Scaling a family business - with values
Building and maintaining trust is vital if a business literally has your name on it – but how do you do it?
One of the proudest achievements in life has to be setting up your own company and seeing it, and those you work with, flourish. Putting your name (in my case quite literally) to a business means that you have a particular interest in building and maintaining a trusted reputation.
Arguably it is relatively easy for a founder to start out with lofty values. Yet it is vital to keep a continual focus on embodying those values, as the company grows and develops. This ensures that colleagues, business partners and clients alike can trust, respect, and rely on the business.
As I explained at the CBI’s 2017 Annual Conference, I believe there are certain rules of thumb that can help to achieve this trust:
Identify and stay true to your founding values
These values will be personal to your business, and that is important for ensuring authenticity. At the Arora Group, I am well known for my belief that it’s important to treat customers as royalty and employees as family. This percolates into all areas of our operations.
Develop and leverage your expertise to ensure the business can deliver work of unparalleled quality
For instance, at the Arora Group, from day one we have developed expertise in operating around airports. It means we are known for our deep understanding of these complex environments – whether in terms of constructing in sensitive sites; planning to accommodate multiple stakeholders’ needs; managing accommodation or offices that meet the needs of those in these busy business hubs; and most recently in our proposals for the expansion of London Heathrow Airport.
For your company to be trusted, those you work with must also be trusted – by yourself and others around them
Carefully consider who you employ and how you develop their skills. Trusted colleagues are the driving forces for the success of your business.
Select your business partners strategically. In our case this applies to our leading global hotel brands. It is hugely important that our hotel guests, often international leisure or business travellers, are attracted to stay with these partners, and can trust them to provide an outstanding experience that fits their particular needs and our group values. We focus on franchise agreements that align each asset with an ideally suited, leading global hotel brand.
Consult trusted advisors. It’s important to know where your areas of expertise and strength lie, and where others are better placed to step in. Knowing I am not an engineer or an airport planner, we brought in world leading companies such as Bechtel, as well as individuals with significant experience including former airline and airport CEOs, to support our proposals to deliver the expansion of Heathrow Airport.
Actively listen and respond to your clients and all of those working with you
Especially in a family business, it’s easy to become inward looking. It is vital to proactively take on board feedback and insights from those around you. That way you can ensure the business is constantly improving for the benefit of those who matter most. In our Arora Hotels division, for example, small actions such as personally checking Trip Advisor and following up on feedback can make a huge difference.
Deliver a track record that warrants trust
Across all areas of running a business, my driving focus is on providing evidence for why people should place trust in your company. Deliver, at the very least, what you have promised at the outset – from your financial performance to construction schedules or a hotel stay that exceeds expectations. Make your company name a hallmark of excellence.
A final word of guidance
The best advice I can offer is to make sure you operate in areas where you can be confident of your relevant expertise. Avoid taking on more than you can swallow. And ultimately, know that sheer hard work is pivotal to your success.
As we progress with our ambitious plans to deliver the expansion at Heathrow Airport, and as we strengthen our broader portfolio, we at the Arora Group shall certainly need to embrace these learnings to ensure continued success.