Steven Cesare, Ph.D.


A wise business owner from Maryland called me the other day to talk about the structure, pace, and intent of his Company’s monthly Management Team meetings. Like most landscape companies, this organization has regularly-scheduled monthly meetings to review year-over-year, year-to-date, and month-to-month financial results, field operational issues, and sundry ancillary topics that warrant attention. The owner, Controller, Field Directors, and Account Managers attend the meetings, are presented with an agenda, and are required to formally present the current state of their functional accountabilities to other Management Team members, and engage in Q&A designed to promote additional Company-wide best practices.

The Account Managers monopolize the largest share of time and attention within these four-hour meetings, serving as the resident CEO of their respective business units. Notably, the Account Managers begin by stating their business goals which are codified in the Company’s annual strategic plan, followed by actual Balanced Scorecard metrics (e.g., percentage of enhancements sales to monthly maintenance contract portfolio revenue, Crew Leader staffing retention percentage, enhancements gross margin results, and average job quality ratings for their maintenance jobs evaluated during the previous month), as well as other ad-hoc topics (e.g., injuries, disciplinary action, customer issues, equipment concerns, and entrepreneurial recommendations).

Great job!

As a capitalist, I suggested the business owner allocate 15 minutes of agenda time to remind the Account Managers of their pivotal role in driving procedural efficiency as they partner with office staff on key administrative processes. Listed below are some of the initial topics the business owner has included as part of his Company’s monthly Management Team meetings.

  • New hire process, filling out paperwork, I-9s, Employee Handbooks, New Employee Orientation.
  • Weekly hour reports, time sensitive days/time for batches to close (e.g., PTO and days without pay).
  • New Maintenance sales, all information needed from the buyer including POs, online billing information, proper contacts, maps, and hand offs to the Account Manager.
  • Incident reports / accident reports, proper forms, and timelines to complete.
  • Accounts Receivable reporting so Account Managers are in the loop for their clients.
  • Importance of getting signatures on ALL contracts, proposals, work orders, etc. before beginning work.
  • Overview of the billing process.
    • Billing types (e.g., None/included in contract, per occurrence, T&M).
    • How batch billing works – new contracts are billed in advance.
    • Importance of printing the Billing Daily History Report, turning in job folders for enhancements.
    • Charging 3% extra when clients use a credit card as payment (i.e., passing the fees to the client).
  • Proper contract/client setup in Asset.
    • Correct and consistent job name on proposal.
    • Billing information of new clients.
  • The proper way of creating a proposal for a warranty job (e.g., identify the original job number).
  • Watering T&M Extra for all Maintenance jobs.
  • How to add a task in Schedule Manager; making sure for T&M to set the rate in the correct field.
  • Proper task descriptions “Watering per occurrence” but setting the billing type to T&M.
  • How to fill out the new I-9 Form.
  • Proper planning of jobs to eliminate multiple trips to Home Depot.
  • How to obtain a Purchase Order and what the Account Manager must give to the office to receive it.

The thrust of this added training element is transformational in design. Let’s track the course. Initially, the Account Managers were exclusively “operators” focusing only their jobs, tasks, and duties. By implementing the Financial Review aspect of the monthly meetings, the Account Managers were forced to grow beyond simply “operators” to “businessmen,” now taking an ownership role of their entire portfolio (e.g., business acumen, staffing, planning, gross margin, client care). Now, with this reminder training, those “businessmen” are becoming better “business partners” by reconceptualizing their role to improve the quality of those administrative processes their office co-workers need to do their jobs effectively as well.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.