Critical Numbers™: EBITDA
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Critical Numbers™: EBITDA
A full-service tree care company serving the tree care needs of home owners and businesses. “We do anything that has to do with trees,” says founder and CEO, Casey Hildebrandt.
When Hildebrandt started his company back in 2010, one of his biggest frustrations was not knowing how to let his team know “the score” of the game: the financials. “I felt like I was asking them to play a game with no score and I didn't have the ability to share the highs and lows of the game,” he says.
When he first read The Great Game of Business, Hildebrandt felt like he had found the Holy Grail of how to run a business so that everyone could know and understand the score. “Having read many other business books, Jack Stack’s book felt like the first business book I had read that was practical and applicable to the blue-collar worker,” says Hildebrandt. After visiting Springfield, Hildebrandt decided to implement The Great Game of Business® (GGOB) in his business in January 2018 with the help of his coach, Kevin Walter.
Three years after implementing GGOB, the company has more than doubled their gross revenue. “GGOB has really helped our team rally around a common goal—our Critical Number,” says Hildebrandt. “There is much more transparency at all levels of the company and improved communication. Playing GGOB has made each team member's individual roles and how they impact the critical number clearer to themselves and the other players on the team. GGOB gives us the ability to see how each of us impacts the numbers.”
“GGOB has helped us to understand where we stand in the week, month, year and gives us line of sight to set goals to meet our plan. I also can’t look at any small businesses or even major corporations without thinking of the scorecard for their company and wondering how they are organized or how they react to changes in circumstance to win at business.”
~ Ethan King, Manager
Like with most businesses, 2020 proved to be a stressful year for Hildebrandt. Leaning on the financial literacy lessons they learned from playing The Game, Hildebrandt and his team broke down the cost structure inside the business to come up with what they called their “Mini Critical Number”—the amount of money they needed to generate each month to keep the business open and everyone employed: $90,000. “We did everything we could to keep people safe,” says Hildebrandt, which included reimbursing employees for driving their own personal vehicles to work sites to help enforce social distancing. Keeping the team together proved valuable, especially as demand for tree work boomed over the summer and fall. “We had an ice storm in October that helped us crank out some extra revenue,” says Hildebrandt. “Storms are bad for trees but they’re good for our bottom line.”
Hildebrandt admits his team has had their ups and downs when it comes to playing MiniGames. But putting his Open-book Committee on the task has helped. “We have learned that shorter MiniGames are more likely to keep everyone engaged better than longer drawn-out games,” says Hildebrandt, with the most successful MiniGame lasting between six and eight weeks. One of the surprising insights the committee turned up was the kinds of prizes the team wanted most when they won a MiniGame. “Several of the guys wanted video game controllers and memory expansion packs as prizes,” says Hildebrandt. “These items were relatively inexpensive but seemed to get them pumped to play the game. I would have never thought of those items as prizes.”
“The Great Game of Business has helped me be more responsible and actually be engaged. It’s also caused us to talk more amongst coworkers about things we usually wouldn’t.”
~ Andrew Gaddy, Crew Leader
Hildebrandt says that the company’s strong results in 2020 could have been even stronger if they had the manpower to meet demand. They were short an entire crew. That’s why the overall theme for 2021 will be “recruit and train.” “Almost every other business owner I speak to is having significant challenges hiring this year,” says Hildebrandt. “We backed off our revenue growth goals just a little for 2021 purposefully to allow us to commit resources to recruiting and training in 2021. We strongly believe that once we get a new recruit on board, that GGOB is a big part of why they stay.” Another opportunity the team has identified to Level Up is to add a short GGOB training bite during their weekly meetings.
“It has created a genuine team atmosphere and has allowed each person, regardless of position, to recognize the importance of their role.”
~ Sherrie Ontiveros, Office Manager
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