3 Lessons In Growing Pains From GrubHub’s VP Of Corporate Accounts

The process of growing a business can be painful. Make it go a little more smoothly with these tips on hiring, culture, and operations.

3 Lessons In Growing Pains From GrubHub’s VP Of Corporate Accounts
[Screen still: courtesy of GrubHub]

So you’ve created a small business, found a good fit in the marketplace, and investors have taken notice. Congratulations!


Now that you have investment dollars and a plan to grow your team, here are three important tips to help you steer clear of some common growing pains many owners and founders face when going from a successful startup to a sustainable, long-term business.

1. Manage Your Company Culture From the Very Beginning

Culture can be one of those things that’s easily overlooked. When you’re a team of 10 people, managing your culture may not seem necessary, but that’s a mistake. Company culture is the fabric of your vision for the business and impacts how you operate, the type of people you hire, and how committed employees are towards mutual objectives, which in turn impacts the growth of your company.

If you’ve not done this already, clearly define your company mission, goals, and values and ensure they align with the current culture. Next, post the mission, goals, and values on the office walls for every employee to see. It’s important that employees be continuously reminded of what is most important to the company.

Next, discuss the mission, goals, and values with employees and with everyone you interview. If employees aren’t on board with a company’s mission and values, they will question the company’s strategy. And, if they don’t feel passionate about the business they will become unhappy and eventually leave the company.

Lastly, consider how you will bring those mission, goals, and values to life on a daily basis around the office. For many startups this becomes a competitive differentiator for recruiting and a strategic imperative for service delivery.

At GrubHub, one of our core values is innovation and we encourage employees to bring this value to their work each day. Whether it’s solving a problem in a new and unique way or signing up to staff Slice, GrubHub’s on-site restaurant where employees experience the day-to-day operations of a restaurant, we strive to keep our values top of mind.


Also, know that your mission, goals, and values can change as the business grows and changes. Therefore, it’s important to revisit them often and adjust as needed.

On a personal note, one of the things I enjoy most about being a part of the GrubHub team is that we invest in our culture and we reap the rewards. We have employee engagement levels unlike I’ve seen at previous companies (yes, we monitor this). This group of talented professionals actively supports and lives out our mission, goals, and values on a daily basis. Even better is that we get to help other companies accomplish this by providing them with a service that makes it easy and cost-efficient to bring the office together to collaborate, communicate, and connect over food.

2. Have A Well-Defined Hiring Process

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a very specific and rigorous hiring process. With many industries facing a talent shortage, it can be tempting to throw out a job offer to a smart, talented person–I’m guilty of making this mistake myself–but if they’re not well-suited for a position and to the company’s culture you will have wasted valuable time and money to get them on board.

I highly recommend every executive read Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. The authors lay out a clear, well thought-out plan to hire “A” (the best) employees and avoid “B” and “C” employees for the critical jobs. I’ve taken versions of this hiring method and put in place at many startups, helping improve the hiring success rate by 70% to 90%.

Once you’ve designed a hiring method that works for your company, its use needs to be constant and consistent. Every candidate needs to go through the process, from the new CFO to the administrative assistant.

Since the early years at GrubHub, our People team has leveraged dedicated resources and tools, such as an applicant tracking system, to centralize the hiring process and ensure the necessary recruiting steps are taken with each candidate.


3. Make Operational Excellence Everyone’s Business

When you were a small startup, revenue and customer growth may have been the only metrics that really mattered. As your business grows, more operational goals will and should be established–you’ll likely have marketing goals, product development goals, and customer care goals, to name a few.

What’s important when you go from a small startup to a larger company is that these goals should be everyone’s business, not just department heads. As you grow–adding new people every week or month–it can be easy to lose sight of the importance of being transparent and honest with everyone in the company about how the company is doing. Are you meeting your goals? If not, don’t be afraid to ask why a goal wasn’t met and engage your employees to figure out the best next step.

At GrubHub, employees are educated on how each department and their goals contribute to the company’s operation. For example, all employees are required to shadow a member of the Customer Care team. This provides employees with the opportunity to hear directly from diners and restaurants about how they interact with GrubHub and its products, which fosters cross-functional problem solving and team building.

Creating transparency and alignment around each goal is an important part of helping team members exceed expectations. For example, I have a series of dashboards shown on LCD screens in our office that are refreshed on a weekly basis. These dashboards show the team how we are doing against each of our objectives. These goals are reviewed during one-on-one meetings and the metrics are rolled into a monthly report, which is shared with the management team.

Moving from a bootstrapped startup to a fast-growing, lucrative company is an exciting time for an organization. Growing pains are expected, but by planning ahead and putting an early focus on your company’s culture, hiring process, and approach to operational excellence, your company may find “growing up” to be a rather pain-free experience.

Nick Worswick is vice president and general manager of Seamless Corporate Accounts at GrubHub Inc. Worswick is passionate about fostering the right internal dynamics and corporate culture as a means to ensuring exceptional service delivery and client satisfaction.