Under the neon-lit skies of Las Vegas, Denny Marie Post just got inked. Her new tattoo was skillfully applied to her left shoulder while friends cheered her on. But unlike a typical college-age stunt that one lives to regret, the 59-year-old Post was actually delivering on a business commitment in her role as CEO of fast-growing Red Robin Restaurants.
“In 2015, we began measuring guest satisfaction scores through tabletop media, and the results were eye-opening,” Denny told me in our post-tattoo interview. While the scores weren’t terrible, she knew they had to do better in order to drive long-term success. Using the universally recognized NPS score for client engagement, a fresh new goal was set: A 30% improvement in NPS scores, which would represent a giant leap forward.
But how does an aggressive business objective become a tattoo?
At a standup meeting with colleagues in one of the company’s restaurants in the Northwest, a team member shared that a customer actually got a tattoo of the chain’s “Burnin’ Love” burger out of his passion for the brand. Without hesitation, Denny announced she too would get a Red Robin tattoo if the company achieved their new NPS targets. From that moment on, a corporate target transformed into a crazed mission…the team would pursue a relentless journey to “Get Denny Ink’d!”
“It created both competition and collaboration,” she told me. “Higher performing locations reached out to offer help and support to those that were struggling.” Her non-traditional methods rallied the company around a mission to delight customers and win together. The renegade approach provided team members something powerful to believe in, and demonstrated that their CEO was deeply and permanently committed to success. It gave them a clear-cut opportunity to leave a positive impact, deliver pride-filled work, and achieve as a team. “We got a lot of external attention around the challenge, which also helped us up our game.”
At the company’s leadership summit in Las Vegas last week, the victory was announced to deafening cheers. Immediately, Denny held up her promise by permanently emblazoning her beloved company’s name on her body and made it clear she has no intention of removing it. “While getting the tattoo was uncomfortable, I hear removal is much worse,” she joked.
What can we extract from this stunning display of corporate commitment? First, she set a singular, clearly defined goal and rallied the company around it. She showed her personal commitment, which emboldened others. Leading by example, she demonstrated the importance of the mission and unleashed performance through collaboration, competition, and fun.
Signifying your own unwavering commitment to the cause can have a profound impact on team performance. Even if you plan to skip the body art, following the example of this dynamic leader can help you drive breakthrough results.
Denny’s favorite menu item – the Smoky Jack Tavern Burger – is symbolic of her leadership style: spicy, progressive, rich in substance, and plenty of sizzle. Embrace her powerful approach, and you’ll be able to “ink” your own delicious success.