It’s 2001, and you’re in a brisk start-up business, when suddenly your venture capital vanishes. Quicker than you can say “pink slip” you and your colleagues are jobless. That was the day Gavin Fysh and two fellow software engineers asked each other, “What do we do now?” Over coffee, they noodled on a user-friendly church website program virtually anyone could run. Banding together, they put their talents to work and a year later they took their fledgling product to market. Today, twelve years later, Church Web Works has shipped thousands of its proprietary web products to congregations in all 50 states and Canada. Just what did this small, under-the-radar firm do to become so successful?
Fysh candidly says, “From day one, because we were small, each of us was ‘all in.’ Being a tight-knit group meant we had to be honest and transparent with each other. At our annual off-site company retreats we were passionate (and sometimes blunt) about our mission, vision and values and the kind of people we wanted to be with our clients–and each other.”
The company’s level of workplace engagement, as measured by the BCWI engagement survey, has soared to new levels thanks, in part, to three positive realities:
Good feasting. “All of us eat our lunch together at Coconut Jack’s, our company lunch room,” says Fysh. “When you eat with one another, you discuss life. You’re not a sales person, or a software guy, you’re relating as a father, a mother, a person sharing and together, you’re building trust.” Mutual trust and confidence among the staff continues to pay dividends.
Nimble excellence. “Software development means we’ve got to keep our heads down for long stretches at a time. And if, let’s say, World Vision should call us (which they do), we are ready and willing to serve them while maintaining our commitment to quality to all of our existing clients.”
Healthy balance/open book. ‘When we hire, we put our transparency to work and ask a recruit, ‘Do you want to live a balanced work life, with time for family and play?’ We show our employees the company financial snapshot. We’re an open book. When you come to work here, you get to know each other as part of a team. We think it shows up in how we treat each other and how we serve the Church with a brand they can trust.”
P.S. Since its inception, Church Web Works has posted an average of 30% growth in annual sales. Says Fysh, “We think it says something about what we call the ‘simply powerful’ distinctiveness of our software and the people who make our company work.”