Helping Your Team Understand Your Business

Posted by Chuck Monico on Jan 11, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Chuck Monico, Branch Manager at Ryan Lawn & Tree, talks to Rich and Steve about the importance of learning, keeping it simple, and how teaching financial literacy to your team can help them ask better questions and be better team members.

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CTGP EP74 - Chuck Monico


Episode with guest: Chuck Monico

Manager at Ryan Lawn & Tree

(This episode was recorded in December of 2021.)


Key Episode Take-Aways:

1. If you help your people understand the numbers of your business, you will be more successful. (click to jump to this topic below)  You go to the most difficult pieces. And you know how, what's the tax implications, you go to the most difficult pieces first. So, I was hoping to find out how other people simplify this process. Because if you can teach people about financials, if you can increase their financial acumen, you're going to be more successful. If they're doing well at home, when they understand how they're spending their money and their income and their expenses, they can apply that to work and vice versa.

2. Do not over complicate your MiniGame; Stick to the basics to achieve success. (click to jump to this topic below)  And so, simplifying MiniGames, getting that basic, is really what it takes to have a successful MiniGame, we get really hung up on some of the details. And I think you know; you've heard other people talk about that before. So how we coach that, as you know, is to have to be diligent about telling people not to make it too complicated and give them examples of really simple MiniGames.

3. Attracting the right employees from implementing GGOB on the front side of the recruiting process. (click to jump to this topic below)  That’s what you would normally get or that's what you know, you see on some of them so that you know we’ve integrated it that way. Has it helped us win the war on talent? I don't know that we’re winning the war on talent more than anybody else's right now. But we, you know, are we attracting more of the right people? Yeah, we hope so we think we think our applicant pool has changed a little bit since we started this process started implementing GGOB on the front side on the recruiting side.


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Announcer 0:43

Welcome to the "Change the Game" Podcast, where we share stories of open-book management and highlight capitalism at its best. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the "Change the Game" podcast with special guest, Chuck Monico. In this episode, Chuck talks to Rich and Steve about the importance of learning, keeping it simple, and how teaching financial literacy to your team can help them ask better questions and be better team members. Here's your hosts Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker.

Steve Baker  0:51

Welcome to the "Change the Game" Podcast where we are changing the game by doing business differently and highlighting stories of capitalism. at its best. . I'm Steve Baker, and with me is Rich Armstrong, co-author of our new book: Get in the Game: How to Create Rapid Financial Results and Lasting Cultural Change. Good morning, Rich. 

Rich Armstrong  1:34   

Hi, Steve. How are you today? 

Steve Baker  1:36   

I'm great. I'm especially excited today because we have Chuck Monico, president of CMS outdoor solutions with us today. Now, unlike popular assumption, Chuck Monico is not an international spy or man of mystery. He actually owns a lawn care and landscaping service called CM outdoor solutions in Omaha. They're also a Great Game All Star Award winner. And Chuck is specializing in personnel development, training, analysis, and best use of resources. He's been married to his wife Marlo for over 30 years and has a large family of five children all living at home. Chuck. Welcome to the podcast and I hope you're taking antidepressants. 

Chuck Monico  2:25   

Steve and Rich, thank you both for having me today. No, no anti-depressants or almost no antidepressants. I think there's a bit of a back, there's a bit of a backstory here. Regarding maybe home improvements. And you know what happens when something small goes wrong cascades into a home improvement project, it could cost more than the value of the house itself. So no, no antidepressants. Yeah, Marlo and I have been married for 26 years this year. So, five children ages 21 to 12. Have our first graduate from college. You're coming up and so we're excited about that. Yeah, thanks for having me on the show Rich. Congratulations on the move. changing positions here in the upcoming year you serve the GGOB Well the community as well for the last 16 years as president, so we thank you for that. 

Rich Armstrong  3:17   

Appreciate that check very much. Thank you. 

Steve Baker 3:20   

Yeah, it's really good as we hit into a new year here, all the changes and everything. Let's talk about a little bit of the backstory though. Let's let people know about CM and how it started how it evolved from one man into a thriving organization. And there's all kinds of new changes and things like that. Can you give us a little bit of history about you in the company? 

Chuck Monico 3:44   

Yeah, the history, you know, it's always fun and you got to cut the owners off especially the you know, the entrepreneurs and start young because we could go on and drone on and on and on and bore people to death, but it starts probably like, you know, we're all young and aimless at some point, right? I mean, I assume well, maybe not Rich, maybe Steven and I are young and aimless at one point so, is that right? 

Steve Baker 4:04   

I know they have

Rich Armstrong 4:07   

Oh, I can tell some stories. 

