Hundreds of landscape companies have participated in the Working Smarter Training Challenge. Through this year-long training series, each has found ways to improve systems and processes—in the shop, in the field, and even in the office.
Everyone has good ideas. John Reffel of JLS Landscape & Sprinkler in Sedalia, CO, says that when his company started the Working Smarter Training Challenge, he involved all of his employees in the meetings. “Even when we were talking about jobsite process improvements, our CFO and office manager had a lot of good ideas,” he says.
Sometimes, having an outsider scrutinize a work process brings about a unique perspective on ways to improve. However, Reffel also learned that having all employees involved in the meetings was hard to manage. So he switched to a system of having managers and crew leaders at the meetings, who would then return to their teams and disseminate the information to the rest of the company.
Every employee makes a difference. Arnie Arsenault of A. Arsenault & Sons in Spencer, MA, says each of his company's roughly 15 employees meet for half an hour every Tuesday morning to work through the different lesson plans of the Working Smarter Training Challenge. Pulling the entire team together like this has had a positive effect on not only work processes, but also culture and communication.
When employees begin seeing how the changes being implemented have a positive effect on productivity, Arsenault says everything starts to snowball. “Everybody feels like they play an important role in coming up with good ideas and finding ways to improve. The different crew leaders now call each other with questions and advice. The crew members are also fired up. They’re writing down more detailed notes on job sheets, and are eager to offer suggestions and share insights."