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Any great meal begins with a group of people dedicated to creating a unique dining experience, following an established recipe, and delivering the meal to the right person, in a well-timed fashion. This formula works in the culinary world, and it is just as applicable to those of us in the green industry.
The key ingredient in our business is our people. We have been fortunate in the past 10 years to hire, train and promote from within quality people.
One of our unique traits is the transparent sharing of monthly financial information, on a very timely basis, that shows people how their work has had a very real impact on the bottom line of their crews, division and company. We have a very financially literate culture. Metco President Mark Tomko is a numbers person and always had the previous month closed by the 15th of the following month. We have monthly meetings for division and field managers. Mark covers the numbers – sales, labor, overtime, net percentage and anything of historical importance – by division. Anyone who does not understand the ratios being discussed or the numbers being compared can ask their manager their questions. We also discuss safety, insurance claims, vehicle issues, company parties and awards won. This creates a unique level of buy in of our people’s efforts and “hobby” energies.
One way we capture that “hobby” energy is by hiring personnel that value an athletic, competitive, fun-loving and family-oriented lifestyle. To find “hobby” energy personnel, start by looking at resumes. Did the candidate play sports? What hobbies do they enjoy, such as hunting versus knitting? We just look for “hobby” energy. These traits are scanned for during our hiring process, and we ask prospective candidates what they do to recharge their batteries. Then, we also offer many opportunities to join after-hours teams, such as volleyball, bowling, soccer and softball.
To make training fun, we often add competitions like history tests, spelling bees, typing competitions, math quizzes and brainstorming sessions, all of which are skill sets we want to improve our peoples’ levels of competency in, but do it in a fun fashion that matches our culture. Prizes for a perfect score in a Safe Driving tutorial, initiated by our insurance company, is a recent example of taking a mandatory administrative function, and making it fun. Metco awards prizes for good scores, and the prizes may vary by the importance of the award. The key is that Metco listens to its employees and rewards results rather than effort. We try to reward people with prizes that meet one of their passions. One crew leader might get money for his soccer team, while someone else gets a gift certificate to Cabela’s, or tires for their race car. It’s not the money – it’s the personalization of the reward and the recognition.
The adage “work hard, play hard” is very appropriate at Metco, when you talk about matching culture to achieving budgeted results. As division manager, it is imperative that the people see me working Saturdays when needed, arriving early in the day, and being there in the middle of the night during a snow event. Every week myself and our project managers do some manual labor with a particular crew, building comradery and demonstrating we both know and care about our field staff. “Management by walking around” (MBWA) is a powerful tool.
Our division also makes a very conscious effort to see our labor force every morning during stretching and exercising. The majority of my project managers are bilingual, which is greatly appreciated by our workers. Overall, we want to ensure our field workers are injury free, have proper PPE and understand their daily work assignments. At the same time, we are also asking them about family members, joking with the individual worker and making sure they know about upcoming company events such as amusement park appreciation night.
Many of our workers have been with us more than 15 years because we show we care. “Praise effort, but reward results” is a mindset that builds a better bottom line, but that also maximizes the company’s return on all the training we do.
Those are some of the things we do to cook up a great season. What’s in your recipe that makes your business unique?