"We're old school," says Pirkle. "No robots. No telephone trees. Instead, real people are our infrastructure." The key to the company's success is a dedicated, engaged support team. When one of their customers—a restaurant, let's say—is having credit card problems on a busy Friday night, its manager will talk directly with a knowledgeable Gravity person who can solve their problem.
In the long run, it's not just a matter of landing more customers. Keeping them is the critical factor. And Gravity's retention rates are very high.
The news is also positive in another way. Price didn't set out to change the world. He and his colleagues understand that other businesses already operate on the margin, especially mom-and-pop operations.
Nevertheless other companies are taking note. Earlier this year, Forbes featured an interview with Megan Driscoll, CEO of Pharmalogics Recruiting. After hearing Dan Price speak, she was inspired her to bump the starting base pay of her employees by 33 percent. When Driscoll put her plan into effect in January 2016, her business had $6.7 million in revenue and 46 employees. Now the staff is 72 and she anticipates revenues of $15 million this year.
Driscoll can point to metrics that show that her people are working harder and smarter than before. After the pay raise, for example, there was a 32 percent increase in the number of qualified candidates her recruiters generated for clients.
And the company's own retention rate jumped from 40 to 84 percent. (Here's a link to a montage of Pharmalogics video clips that includes comments by Driscoll and her employees—plus a surprise visit from Price.)
Others are experimenting with alternative forms of compensation to foster productivity. Stephen Aarstol, CEO of Tower Paddleboards, felt he couldn't finance a pay raise, but he boldly cut the work day of his employees down to five hours. As a result, their focus and engagement skyrocketed—and with that, so did his business. Mark Cuban calls his own funding of Aarstol's business "one of my best Shark Tank investments."