Victoria Downing
Sharpe + Harrell Photography Victoria Downing

Tony Szak, president of Empire Development & Construction (EDC), in Onalaska, Wis., believes that everyone in his organization — especially his field staff — has the opportunity to positively affect the success of the company. “The guys in the field have just as much influence as the sales team does. We want to take advantage of that by providing them with tools to help make it happen,” Szak says. Here are steps that Szak has taken to get all employees involved in generating leads.

  • Create a referral program. EDC provides referees with a $50 gift card to one of three restaurants — all of which are EDC clients. “We pay $40 for the card. So it’s a real win-win,” Szak says. “We provide a wonderful, affordable gift, and the restaurants get new patrons.”
  • Promote the referral program. EDC mentions its program (and the restaurant gift cards) in introductory and thank-you letters to clients and on its Facebook page and website. Plus, the employees plug the program — gently — in conversations with clients.
  • Train staff. The program is discussed at weekly company meetings. Szak encourages field staff to talk up the local commercial projects that EDC has completed and to direct home­owners to see EDC’s quality work in restaurants and other spaces.
  • Reward staff. If a field employee brings in a referral, he or she, too, receives a $50 gift card.

Other ideas on the boards include role-playing to train the non-salespeople in the company and creating business cards that include a project photo and referral program information.