Circle of success Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2008

To Scott P. Riley, building relationships with employees is easy:

Simply treat them the way you want to be treated.

“If you do that, then everything seems to work out,” says the co-owner and CEO of Fintech, which provides invoice payment and data services between retailers and alcoholic beverage suppliers.

By building those relationships, you’re also building a loyal work force dedicated to helping you build your business.

Smart Business spoke with Riley about the three steps you can take to build loyalty among your work force.

Q. How do you establish loyalty with your staff?

The first step is compensation. Our employees are incentivized. The more customers we bring on and the more profitable we are, the more money everybody makes, so they’re tied in to the bottom line of the company, and it becomes a real teamwork operation.

We have profit sharing, and we match dollar-for-dollar for our employees, which makes them team-oriented.

It’s also the ability not to be capped. The better our employees get and the better they perform, then they know that they will be promoted from within. I always offer the first promotion to someone from within our organization.

We move people up as they mature and become stronger in their areas — or we send them to school — but we always like to promote people from within to give people an incentive to stay here.

The worst way to ruin morale is, as job openings come up, you bring in outsiders who haven’t worked their way up through the ranks. If an employee performs well, and he or she has earned the right to move up in the organization to become a manager and to become compensated more, you need to take care of that person.

What’s the incentive for your employees to keep doing a better job if they’re just stuck in the same position? They’ll end up going somewhere else.

Q. What other things can you do to establish loyalty?

No. 2 is the flexibility of the employees’ work hours. Maybe an employee’s child gets sick, and that person needs to be able to stay home and take care of the child. Or, they may need special hours; I have some people that come in at 7 and go home at 4.

It’s important to adapt the workday to their social life and their family situation. If you’re a rigid, old-school, 9-to-5 employer, you’re not going to attract the brightest and the best.

Our employees have certain objectives they need to accomplish for the overall goal; if they’ve fulfilled those — we don’t really care when and how — then we’re very flexible on their hours.

Q. How do you monitor performance?

It’s very easy. Performance is the easiest thing to enforce. If people are doing a great job, you don’t have to worry about punching clocks and making sure they’re here all day.

And, just because individuals are sitting here from 9 to 5 doesn’t mean they’re working. We have different ways we monitor how much work they’re doing, how much they’re achieving, what they’re accomplishing, what profitability they’re adding to the company, and based on a lot of those variables is how much they’re going to make.

You have to give them flexibility and freedom to do their job, and that way, you get the best. Really talented people don’t want to be tied down to lots of restrictions, and in this day and age, flexibility is really big to retain employees.

People of this work force age want to have flexibility so they can enjoy their home life to the maximum. If people are happy at home, they’re usually happy at work, and they do a better job. If you’re doing something that stops them from being happy at home, then it’s going to reflect in their job performance.

Q. What is the final step to earning loyalty?

No. 3, which is really important, is you have your employees’ best interests at heart. Let them know you care about them. Treat them the way you want to be treated, and if you don’t have the type of people that will respond accordingly, then you’ve got the wrong people.

If somebody would ask a CEO if he has favorites in his company, the traditional answer would be, ‘I have no favorites.’ That’s not true here. The people that I favor are the ones that do the best job and help the company the most.

It’s easy to be my favorite; it’s got nothing to do with personal likes and dislikes. In business, it should all be based on if the employee is helping you achieve the goals that we’re all trying to reach as a team.

HOW TO REACH: Fintech, (813) 288-1980 or www.fintech.net