Show yourself

When he’s interviewing
people for positions at Mr. Copy, Bob Leone lays all his
cards on the table — if they
don’t like an animated boss, Mr.
Copy is probably not the place
for them. Leone, the company’s
founder and president, says he
doesn’t yell; he’s just very
enthusiastic about his job.

By being upfront about the
way you operate your company
and hire your employees, you
stand a much better chance of
achieving success, he says. And
he’s not likely to stray from the
leadership style that has helped
propel the 120-employee print
services provider to 2006 revenue of $43.7 million.

Smart Business spoke with
Leone about how to get your
employees engaged with what
you are trying to achieve.

Have a plan. Knowledge is power.
The more knowledge you have
about whatever particular industry or business you are getting
into, the more successful you are
going to be. The one thing that I
always encourage people to do
is look at the people in the industry that are being successful.

What are they doing, and what
is their success quotient? Every
successful company has a
model and a success quotient.
Understanding what that model
and success quotient is, is critical for anybody.

How are you going to win?
What is the formula that you’re
going to use to achieve success?
How are you going to grow revenue? How are you going to
track customers? Are you going
to use an outside sales force?
Are you going to use a strategy
like direct mail?

Every industry has a number
that is important that you drive
for. You have to have that formula in place.

Keep it simple. You should be able
to write your plan on one page,
at least the overview. If it’s more
detailed than that, it’s going to be
hard for anybody to grasp. The
simpler, the better. You have to
have what the company vision is.

What’s the mission statement
for the company? What’s the
value proposition the company
has? Then, it’s blocking and
tackling, developing an operating plan, revenue and expenses
by month so the people see the
bottom line. Then it’s getting
people to buy in to that entire
magical presentation.

Before we hire somebody, we
explain what our vision is. And
then everything I do every day,
and everybody on my management staff, everything they do
every day, should support that

Inspect what you expect. We have
a management process that has
12 vital activities that we repeat
over and over and over again.
One of them is called the monthly plan and review. Two days
after the month is over, I sit
down with my controller, director of operations and human
resource people, and we review
all the objectives for our business, accounting and operations.

We expect them to achieve
these three things. We sit down
and review, how did they do
against those three things? You
did one or two. Find out why they
won, why they were successful
and why did they fall short. What
did they learn from that?

Be clear about who you are. It’s
important that people understand this is who I am, this is how I operate and this is how
my business operates.

Here is what I expect. We make
sure there are clear-cut expectations delivered from me to that
person so they understand what
I expect and how I operate. An
executive like myself, I believe
the day starts at 7:30.

If that executive is not an early
morning person and is used to
getting in at 8:30 or 9, that’s not
going to work for me. It’s important that I explain to that person,
‘Here’s who I am, here’s who my
company is, here’s what I do,
and here’s how I do it.’

Be prepared for interviews. Identify
issues in their resume if there are
gaps or holes. There are questions
you should have written down.

Find out what the person feels their strengths are. Why do they
think they would be a good fit?
What do they think a typical day
might be like if they were in this
job? …

The biggest thing you should
make sure is you clearly identify
job responsibilities, job requirements and make sure the person understands that in the
interview process.

Stay in touch. Walk around the
office from time to time. Go talk
to someone in their cubicle. How
is it going? How is your day going? What successes have you
had today?

If they are having lunch in the
employee lunchroom, just sit
down and talk with them for 10 or
15 minutes. How’s it going from
a personal or family standpoint?

I have my HR person put together lists for me of all the
employees, their spouses or significant others, their children’s
names and birthdays. We do little things like birthday cards to
the employees, a handwritten
note from me. I give them a letter on their anniversary date, a
letter sent to their home. The little things really add up.

Look for trouble. Run your business like you are in trouble, and
your business will never be in
trouble. You’re going to put
more focus on those receivables.
You’re going to be making calls
yourself. …

If you do that all the time and
you’re involved in your receivables, you never run into a problem or have that get out of balance.

HOW TO REACH: Mr. Copy, (877) 541-5234 or