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No sweeping it under the rug at Contract Sweepers

“The bottom line is the bottom line. The results aren’t my numbers; they are everyone’s,” says Gerry Kesselring, President of Ohio’s largest contract sweeping company, Contract Sweepers and Equipment Co. Primarily, the company provides street and parking lot sweeping services to municipal, industrial, commercial and construction customers in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. In addition, it also distributes several lines of street, parking lot and industrial sweepers and scrubbers.

In the spring of 2005, Contract Sweepers initiated a process that involves everyone in the organization’s financial results. With the help of Workplace Development, the company integrated financial conversations about revenue and costs into the process of everyday work.

Each month, the sales people, managers and the operational supervisors from each division meet and project their critical numbers for the upcoming month. They also detail the prior month’s results in what the company calls its “Very Gross Margin” meetings. These short meetings focus on the metrics that matter to each segment of the business. Each week everyone receives updated revenue results, and each quarter all employees receive a company performance financial summary that extends all the way to the bottom line.

If you’re going to build a culture of shared ownership, you need a routine feedback loop that answers the question “How are we doing?” For Contract Sweepers, it was an evolution process that began after it shifted from being a privately held business to an ESOP-owned business in 2004. The previous owners shared cost information and rewarded managers on performance without distributing much top line information. Together Workplace Development and Contract Sweepers developed a scorecard that resulted in a routine process centered around knowledge and expectations. “There’s really no reason to sandbag, over estimate sales, or underestimate costs because the same people are going to have this conversation next month.” says Gerry about the learning curve in the process.

“This year we budgeted to buy a few new trucks. Some division managers and operational people walked around our trucks and decided that we didn’t need to spend that money,” says Gerry. “Because of our process, they know why we want to use good equipment that is fully depreciated, and they also know how to balance it with the cost of repairs.” Gerry Kesselring explains that his job has changed, “In the past, I would have said ‘no’ and explained why. Today they know enough to tell me what we need.”

“Workplace Development helped us achieve repetition and get off to a good start,” says Gerry Kesselring. The exact combination of scorecard, meetings and communication that results in success for one company is not necessarily the precise mix for another company. “We assist many clients with telling their business story who have no financial disclosure at all. For clients like Contract Sweepers, however, the financial information is organic to their way of telling their business story,” notes Cathy Ivancic of Workplace Development.

Choosing to use the language of business (finance/accounting) requires a commitment to increasing business literacy and building leadership skills for a more transparent environment. Workplace Development helps companies to implement the steps that are right for you to create improved business focus in your organization.

Workplace Development helps companies to:

  • Decide whether to share financial results at your company.
  • Provide basic business literacy tools.
  • Clarify what you will and won’t share and why.
  • Establish a scorecard or other tools that are organic to your business.
  • Identify who should be doing the talking.
  • Train managers in their role in the process.
  • Help all your managers be ready for employee reactions

For more information on building your company’s business literacy and improving the quality of your employees’ conversations about performance, contact Cathy Ivancic at Workplace Development Inc. or call 330-896-7285.