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By Verne Harnish
Serial entrepreneurs Simer and Vicki Mayo have scaled four profitable companies to more than 3,000 employees collectively, and several to more than $100 million in revenue. And they’ve kept revenue at all of the companies in the Mayo Group growing at 30% a year despite the pandemic. Their success strategy: Using the Scaling Up system for growing a company to scale forward.
They’ve pulled it off in a varied mix of companies. The biggest one in the Mayo Group, Valor Global, a provider of call center and business process outsourcing solutions, has grown to 2,500 people globally since it was founded in 2004. It was just named the largest minority-owned firm in Phoenix by Phoenix Business Journal in July.
Their other brands include MC Group, a mining company that operates in both South Africa and the Americas; TouchPoint Solution, maker of a wellness device, worn on the wrist, that is clinically proven to reduce stress—and the Rajasthan Royals, an Indian Premier League cricket team in which they have invested. (For more on TouchPoint, see our story “How a serial entrepreneur is helping reduce pandemic stress with a pocket-sized wellness device.”) On July 1, the Mayos founded Global Market Innovators (GMI), another provider of IT services, professional IT services and cloud solutions that has grown to 150 employees and larger revenue than Valor.
The Mayos say that what enabled them to keep all of their companies thriving has been using the Scaling Up system since 2010, when we first met at the Birthing of Giants program I founded at MIT. Each company’s leadership team has read Scaling Up: Rockefeller Habits 2.0, and the Mayos have worked with Scaling Up Certified Coach Jason Rush to put the system into action.
To keep everyone on the same page, each of the four companies in the Mayo Group has created a Vision Summary. At Valor, for instance, the Vision Summary is to deliver a trusted and value-added partnership providing a competitive advantage in its industry while making a positive impact on the lives of employees and its communities. “We want to be a company that’s aligned with our customers and helping them to be a success,” says Simer.
Each company has also created its own One-Page Strategic Plan. “That’s our driver,” says Mayo. “It brings us alignment and focus on where we are going and why we are doing what we’re doing. We are big on the ‘Why?'”
In drafting its One-Page Strategic Plan, each company has decided on Core Values. For Valor, they are: 1. Exceeding expectations, 2. Admiring our people and 3. Being passionate about making a difference. The company arrived at these values back in 2012, after doing a Mission to Mars exercise. The then-20-person team was asked which five colleagues were so essential they should represent Valor on a hypothetical mission to Mars—and then, which three values these individuals represented. These became the Core Values.
“That became part of our DNA,” says Simer. “We incorporated that into our future hiring.” Valor’s recruiting team now focuses on these values when using the Topgrading process and the DISC assessment, a personality test.
The Purpose statement is a key element of each company’s One-Page Strategic Plan. At Valor, the leadership team makes sure that its Purpose–a commitment to people, diversity and inclusion, and giving back–infuses every interaction with key stakeholders.
“We’re a services company,” says Simer. “There’s a human interaction with every engagement we have, whether it’s with employees, customers or vendors. We want them to be raving fans.”
Putting people first
At each of the couple’s companies, the leadership teams have embraced the Four Decisions every company must get right to scale: People, Strategy, Execution and Cash.
In focusing on People, each company has created a clear career path for employees. Valor, for instance, has a full-time “dream manager” to help team members identify their aspirations—and go after them. “The focus is working with our team to help them dream—and achieve their dreams,” says Simer.
Team members who want to rise through the ranks can sign up for a leadership academy that helps them develop the skills that will prepare them for their next role. The company’s integration of the Scaling Up model with LEAN helps everyone focus on “continuous improvement,” says Simer.
Currently, 90% of roles at Valor are filled from within, and with the companies very successful in recruiting diverse hires, 74% of managers are now women and minorities. “Everyone is getting their fair shot,” says Mayo.
Retaining and cultivating on-staff talent has paid off, because it means the companies don’t have to employ salespeople. Rather than think like order-takers, all team members have been trained to look for ways to help customers solve their problems proactively. That brings in a steady stream of new business organically. “They know the customer, ” says Simer.
Global Market Innovators, the newest company, has embraced a Brand Promise that is centered on the people whose lives it touches: “Relentless focus on your success.” The company uses the eNPS, a measure of worker satisfaction, and employee-retention figures to measure how well it is doing in supporting employees and uses similar measures to track its progress serving customers and the community.
To make sure the companies meet critical metrics, all of the companies rely on a morning Daily Huddle for the leadership team. Meetings start with the sharing of good news and quickly pivot to meeting KPIs. “Execution is really the key to everything we do,” says Simer.
The Mayos rely on combination of Scaling Up, the LEAN methodology and toolset, and Topgrading to execute many of their initiatives in a system called the Valor Way. “We document the process for every change we make and follow the process to make sure it’s integrated to the desired outcome,” Simer says.
The companies also set Quarterly Themes to motivate everyone to meet key goals, which flow out of Rocks the company has set, such as their employee-retention goals.
For instance, the Mayo Group adopted a holiday theme for Q4 2020 across all of its businesses, in which each month the focus is on a different seasonal holiday. Employees are currently submitting photos for a best Halloween makeup contest; the winners will be announced in the company’s monthly newsletter. “The biggest thing we’re doing is making sure our employees are not burned out,” says Simer, well aware of the pressures of the pandemic.
Keeping cash flowing
With all four companies growing rapidly, Cash is always top of mind for the companies’ leadership teams. Each company has built dashboards focused on its KPIs to ensure each customer is profitable. “We make sure that, from a financial side, we are accommodating both our customer and our business needs,” says Simer.
Having enough cash is important because the Mayo Group is currently focused on an ambitious Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG): 10,000 employees by 2025.
“We see a big opportunity in an industry where companies overpromise and underdeliver,” says Simer. “We underpromise and overdeliver.”
If the Mayo Group can continue to stay focused on turning its people, its customers and its community into raving fans, it has a good shot at achieving that goal—and having the social impact the Mayos want. “As entrepreneurs, we want to change the future for the better,” says Simer.