When founders Bob and Nick of the growing restaurant chain PDQ opened their first store in Tampa in 2011, they had one thing in mind: to focus on people first and make quality the bottom line. They were highly intentional with this focus from the outset. The name actually says it all: People Dedicated to Quality (PDQ). They set out from the very beginning to create a business model that was all about their team members and customers. I recently had the privilege of having a great conversation with Jeff Kamis, VP of Media and Public Relations, and Rick Lenderman, VP of Talent Management and Training, to find out exactly what they do as a company to build and maintain a winning culture at this rapidly expanding company. They were quick to respond with the three core areas of focus built into the DNA of PDQ:
- The business is truly about fun. They empower their operating directors to create a culture of fun and give them a budget to make it happen. The directors also are encouraged and empowered to think of themselves as the CEO of their unit. They show appreciation to team members in a number of ways. They take their team members out for fun events, use recognition boards in every store, and pass out “chotchkies” to reward team members for going above and beyond, just to name a few. Of extreme importance is their screening process for hiring, specifically directed at obtaining only the talent that fits the company culture.
- Culture of giving back. This is not optional. Every store must be focused on giving back to the community. They also understand that this all-important area of focus resonates strongly with the “give back” talent base (Millennials) they currently attract. The concept of giving back for PDQ means finding ways to provide value in the communities they serve by doing things such as offering discounts for all first responders as a way to show appreciation and also having community boards posted and visible in each store where the community at large can post events and opportunities to stay connected.
- A strong business creed. The PDQ creed is based on the values of fun, hospitality, clear direction, and a strong sense of community. The responsibility of the leadership is to provide clear direction to every level, minimizing the chances for confusion. A sense of belonging is also intentional, whereby all team members feel part of a larger family. In order to achieve this, they use an outside company (Wise Tail) that specializes in ways to connect team members in each location to other locations throughout the chain.
In a time when corporate culture is so important to success, PDQ sets a standard of being fundamentally built on creating and maintaining a winning culture by keeping the focus on people and quality at every level.
In the words of the founders, “It’s what makes us People Dedicated to Quality. It’s not just words. It’s our passion and our purpose. And in everything we do, it reflects our commitment to you.”