As I finished my meal at a local restaurant, I noticed a sign in the kitchen, “Be Nice Or Leave Thank You”.  A sweet reminder for the staff on how to treat each other and how to treat their guests. Instead of a mission, vision, values statement hidden in an employee handbook, it is a great reminder of the culture that people should live up to each day.

One of my favorite stops is Happy’s Drive-In, Onamia, MN established in 1990.  It is a regular stop for Minnesotan’s driving north on Highway 169 to their cabin ‘up north’.  Happy’s Drive-In serves hamburgers, sandwiches and really good ice cream.  What make’s Happy’s absolutely amazing is the team of young people who work there.

Why?  Because they are happy…

The team of young working at Happy’s smile.  They interact with their customers.  They are authentic, sweet and an absolute pleasure.

I asked the second-generation owner Reggie Litke how he was able to create this type of culture and keep it going on a consistent basis.  Reggie answered, “It sounds silly, but first of all we look for happy people.  It’s our brand, so people who are part of the team have to live our brand.  We tell our high school students to bring in their best friends that would be a good fit and the vast majority of the time, it works perfectly.”

Reggie continued, “Plus, when team members come through the back door for work, as they walk in everyone in the kitchen greets them and if that person doesn’t greet them back in a fun manner, they are sent back out the door and told to come back happy.  It’s weird, but it works.”

Creating a unique culture isn’t all that complicated.  Know what you want and strive to build on that every day.

Nice Bike Happy’s Drive-In!