Chuck Monico 4:10   

So, just trying to make a buck when I was younger. You're walking the neighborhood mowing lawns, using you know the owner's lawn mower, there were no trimmers and blowers back then, you know, lawn maintenance and landscaping was not nearly as sophisticated in 1982 1980 as it is today. I remember my mom dropped me off at a friend's house and I'd used their mowers. I remember them dropping me off at my grandfather's house. I'd walk the neighborhood. He rigged up a little platform on the mower for me to put the gas can on and I'd walk the neighborhood and mow the lawns. I'd go back to his house, we'd throw the mower in his car, and we'd go off and I'd mow some apartment complexes and you know so a lot of it looking back you'd say, you know I didn't do it on my own. I was suppose that's the one takeaway as I, as I think back on how this started, is it wasn't on my own then it's never been on my own in the last 25 years, there's always been help. We've got a great team today. I maintained the business as I went through school, University of Nebraska, Omaha, go MAVs 1993, I graduated from UNO, I spent four years in public accounting from about 90 to 96. And then I had a buddy come back from Texas. And he said, hey, you know, we can probably do something better with this, make it a little bit bigger. Let's go ahead and add some services and landscaping and irrigation. And we added, you know, we brought our portfolio of services back in 96. Fast forward to 2021, everything was smooth. We took we printed our cash and took it to the bank and truckloads every year. I mean, it was it was just like everybody's, you know, typical business. No, that's not it at all. So, what happened is, right, we learned from other people. We learn by our mistakes, we tried to seek out peers on a broader spectrum across the country. We join landscaping, peer groups, or business peer groups, and just try to broaden our perspective on business, not only landscaping, but on business in general and become you know, better in the community, better for our team members. So that's really the story in a nutshell, GGOB, as you guys know, comes into play around 2000. Around 2018, February 2018 kicked off Kevin Walters. 

Rich Armstrong 6:44   

Well, it's yeah, Chuck stepping back. I think your first introduction to our Great Game community was, I think, at a business conference right, our gathering conference back in 2017. I'm curious about, how did you learn about Great Game? And what were you hoping to find with the Great Game of Business?

Chuck Monico 7:04   

2017 is when I was on a job site, in Lincoln right down the road from Omaha about 45 minutes. And, you know, there's always a straw, there always seems like there's the one straw, whatever it is that day, or whatever, you know, something's going on, it's going to go ahead and tip you over, it's going to tip the scales a little bit. And I had a crew lead asked for a raise. And it didn't, you know, didn't take me off. It didn't, you know, make me mad. I mean, it wasn't abnormal. But it must have been the straw because I said that we can't do things like this anymore. I mean, I don't even know if this person understands what they're asking for when they say, hey, can I get another $2? an hour? You know, what does that? What does that even mean? $2 an hour, what's that mean for you for everybody else or profitability, etc., etc. So, I had heard about the Great Game, the book years ago, and multiple times, but it's one of those things that never made it to the top of the pile. You know, there was always a different book, always, you know, something else to do. And finally driving back from Lincoln that day, I had seen it come across my radar, the book had come across my radar recently. And I've got to read that book. There's something in the Great Game of Business. I've been told to read that. So, I ordered it got home read that in a couple days. All right, that's that makes complete sense. To me. This seems like natural progression. Why isn't everybody doing this? It doesn't look easy. But it makes sense. Order steak in the outcome. Same thing, read it. Okay. Yeah, a little bit bigger picture full story, what's it means to go ahead and give our employee ownership? And so, at that point, you know, I was thinking, we've got to do some research on this. So, we figure we're going to send seven people to the conference. Now, this is probably August, the conference is in September. So, I said, Let's send some people to conference and seven people at the conference. We had lined up three people to go to Chicago to Tasty catering, because I had seen that there was this company in Chicago practicing the Great Game of Business, didn't know Kevin Walters, but we're already lining up tickets Chicago, lining up tickets to go down to Missouri and spend some time in Springfield SRC. So, we're planning all these things, we get to the conference, right? So, three weeks later, we sent people conference, and we thought, because we're so smart, that we're going to go to conference, and that we were going to go ahead and implement their stuff ourselves, right? We're like, hey, this is not a big deal. Just like you know, just like get a new payroll system, posting some names and some numbers. it'll spit out the information. I think it was about three minutes after eight on the first day of the conference, where I realized that that was probably not going to happen. If we want to accomplish this, you know, by the time I got to be 72. So, there was no that wasn't going to happen. So, we talked to some practitioners, and everybody said you're going to need to hire a coach. We didn't even know what that meant, didn't know what that was, you know, what was that going to cost? interviewed some coaches, Kevin Walter like Kevin, because heck, he's in Chicago, in the catering business. And that's got to be, that's got to be a very competitive business. Right. So, we interviewed Kevin and a couple others and settled on Kevin Walters in fall 2017. So that was our first exposure. And everybody, you know, from our company said, hey, this is not knowing what we're gonna get ourselves into, you know, but this will be a little bit of work. But it'll be worth it. 

Rich Armstrong 10:36   

Curious Chuck. What were you when you were coming to the conference? What were you really looking for? What do you think Great Game of Business could do to help your organization? What were you what was missing? 

Chuck Monico 10:47   

What was missing? And what we had been? I guess, let me back up. Remember, when I said I was working in public accounting for four years? You guys know some accountants?

Steve Baker 11:03


Rich Armstrong 11:04

Live with one.

Chuck Monico 11:05

You know, what do we typically do? Right? We make things more difficult. We make things too detailed. And always wanted to go ahead and try to teach people about the business’ numbers, but you automatically in your little accounting brain. And I say little because for some reason, you get all spun up into the details. And you need to Well, how am I going to teach people about amortization or depreciation, you go to the hardest things first, right?

1. If you help your people understand the numbers of your business, you will be more successful.

You go to the most difficult pieces. And you know how, what's the tax implications, you go to the most difficult pieces first. So, I was hoping to find out how other people simplify this process. Because if you can teach people about financials, if you can increase their financial acumen, you're going to be more successful. If they're doing well at home, when they understand how they're spending their money and their income and their expenses, they can apply that to work and vice versa. So, simplifying the process was something that, you know, I had hoped to go ahead and get out of the conference. And then also, you know, how do you get the team on board? It's one thing to say, hey, this sounds great. But you know, it's going to be it's going to be some work. So how do you go ahead and get the team on board? What are the tricks? What are the secrets? So, what we learned about where we learned about huddles, right, how those are important is weekly gathering. And maybe it's more than one huddle. Maybe it's an all-company huddle, maybe it's a divisional huddle. We learned about culture committees, right? How do you go ahead and promote the culture of Great Game of Business? We learned about MiniGames, which has, it's no secret to you guys. Its MiniGames can be challenging, too, because we tend to make those harder than they need to be. I guess that's my opinion, at least it seems we've seen that over the years. So those are the things that we try to get out of the conference. Those are my goals going in.  

