WE LIVE BY THESE.
As we grow as a company, and especially as we grow on the web, it has become more and more important to define the core values that make us who we are, and which make us such a cool and fun place to buy your musical gear. These core values are the foundation from which we’ve developed our culture, our brand, and how we do business.
Dirt Cheep Core Value #1: Create Honest Communication
We believe that great communication is the key to building open and honest relationships, and for us, that is a focus on being honest with ourselves first so that we can then be honest with our customers. Here at Dirt Cheep we do this a little differently than a lot of businesses: we tell the truth, even if you don't want to hear it.
Honesty is a time-honored form of communication that has lost favor recently, succumbing to the glossy façade of “the customer is always right.” We always want our customers to be delighted with their Dirt Cheep Experience and we go out of our way to be polite, thoughtful, responsive, and diligent. We hold ourselves to a high standard of conduct, both professionally and personally, and there are times when we make mistakes. In turn, there are indeed times when our customers make mistakes or are only thinking of themselves. Our crew is here to help you make a professional buying decision, but we don’t make decisions for you. We are happy to help you with problems, but we expect you to take some initiative and try to help yourself too.
We create strong and honest relationships in all areas: with Crew Members, customers, vendors, within our industry, and with our neighbors and City. Strong, positive relationships that are open and honest are a big part of what makes Dirt Cheep successful. Strong relationships enable us to accomplish way more than we could otherwise.
We remind ourselves often that a key component of strong relationships is an emotional connection. We try to remember that, at the end of the day, it is not what we say but instead what people hear and how we make them feel that matters the most. For our customers to feel good about their relationship with DC they must know that we truly care about them both personally and professionally, so we try very hard to LISTEN to you, connect with you, and let you feel our culture and the excitement that drives us to be the best.
Dirt Cheep Core Value #2: Create That Family Spirit
At Dirt Cheep we place a lot of emphasis on our culture because we operate like a band that never really breaks up… at some point, the band members just go play somewhere else. Ships operate much the same way, and since both bands and boats have Crew, that’s what we call ourselves internally.
We’re like a family here, Crew and customers, where everyone can feel respected and valued simply because they’re a part of what we’re doing as Creatives. We believe that, in general, the best ideas come from the bottom up, meaning from those who are on the “front lines” and closest to the heartbeat of what’s happening and what needs to happen next.
The best members of our Crew take initiative when they notice issues because they care about the success of the Family (you, and us). The best Crew members take ownership of issues and collaborate when they face a new challenge, and they have a positive influence on one another and everyone they encounter because they strive to eliminate cynicism and negativity at every turn and instead create a positive, harmonious (if chaotic) environment where you can shop and feel cozy like somehow you’re home. Welcome to our family.
We watch out for each other, help each other outside the shop, and go above and beyond for each other and for YOU because we believe in the success of what we’re doing and are committed to preserving the intangible energy of Dirt Cheep that you don’t find anywhere else.
Dirt Cheep Core Value #3: Deliver Great Service with a Touch of Southern Charm
To deliver great service you have to differentiate yourself, which means doing things that are unconventional and innovative. And we have already talked about our propensity for an open and honest creative connection. Dirt Cheep is not an average company, our service is not average, and we don’t want our people to be average. We expect every Crew Member to deliver GREATNESS in their own way. That’s our way of inspiring greatness in you.
Whether it’s through interactions with our customers, vendors or co-workers, delivering greatness results in positive word of mouth. Our philosophy at Dirt Cheep is to deliver greatness with service and experience, not with anything that relates directly to monetary compensation (for example we don’t offer blanket sales at every holiday, or pay commissions to the salespeople).
We are also fond of saying things like “Yes Sir,” and “Yes Ma’am,” and we’re not shy about saying “howdy” on occasion. To us that's GREAT. We are a Southern company that prides itself on showing a touch of Southern charm. We’ll take your purchase out to your car, hold the doors, offer you some home-grown peppers and maybe a piece of grandma candy if you act right.
Walk in the door and we might say, “Hey, thanks for coming in, please make yourself at home.”
Dirt Cheep Core Value #4: Create Lots of Fun and a Little Bit of Weirdness
One of the things that makes Dirt Cheep different from other companies is that we value creating fun and being a little weird. We don’t want to feel corporate or boring, and we find humor in our work because we look for it.
This means that some of the things we do are a little unconventional. We’re fond of stickers and we put them all over the place, even if they’re a bit risqué. We have a wall of memorabilia and paraphernalia behind our workbench that reads like a history of the business and the Crew that have worked here: from Lumpy and the Case Vault of Horrors to GlenO and "borrowing tools is for the weak," from The Dauminator to PeePee Wood and the Evil Lord Brian, and on over to Murky Waters and Steavey, "The Best Name In Rock." We even have a candid of the late/great Darrell Bourgeois quoting, "would you like a free drum set with that?" Sadly, the poster of Celine Dion altered with a black marker to resemble Gavin's ex-wife was torn off during a rapid escape from a Case Vault avalanche.
