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Training day

December 20, 2012 -  By
Jimmy Torres, Green Lawn's service manager, reviews all customer information, including lawn flags that technicians leave at a customer's home.

Jimmy Torres, Green Lawn’s service manager, reviews all customer information, including lawn flags that technicians leave at a customer’s home.

Quarterly educational “rodeos” keep the team at Green Lawn Fertilizing on the same page.

You can’t grow if you’re not investing in your employees, says Matt Jesson, president and owner of Green Lawn Fertilizing in West Chester, Pa. When you learn he’s focused on growing his firm 15 percent to 20 percent a year, you understand why he holds a quarterly cross-training program for all of the company’s 65 employees.

“It gives everyone a better understanding of how their jobs affect the growth of the company and how they’re a part of a great company,” Jesson says. This year is the first full year he’s held the training sessions, dubbed “rodeos,” on a quarterly basis. They used to be conducted twice a year. The reason for the increase is to keep up with the natural changes that happen in the business every 60 to 90 days.

On the same page

On a typical rodeo day, the company operates from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. After that, Green Lawn provides lunch, followed by three hours of education. Jesson kicks off with a presentation about the status of the business and key objectives, and he addresses questions and concerns. Next, employees rotate through stations, learning about various parts of the business, such as customer service, operations, sales and the firm’s new pest control division. The executive team and department managers speak at each station. The idea is to give employees a taste of the processes and procedures of each area and what challenges it’s facing. For example, the sales station might cover what the sales team is currently selling and why; customer service could address what type of service calls it’s been receiving.

Team building

The training program also builds relationships among coworkers.

“This is a good chance for our office reps to spend more time with the sales team and the technicians,” Jesson says.

At the fall rodeo, to keep employees engaged, each department leader had 10 gift cards to hand out to employees who stood out during training.

Cross-training employees doesn’t have to be costly or complicated, Jesson says, noting he hosts the sessions in the firm’s on-site training room to keep costs down. Still, it is an investment. Paid three-hour training for 65 employees equates to nearly 200 hours.

Regardless, it will remain a priority for fast-growing Green Lawn Fertilizing. As Jesson says, “Training is the most important thing.”

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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