Bryan Smith on Cultivating a Culture
February 13, 2017
U.S. Lawns–Team 157 Franchisee Bryan Smith’s Culture For Success
Bryan Smith, owner of U.S. Lawns – Team 157 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina knows what it means to become a success story because of his incredible team –a feat which he says he achieves by being strict but fair, and maintaining that culture of mutual respect we’ve been talking so much about here lately.
In a recent conversation with Bryan, the pride in his voice was unmistakable as he said of his team, “I couldn’t do it without them. It’s all pretty simple really, if you treat people the way you want to be treated then they’re going to do the best job they can for you. And we’ve found that little things can go a long way.”
It’s All In How You Treat People
Now although those “little things” may appear to be insignificant on the surface, the sincerity behind them creates something much bigger. What makes him so effective? Bryan has a genuine interest in people, and it’s pretty much second nature for him to treat everyone with care and consideration. He goes out of his way to interact with his employees and make sure they each know how much he appreciates their good works and values their individuality.
But even if you’re not a natural when it comes to interacting with people, according to Bryan it’s just as much common sense as anything. We all know that a stellar team starts with hiring the right people; placing them in the right roles; making sure they receive proper training; and there’s another, frequently neglected element that’s very critical: cultivating high morale. A happy team produces superior results, and Bryan has considerable experience on the subject.
In fact, before joining U.S. Lawns in his early twenties, Bryan spent his youth fishing, shrimping, and diving, and he put in a lot of hard work and dedication to earn the position of boat captain. Imagine the challenges he faced leading a seasoned crew of men, many of them twice his age, not to mention the lessons he learned–lessons he’s found useful for his commercial landscaping business.
A Winning Philosophy
2012 Hall of Fame Inductee, Smith said of the success with his U.S. Lawns territory: “It goes back to my previous life and a saying we had, that a captain is only as good as his crew. I took that philosophy and just moved it right over into this business.”
It’s working famously, too. During peak season, U.S. Lawns of Myrtle Beach has close to 70 employees composing nine or ten maintenance crews, an irrigation crew, an enhancement crew, and a crew to handle fertilizer and pest control application.
Of those employees, nobody has been with him for less than two years, and several have been there for as long as a decade–another great indicator that Bryan is doing a lot right.
Bryan’s Proven Tips For Success
He has a few pointers that can work for you too.
First … and this is a big one:
Don’t Ask Anyone To Do Something You’re Not Willing To Do Yourself
Bryan proves this to his team by getting out there and working with them. A great example of this is when Hurricane Matthew came through in 2016. Even though time was of the essence, he felt it was important for his crew members to have their Sunday off, so he went out and got a head start on them. Then he worked shoulder to shoulder with them through the duration of the cleanup, which he said he still really enjoys doing.
Seemingly Small Acts Can Make A Big Impression
At the home base of U.S. Lawns-Team 157, the guys know the freezers in the breakroom and office kitchen are always stocked with popsicles. It may seem like a little thing, but it really means a lot after busting your hump out in the heat all day.
Another simple thing Bryan does is highlight kind words from clients and post them in a high-visibility area for everyone to see.
He also holds at least three family cookouts a year. He makes it more meaningful inviting the crews and their families to share their cultural cuisine. Bryan reminisced fondly about a cookout he held at the end of the last season, to honor his H-2B employees from Guatemala. “They gave us a shopping list and we went and got it. It was pretty awesome to see the looks on their faces when they were cooking for us and teaching us how to cook their food. Instead of us shoving our culture down their throats, they were giving some of their culture to us.”
Other things Bryan does to make sure everyone knows he cares include providing good equipment, and involving everyone in the bidding process as well as educational efforts. He also takes advantage of all the tools, training and technology provided by the U.S. Lawns Home Office. In addition, there are crew leader meetings, management meetings, and safety meetings held weekly, which goes a long way towards eliminating unwanted surprises.
Create A Friendly Internal Competition Centered On Company Standards
Bryan has a “Star Board” awards program. There can be one to multiple winners per month, with cash prizes, plus a day with Bryan as an extra crew member at stake. Star Board Awards are based on three factors: quality control, attendance, and equipment maintenance.
You Can Have High Standards AND A United Team
Make no mistake, Bryan can be tough. He has certain expectations of his team, and he’s not afraid to hold them to high standards. But what he offers in return inspires a unity that leads to success in business and life. It’s this approach that has earned the deep loyalty and appreciation of his team, and a promising future they can all enjoy.