Early in the building restoration and construction services company’s 27-year history, Thompson recognized the value of investing in and training employees on relevant technology.
“We have very little turnover and wonderful morale,” Thompson says.
Smart Business spoke with Thompson about how his company’s approach to training has led to success and growth.
How has investing in education for your staff helped you grow your business?
[It] has allowed me and other associates to run the company by the numbers instead of by the seat of our pants. The technology gives us a good handle on the numbers. Otherwise, you end up doing what seems good at the time [and] end up managing behaviors instead of outcomes.
We don’t care if our associates take an hour for lunch as long as they achieve the outcomes we are targeting. The computer systems allow us to track and measure every part of the business, and the technical training has allowed us to take on jobs that would scare away others.
We get rid of mold, lead and asbestos. We are constantly staying on top of the jobs, doing them right and without litigation.
How do you recruit and retain talented staff?
We have three out of five estimators that have come up through the field. Our operation managers have come up through the field as well. There is a sense that there is someplace for them to go. It is hard to attract talent if there isn’t somewhere for them to go. When we have a new position open, we always advertise it within the company first. If there is any way we can promote an existing employee, that’s what we do. We have very good morale because of that.
We’re running an ad in the paper almost 50 (percent) to 60 percent of the time. A lot of times, we advertise positions we’re not looking for but are developing a bank of people that we can draw from when needed.
We are constantly on the lookout for new talent. Sometimes someone comes along that is perfect for the company that we didn’t really need. We hire that person anyway. It’s better to snatch him up and work him into the organization.
How do you keep pace with advances in technology?
We saw the benefits of our earlier efforts and made a commitment, which just solidified with our growth. We’ve been able to add more resources to the training effort, and it’s easier to send someone out for training when you have three or four back-ups for that person.
Before, we almost had to shut down when someone was gone for training. Now, the guys are coming to us, asking for additional training in certain areas. Our technology allows associates in the field to train someone without hurting their productivity for the day. If someone does training for half a day, he puts that under a different category, and it doesn’t hurt his numbers.
I am also involved in a peer group organization made up of companies that do the same thing as us in other areas of the country. Everyone is trying out some new technology, so companies report back to the rest of us. You can’t try out every little thing, so this works well.
How do you promote personal growth in your associates?
The biggest vehicle is our career path. There is an old adage that you can’t bowl a strike if you can’t see the pins. We set clear goals and we objectively measure job performance.
Associates can see what they’re doing well or not so well and make improvements. It is good for morale. The pay scale is tied to the numbers, so it’s hard for anyone to complain.
We are also very family-friendly. If an employee needs to attend a child’s ball game, we accommodate that. I feel strongly that anyone should be able to make a good living working 40 hours a week. I can’t see how anyone can have a balanced life without that.
Some people want to work extra hours, but work isn’t what life’s all about.
How to reach: Thompson Building Associates, (614) 863-9650 or http://www.thompsonbuilding.com