Steve Baker 12:52   

Great, That's cool. You've seen some pretty impressive results, both in terms of finances as well as, you know, the culture side, the people side, since you started working with Kevin, and I'm curious as to if you had to look at the financial side and the people side, what's been the biggest impact for you? 

Chuck Monico 13:16

Personally, I think others in the company would say this to it, to see individuals grow in their knowledge of the financial statements, and then they can take that home and apply that in their home life. That has been very rewarding. I believe it's more than just one person, you know, people now can ask questions that they would not have been able to ask before, right? We have conversations about, well, you know, what does it mean, if we buy this equipment now? Hey, what does that gain or loss? You know, on other income? What does that mean? Where's that come from? I wonder we're going to go ahead. Well, yeah, we sold that piece of equipment, how is that going to go ahead and hit our books? Those are questions which we would have never had four years ago, no chance. And those are some that are maybe even a little bit more in then heady than some of the basics about, well, if we go ahead and sell another cleanup this week or another landscape, and we can install it, you know, a month from now or do the work a week from now? Well, then that'll actually show up on the income statement, it will see that on our numbers from week to week, and we can forecast a little bit higher, and those are really basic. So those have been really positive. The huddle. You know, that's, that has been a reason to go ahead and come together and open. So, you want to call it a rallying cry, but it's a critical communication tool, and we lost it for a little while during COVID. And you had to retool how we're going to go ahead and complete our huddles but having a reason to come together weekly, whether it was people or numbers or both. Right, we took our lumps there we had too much in the numbers. That's, you know, some of the some of the mistakes we made too much in the numbers, right? You see that, you know, people get into scoreboard, and they stay in the scoreboard and they're not teaching about the people. You know, that's one of the early on mistakes. We've had a couple of others for sure. But, you know, having a reason to go ahead and come together celebrate the victories before GGOB, we would run production, huddles weekly, we wouldn't discuss the numbers in any organized fashion. you'd talk about safety. And all right, that's important in our industry, you talk about what was coming up on the schedule, it'd be a hodgepodge. But puddles help organize the way you're going to go ahead and, and conduct business every week. And then moving to an all-company huddle keeps everybody on the same page. So those are two of the big victories. 

Steve Baker 15:50   

That's great. If I could ask him a follow up question on that. I mean, I like how you started by saying, seeing people grow in their understanding of the numbers and then having them apply it at home. Do you have any stories that pop into your mind? If anything, that just blew your mind? As you began this journey? 

Chuck Monico 16:10   

Well, I'll give you I'll give you one story of one team member who is a who'd never had a new car. But they you know, they retool their budget, you know, cut some debt, paid off some paid off some debt, cut some expensive, paid off some debt, and was able to buy a new car, you know, had never is. So that's, that's a great story, right? It's not the only one. But that's the one that really jumps out at me. 

Steve Baker 16:31   

I love it. It's that connection, right? 

Rich Armstrong 16:35   

It's pretty incredible. Once they you know, they captured that confidence to understand the numbers. And maybe they knew that was probably the right thing to do. But they just didn't have the confidence to pull it off. That's pretty cool. You know, Steve had mentioned earlier that you've been on our all-star team, I think twice, both in 2020 and 2021. And just a reminder, for our listeners, when we talk about the All Stars, this is kind of an annual recognition that we do for the best of the best and open book management. And we don't just look at the results of financial results and in how you're using the practices. But we also ask the people within the companies, are they walking the talk? Are you really doing this? So, it's a pretty, pretty big recognition. And it really does recognize those people that are taking these practices and making them work in the organization. But one of the things in your applications, you've mentioned MiniGames several times, which because I'm kind of interested in this is that but, in your application, you really stand out for what you've done with MiniGames. And I'm just curious if you could share, you know, what a mini game is and how it's worked with your organization, maybe the challenges, but also the successes with that. 

