How I Do It: Enhancing the Client Experience Via Employee Development - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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How I Do It: Enhancing the Client Experience Via Employee Development

‘Don’t forget to grow’ is a key behavior within Stay Green, Inc.’s core values. While they have hosted many trainings, leadership development programs and vendor partnership events over the years, they have taken this to the next level with their Grow Summit 2024.

This event is the launch of the company’s new annual off-site event. For two days, Stay Green’s regional managers, account managers and production managers gathered to focus on the client experience prior to the busy season.

“As Stay Green evolves we are hyper focused on wowing our clients and wowing our teams,” says Tiffany Shimek, director of people operations for Stay Green. “We are evolving our organizational structure to have AM and PM be peers and separate divisions rather than a reporting structure relationship. It has been very exciting to dig into these two roles and identify the key performance indicators for success. Once those KPIs were identified, the Grow Summit content was built to foster the learning and skills development.”

Shimek says their goal was to create an event that educates and elevates their team through thoughtful content and presenters, while fostering teamwork, ownership, and accountability.

Providing Relevant Content

The Grow Summit started with a State of Stay Green where they shared with their team the successes and opportunities of 2023 and plans for 2024.

“We started each day together as an entire group and ended each day together as an entire group, debriefing the takeaways and insights of the days program,” Shimek says.

Stay Green crafted a curriculum that was specific to each role and even had courses in Spanish and English. The account manager development track covered role clarity and industry veteran Pam Stark spoke on elevating the client relationship and client retention.

“The account manager track put an emphasis on leaning into client relationships and beginning to transition out of daily field operations,” Shimek says. “AMs getting back to Client Needs Assessments, sharing the Stay Green Value Proposition, being an expert who proposes the aspirational enhancement as well as the functional enhancement and maintenance needed. Allowing AMs to be solely dedicated to wowing the client means higher work order penetration, higher NPS, improved client retention and bottom-line results.”

The production manager development track covered their roles, operational excellence and had a workshop on leadership foundations.

“The production manager track was built around ‘next level’ leadership behaviors,” Shimek says. “Production managers are the boots on the ground motivator, trainer, coach, and leader for our crews. Operational excellence is regular boot checks, job walks, safety awareness, appreciation, and recognition. Having confident and dedicated leaders in front of our teams ensures less turnover, builds bench strength, improved eNPS , reduced WC claims and increases team member referrals.”

Other topics covered during the tracks included liability, safe driving, care for the team, workers compensation and accident investigations, and insights into Stay Green’s new HRIS system. Each regional leader and management team also set intentional KPIs that will support the success of the company in 2024.

Shimek says one of the most impactful moments was The Regional Connect. Each regional manager spent time connecting with their teams debriefing the learning and how that learning would support their KPIs for the year. They then developed a ‘Present Back.’

“The Present Back has some specific criteria,” Shimek says. “The RM could not present. 10-15 minutes total. Share the commitments and actions plans to execute on their goals, including measurement and timeline. This segment was very powerful. It allowed for a few things to happen; the entire region to connect and discuss, showed a great deal of goal alignment, and pushed many of our leaders through their uncomfortable zone.”

One afternoon was dedicated to a vendor showcase where brands including Kress, Ewing, Wilbur Ellis, T-Mobile and Copperpoint shared product knowledge and client service opportunities.

“The vendors were provided our vision and goals and we worked collaboratively to create a curriculum that would support goal achievement,” Shimek says.

The event also featured an awards and recognition dinner to celebrate significant accomplishments in 2023.

“I love fostering an environment that allows our team members at every level to feel their contribution to what we do matters,” Shimek says.

Advice for Others

Despite their managerial staff attending this event, Stay Green did not have to pause operations.

“We have a very strong field services team that was able to step in and hold down the fort while our operations leaders were at Grow Summit 2024,” Shimek says. “The field services team at Stay Green is incredible, and we appreciate their willingness and commitment to ensuring client and team experience didn’t miss a beat.”  

Shimek says they were purposefully proactive and operations leaders messaged their clients weeks prior to the Grow Summit informing them they would be attending a two-day event and this would not impact their service. They let clients know they would have dedicated team members available to contact and thanked them for being a valued customer.

During their daily debrief, they asked their team members for one word to describe how they felt about the event or learning for the day.

“We recorded words like these: Inspiring, Motivated, Thankful, Appreciative, Exciting, Grateful, Powerful, Awesome, Ready, and more,” Shimek says.

Shimek encourages other landscape companies not to wait when it comes to hosting an internal training event like this as there will never be a perfect time.

When planning, establish an internal committee and lean on vendor partners to help enhance the event. Prioritize what will make the biggest impact on your team and your clients. Shimek adds you need to plan for a post-event debrief and feedback session.

“When something doesn’t work out as you planned, roll with it,” Shimek says. “Have fun. Your team deserves this.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.