the B2SMB Institute in Napa, California to talk people and impact. Ben runs the small and mid-sized business segment for SAP Concur, a travel and expense management company based in Bellevue, Washington. Ben’s segment includes about 1,000 employees globally who service nearly 30,000 clients worldwide. They service businesses up to 4,000 employees, but Ben says their sweet spot is really companies with 50-100 personnel.
3 Things to Get Right
Ramon asked Ben what are businesses that partner with SAP Concur doing right. Ben says that things have evolved and changed over the last several years, but that there are three things he consistently sees:
1. Hiring and Retaining Good Talent– Small and mid-sized companies are trying to draw in and keep good talent, but sometimes they can’t afford to pay the best salaries or offer the best benefits. It’s competitive!
2. They Want to Stay Connected– They want to be in the know and feel like they have that edge. They need those “secrets” and to hear from their peers on what’s working.
3. Prove It– Both internally with your employees and externally, when someone is implementing a service within their company, they have to prove that it’s going to provide value quickly. Both to their bosses and to the people who are using it.
As a company, one of the things they’ve learned very quickly at SAP Concur is that you can’t be an expert at everything. Do your mission extremely well. Once you do that, Ben says, reach out and see what else you can bring into your world. He gives the example of their app center. Ben says that it was SAP Concur’s way of acknowledging that they “can’t be experts at everything, but we can connect you to who can.” That in and of itself is just as valuable as the actual service you provide. “Not just what you’re doing with your service, but how you’re bringing others into it,” says Ben.
Taking Care of People
How do you lower margins and raise profits while taking care of your employees? Ben says that hiring and retaining talent is massively important. But in order to keep good people, you have to take what they are looking for into consideration. When hiring millennials especially things you have to keep in mind include:
Heavy doses of thoughtful recognition
Empowering Employees to Make Decisions
Ben gives the example of expense reporting and empowering your employees. If you’re sending a group of employees to a conference, they might rather stay together at an Airbnb than separate hotel rooms. He suggests empowering them to do such things that are more flexible and better meet their needs as well as reduce your expenses. Your challenge as the employer is how to capture this and bring it into your accounting systems.
Part of Something Bigger
A key to keeping top talent is tying what your employees do into a bigger purpose. Employees today are concerned with things like sustainability and global footprint. At SAP Concur, Ben says that by using technology, they offer employees the ability to choose different trips based on the green footprint they supply. Ramon summed it up perfectly: “we’re using technology to enable you to make choices.”
Be Current on Your Vision
Know what you’re trying to do. How do you measure your impact? Ben referenced Chris Tuff’s idea of measuring your impact every day. (Chris Tuff is the author of The Millennial Whisperer and you can check out Ramon’s interview with him here, Ben agrees it’s fantastic!). Ben continues that he was discussing with someone, how to measure impact and how to do that outside of growth and profitability. Ben says her response was, “If we were gone tomorrow, would our community notice.” This is a great way to measure impact outside of the numbers and you can apply the same principle to your personal life.
Catch up on my current posts along with industry articles