Chuck Monico 17:49   

Then, and it's always interesting, because MiniGames are tough. That's how I'll start. I think MiniGames are tough. And I don't know that it's the if it's the way that it's presented, or if it's the way that it's received. But some companies can, you know, I think have more success than we do. But we've had a few that have been successful. But I'd say it's one of one of those things that we've struggled through. But here's how we kicked off GGOB and I think this is probably one that we're known for. And it probably continues to resonate. And I would tell anybody who's jumping in GGOB to do something similar. So, we had Kevin coming in February, he was there on his birthday, His birthday is in February. So, we had Kevin show up in February 2018. And remember, we just got on board somewhere, probably in October, November of 2017. We saw what we know we want people to be familiar with the Great Game of Business. Now you probably all remember the modules that there were I think there were three maybe learning modules, and there was the dog grooming and there was a couple other right so and those have ebbed and flowed as far as if they're, if they're active or not. But we said we're going to get a 98% or 99% rate of completion on these modules among all team members. So, I don't know, let's say we had, let's say we had 45 people, right? So, times three modules or whatever, there was 150. So, we're gonna, we're gonna get through these modules at about a 99% rate, basically saying everybody's going to go through all the modules. Now we're going to celebrate it, you know, 85% or 80% 90% 100%, we had this big kickoff. So, we build a Mt. GGOB out in our shop. We hang Mt. GGOB on the wall. And we've got these checkpoints. We've got this little Swiss Alps climber because at that time, our CEO is a retired Marine colonel who's happens to be fluent in German. Right? So, this guy will Reinhart uses name he doesn't care. Anyway, so he gets on every week. So, this is like a 10-week game. We're told what game he gets on every week. And in a thick, German faux accent, you know, gives us weekly updates via text message to every person in the company, you know, and it's so funny, they don't give us weekly updates in this German accent, we're moving this little Swiss Alps Mountain climber up Mount GGOB, and we're having doughnuts and whatever the next thing is, and we're getting hats, etc., etc. But it was a Great mini game, we had a visual, we had a strong weekly update that you couldn't hardly ignore, right? Because it was so different. We had these key milestones, which were not ambiguous, they weren't, you know, people typically don't work very well and in ambiguity, so they were set milestones. We had great team encouragement. And, you know, we made it, you know, and I'll go ahead and tell you about another mini game that we've got coming up. Here that'll pertain to something I think we'll talk about later. But that was one of our most successful MiniGames that we had. And I would encourage everybody who's starting to GGOB to go ahead and do something like that. 

Steve Baker 21:08

So, a great example, you were you said, started out that story by saying MiniGames are tough. In fact, he said it twice  

Chuck Monico 21:15 

I did. 

Steve Baker 21:16   

So why, tell me why they're tough. 

Chuck Monico 21:20   

Well, at our place, they're tough. Because, you know, I think we make it more complicated, we probably put more, more bells and whistles or try to do too much with them. Let's see what else let's talk about, we probably sometimes try to protect the company a little bit, instead of going to the other direction, saying, well, it might be a short-term, you know, loss. But maybe it's a long-term gain. Let's look at the long picture on this, and then tie that to the third thing, I think that is tough. And we found challenges. We focus too much on the short-term. You know, look, everybody's looking at the immediate prize pool. And right, you know, instead of looking down the road, it's like, well, how much we ever spend on the prize pool? Well, you know, look at the numbers, or sometimes there's no, you know, you're not going to get $1 back today. Maybe it's in the future. And so, we get really hung up on that or tied up on that. We look at go back to when, you know, it was me and another guy in the truck mowing, and we had maybe a couple of mowing crews. I mean, didn't we weekly, right? We didn't have computers back then you had a little remember I was in accounting; I was a little OCD. So well, you had a two column or three column notebook that you bought it, wherever you bought it back, then I don't know whether Office Depot was even not sure. So, you buy this two-column notebook, and you've got all your accounts weekly, and you've got how much you're going to charge that account. And you'd write down, you know, maybe a couple times when you start when you stop, and you can look back at the previous week, it was all about winning. Could we do it faster? If we, do it faster in the week before? What's the gain if we do it faster? Can we get another account and how much money we make those were all MiniGames, and they're pretty simple, you know.

2. Do not over complicate your MiniGame; Stick to the basics to achieve success.

And so, simplifying MiniGames, getting that basic, is really what it takes to have a successful MiniGame, we get really hung up on some of the details. And I think you know; you've heard other people talk about that before. So how we coach that, as you know, is to have to be diligent about telling people not to make it too complicated and give them examples of really simple MiniGames. 

Steve Baker 23:20   

I love that. That's good advice. 

Rich Armstrong 23:23   

He just a follow up. What keeps you disciplined to the MiniGames? What are you getting out of them that you battle through those challenges? 

Chuck Monico 23:38   

That's a good question Rich. So, what do we, the battles are still all over the board for us on the MiniGames, it is, you know, the updates, you know, making sure that we can go ahead and give good updates. So, we don't, we're not being overly complicated. We ran we had a we wrapped up with a successful mini game. Recently, that was an all-company MiniGame. There's something about all company MiniGames, where we seem to go ahead and perform better than divisional MiniGames. And I haven't quite put my finger on that except maybe with some administrative help that MiniGames are easier to run if they're not being run just by the folks in their small divisions. Maybe they feel like they have more support. So that's one of the things that I guess we’ll probably keep an eye on, you know, going forward. It's like, hey, what, what are these more successful MiniGames? Are they broad or are they more narrow, so we'll have to keep an eye on that.   

Rich Armstrong 24:42   

Got it. Got it.   

Steve Baker 24:44   

So, the last couple of years have been challenging for everybody in every industry for a number of reasons. I'm curious if you kind of look over the last, you know, 18-24 months. How has Great Game helped your organization you know, get through? 

