LM150: Delegating with directors

June 9, 2016 -  By

Two years ago McCaskill—a lawn maintenance and home building veteran—and a business partner bought Encore Group, a small, primarily pool company. Since then, the company has skyrocketed sales on the landscape side. Last year, it created a director system to delegate profit-and-loss responsibility down the chain.


Encore Group is unconventional, McCaskill says, noting its office isn’t like a typical landscape firm’s.

Tell us about implementing a director system.
Each one of my directors (in the maintenance, pool and installation divisions) has a weekly meeting with their team and a weekly meeting with me. I meet with all of them at the same time, so they all know how everybody else is doing.

The things I talk about at a director level are the things you would hear at any business meeting. I talk about projections, budgets, variances and, of course, we talk about AR and AP and business concerns.

A lot of it has to do with projections, so the directors know, “Next month, I’m going to need a truck or I need another piece of equipment or I need another guy.”

If you’re not able to forecast, then you’re not able to plan, and if you can’t plan you’re going to get caught.

As much as we try to de-seasonalize the business, it’s a seasonal business, so you need to know how you’re going to operate on a consistent basis when your revenue goes up and down. The way to do that is we make the directors run it like a business. They’ve really taken to it, and every month they get better and better.

What kind of training was required?
What I’ve done is given them a business perspective on what they do. It goes back to accountability and transparency. Here’s how your business segment is doing. Here’s how much revenue you have. Here’s how much you spent. Here’s your labor. Here’s your fuel. I back out all the things they have no control over, like insurance.

They look at the things that are pertinent to their business that they can control. That way they can project better. They can run it like a business, and they’re responsible for everything. A lot of times companies don’t want anybody to know anything, like “I don’t want them to know how much their foremen are making” or “I don’t want them to see what flows in and out of the company.” It’s their business. They have a stake in it. They’re the ones that make all the money. I just drink coffee and talk.

Who participates in the team meetings?
Generally speaking, it’s supervisors and salesmen and admins. On the lawn maintenance side, it’s account managers, ops guys and field supervisors. Then, they meet separately with the foremen. Then, we do a general meeting and a safety meeting once a month on the lawn maintenance side.

What else is unique about your company?
Well, I don’t punish honesty. That sounds so odd when I say it out loud, but when you think about the typical policies in a company, they want you to take responsibility if you break something, but the consequence of responsibility is punishment. That fosters a culture of deceit.

So, somebody breaks a window, somebody puts a weed eater down and walks off and they come back and it’s gone—that’s part of life. Our theft and damages ratios are probably well below the industry standard because I say, “You know what? I’ve broken windows. I’ve lost weed eaters.” The net result of this attitude is employees are more careful. I really don’t know why, other than they just feel like they’re being treated like grown-ups.

Mike McCaskill

Mike McCaskill

Mike McCaskill

Encore Group, Houston, Texas

No. 114

Photos: Encore Group

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Marisa Palmieri

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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