Teaching time

Training sessions may take time, but they can help your bottom line.

July 26, 2012
Lee Chilcote
Supplier News

It’s easy to put off training employees, says Dick Bare, the owner of Arbor-Nomics Turf in Atlanta. After all, most owners have no end of pressing things to do, most importantly keeping customers happy. Yet training should be a priority, he argues.

After all, the best way to ensure your employees are doing what they’re supposed to and are up to snuff on the latest practices is to engage in constant, rigorous training.

As an example, Bare cites the fact that he recently found out his employees weren’t traveling consistently in route order, a problem that could cost him time and money.

“They might be missing out on a couple of accounts as a result of this,” says Bare, who initiated field trainings with his employees to address inconsistencies such as this. “If you multiply that over 30 trucks, that’s a lot of accounts that we’re missing out on.”

What’s the answer? Crews meet with their managers on a weekly basis, covering such topics as how to identify and address the problems of Japanese beetles and fescue lawns. Perhaps more importantly, managers stress the importance of continuous learning. Workers are required to read books on their own as part of the effort.

“We want to train them in how to be great entrepreneurs,” says Bare, who actually hired an independent consultant to help him implement the training procedure years ago. Since then, he has never strayed from his constant emphasis on training.

Another critical aspect of training is safety. Workers tend to ignore small safety issues because they’re in a hurry to get to their next job and tell themselves they’ll fix the problem later. Recently, Bare found a hose reel that was about to come off.

“The attitude was that there were still two bolts on the reel and he’d fix it on a rainy day – that’s not good enough,” he says. “It could have come off on the highway and killed someone. You give guys entrepreneurial freedom, but you still have to watch them.”

For owners and managers, preparing and providing training to workers becomes a learning process for them, too – a way of delving into the minutia of their business.
“As you go along, you find that you have to examine every tiny facet of your business constantly,” says Bare. “You can’t ever examine stuff enough. And by increasing profitability, you have more money so that you can afford to look at it.”