Chuck Monico 25:04   

right the last two years, yeah right for everybody communication has been the challenge. You know, a couple things that we had changes we had made early on, I think made a difference. And you know, we started in 2018. We had COVID in 2020. So, it's only 24 months. When we started the Great Game of Business, you know, our first scoreboards were too detailed. And I guess I'm telling you this to go and tell you, you know what's made it better? They were too detailed; you probably see that, and Kevin told us it's not his fault. Kevin's like, hey, these probably going to be too long into details, you need to shorten these up, you need to you need to get some of these lines off here. They don't matter, bundle them with something else they do matter. But you can report them in at a smaller level or at a broader level. So having simple scoreboards, you can communicate quickly. Involving making  sure you're involving people from all pieces and parts of the business all levels of the business. When we kicked off to GGOB we were too admin heavy in our leadership team, we have changed that. So that'll play into this, you know, what makes it successful as well. So those two things having changed made us a little bit nimbler. And it was easy to report as we came out of COVID. Because when COVID hits, you know, we like a lot of people. We shut down for a little bit as far as reporting, we had to go ahead and retool, we weren't meeting in person, thank God, we work outside, right? So, we could go ahead, we still figured out a way we were going to work. But it took us a few weeks to go ahead and get into a virtual huddle situation where we could have, you know, a meaningful huddle. But administratively, you know, we are burdened a little bit with everything, you know, that was taken up how many hours a week, right, you guys saw to GGOB be it's like what we do we need like three people to administer what we've got to administer regarding COVID. And what we're trying to keep track of, and you're trying to read the news, and what's this? And what's that? So, we had had the OCC at this point spread out across the company. And so, we had folks from different areas at different levels on OCC. So that was a key. And then we had slimmed down our scoreboard. So, it was easy to report on what's going on in the company. And that was a real key as well, but it gave us a central give us a central rallying cry, get back to that weekly huddle. And when you didn't have it, you felt a little bit disjointed. Like you try to have a conversation with somebody that'd be like, Yeah, I the numbers. I don't know, I don't know, you know, unless someone told me, and then at that I just got them in bits and pieces. It didn't matter. You know, we didn't have Hey, where's our weekly celebrations or victories? No, who had a great project that just went well, we lost some of the connectivity when we weren't huddling. So, I would say, you know, they're critical. As far as communication and connectivity, and people want to relate, they want to be connected to other people, for the most part. I mean, there's a few of us that are, I suppose, a little bit odd to the extent we want to hole up. But for most people, they're like Steve Baker is, want to hug everyone. So, the yeah, Great Game of Business in the huddles, were key to the last two years, and we've been back, we've been huddling, you know, since sometime, you know, mid 2020 at this point. And we still like to mix them up a little bit. Change the huddle leaders, and may we change the order in which we're doing things but there's there was really no substitute for getting together and talking about the numbers and talking about the people's successes and having a good forum to communicate. 

Rich Armstrong 28:57

Chuck, I think you're bringing up a point that a lot of our practitioners seen through the pandemic is that they got down to the real basics. And when they got really to the basics around huddling, and communication and simplified scoreboards, they really found that it actually improved the whole communication process, right? So, make a lot of them came through the pandemic with that same kind of, you know, aha moments that a, you know, keep this thing simple and people, people will pull out the information they need, if they need to have more detail, and then just having that weekly. I liked how you put it earlier, Chuck, is that the huddles are there to share the numbers and the financials, but it's also the connect people. And are you connecting people and their lives and how they're connected and celebrating the wins and that sort of thing? So that's really, really good advice. 

Chuck Monico 29:49   

There's that connectivity, you know, and I think, I don't know if other practitioners see it this way. But you know, with three college age kids And I guess two of them would have been in high school and we started GGOB, they've grown up with that language, they've heard me talk about it, they talk about it, all three of them are involved in the business to some extent part time as they go to school and pursue other careers. But it has meant something to them. And it's, you know, they're, they talk about it with their friends, they talk about the conference, they talk about it with their college professors. So, it’s more than just, you know, connectivity, I suppose in the business. I think there's a connectivity within the family, because it is a great tool for teaching everyone about finances and trying to break things down in more simple format. So, you know, their budgets at home are not going to be as detailed or as complicated, maybe, as anybody's, you know, business budget. But they hear about, you know, how are these successes formed? How do you go ahead, and, you know, predict and project well, you can do that with your paycheck, too. You can do that with your if-but situations in your personal life, too. So, it's been fun, you know, to not only see the connectivity at work but to see the connectivity at home with the kids. When it comes to Great Game of Business. And they've read I've got one that’s read at one of the books, if not two.

Rich Armstrong 31:21   

That's great. It's great. Well, we hope that it resonates with that age, right? 

Chuck Monico 31:26   

That's yeah, that's right. That's exactly that's probably another challenge we're working on right now. 

Rich Armstrong 31:31   

One of the, you know, central challenges for almost every business out there is this idea of war for talent, right, finding good people. And I'm sure that's not any different in the landscaping industry that you're dealing with? Can you talk a little bit about maybe what you're doing to try to attract and retain your people? And maybe how a Great Game could fit into that? 

Chuck Monico 31:56   

Yes, so I'd say maybe 18 months, two years ago, is when we really said, hey, we've got we've got to figure out how to, you know, interject GGOB fully integrate this into our hiring practice. So, if you go out to our web page, what you see right now is you know, if you go to a right, if you're on that, you can go ahead and say, you'll scroll down on the join our team page or whatever button, you're going to collect, click and it will go right into the Great Game of Business. And they'll be one of the little intro videos with Baker cheer and with those weird arm movements at the end. And right, yeah, there you go. He's got Yeah, so we, that we have that video on that front screen and talks about GGOB. If you if you hit any of our job postings, we will start instead of like, hey, we if you're going to be an irrigation foreman, we need you to have five years irrigation experience, and you need to know how to go ahead and install a backflow. And go-ahead service and irrigation system and pulse and pipe, etc., etc. You know, we'll talk about open book management. And we'll talk about leadership. And we'll talk about teamwork. And we'll talk about the company's value. So, it really, really changed the way we went about trying to recruit people where we presented our company. And then as part of that, in order to go ahead and get to the interview stage, and this is a little bit insane, maybe what the marketplace these days, but you got to listen to a about a six- or seven-minute audio clip of me going on about these things like, hey, what’s good about, you know, what would make you a good team member of CMs? And then what are the things that, you know, if you're this probably not, you know, keep on looking for something else. But don’t apply here. So, it goes on, we talked about the GGOB principles as part of that as well. So, by the time somebody gets to the application stage, and they're going to go ahead and submit their application, if they've done their homework, and you've got to have you have to have a code to go ahead and advance them to the point where you go ahead and actually submit an application, which means you would have to listen to me drone on for that seven minute. So, you've got to have a little bit of you got to have to have at least seven minutes of attention span to apply for a job with CMs. So, you go through that process. And what we found is people comment on those things. Right? And so immediately, you know those folks who pull those things out and say, Hey, this resonated with me, you know, in that session where I was listening to they don't remember my name that guy, whoever it was that was talking, right, but they remember this piece or that piece about the Great Game of Business or financial transparency or trying to coach people trying to create leaders, whatever that is, and they pull those things out when they put those on their application, you know, we saw right good, you know, that may be somebody we want, they're calling that out. Instead of, hey, I'd like a job today. Right.