We have a young chicken as a logo mark. The chicken is playing bass, and if you haven't noticed our name is a pun. We want just a touch of weirdness to make life more fun and interesting for everyone. We want the company to have a unique and memorable personality because it’s part of our culture.
Our company culture makes us successful, and in our culture, we celebrate and embrace our diversity and each Crew Member’s individuality by continually pointing it out with laughter. Inconsistent as that might seem in a traditional business, we are consistent in our belief that we function best when we can be ourselves. After all, Core Value #1 has its roots in being honest with yourself first.
A residual effect of encouraging a little weirdness is that it also encourages us to think outside of the box. When you combine a little weirdness with making sure everyone is having fun at work it ends up being a win for everyone and innovation starts to crop up. Employees are more engaged in the work they do, and the company surges forward with positive energy and a connection to what we’re all about.
Dirt Cheep Core Value #5: Do More with Less
At it’s root, “Dirt Cheep” is a fun-filled lifestyle about doing more with less.
We don’t have offices. Our managers eat their lunch on the workbench. We don’t have a loading dock for inbound freight, we bring it in the door. Usually we unpack it on the sales floor and check the packing list in front of God and everybody. We ask the bank for all the paperclips they collect. We keep rubber bands from shipments and haven’t bought rubber bands in years. We mooch pens from every traveling salesperson that sniffs around. The Knob Box on the bench contains robbed-knobs from every dead mixer and amp we've seen the last decade and you're welcome to sort through it free of charge. We do more with less.
This attitude is very Dirt Cheep. It’s part of our culture of being reasonable and open, and it keeps us focused on the important things like relationships and innovation instead of getting caught up in the trap of public perception. We are who we are. We care what our customers think but we want them to see us doing our own thing. Authenticity, man.
A byproduct of this philosophy is reflected in our stock offerings. We don’t carry name brand instruments and equipment for the sake of selling something you’ve heard of. That’s like a restaurant serving food from TV-personality chefs even if it doesn’t taste very good. Why would a business sell you something that costs more than it is worth? There's a word for businesses that do that. Maybe two words.
Anyway, the instruments and equipment we stock are reasonable, reliable, and pieces that we trust. We have strong relationships with the vendors that create the products we sell in case you have a problem. We don’t sell new Gibson guitars because they cost more than they’re worth simply because they say Gibson on them. Same thing for Roland, Yamaha, Pearl, Epiphone, Fender, and host of other great companies who charge more for their products because they advertise them a lot. You pay for that advertising in the end, not them.
At Dirt Cheep we encourage you to do more with less. We find niche and boutique brands that are worth more than the price tag. We believe that a player should focus on the music they make instead of what they look like in the mirror with their guitar strapped on, so we focus on good used gear that is a better value. We believe that while Jupiter makes a great trumpet we can show you three other brands that do the same job for less.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we are complacent, confident in our mindset that by thinking cheep we automatically are doing the best job for our customers. There is always room for improvement in everything we do and every product we offer, and this means that our work is never done. In order to serve YOU, our customer and stakeholder, we must continually innovate and make improvements to our operations, striving to make ourselves more efficient. By doing more with less we position ourselves to keep a sense of urgency and never settle for “this is good enough” because good is the enemy of GREAT.
Dirt Cheep Core Value #6: Be Adventurous and Open-Minded
It’s important that our Crew feels empowered to be bold and daring (but not reckless). We don’t want people to be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. Over time we want our crew to develop good instincts and improve their decision-making skills overall. We encourage mistakes as long as they are learned from. If you’re the recipient of a mistake we apologize in advance; it's a product of an investment in our people.
We believe that every employee has more potential than they realize, and one of our goals as a company is to help employees unlock that potential. We encourage this to be a joint effort, where Crew Members want to challenge each other, as well as themselves and stretch outside of what comes easy. We never want to accept the status quo just because that’s the way things have always been done. We should always be seeking adventure and having fun exploring new possibilities.
Any company that is growing is continually taking on new challenges, and by encouraging creative freedom we create our own luck because we approach challenges with an open mind.. Sometimes new problems crop up as fast as we solve the old ones, but that just means we’re moving -- we’re getting better and stronger. Anyone who wants to compete with us must learn and achieve the same things, so problems are just mile markers. Each marker we pass means we’ve hopefully improved.
It may seem sometimes that we don’t know what we’re doing, and it’s true: we don’t. That may seem a bit unconventional for a company to admit, but take comfort in knowing that nobody else knows how to do what we’re doing either.
Dirt Cheep Core Value #7: Be Humble
We believe that -no matter what- we should be respectful of everyone's dreams. We are here to help you take the sounds in your head and make them REAL so that someone else can share in the raw happiness that you carry around with you each day.
Everybody starts somewhere and it's usually at the beginning. So, we are here to be Dream Shepherds and accelerate your learning, your yearning, and say "you can DO this. Here's how..." YET, while we celebrate our own abilities, successes, and experiences, we are not arrogant, and we do not treat others differently than how we would want to be treated.
Instead, we carry ourselves with quirky confidence wrapped in humility because we believe that, in the long run, the character of our company will speak for itself.