Blog Detail Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce


February Business Breakfast

Introduction of Panelists:

Katie Pope Co-owner of Motion Electrical Heating and Cooling, Fire Protection

Jackie Fraser Co-owner of Fraberts Fresh Food

Phil Greenway Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Stirling Marathon.

Katie Pope: The first tip that I have is around communication. We don't talk enough about how important listening is. If we're not actively listening to what our team members are telling us, we're missing a lot.

Jackie Fraser: This is a new thing we brought in during the pandemic; we offer benefits to our staff. That is not something that you see in a lot of retail or hospitality operations. We're very happy to be part of the chamber plan. And that has helped us attract the sort of the workers that move through the ranks and stay with the company.

Phil Greenway: My tip is to make it not so much about the job and more about the career opportunity. Ensure it's clear, this is how you can progress, giving them more opportunities, more projects outside of their scope of work. Showing employees they can grow within this company.

Katie Pope: My second tip is simple. It's something that makes a huge impact on our team: snacks and food. We have a snack program. If the day goes long, or they couldn’t grab food, there are snacks available. We are sustaining their energy, which then improves efficiency.

Jackie Fraser: One of the little perks we offer is they get 10% off all their groceries. A neat little perk, but an important one at Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, when they can purchase their meat at cost. It's not a costly perk, it's not breaking the bank, but it gives them a feeling of belonging.

Phil Greenway: We have a ping pong table in the warehouse. So, people go and play along at lunch. And it's fun to bridge that gap between the warehouse staff and office staff. I think that's super important to have communal spaces where employees can all hang out. We have an outdoor patio with picnic tables so people can get some sun in the summer and hang out with people who they might not typically hang out at work.

Katie Pope: Every couple of months I check Indeed and look at similar roles in the area. I search jobs in Centre Wellington to make sure that we are where we need to be in the industry. It's an easy check point to make sure that we're not losing grips on what's happening because the industries are changing rapidly, and maybe I'll gain some new ideas.

Jackie Fraser: During the height of the pandemic, I advocated for vaccinations for my staff. I was going to bat for the health and wellness of my workers. It gelled us as a team, a bonding experience. But, you know, really being there and looking at the safety of your employees. That's huge.

Phil Greenway: Try to gain the respect of your employees. It's not always, immediate. As someone who works in the family business, being the next generation of a family business, it's hard to get that respect. I think what’s been successful at our company is that we will pitch in at all levels. I think that's how you gain that respect from your employees.

Katie Pope: Saying thank you. And acknowledging small victories. We celebrate birthdays at our team meetings. Sometimes it's as simple as sending out an email to everybody saying, Happy Birthday to so and so, acknowledging that they matter.

Jackie Fraser: Birthdays are huge. We make a real big deal of birthdays and get the card ready to sign it. Birthdays are a big deal. We've of course also embarrassed them all over social media for a day or two.

Phil Greenway: Everyday, first thing in the morning, go around and say hi to everyone talk to every single person in your shop. There are so many little things like that go the extra mile. I bought my sales rep a bottle of wine. He had a really great week of sales, it was something super small that, wasn't expected, it's a nice surprise for them. And it goes a long way.

Katie Pope: Training and opportunities. We have team meetings, once a month, with our entire team. We try to fold in information that can benefit them at work, but also in life, showing them that we care, they matter and that we're investing time and money into them.

Jackie Fraser: Flexibility. We are super flexible with our staff. For example, our students work crazy schedules, young people involved in sports, we work around that. In our industry they tend to do their schedules every 2 weeks. We do a month at a time, staff let me know what days you need off the following month by the 20th. In 15 years we've never told somebody they can't go to a family wedding or you can't go on vacation that week. But we've always been able to make it work and I and I think that's huge.

Phil Greenway: Keep the family feel, showing them that you care sounds so cliche, but giving them those little reassurances and empowering them to take pride in their work.

Katie Pope: Pause before making big decisions, having large conversations. Take a few minutes and think about what you're doing and why you're doing it. We all have biases; it's becoming aware of them and acknowledging that and not letting that scare us away. That's what's going to help us move forward and be better managers and leaders for our teams.

Jackie Fraser: The weather. I always look at the schedule when there's nasty weather, who’s scheduled are they local? Do they have to drive in? It’s huge gratitude and your team respects that you are thinking about them first.

Phil Greenway: Make sure you're hiring the right people and getting good people. What we've done is if we a role opening, we’ve asked trusted departmental leaders. Asking do you know anyone for this? Anyone you have worked with in the past or present, a family friend or a relative.

Katie Pope: Having fun as a team is so important. Our whole team, their spouses came, we went Axe Throwing and played laser tag, and everybody got a hotel in Niagara Falls. Yes, it's expensive. It wasn't as expensive as it sounds, there are deals out there. And there are some great hotels and great prices that you can find. And it was so worth it. We also use our visa points for gift cards. Sometimes it's pulling teeth to get social media content, until you start a competition. If there's something up for grabs for the best picture of the month, they start rolling in. These points also paid for gift cards for birthdays.

Jackie Fraser: We want everybody having fun. There's a real incentive for that for sure. Retention and showing you care to your employees and in the value of retaining them. We're so lucky to have the best customers. You're gonna have fun at work because they're great. But when they're not that's no problem. Standing up for your employees when they're put in bad situations.

Phil Greenway: That's a huge statement. Standing up for your employees sends a huge message. To both customer and your staff.

Katie Pope: Ask team members what they want. I'll send out a survey to see what our team wants. Sometimes I think, Oh, this is great. And I'm going to go down this road, and people are like, who cares? I've just wasted a bunch of my time, the team members don't find these value-adds add any value, and neither side wins in that approach.

Jackie Fraser: Compensation, we pay more than minimum wage, and again, in an industry that largely just pays minimum wage, we set ourselves apart that way.

Phil Greenway: Another small thing that we did relating to compensation is when gas was over $1.50 we did a fuel top up for employees. Which alleviated some stress when you're filling up your car.

Katie Pope: We do years of service awards. Which directly affects retention. At five years, they get a $500 experience of their choice. We've had somebody do a hot air balloon ride; we've had somebody do a Great Wolf Lodge experience. We have somebody who still hasn't booked theirs yet. And we have somebody who doesn't really do things. And she's always dreamed of having a car starter on her car, so we installed the car starter. My tip was just about gratitude. Just be grateful because we would not have the businesses that we have without the teams who are working there. So that self-awareness and just being grateful and showing that appreciation is so important.

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