3. Attracting the right employees from implementing GGOB on the front side of the recruiting process.

That’s what you would normally get or that's what you know, you see on some of them so that you know we’ve integrated it that way. Has it helped us win the war on talent? I don't know that we’re winning the war on talent more than anybody else's right now. But we, you know, are we attracting more of the right people? Yeah, we hope so we think we think our applicant pool has changed a little bit since we started this process started implementing GGOB on the front side on the recruiting side. 

Steve Baker 35:24   

That's really cool. I like how it's a process that begins even before you can submit your application. So, and I think it is important to have an attention span of some sort, if you're dealing with swirling blades and heavy objects. Chuck. So, you've really come a long way in the last few years. What is what's next for CMs? 

Chuck Monico 35:51   

What's that? What a timely question, right? Time The question, I think you both know, so we'll go ahead and well. So, you know, one, we CMs I'll put it this way, CMs is never going to win and all-star award, not a CMS at least. So as on January one, CMS is going to merge with another GGOB company, Ryan lawn and tree off Kansas City. And I know that, you know, my peer group know that a couple weeks ago in a meeting, Tom and the guys have been a great peer group there. So that is what is next on our radar. You know, we've got the, I'll share the history of that, because I think it's probably, you know, germane to why we're doing this, see, you know, CMs has had a good run on its own by a lot of standards across the industry, you know, we are a fairly successful company, I suppose. So, we've got a great team, we, you know, a lot of times found ourselves on the front lines of experimentation and trying something new and seeing what would work. And so, it's been a real blessing. And again, go back to saying it's been a team effort, it's never been anything I've, you know, done on my own. In terms of GGOB and the years we've participated, you know, we've had gained share at some point every single year, the first year in 2018, we hit the whole year, and that was really, we put ourselves in position that we were we did a great job on snow removal. And when everybody else was out of product and couldn't get it, we're resourceful. And we had we had a fantastic year of retail sales of salt and snow. You know, last year, another story was we were we did not hit gain share until the fourth quarter last year. We kept getting closer and closer, the entire year and a third quarter 2020. We're close, but we're not there. So, we went back and looked at well, why haven't we hit it? You know, what are the things we could have done better? We started talking about those weekly in the huddle. And through October, November, we inch closer and closer. We have a good December and again week by week everything's improve work, okay, we're still selling some business, we're still doing some product projects, we get some timely snow removal at the last week of December, and we push into we push into third level gains share not having hit it the entire year. So great, you know, just some good stories out of having, you know, GGOB and pulling the team together. But there's a point, I suppose, where you look at it, and you say, there's a lot of things that we've tried to do over the years or have intentions of doing. And we could get there. They'll be you know, there'll be some pain just like there has been with everything else. But you look around at other people who have similar values or like values. And you say, well, what if you know what if we were together with them, we've acquired some companies along the way. And you look around you say what could we do if we were a team? What could we do if we were all working on the same page? And that is really how Ryan lawn and tree we came together I met Larry. Oh, probably 12 or 15 years ago when you know he's always been on the recruiting trail across the country. And at that point. They weren't really after companies, anyone who had heavy design build or construction like we did. At that point, heavier construction. We were in maintenance recurring revenue. We had a great conversation and no big deal. I went back to Omaha we saw each other a couple other times over the years. And then fast forward to 2018. Fall probably spring enough fall 2018 Maybe. And Rylan and Trey was looking at the Great Game of Business states senior practitioner, Larry recognized my name up in Omaha. I get a call. I think it's around 6:30 Or at least that's what I tell people because I give Larry hard time about social graces or you know, he likes to You know, read himself about that. Right? So, 6:30, I get a call, it's Larry, I think in a CFO or its head of training, they start talking about GGOB, and what is it? What does it mean to you guys? And why are you doing it? You know, what's the process and the whole nine yards. And as you know, they join up. Spring 2019, I head down to talk at their annual meeting, they're going to go ahead and kick this off for the company. And like a lot of companies year by year, every other year, you've got something that comes across your radar, and you're going to go ahead and make that that's going to be your staple, you're going to, you're going to really, you know, you're putting that on the mantle, you're going to chase that all the way. Right. So, they've been around since 1987-2019. So how many of those things have those team members seen that have been there for 25 years? It's just you know, what's the next thing? What's the next thing? Yeah. So, Larry says, hey, Chuck, would you come down talk? Oh, you tell people about GGOB and what is what is done for you, or what you think it can do for you, you know, you've only been in it for a year, but from a practitioner standpoint, so I did that. And then they talked about how this is not going to be a fad. You know, we've had all these things. And this, folks, this is here to stay, this is going to become part of our culture and who we are and part of the Ryan way, this is how we think we already think at a high level, you know, we're going to go ahead, and we're going to go ahead and implement GGOB to go ahead and really sort of lift that up and be a supporting pillar of Ryan lawn and tree. So, they get GGOB off the ground, and they've got a great deal of resources. So, they're every bit as successful as we are and more when it comes to GGOB fast forward another year, and we'd been talking and there's some loose talk of all the what ifs and the possibilities and the maybes and what could be 2021 comes along and we both think hey, it's probably time to take a serious look at this. The reason being is you know, both, I suppose faith-based organizations, my doors opening here, this is really strange. Marlo is actually grabbing a box out of the office. You can't see her, she's off screen. She obviously needed something out of the office. Oh my gosh, so fun 

