Manager-in-Training Program Helps Illinois Contractor Chase Rapid Growth

Reinhart Grounds Maintenance is taking steps to ensure that its talent pool never dries up during a sales-growth spurt again.

Todd Reinhart, co-owner of Reinhart Grounds Maintenance in Bloomington, IL, had a problem: He couldn't find qualified people fast enough to help him manage his rapidly growing business. So Reinhart and Jacque Grant, office administrator and customer service manager for Reinhart’s Weed Man division, have instituted a manager-in-training program.

Listen to the interview here and read on for highlights.

What just happened?!

The Weed Man component of Reinhart’s business had grown significantly over the past few years. The two existing franchise locations experienced substantial growth of their own, all while Reinhart purchased additional locations. The company now operates six. “Our talent pool basically dried up,” Reinhart relates, “because we’d sent all of our best people to take over these new branches."

Weed Man had created an internship manual to target toward colleges and high schools. “We decided to take this apprenticeship model and offer it to our entire company,” Reinhart says. Thus, it was adapted to become Reinhart’s manager-in-training program.

Four training modules in two years

Certain characteristics are first sought out in potential candidates. “The person must be teachable,” Grant points out. “They are going to have to be looking for a career within our organization, not just a job to fill a need.”

Then, there are four training modules: sales, operations, administration and planning. Candidates can come into any of the four modules at any time; the modules do not have to be followed in any kind of sequential order. The point is that candidates go through each module to learn about the different areas of the company. “Then we have the ability to move them into a managerial position, or even assign them to run an entire branch on their own, because they’ve been exposed to all of the different areas of the business,” Grant says.

When the current management team feels comfortable that the employee has mastered one of the four modules, they move the employee onto the next module. There's a lot of feedback between management and the employee along the way.

Training in general is a focal point at Reinhart Grounds Maintenance. Every single employee—even those who are not going through the manager-in-training program—get a weekly meeting with their supervisor. This allows for constant, consistent feedback.

It typically takes a couple of years for an employee to get through all four modules, Grant says. But there is no set timeline, because each employee is expected to truly master each of the four areas of the company.

"We look for the A and B players, and then offer them this opportunity," Grant reiterates. "A great example would be an administrative person we hired to serve as a customer service agent. She was an A player for several months, so we moved her into a role of being a supervisor for our marketing program at one of our satellite facilities. She'll stay in this role for four or five months, and then we'll move her into the next module and continue to train her."

If you’re interested in learning more about career opportunities at Reinhart Grounds Maintenance, send an email to [email protected].