6.08.2009

Stretching Every Penny


Apropos to nothing, I wanted to offer three tricks of the trade from my past life at The Enterprise Center. If there was ever a place where we needed to stretch every penny, that was it. And yet, in scraping and clawing with the meager resources we had, I'd like to say we made for a great work environment for our employees, a moving example for our entrepreneur clients, and an always-hungry work culture that gives us an edge in an increasingly competitive landscape.

1. Hire interns up the wazoo and give them tons of responsibility. Fact one: we simply can't afford to have interns only do grunt work. Fact two: they are looking to take on more than they can handle. Hence, we found eager young local college students, told them to figure out how to run entire departments, and gave them the freedom and support (if not the resources) to give it their best go. As a result, we got way more done each day than you could possibly imagine an organization of our budget could, and interns got way more than their peers did from their work experiences.

2. Do monthly walk-arounds with the facility manager to grade the building, learn what's going on, and see people in action. We loved having a 35,000 square foot facility at our disposal, but the upkeep was an ongoing challenge. One way I killed multiple birds with one stone was to schedule walk-arounds with our facility manager. From this monthly activity, we would decide on a grade for the building that appeared on his monthly scorecard. We could also talk about different aspects of building maintenance all at once and in a very hands-on way. It also circulated us through peoples' offices, where we could observe them in action and get their take on building issues.

3. Simultaneously test out janitorial candidates and cover spikes in janitorial needs. Keeping up with a 35,000 square foot facility requires a lot of janitorial support. And when multiple events hit on one week, it can be overwhelming to cover. Two birds, meet one stone: the best way to test out a new janitorial candidate is to put him or her to work, and the best way to ramp up to meet short-term demand is to hire short-term help. So we'd schedule applicants for shifts, see how they did in terms of punctuality and quality, decide if we wanted to use them for ongoing work, and pay them either way for the hours they worked.

I'm sure there were other ways we stretched the penny. These are just three I wanted to mention here in passing.
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