Joe McClure refuses to sugar-coat the dire economic outlook for his employees at Montrose Travel.
“We’re probably going into the darkest time of most of our lives,” he says. “Some of the folks around here have seen economies worse than this one, but most of the people in our company haven’t. It’s going to be an absolute bloodbath.”
Despite the economy, Montrose topped $110 million in sales last year, but the company’s president has prepared his employees to go into battle to survive in 2009 and beyond. To do so, he developed a two-pronged plan: get aggressive in sales and marketing by quadrupling the advertising budget, while conserving cash through delaying IT upgrades, terminating four unproductive employees and 100 percent salary reductions for the company’s three owners: McClure, his wife, Julie, and his sister, Andi.
“Most companies at this time go into their bunkers and hunker down,” McClure says. “We don’t hunker down. We don’t retreat. We stand up tall and go in and fight.”
Smart Business spoke with McClure about how to find out what motivates each of your employees and how to make sure your employees are meeting their requirements.
Look inside your existing business
for new business.
We are in the midst of turning this entire company into an army of selling machines. Every single person in this company, whether they are on the front lines or in a support role, has individual requirements to go get leads.
We weren’t doing the simple things. For example, we have a corporate travel division that handles multimillion-[dollar] travel budgets from major corporations around the country. When our travel counselors were talking to individual travel coordinators and/or travelers, they weren’t asking the simple question: ‘Have you booked your 2009 vacation yet?’ We weren’t cross-selling our own divisions.
For our leisure division, our travel counselors were not asking people calling up for a seven-day cruise: ‘Who does your corporate travel? Do you travel for business?’
So we started this very intense effort of truly cross-selling all of our divisions. All of a sudden, the light bulbs went off, and just in the 48 hours of Friday and Monday, people are really engaged and they are really producing leads for all of our sister divisions.
Monitor to motivate.
I don’t believe that people don’t do what you expect them to do. I believe people do what you inspect them to do.
We are engaging all of our managers to truly get down to the agent lines and inspect what we expect them — what we need them — to do, then manage and monitor it on a daily basis. We’re actually getting down to every individual on a daily basis and making them log what new leads they’ve given to their sister divisions, and then we’re posting that.
Like, Suzie gave four corporate leads. Mark gave seven vacation leads yesterday. Then, you create this friendly, competitive nature. Now when results get posted and they’re easily seen, it just drives that activity that we want. Unfortunately, even though we are a strong company, I believe that if we didn’t post the results, wins and successes on a daily basis, it probably wouldn’t drive the behavior that we want.
As a leader, you need to make sure
you identify the different personalities in your business.
People are motivated for different reasons. There is no one-size-fits-all motivation.
Some people in our organization are very motivated by money. The more money they can earn, the harder they’re going to work. Others are very motivated by reward and recognition. Others are very motivated by additional paid time off.
So long as you can create and understand the right motivator that affects every individual and create a communication plan and an incentive program that truly touches each individual, then you can get everybody engaged.
If you create an incentive program that misses the mark on half the personalities in your company, you’re not going to get the results you want.
If you want to know, just ask.
Annually, we create a little Web survey with about 10 questions to get down to what motivates them. Is it that their job is interesting and challenging? Does the job itself motivate? Is it recognition and reward? Is it job security; is it time off? Is it lunch with me [or] more time with me?
We don’t ask them to put their name to it. That’s not important. What’s important is that we understand the different motivators in the company and then create an incentive that touches all of those. People get leery when they have to put their name to questionnaires like that, and sometimes you don’t get the honest answers.
Talking to them personally one on one is the best way. Over the past week, I’ve had a good 40 percent of the individuals in my company sitting on the other side of my desk, looking into their eyes and asking them questions. I ask them for their advice and opinions, and I take it seriously.
There is no substitution for one-on-one face time with a leader and his employees. Beyond that, the follow-up process is very important. If you do ask for feedback and opinions from your team, make sure they know that feedback is taken seriously and listened to.
I don’t always act on all the feedback, but I always give an answer. And I always let them know why or why not it will be implemented.
HOW TO REACH: Montrose Travel, (818) 553-3200 or www.montrosetravel.com