Steve Baker 42:25   

Is not approvable. 

Chuck Monico 42:27   

So funny. So, you these two companies, both faiths centered, and Ryan lawn and tree is not bashful about that and CMs in either that, you know, there's a bigger purpose, you know, we're here to you know, serve God and make people better. It's not, you know, it's not about using people to make $1. Ryan Lawn & Tree has been an ESOP. Since I believe 19, oh, early 90 Sometime, I should know that probably. I'm gonna be a team member here shortly. But let's say early 90s or late 90s they've been an ESOP. And that was one of our goals to we're going that direction, you know, we'd met with Victor, and we had set up a team, and we had that all lined out the attorneys. So, the entire, you know, we had all the big pieces like now this is what we're going to do, we'll do it at the end of 22, or 23. So we, you know, check that box off as well. So, we could go ahead and move into an ESOP. So, you know, there's for our team members, right? There's always a there's always uncertainty and ambiguity, right? We know this, you know, what's it means to be Ryan Lawn & Tree? So, we've been working with our teams openly, since around I'd say mid-September. So, it was when we told people there was a possibility we weren't even locked in, which I think is probably, it's probably unusual. Most people start and when you're going to go ahead and merge and put two companies together, you complete the merger, then you walk in, you drop the bomb on everybody, and they'll wonder if they're going to have jobs or not the next day, and what's going to happen. So, at the point where Nothing's ever perfect, right. So, I'd be criticized for saying, hey, Chuck, you didn't tell us early enough, or this person should have known earlier that the leadership teams were working together for a few months, but we are at the point, hey, we're at 75% that this thing's probably going to go then we should probably tell people so they can start asking some questions and we can start having some open involvement. We had had some open involvements with Ryan Lawn & Tree. Previously the extent that we'd send people down to train in their tree divisions arrived, their fertilizer, route managers, and so we can glean information from them, or they can learn from us we'd share some information back and forth. But at this point, that really opens the doors, and we can go ahead and talk about it a little bit more. So, I would say since September, we've really opened this up. We've probably had a third of our company a fourth to a third of our company in Kansas City, involved in meetings involved with writing with some of their folks, whether it's in landscape construction, or trees, or turf, they and these are work, we don't go just to observe right from our folks at the field, they're working with these team members. And they're, you know, we're learning how they do things and saying, hey, are there things that we have that, you know, they could, you know, we could help them improve on. So, it's been a very, even before the merger, you know, again, it takes place in January before the merger, you know, really sharing an open with information, very transparent, very, very honest transaction. That's what I would say about it. So, what's next 25 years, I haven't had a boss in 25 years, I don't know if that's going to be bad for Mark or for myself will be my boss. So, I guess we'll find I guess we'll see which one of us survives that. Hopefully, both of us.  

Rich Armstrong 43:22   

Could be good for you Chuck. 

Chuck Monico 45:49   

Yeah. So big, big transition coming up, for sure. But really, you know, it's exciting to join a company with would like values. And I think, you know, that's it, we're not here to make money on the backs of other people with an ESOP. I think that's just in the Great Game of Business, open book management, you know, you can really go ahead and put your money where your mouth is and try to prove that out and develop people for their families and their communities. 

Rich Armstrong 46:14   

Well, congratulations on that. And that's, that's exciting. That's exciting. And it'd be interesting case study for, you know, most, you know, mergers like that you don't have that open, transparent kind of communication along the way, it'd be interesting if that's a good model for some companies, because you're exactly right. A lot of times, it's just the deals done, and then you start communicating your people, and they're going What, what, so that'd be interesting, anxious to see how this all works out. And I'm sure it's going to be success, especially because you guys get such similar values and goals and aspirations for the company.  

Chuck Monico 46:51   

Yeah, we believe so. 

Rich Armstrong 46:54   

Hey one way that we kind of wrap up these podcasts Chuck is, is really just ask this question is what questions should we be asking you right now? What are we missing? 

