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 our business strategies. Below are the values we live by:
Dirt Cheep Core Value #1: Build Open and Honest Relationships
We believe that great communication is the key to building open and honest relationships, and for us, that's 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 just tell the truth, even if you don't want to hear it.
Honesty is a raw form of communication that has lost favor in recent times, 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. And in turn, there are indeed times when our customers make mistakes or are only thinking of themselves. Our staff is here to help you make a professional 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 value strong relationships in all areas: with managers, Crew Members, customers, vendors, business partners, and co-workers. 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. It’s important to be attentive, to listen well, to be compassionate, to act with integrity, and to make sure that we're always doing the right thing. One of the most difficult things to do is to build trust but when trust exists in a relationship you can accomplish so much more.
Now, open and honest communication is the foundation of any trust-based relationship, but we also remember at the end of the day that it’s not what we say but instead what people hear and how we make them feel that matters the most. In order for our customers to feel good about their relationship with Dirt Cheep they must know that we truly care about them both personally and professionally. 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: Build A Positive Team and 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 members just go play somewhere else.
In that regard, we’re like a family where everyone can feel respected and valued simply because they’re a part. We believe that, in general, the best ideas and decisions are made from the bottom up, meaning by those who are on the “front lines” and closest to the customers and the issues.
The best members of our Crew take initiative when they notice issues because they care about the success of the team and the company. The best Crew members take ownership of issues and collaborate with other members of the Crew when they face a new challenge. The best team members 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.
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
In order to deliver great service, you have to differentiate yourself, which means doing things that are unconventional and innovative. And we've already talked about our propensity for an emotional 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.
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’re 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 which 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 we like to shake your hand to say thanks. Walk in the door and we might say, “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 make 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 want to be able to laugh at ourselves. 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 Members 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 is what 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 as a whole surges forward with positive energy and a connection to what we’re all about.
Dirt Cheep Core Value #5: Do 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 one of our two doors. Sometimes 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 responsible, reasonable, and open and it keeps us focused on the important things in our business 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’s 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, Ibanez, 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 Yamaha makes a great trumpet we can show you three other brands that do the same job for less. You can do more with less if you just think cheep.
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, Creative, 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 become complacent or 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. By encouraging creative freedom we create our own luck because we approach challenges with an open mind.
Any company that is growing is continually taking on new challenges. 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 has to 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. We’ve learned over the years that retail is detail, and it's our collective open-minded creativity that makes those wacky details come together for a great Dirt Cheep Experience.
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 for most of us, it's 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.