Use minimum wage as competitive tool
"While discussing the impact of minimum wage laws, our managers realized the law helps us. We already pay above minimum wage, so our competitors will have to increase prices or decrease their margin to comply with the change. In the meantime, our employees see us as the better company to work for. Regularly examine your wages, not only against your direct competition, but also against the other industries in your area."
— Dennis Schulte, DRS Acquisitions, Woodbury, Minn.
Develop metrics to monitor performance
"In our business, which is a truck and automobile service center, we are continuously developing and assessing the right metrics to monitor each department’s performance. Due to the labor-intensive nature of our business, measuring the 'total revenue per billed labor hour' provides a quick, ongoing assessment of the efficiency of our technicians. Another metric, 'total revenue per invoice,' adds a dimension for improving customer service as well as labor efficiency.
"These calculations are performed monthly, but could be available more frequently if desired. Although we also issue financial statements monthly, we no longer need to wait until the month-end close to know how we are doing. The metrics we’ve adopted allow us to monitor performance quickly and efficiently."
— Dennis Broehm, Accurate Service Center, Appleton, Wis.
Boost morale with ‘fun lunches’
"To increase morale, reduce workplace pressure and enhance, we have initiated 'fun lunches' for our team members. The lunches are longer than normal—90 minutes—and are paid for by the company. There is a monthly drawing that pulls one member from each team to form the fun-lunch group. We instituted one rule to keep it fun: No one is allowed to talk about work. If you talk about work, you have to buy your own meal. The cost is minimal and the morale boost is well worth it."
— Teri Paulson, Integrated Employer Solutions, Salt Lake City
Log worker hours with GPS tracker
"The profitability of my business relies heavily on the productivity of my field technicians. I have six such positions each assigned a company van. They are dispatched daily to outlying areas. It has always been difficult to get these field technicians to work a full day, every day. We’ve taken many steps, but the most effective has been to add the GPS feature to their cell phones. For an additional $11 per month, per phone, we can get a report of their location at 15-minute intervals throughout the day. If they get home at 3:30 p.m., we know. When payday comes, we compare their time sheets with the GPS report, and raise questions as appropriate. There is little argument when we dock them for less than a full day."
— Jeff Eastburn, Hoopes Fire Prevention, Newark, Del.
Write plain-language policy manuals
"As employers, we are frequently frustrated at our workers’ inability to understand policies that are plainly spelled out in employee manuals. The reality is, when a new employee is unsure of a policy, he or she usually asks a co-worker. That co-worker is likely to be another new or lower-level employee. The answer given has no better than a 50/50 chance of matching your written policy. In our company, we are developing FAQs to go with each section of the policy manual. They are 'plain language' answers to such questions as, 'Can I wear shorts on a Saturday service call?'"
— Randy Smith, Forum Systems Group, San Antonio
Excerpted from Tips from the Top®, a publication written by business-owner members of The Alternative Board®. To learn how TAB can make a bottom line difference in your company, visit TheAlternativeBoard.com.
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