Charlie Reagan is the founder and “Chief Everything Officer” at Gipper1, which provides business intelligence services and custom app development for Fortune 200 companies. But before that, he spent six years as a Senior Director of eCommerce at Marriott International, giving him a unique perspective on how Marriott both prepared him for success as an entrepreneur and understands how to support the small businesses that the company depends on.
How did your career at Marriott prepare you for success in your own business?
I learned at Marriott how important culture is to a big business. In my business, when I pitch work, I talk about the importance of an established culture, how we adapt how we work to fit that culture. It’s a huge differentiator for us. We avoid coming in and saying, “We’re going to change the way you do business.” We try to quickly eliminate that concern, address it right away and say: “We are going to learn your culture AND also demonstrate how this type of work can be done successfully. It’s not an either/or, it’s an “and.”
Beyond just doing business with you, how has Marriott supported your business?
I have two relationships with Marriott. I’m a vendor, and we’re very much intertwined with important company initiatives. I feel like a part of the family and invested in the success of the company..
As a business owner, Marriott brings something to the table that’s always reliable and consistent. When I’m in a new city or have a no compromise client meeting where I can’t leave anything to chance, I need to know that the hotel can deliver and meet my needs. You always know Marriott’s hotels will meet, if not exceed your expectations.
By not having a corporate HQ, I can control costs. It allows me to hire strong talent from around the world. It allows me to leverage Marriott in any city that I’m in. The hotel becomes our office.
What advice would you have for a small business owner who is entering into a relationship with a global company like Marriott?
Place as much value on building a long-term relationship as the project at hand. People want to do business with someone they know. Invest in the relationship and work to understand the bigger business objectives of the company. There’s a willingness to share if you ask. We do business with throughout the company and sometimes we are the connective tissue for our clients. It presents opportunities to collaborate because you can share learnings from working with different teams. Our clients see value in that.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the Marriott family?
It is something bigger than yourself. There are so many Marriott alumni and big fans of the company and its history. It’s something I get to talk about more than anything else. When I mention that I’ve worked with Marriott, people usually have a story they want to tell about their Marriott experience. It’s a great conversation starter.
As a CEO of a small business, it’s up to you at the end of the day to make the right decision for the health of your company and your employees and there are few comforts along the way. However, when you can have a relationship with a company like Marriott it goes a long way. Someone you can lean on – a partner to help you be successful. There is value to the quality and consistency of Marriott to me – someone I know and trust.