All photos courtesy of Monarch Landscape Management

Whether it’s keeping board members of a 3,227-home HOA in the loop, or mapping out career paths with employees, communication is at the cornerstone of Monarch Landscape Management’s operation.

Just over two years ago, Summerwood Community Association went out for full RFP. Board Member Rhonda Geddis remembers the HOA, which sits on thousands of acres in Houston, Texas, came back with 13 bids. After narrowing down the list and interviewing five companies, they unanimously selected Monarch.

“I cannot say enough in terms of the pleasure they are to work with, and the professionalism they bring to our community,” she says.

A caring connection

Founder and President Jason Mathers says communication is vital in all elements of the business.

This starts with the Credo Cards all employees carry with them.

“Our mission statement, vision and our core values are all on cards,” he says. “So, you can put one in your wallet and keep it with you. They are reminders of what we do.”

These cards are printed in Spanish and English, and Mathers says he always urges employees to reference them whenever they feel they are at a crossroads with a decision.

“I tell them if something’s not going right, and they’re doubting things — look at your core values,” he says. “Are you doing what’s needed to help us reach those goals? If not, then it’s a self-course correction.”

Communication is also ever present during routine meetings within Monarch — whether that’s daily huddles, leadership meetings, financial reviews or quarterly scorecard evaluations. Those evaluations are something that Mathers says has made a big impact within the business.

“The purpose is for someone to not find out only once a year how they’re doing…there aren’t any surprises that way,” he says of the meetings where employees review their most recent scorecard with their supervisor.

When an employee is ready for a promotion, those scorecards can be brought out and helpful in the decision-making process.

Going hand-in-hand with the scorecards are career ladders established to help guide Monarch crew members to new levels of their careers.

“The career ladders are simply giving everyone a visual,” Mathers says. “I think people are genuinely visual learners.

“And it’s set up as the metamorphosis stages of a Monarch butterfly to represent that process,” he adds.

To move up the career ladders, Mathers says Monarch is committed to continued education for all employees.

That’s something that Account Manager Dan Dunham says makes Monarch the best company he’s ever worked for.

“If there’s anything a crew member wants to do to better themselves and progress in the company, they’re all for it,” he says.

Communication is also an integral part of their customer service.

“The communication is top-notch,” Geddis says. “We get a weekly status report showing what’s been accomplished, and what’s happening next week…it’s above and beyond what you’d expect but it’s absolutely what we need.”

Answering the call

Back inside the company, one component of communication that’s constantly bettering the business is annual anonymous surveys.

“That’s the time for employees from all levels to be heard,” Dunham says.

Mathers says this is especially important as Monarch continues to spread its wings.

“We have two locations and we’re working on a third…so I don’t have the opportunity to talk to everybody,” he says. “Yet the survey gives everybody the opportunity to speak out and share what they think the business should be doing better.”

These surveys have been so successful that the company now conducts them twice a year.

“They really help push the needle and get everybody’s voice heard,” Dunham says.

When the results are in for these surveys, Mathers says the whole company hears what’s been requested. He says they address all concerns and deliver a timeline for most things.

“We categorize them and share them with the team… and we tell them our goal is to get these things accomplished now, these accomplished then, these ones next year, and we can’t do these at all but here’s why,” Mathers says.

Dunham adds he’s constantly witnessing requests from the survey taking shape. Whether that’s implementing new storage techniques in the trucks so it’s easier for crew members to get what they need or it’s a more enjoyable coffee blend, he says it’s clear Monarch is listening.

Monarch Landscape Management’s President Jason Mathers (left) says communication is vital in all areas to run a successful business.

Safety first

Another example of the survey pushing for change is in the company’s annual Safety Rodeo.

“No company that I’ve ever worked for has been this committed to keeping everybody safe on a daily basis,” Dunham says.

The entire company gets broken down into a bunch of little groups and each group has its own topic such as truck and trailer safety, mower safety, handhelds, etc.

“We set up stations and we put on presentations for the guys,” Dunham says. “It allows everyone to get trained up and coached on how you operate the machines, and what to look for in specific scenarios.”

Dunham says seasoned staff members gave lots of feedback urging that the rodeo split up new hires and veterans so they can get the training that best suits them.

“At our safety rodeo, they said a lot of new hires are asking questions that some of the veteran employees don’t really need that level of refreshment on,” he recalls. “They need more advanced detail and troubleshooting stuff. So, this next year, we’re going to separate the new hires from veteran employees to be able to provide a little bit deeper explanation for them.”

Trusted teamwork

That quality of collaboration is something that Dunham says rings true throughout the company.

Dunham says account managers are constantly helping one another out and keeping an eye on each other’s properties. If something needs to be addressed, they reach out to one another and handle it.

“It’s all of our commitment to the job getting done at a high-quality level. That’s what brings us all together,” Dunham says. “It’s not about whose job it is, because it’s all Monarch at the end of the day.”

This cooperative atmosphere is also effective in recruiting and retention, Mathers notes.

“Like in life, birds of a feather flock together,” he says. “When you have someone onboarding and everyone is welcoming them and making them feel good, we are all working together for a common goal.”

And again, that collaboration expands outside the company as well.

Geddis says Monarch is always fully honest with the Summerwood board. She recalls a recent drive-through of the property where this was evident.

“They take us on these drives and say, ‘Come see what we’re doing, and tell us how we can do it better,’” she explains. “It’s amazing. Last time our account manager took me to places where he said they could do things better. He could’ve easily taken me to all the places that looked pristine and perfect, but instead he showed me where they’re going to work harder.”

Being able to get that personalized attention and willingness to accept feedback is huge, Geddis says, for any contractor working with an HOA.

“Monarch came in and from the very beginning, they wanted to partner,” she says. “A lot of companies will say the right words but never do the right things, but Monarch came in and did all the right things.

“They asked what was important to us as a community, where we wanted to go, what’s the timeframe in which we wanted to get there and we systematically planned out the things that need to be done all the time, the schedule, everything. We plan for it, and they execute it.”

The author is assistant editor with Lawn & Landscape.