Soon the sound of pool noodles snapping against the water will fill the afternoon air. As the swim season is eagerly approaching, pool companies find themselves with a very short window to train new employees and motivate the veterans. So how do we get our employees to show the enthusiasm we so desperately desire of them? MOTIVATE, PRAISE, and REWARD. Make your employees WANT to work for you. Happy employees are more productive employees!
Every spring I find myself getting excited about what the coming season will bring. Finding the motivation to commit 24/7 to the next 6 months. 6 months of Sun up to Sun down work days. 6 months of endless phone calls hours before a pool party. 6 months of wet socks and chlorine stained clothes. For the next 6 months, pools are life. As Owners, we take for granted the motivation that comes to us each spring. So how are we to MOTIVATE our employees to want to excel in their day to day? I’ve included some ways listed below.
· Personally thank employees or acknowledge a job well done. Be sure to acknowledge the task when you see it and be genuine. Employees strive for feedback from their bosses. Especially praise for a job well done.
· Provide employees with specific and frequent feedback. An under performing employee that doesn’t know they are under performing wont change. Be supportive in helping the employee improve their performance.
· Provide employees with a sense of ownership in their work. If only symbolically with business cards or calling a cleaning route “Their Pools”.
· Encourage new ideas, suggestions, and initiative.
Encouraging new ideas is a big one. I remember working for the main pool retailer in my area years ago. The owners of the 3-store company had weekly meetings with all branches to go over the news of the week and sales etc.. The store is the area Doughboy Above ground pool dealer, and I was the Pool & Spa Care Manager at the hub store. I made a push to start adding chlorinators to all pools sold. Trying to change the habit of “Put a tab in the Skimmer” I know, I cringe now thinking about it. There was a big sticker right on Doughboy skimmer saying warranty void if tablets in skimmer, yet our policy was and had been to recommend this way. I had a few years’ service experience before this job, so knew some of the issues that arise over time when putting tablets in skimmers. Never the less one Friday morning meeting I was abruptly called out at the beginning of the meeting. “Eric, I hear you think chlorine tablets damage the PVC in pools and that we have been doing it wrong for years! What have you got to say?” I sat there, as silent and little as I could be. If I didn’t move maybe they would forget I was there! There is No Way I could speak my mind here and actually be heard. So, for the next 3 years of my life-sucking employment there, I sold more Doughboy Replacement Baskets than any other dealer in the country!!
Showing praise can often be grouped with motivate, however I like to separate it. Partially because it is all to easy to give an employee praise and follow it up with an eliminating element. It’s easy to find yourself saying something like, “Great work on that plumbing job newbie, It’ll only look better as you go!” Seems harmless right?! Well the tech really heard was, “Hey new guy, that looks bad but your new so its ok.“ Keep genuine praise separate from criticism, even if constructive.
Then we get to reward. If you are still reading you are undoubtedly a Pool & Spa Professional wanting to know what value I place on your time. Company owners cringe at the thought of reward because we are hard wired to think this means more pay. On the contrary! A study by behavioralist Dan Ariely found that workers promised PIZZA were more productive. In fact, Ariely had 3 groups doing the same sort of work at one company. A weekly reward would be given to the groups who had increased productivity. A pizza group, a praising text message group, and a cash bonus group were formed. From the beginning of his several week experiment, the pizza and text praise groups out performed the cash bonus group. At the end of the 6 weeks the cash rewards group's productivity had fallen to pre reward levels while the pizza group remained increasingly productive.
Of course we can’t buy pizza every week for the crew. So what can we do to boost moral and reward a hard working crew? I’ve included a few practical ideas below, but its import to say to be creative! I had a short stint in my pool boy career where I worked telemarketing in the winter. Yes, I sold your grandma a crappy long distance plan and got paid WAY to much for it. Sorry not sorry. I had a boss that was the Grand Master of Motivation. Trevor Crotts of BuddyBrands was on point at creating a new game/ competition for his crew. I remember racing remote control cars around the building for first sale, or “Next line sold gets to play me in Fight Night on the PS3.” He has a knack for thinking of ways to connect and motivate.
· Involve employees in decisions that affect them. Involvement breed commitment
· Regular team building activities
· Talk to and listen to employees.
· Give reward and credit where its due. (Nothing is more harmful to a work place than an under-performer getting the same compensation/reward.)
· Performance incentives
· Sales commission (I’ve heard of hvac company's that give the tech a % of a ticket collected on site. This gives the tech more motivation to get payment at time of service. I’m not a huge fan of straight commission as it can be easily abused.)
· Be creative and Fresh
It’s important to remember that 20% of your staff creates 80% of your client’s experience. Putting the extra effort into creating a fun working environment is worth the investment!