Chuck Monico 47:09   

Well, I'll tell you something that's been on my mind and heart for a little while with Great Game of Business, I say a little while, but sometime this summer, about six months ago. You know, I got to thinking, the question I have is Great Game of Business, a faith-based organization and doesn't want to be. And I say that, because at the conferences, you know, what I hear on stage is, you know, the power that, you know, God has played in people's lives, in their trials and their successes with their teams, the reliance on Christ and faith and in my CO peer group, and this probably doesn't surprise you that every everybody talks about faith. And it is not. It does not seem like it is incompatible with business profit. And I think it's proven not to be right. That's not a that's not a question. Right? We know, we know that. So, is it something that, you know, brings us together in a time where we need to be brought together? More than any other time? Is it something that, you know, we've gotten away from, but at GGOB? It seems that a high percentage of the people are of faith in faith plays an important part in their life. So, you know, yeah, that's the question you should ask me is, you know, Chuck, what do you what do you think? What do you think? What part does faith play in GGOB? You know, what does it mean for us going down the road? The future? As an organization? Does it have a does it have more than a? hmm If you have it? Yeah, it's okay. Or is it something that we should talk about more openly as a community? And what that is it? Is it more of a rallying cry? And not a not something that tears it apart, tears us apart or polarizes us? But something that brings us together? So, the that's been on my mind for a little while. So, I appreciate you guys asking the question.  

Steve Baker 49:26   

Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah. But through the years Rich, and I both noticed that there's definitely you know, if you're predisposed to play the Great Game, or to be even open to the idea of teaching your people and I think you already care about people at a different level. And we do see that it may be nondenominational. It may be something really, you know, deep, but there's definitely the heart side of this thing for sure. Because it won't work without the heart, right? It's not just the head. 

Chuck Monico 49:56 

Yeah, I think so. That's a good way to put it. So fully intellect go 

Rich Armstrong 50:03   

earlier by saying that there's tends to be a higher purpose, right. And there's always been kind of that higher purpose that a lot of practitioners don't see when they first enter Great Game or the reason, they they've come and you know, and I wanted to see what Great Game of Business could do to their companies but or help their companies. But when they enter the community, they can see that higher purpose of just trying to improve the quality of life of everyone involved, right, and not just themselves that certain leadership kind of, you know, underlining part of this that in and we talked about this, and it's in our book, right, is that it begins with the right leadership. And that's starts with, you know, believing in your people and wanting to serve your people and that kind of thing. So that, that that definitely makes a big partner tracks, it tracks the people that already have that core belief, which is exciting, because then we're working with all you know, Steve, and I tell it all say it all the time, is that as a consulting company, we really have the best of both worlds is that, that we don't we, oh, we only have to work with great people, right? Because that's the only people that are Attracted to what we were selling here, right is that is just good people are attracted. And with other business practices, you're not that lucky. You have to work with them all. 

Chuck Monico 51:33

That is a lot of truth to that theory. Most people aren't coming to the table, the great game of business, they don't want to share the numbers, then. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, so true. Well, 

Steve Baker 51:44   

Chuck, thank you so much for being here. I wanted to, I like to keep show notes, you know that that's how I learn is kind of, I'm going to reflect back to you what I heard. And then tell me if I got any of this wrong. So, it's not like verbatim quotes. It's more or less kind of what came through the big thick Baker's skull here. So, keep learning seek out peers across the country to broaden your perspective on your industry and your business. I thought that was a really cool takeaway for me. Numbers, people typically go to the most difficult details first, so keep it simple, simple enough to teach and to get the team on board. We tend to make things harder than they need to be. As individuals grow in their understanding of the finances and apply it at home, it can help them make better decisions and help them ask better questions at work, which makes them better team members. Business is really about helping develop team members for their families and their communities. Huddles are a critical communication tool so retool them occasionally if you need to keep them fresh and relevant. People want to be connected. There's no substitute for huddling. Keep mixing them up and be sure to celebrate the wins. You see how I'm kind of amalgamating everything I heard? Oh, am I on track chuck them on track right on, we're only halfway through. Communication has always been a challenge. So, keep scoreboards simple, again, so you can communicate quickly, and broad participation is important. Don't get too top heavy. An ownership culture committee can be key and keeping communication and information flowing to and from all corners of the business. MiniGames can be tough, so keep them simple. I think keeping it simple seems to be a real message that's coming through for me your check. So even I can be taught. Don't focus too much on the short term, stay disciplined to playing the games, keep communicating, talking and teaching your people and your kids are listening. Integrate GGOB into your hiring process. So just a reminder to everybody that Chuck uses a great game onboarding video right on his career's webpage. And he also created a what you can expect recording that candidates have to listen to before they can even submit an application, which I think is awesome. It starts on a journey of clear expectations and a new common language. Look around for people that share values and goals with you because you can learn from each other. And maybe they can even be potential mergers and acquisitions. And then finally, when you when you brought up the idea of his great game, a faith-based organization and doesn't want to be you mentioned that practitioners seem to always bring up that that is part of their success in that business could be a unifying factor in the world now when we need it most, and that there's a higher purpose behind the rate game. So, what do you think? Did we get close? 

Chuck Monico 54:43   

I think we got close. I give it an A definitely. Oh yeah, great job. I don't know how many A's you've gotten your time, Steve. But there was a lot of years where I went through with that. Not too many.

Steve Baker 54:52   

That Charles is another podcast. So, thank you for being with us. Really appreciate it's great to see you, and to talk with you again. So, let's keep the conversation going folks. Send us your questions, your stories, those best practices that you hear, your ideas, your challenges, and of course, your victories. That is capitalism at its best. Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you next time. 

Announcer 55:17   

The "Change the Game" Podcast is produced by the Great Game of Business. To learn more, visit  

Topics: Company Culture, Employee Engagement, Financial Literacy, Leadership, Teamwork, Transparency

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Hosted by Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker the Change the Game podcast highlights true life stories of organizations influencing positive change by doing business differently. They’re teaching people how business works and closing the gap between the haves and have-nots. It’s capitalism at its best. Inside each episode, you’ll discover stories of entrepreneurs who are Changing the Game.

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