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Care, Water, and Feed Your Company

Focus on what it takes to win in the long term.

How many times have you launched a new policy or initiative in your company only to find yourself stuck in the same old rut 90 days later? Too often we front load our emphasis into the beginning of a project and neglect the ongoing maintenance and focus it takes to win long term. If you want a great example, walk into a gym on January 1, do a quick census and come back around the middle of February to see how many of those same New Year’s resolution folks are still there. How can we avoid the same fate in our companies? Shift the focus to caring, watering and feeding your employees, customers, and projects.

There’s an old cliché that says “what gets measured gets done.” We’ve managed to slowly embrace this concept at Livewire by implementing Rapid Improvement Plans (RIPs) based on Ownership Thinking: How To End Entitlement And Create A Culture Of Accountability by Brad Hams. Our RIPs have run the gamut from reducing supply house trips to this quarter’s aim at increasing recurring monthly revenue (RMR) attachment across all our projects. By focusing on one thing at a time, having a group (our Ownership Thinking Steering Committee) focusing on it for one hour weekly and reporting out to the company weekly and monthly, we promote the ongoing importance of the RIP and share a self-funded incentive cash payout with all employees at the end of the quarter. Our prior efforts were frequently seen as the company trying to do too many things at once or launching something only to forget about it 30 days later.

We coach our employees the same way Phil Jackson managed Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, and Dennis Rodman: Differently. What worked for Rodman didn’t work for Jordan and so on. It’s taken us a long time to figure out that an authoritarian “one size fits all” policy doesn’t work. That places a lot more pressure on our managers to individualize feedback and communications, but our culture is much better off as a result. We also make sure to have weekly check-ins and annual performance reviews to gauge engagement and retain as many of our key players as we can.

Caring, watering, and feeding employee relationships and managing ongoing performance is hard to maintain, especially when things get busy around the office (we call it the “whirlwind”). By downplaying the launch of any new initiative (maybe even soft-launching without big fanfare) and focusing on long-term sustainability, your chances of improving long-term employee happiness are magnified exponentially.

Related: Rapid Improvement Plan: Doing The Job Right The First Time

Have you ever spent a lot of time with a client before the sale only to disappear completely after you closed them, leaving your team to finish everything else? I certainly have. What if we decided to be more intentional about maintaining customer relationships by implementing some easy touch points throughout the first year after project completion?

Our CRM emails out solicitations for customer surveys, 30/60/90 day check-up emails, and one-year “Happy Anniversary” emails with an offer for a free system check-up. Each member of our sales team is provided with thank you notes and encouraged to hand write them for each completed project.

Maintaining customer relationships isn’t hard. The art of managing the relationship boils down to finding common ground with each relationship and catering to their interests. If you come across an article your client might like, email it to them without asking for anything in return. If the only time you’re talking to your customers is when you want to sell them something, you’re doing it wrong. As I write this, I’m reminded that no matter how well I think I’m doing, there’s always room for improvement.

Also by Henry Clifford: Supercharge Revenue By Increasing Your Average Sale

Whether you have two employees or 200, managing projects is vitally important and the responsibility can fall on salespeople, installers, or project managers. The sale is just the beginning of the project process and oftentimes so much focus is put on winning the business that the salesperson can easily forget that getting the project through the finish line with urgency is equally important for job profitability (I’m guilty of this!). By focusing on the finish line and building urgency around getting the project off the production books, commissioned, and handed over to the service department, you can instantly instill the importance of caring, watering, and feeding into your installation team. How many days on average do your projects take to complete after being sold? If you knew that number, could you drive an effort to reduce it and be keenly aware that any projects slipping their deadlines were going to negatively impact your results?

By focusing on the caring, watering, and feeding of your employees, customers and projects your company will grow, your customers will refer you more business, and projects will suffer from fewer return trips and design issues.

What are you doing to care, water, and feed your company?

Stay frosty and see you in the field.