Why Your Code of Values is Really the Key to Scale Up


Two decades ago, The Dwyer Group journeyed into uncharted territory when our organization set out to define an operationalized Code of Values. And it was serious business.

We had suffered the loss of our company’s founder Don Dwyer Sr., and we knew that the Code of Values he had outlined when he started the company in 1981 had played a key role in the growth and success of our organization up until that point. But our original Code of Values had been written in a way that was hard to measure in daily practice. It included statements like: “We believe that loyalty adds meaning to our lives.” However, without our founder, we needed actionable statements to keep us accountable, knowing with certainty when we were successful or unsuccessful in living up to them.

Staying true to the company’s culture, a Code of Values can provide a roadmap to follow.

That’s when we came up with our operationalized Code of Values in 1996 with 14 well-defined statements under the umbrella of four themes: Respect, Integrity, Customer focus and Having fun in the process. Those values led to the overarching idea to Live R.I.C.H. at Dwyer Group. And 20 years later, that’s still what we’re all about.

But here’s where things got really interesting. When we finished outlining our Code of Values we weren’t done. We were just getting started.

We told the associates at our Waco office that each of the executives would try to adhere to the operational values and, if anyone found us not living up to the values, they could say “BEEP” to alert us when we were messing up. We would also read the Code of Values aloud before every meeting attended by three or more people of the company. Not only did it work (and, yes, we all got a few BEEPs), but the associates also learned the operational version by default and began practicing the values we aimed to make a permanent part of our expanded Code of Values.

Values don’t thrive in picture frames on office walls. They must live inside your business every day.

It’s been said that 95 percent of companies that have a code of values don’t even use it. Thousands of companies spend countless hours and money with experts to help define their mission, vision and values. They write them down, hang them on the wall…and then walk away.

Meanwhile, The Dwyer Group is now a $1.3 billion organization across 2,600 franchise owners in 11 countries. And our Code of Values has helped us get there. Now we want to help others on the same journey.

People who have heard our story always ask how they can apply the same practice at their organizations. And that’s when I found the perfect way to answer their questions.

In my new book Values, Inc., I share wonderful examples of values in action from leaders and organizations all over the world. I shine the light on other others who lead with values, and then I show readers how they can create their own set of values for their organizations. And everyone is invited to download my free “Create Your Culture Workbook” as well.

Here’s to the tremendous impact we will all make together!