When speaking with current customers, regardless of whether they are from the lawn and landscape industry, golf, sports turf, agriculture or even our distributors, one problem seems to remain constant: Employees!
Specifically, green industry organizations are struggling to keep employees engaged, reduce turnover, and find new talent.
Office Vibe, a company focused on providing better management practices to boost employee engagement, released several scary facts regarding employee engagement last year. According to Office Vibe, across all industries:
88% Of employees don’t have passion for their work
80% Of senior managers are not passionate about their work
Employee disengagement costs more than 500 Billion per year in the U.S. Economy
79% Believe they have a significant retention and engagement problem
75% Are struggling to attract and recruit people they need
Many extraordinary lawn care companies are looking for opportunities to boost employee engagement in order to reduce employee turnover, promote increased productivity and decrease customer attrition.
Apple Tree Dreams On and Reduces Employee Turnover from 110% to 30%
John Ratliff, former owner of Apple Tree Answers, a call answering service in Delaware, was faced with 110% turnover in his business (Industry average was 300%). According to John, employee turnover was costing him $5,000 per turnover – a startling $2 million problem annually.
“I knew that if I could solve this bottleneck in my business, it would not only save me a lot of money, but it would touch all cornerstones of my business including customer retention.”
John and his executive team started a program called Dream On modeled off The Make A Wish Foundation. Front line employees were encouraged to submit dreams to the executive team with the promise that some would be chosen and fulfilled.
Over four years, John granted a total of 275 dreams. The end result? John created an awesome company culture that reduced employee turnover from 110% in 2008 to 30% in 2012, decreased customer attrition, increased gross margin from 47% in 2008 to 60% in 2012 and increased EBITA from 14% in 2008 to 22% in 2012.
In 2012, John sold Appletree Answers for 11.5x EBITA. Learn more about Apple Tree Answers in Holganix CEO, Barrett Ersek’s Harvard Business Review Article here.
Advanced Turf Solutions: 100% Employee Ownership Leads To Better Customer Service
Another company that is proving the power of employee engagement is our partner in crime and distributor, Advanced Turf Solutions (ATS).
ATS opened its doors on October 1, 2001 with the mission to provide service to customers that is second to none and using the most knowledgeable and experienced sales team in the green industry.
One of the first things that founders, Alex Cannon (CEO), Vic Garcia (President) and Dan Dunham (Retired/Board Member) did was transform the green industry distributor model by offering key ATS employees the opportunity to own a piece of the business.
Today, ATS is 100% employee owned and maintains close relationships with some of the largest and most prominent lawn and landscape companies, sports fields and golf courses in the Midwest region.
Both Apple Tree Answers and Advanced Turf Solutions have broken the mold on what it means to run a company. By thinking about employee engagement differently, they have been able to create remarkable companies that better serve and create value for stakeholders.
But not every organization is the same and you don’t have to start granting dreams or turning over company equity to boost engagement. Try brainstorming, “How can I boost employee engagement?”
Okay, your brainstorming session needs a little inspiration? We’ve got your back. Here are 5 tips to boost engagement in your organization.
5 Tips for boosting engagement
1. Start With Your Hiring Process!
Because boosting engagement often starts with hiring, we thought it worth noting Landscape Management Magazine’s (LM) Editor Note in the March 2016 issue.
“We need to think about hiring as an acquisition process versus a selection process,” says Mel Kleiman an HR expert for LM. Landscape contractor Chris Joyce, who was featured on the cover of the LM issue recommends recruiting from restaurants, bars and hotels. After all, their jobs revolve around superb customer service.
LM offers a sample recruiting card to hand out to potential candidates. You can download it here.
2. Quarterly Theme
At Holganix, the entire company gets behind a quarterly theme revolving around the quarter’s goal. If the company reaches the goal, the entire company gets a prize. “It gets the entire team behind the company’s objectives for the quarter,” says Barrett.
Holganix’s Quarter Two theme is “Reel them in!” which revolves around specific sales objectives. The prize? A fishing trip!
You can read more about setting quarterly themes in this article by Business Guru, Verne Harnish.
3. Core Values
Do you have core values at your firm? If you don’t, now is the time to set them. But if you already have core values, ensure they are being practiced. Start rewarding employees each week or month if they placed a core value into practice. Prizes could be as small as a $25 gift card!
You can read more about setting core values here.
4. Daily Huddle
Keep the entire team on track by creating a daily huddle. Daily huddles are as short as 5 to 15 minutes and are focused on keeping the team informed on progress towards your goal.
Learn about setting daily huddles on our blog here.
Work hard, party hard! Your entire team works hard together, why wouldn’t they celebrate together too? Celebrate as a team to break down barriers between the hierarchy. You can create a celebration based on goals you achieved, holidays or just because it’s fun.