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Delegate, and only hold meetings that matter

|  February 27, 2021
PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

The newly reconvened Schopen leadership team consists of, from left: Michelle Bennett, a CSR team member; Chris Baumann, manager of the McHenry branch; Wendy Sepsey, general manager; and Chris Halsema, a veteran technician. They are led by “The Queen” herself, Tami Schopen, far right. PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

If you grow a business big enough, eventually you will need to rely on others. This is a topic I have covered in this column before. But hiring a manager or two isn’t the only way to delegate.

Two years ago, I made a major step in expanding my business by instituting a leadership team. I had read Gino Wickman’s book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, and decided that, even though my business was relatively small, I wanted to create a certain type of culture in my company. To kickstart implementing this culture, I picked seven people I thought would help me take Schopen Pest Solutions to the next level.

The first leadership team met a few times, tossed around some ideas, and helped me hire some really good candidates. But once COVID-19 hit, the team stopped meeting and dissolved.

I feel like we can get a new group up and running this year with some important agenda items. I want to see progress on some critical issues, such as celebrating our 15-year anniversary, making springtime hires, creating a corporate office, and improving training procedures, just to name a few.

BE LIKE FRED

The first step, however, is to make sure we are having productive meetings. Elon Musk and Mark Cuban are both very vocal about wasted production time because of meetings. My father-in-law, Fred Grosch, would walk out of any meeting that took more than an hour.

I want my leadership team to be on point and have great meetings that produce results. I don’t particularly like meetings, either, but I understand their importance. So when I hold a meeting, I make sure there is an agenda and a purpose. Whether it’s education or clearing up communication, I make sure the meetings matter.

Currently, I hold Tuesday staff meetings:

  • 9 a.m.: Department head meeting with a clear, defined agenda.
  • 9:30 a.m.: Executive meeting with the co-owner (Tami, my wife), the general manager and the operations manager.
  • 9:45 a.m.: Meeting with the branch manager and his assistant supervisor.
  • 10 a.m.: I bring in the customer service reps, the inside sales team and the billing department, and present a 30-minute course on pests. Each week, I pick a different bug, rodent or arachnid to increase the office staff ’s knowledge on pest biology and behavior, and on how we are performing treatments.

On the last day of the month, I meet with all of my employees and we go over important issues, particularly human resources matters and training.

BE LIKE JOEL AND JEN

Joel and Jen Miller own Miller Pest and Termite in Des Moines, Iowa. After reading Traction, Jen laid the groundwork for Miller’s leadership team. She and Joel make each leadership team member “own” different numbers or statistics for the company.

For example, one leadership person might be responsible for tracking retention, another for sales, another for office staff key performance indicators (KPIs) and maybe another for training, and so on. The Millers have five members on the leadership team, and the team meets at 7:30 a.m. every Wednesday. Meetings run for 90 minutes and cover a wide array of topics, such as employee highlights, weekly action items and long-term goals.

“Our biggest problem used to be communication,” Joel told me. “Now we are all on the same page, and we all know what our goals are for the company.”

BE LIKE TAMI AND ME

In December, Tami and I put together a new leadership team. This new team met with me Dec. 21, and will continue to meet (without me) every third Monday of every month at 1 p.m.

At that initial meeting, I explained what I expected from them and how they should conduct their meetings. I also gave them their first task: Read Traction. I purchased this phenomenal book for each member of the leadership team, and I turned future meetings over to Tami (with her blessing, of course!).

With this team in place, I’m optimistic our culture will continue to improve and evolve. Our training will become more in-depth, and our accountability will reach new levels.

And if we make an extra buck or two as a result, that will be great, too.


SCHOPEN is owner and founder of Schopen Pest Solutions, McHenry, Ill. You can email him at pete@schopenpest.com or reach him via Twitter: @schopenpestInstagram: @peteschopen; or Facebook: Schopen Pest Solutions, Inc.

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