Managing Multiple Branches

With four Texas branches (Austin, San Antonio, Houston, McAllen), upwards of 200 employees, hundreds of thousands of dollars of assets, and scores of multi-million-dollar contracts, Native Land Design has become a bit much for one man to handle. That’s why owner Ben Collinsworth relies on managers, systems and constant communication to keep his company on the right course.

Maintain Your Presence

Operating from the company’s headquarters in Austin (Cedar Park), Collinsworth travels to a different satellite branch every Monday and Tuesday; he spends the rest of his time, including the entire first week of the month, in Cedar Park. “I just want to have a presence at each of our branches,” Collinsworth says. “I want to show support and pitch in wherever needed.”

Collinsworth devotes most of his time to troubleshooting IT problems, helping prepare and present proposals, sitting in on employee training, and the development and maintenance of client relationships. Complete trust is placed in his management team when it comes to operational functions and quality control.

Lean on Your Accountant

When it comes to finances, Collinsworth leans heavily on Michael Spell, company controller. “The best thing I did from day one was find a good accountant,” Collinsworth says. A second brilliant move was hiring Spell, a CPA, in 2008.

Next on the agenda is investing in industry-specific software. Right now Native Land Design is powered by QuickBooks, along with countless Excel spreadsheets which Spell has created. It works, but is very labor-intensive. “We still track all of the important numbers,” Collinsworth points out. “We just want to get more efficient at doing so.”

Meetings, Tracking and Accountability

Weekly budget meetings—attended by executive management and branch managers—cover the basic, yet essential, financial indicators. Attendees join in from the comfort of their own offices via Topics include actual sales vs. budgeted, actual expenses vs. budgeted, and accounts receivable, accounts payable, etc.

Monthly executive meetings, held at a different branch each month, cover many of these same topics. However, these meetings differ from the weekly budget meetings in several ways. First, attendance is in person. Second, more topics are reviewed and discussed, including enhancement sales, marketing strategies, management training initiatives, ROI analysis of trucks/equipment, man-hour yields, top 10 customers and top 10 vendors, to name a few.

As of April, branch managers began attending the monthly executive meetings once every quarter. This is proving to be the most profound difference of all. “That first meeting in April was a real eye opener,” Collinsworth relates, adding that having branch managers in attendance has created another layer of accountability. For example, when one branch sees how well another is doing, competitive instincts take over. “This type of information was always shared in the weekly budget meetings, but having everybody in the same room takes accountability to a new level. We also go a lot more in-depth at these all-day events,” Collinsworth adds.