Adventures in Nursing Blog
People. Process. Product.
By Rich Smith, 04-09-2019
A few years back I was introduced to Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World, by way of his appearance on season 3 of the ABC series, The Secret Millionaire. How he got there wasn’t an accident. He started from very humble beginnings, born in Beirut and adopted by a Greek couple living in Miami. He worked for his grandfather’s car dealership in the mid 1990s. In 1997, the dealership was acquired by AutoNation and Lemonis was retained to run the business. A few years later, he was approached by Lee Iaccoca and asked to create an RV sales company. Iaccoca had identified an opportunity in what was at the time a very fragmented market, and Lemonis was just the guy for this job. Thus, the Holiday RV Superstore was born, and Lemonis served as the CEO from 2001 to 2003. Following that, he co-founded a similar company called FreedomRoads and began acquiring RV dealerships all across the country. That company merged Camping World in 2006, and Lemonis stayed on as the CEO.
In 2013, Lemonis started a show on CNBC called The Profit. Atlas was only 1 year old at that time, and I would use each and every episode as a learning experience. A classroom of sorts. Watching how he navigated issues within a small business gave me a clearer understanding of ours. Reviewing the ins and outs of profit and loss statements, dealing with employee issues, navigating the ups and downs of everyday business life. To this day, I can credit that show (along with a few others) with giving me the understanding I needed to survive the first years as a start-up. This was my lecture hall, my study guide. I took the principles that he applied and adapted them to what we were doing every day.
In the show, Lemonis preaches three basic pieces to every successful business he runs. People, process and product. A successful business has all three parts:
People: I’m of the mind that all people are inherently good. If you give good people the very best work environment and treat them with respect and dignity, they will do great things. That’s been a cornerstone for Atlas since the beginning. Trust is hard, especially early in a start-up. But if you just let go and believe that your good people will do great things, you’ll succeed.
Process: This one is/was a bit harder for me. I’m not a process guy. It’s one of my weaknesses. But identifying it as a weakness early on helped me develop. The right processes were an early failure at Atlas. Then we found the right people to create and apply what we needed to be successful. We let go of our weaknesses and insecurities and allowed our people to do what they do best. In doing so we created The Atlas Way, a roadmap for how we wanted the business to be, then applied it to everything we did. To this day, The Atlas Way has not changed and is taught on every new employees first day.
Product: We don’t produce a physical product at Atlas. We don’t have a factory or a warehouse. We deal in talent. Our traveling healthcare professionals are the best in the business. That is our product. If everything we do is done with the traveling healthcare professional in mind, success will follow. Not only for them, but for us as well. Nothing is more powerful than word of mouth, and when our nurse is sitting beside another nurse at 3 am eating lunch and talking about how happy they are with Atlas, I couldn’t be more proud. That’s a successful product.
If I’ve learned anything from The Profit, it’s that a successful business needs all three pieces. I think about this every day. One isn’t more important than the others, but faltering with just one and the business is doomed.