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Case Study: Implementing the Dream Manager Program and Improving a Company Culture

As an entrepreneur, Scott Vigue has always believed in not only growing his business but also growing as a business owner. Since starting his first business, Scott's Plumbing, out of his garage, which became Scott Services Inc. in 1989, Vigue has studied how to be a good business owner and manager.

Over the years, Vigue grew his empire. He purchased a plumbing franchise, Ben Franklin Plumbing, started Princeco Inc., an electrical equipment service and repair business, in 1996 and bought the One Hour Air Conditioning franchise, which is now known as Scott's One Hour Air Conditioning. Finding success with all of his Florida-based businesses, Vigue continued to strive to reach new heights not only for himself but also for his employees.

In the fall of 2011, while attending a meeting of his franchise holders, Vigue was introduced to a new training program through Matthew Kelly, author of "The Dream Manager" and keynote speaker at the event. "He talked about ‘The Dream Manager' and how business owners run into problems because they don't help their employees accomplish their own goals," says Larry Nystedt, Vigue's past insurance broker, his friend and now a Certified Dream Manager.

The message of helping employees reach their goals resonated with Vigue. "Scott asked me to read ‘The Dream Manager,'" says Nystedt. "It took me about two hours to read. I went back to Scott and asked what he wanted to do with it. He said: ‘I think you're the guy to implement this. I've accomplished all that I want. I want to help my employees accomplish their goals now. I know I will lose some employees who want their own business, but that's OK.'"

In January of 2012 Nystedt joined Vigue in his business and they hired Kelly and Dan Brunnert, vice president of Floyd Consulting in Chicago, to train Nystedt to become a Dream Manager. Before Nystedt started his training though, he sat down with Vigue to define what success with the program would be. "He said if he could help his employees achieve their goals while changing the company culture for the better, that would be success," says Nystedt.

At the time, says Nystedt, Vigue had managers but not leaders. "We had employees who felt they had jobs, not careers," he says.

By implementing the Dream Manager training, Vigue and Nystedt saw the potential to support employees in reaching their own goals while helping them feel more connected to the business. They began by teaching employees how to prioritize dreams and transition a vision to a goal. "We make each goal specific, measurable and in writing with a time frame," says Nystedt. "We had each participating employee write three goals – one more immediate, a one-year goal and one long-term goal."

After the employees communicated their dreams to Nystedt, he sits down with each individual once a month to discuss his or her progress. "We find aspects of employees' lives to encourage," he says. "I am a professional encourager. The employees realize they have a dream that can actually come true."

Nystedt and Vigue helped their employees reach a wide range of goals. "We helped four employees buy homes last year and others clean up their credit so that they could buy a car when they couldn't before," says Nystedt. "Some people met a first goal of taking a walk at night with their spouse. They say it helps the communication in their relationship, emotional and physical health. Four employees who were in relationships for over three years and couldn't commit got engaged. Their lives changed and they are very thankful for it."

Vigue and Nystedt also find themselves completely engaged in his business. "Scott is involved with the day-to-day again and loves coming to work," says Nystedt. "I get to work at 6:30 a.m. Not because I have to – because I want to be there before people are dispatched so I can help."

For Nystedt, helping employees each day means keeping lines of communication open while maintaining confidentiality. "Confidentiality and trust have to be maintained for the program to work," he says.

Nystedt recognizes that earning employees' trust took time. "Many employees were skeptical," he says. "They said: ‘Who's Larry? Is he a mole that Scott sent in to run back to him with information?' It took six months for most people to realize they could really speak to me. When they saw I was sincere in helping them, their attitude changed."

Once Nystedt gained employees' trust, they were able to resolve many problems just by talking with him. "Typically if there's a problem, if someone is frustrated with their boss, just talking helps," he says. "People now love coming to work. Our employees say they don't just think of it as a job anymore. They can see themselves retiring here."

And all the employees who started out in the Dream Manager program wanted to continue with it. "We had seven people who started March 1 of last year and finish the first year of training, and they all want to keep going," says Nystedt. "We have 30 people actively in the program now."

By getting employees involved with the Dream Manager program, Vigue and Nystedt not only reached their original goal of boosting employee morale and bettering the company culture but also saw improvement in the business's numbers. "We went from a $9 million business to almost $18 million this year," says Nystedt. "We are disciplined about our growth. We saw a stabilization of our people. We went from 57 to 80 employees. The only turnover we have are people that need to go anyway. We had one person leave to achieve his goal of becoming a master plumber. When he left we were happy for him."

The bottom line of the program for Nystedt is that if you commit to your people, you will see them in turn commit to your business. "Show them you aren't using them and that you value them, care about them and their family," he says." You will see results in the first year."

Submitted 9 years 118 days ago
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