Importance of Company Culture: In-Depth with the Chief People Officer of Potbelly Sandwich Works

Welcome to the Executive Innovation Show Podcast, brought to you by Live Video Interviews. During this podcast, hear host, Carrie Chitsey, talk with Matt Revord of Potbelly Sandwich Works. 

Matt Revord has been with Potbelly for 14 years in various roles including Chief Legal Officer and Chief People Officer. Matt was previously also the head of Potbelly’s franchise program. Matt started his career at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago.

Listen to “Filling Your Belly with Culture: In-Depth with Potbelly” as we discuss: 

  • Matt Revord gives us the breakdown of the very unique beginnings of Potbelly Sandwich Works. Did you know that it started as an antique store? Listen as we learn about the concept of Potbelly and its rise in popularity across the United States to becoming a publicly-traded company in 2013. 

  • Now operating in over 470 units in 34 states with over 7,000 employees, the question becomes “How do you maintain culture through growth?” Since being part of the Potbelly team in 2007 and now the Chief People Officer, Matt Revord gives his insight into the importance of company culture.

  • Potbelly Sandwich Works is known for having awesome employees. Has maintaining culture through growth been a critical success factor to their scale? Matt maps out how the importance of company culture started and has evolved over the years with new executive team members. 

  • What are some of the things that define Potbelly’s culture? Allowing employees to maintain their own unique sense of style. Who doesn’t want to wear tye-dye t-shirts over uniforms? Hear about the tribal knowledge that grew with each new store. 

  • What is a culture statement? Does your company really need one? Listen to why the new CEO, Aylwin Lewis, requested one from Matt. This led to the creation of “The Potbelly Advantage”. Did this help cement the importance of company culture and create a daily reminder for their teams?

Listen To:

Leaders vs. Managers:

Hiring & Developing Leaders vs. Managers

  • When a company grows how do you maintain culture through growth? Is it from the top down? Matt Revord talks about how strong CEO leadership and commitment to culture allows Potbelly to be successful, with lower turnover rates and higher customer satisfaction scores. 

  • How has Potbelly stood out against the clutter in a low unemployment market? 

  • As a Chief People Officer, how has Matt been able to keep things consistent on the talent acquisition side find the culture fit in recruiting new employees? He gives his tips on recruiting for culture fit and maintaining culture through growth in recruiting across many geographies.  

  • Matt admits that they may be losing great candidates due to their interview process. He explains why he’s okay with that. With an estimate of the cost of losing an hourly employee between two and four thousand dollars and a manager $12-15,000, he encourages his manager to look for quality, not quantity. While today’s generations are looking for speed to hire, employers have to maintain their quality in the interview process. 

  • With Gen Z being the majority in the hospitality job demographics, what trends has Matt Revord seen in hiring? He states that there is definitely a “generational shift”. His talent acquisition team has learned that getting ahold of candidates faster is through text messaging. He also gives us great transformational tips on revamping training for the younger generation, whose attention span for reading old school manuals just isn’t there anymore. They’ve moved to video training and seeing significantly better success with GenZ’s.

  • It’s time for a game! Carrie and Matt play “Word Association”. Hear Matt’s first word that comes to mind for all kinds of fun HR terminology. 

  • What’s Matt’s go to Potbelly sandwich? And hear about their new sandwich, the BLTA. 

  • Matt answers our favorite question – “What keeps you up at night?”. 

Download the White Paper, “Reach & Recruit a Passive Front-Line Talent Pool” to learn more about how to recruit and hire for culture fit.