With everyone working so hard, many remodeling company owners feel there is no time, energy, or money for what they may perceive as the “soft” side of the business — things like company parties, team-building events, and internal networking activities.
Todd Jackson, president of Jackson Design and Remodeling, http://www.jacksondesignandremodeling.com/ in San Diego, is just the opposite. He understands that what some might see as warm, fuzzy activities actually deliver a strong competitive advantage. With a dedicated budget in the hands of client relations manager Stina Nielsen, the company has created a strong sense of team and culture.
Nielsen creates and implements a variety of employee activities and strives to meet these goals:
- Eliminate the natural division of field vs. office
- Encourage friendships among staff
- Build an understanding that everyone is part of a bigger whole
- Give everyone a break from the intense day-to-day work
“The more we get to know one another, the more we enjoy working together,” Nielsen says. “The more we enjoy working together, the more loyalty we have to each other and to the company. ... We’ve built a great team of dedicated folks who learn and grow better all the time. This flows straight to our clients who see our culture demonstrated every day.”
“One of our favorite activities is the monthly pot luck–style lunch,” Nielsen says. “It’s low-cost, always interesting, and everyone looks forward to it.”
Each month, a different team of employees brings in the food, keeping each individual’s investment of time or money to a minimum while involving everyone. To make sure field and office staff mingle, Nielsen organizes games and activities for some friendly competition. Getting the program started took tenacity. “We were having some difficulty encouraging the field folks to attend at first,” Nielsen says, “so [I focused] on reaching out to them in a variety of ways. ... Plus, several of our field employees don’t speak fluent English, so that’s been a bit of a hurdle.”
To encourage participation, Nielsen creates a colorful flyer and mails it directly to each employee’s home. She comes up with themes and decor. “By making the effort to consistently organize this simple, inexpensive event,” she says, “everyone feels appreciated and the strength of our team goes way, way up.”
—Victoria Downing is president of Remodelers Advantage — helping hundreds of remodelers across North America build strong, profitable businesses. 301.490.5620. www.remodelersadvantage.com.