By Sue Minichiello
With a combined 50-plus years in the building services industry, AffinEco Managing Partners Michael Diamond and Paul Senecal have achieved a level of expertise not only in their field, but also within the business communities where they operate. As such, organizations often approach them to share their knowledge for the benefit of others.
Recently, Diamond contributed to an Executive Insights feature in BSCAI’s SmartBrief e-newsletter, and Senecal was a panelist on the 2014 CEO Evolution roundtable at UConn, Stamford. Each spoke about two keys to AffinEco’s success, which they believe translate to every business and organization: putting clients first and empowering employees.
“We have always based our business on putting the clients first. Their needs come before margin dollars. Our belief has been that if we do the right thing by people, our profits will come to us in the long run,” said Diamond. “That position has created many loyal clients who value our service and don’t just view us as a commodity.”
Senecal echoes these sentiments and says that managing client relationships is at the top of his and Diamond’s priorities on a daily basis. “This entails visiting both current and prospective clients so they know we are owners who really care about the service we are delivering to them,” Senecal said. “Plus, Michael and I are very active in the communities we service and are always running into clients in random places. When we do, we ask existing clients how they feel about our service and casually inform prospective clients about what we can offer them.”
What’s more, AffinEco has a comprehensive quality control program in place for current clients. This includes nightly reports from supervisors at each site, weekly random inspections by offsite management teams and monthly inspections by senior management. In addition, the company conducts quarterly reviews with the clients at their facilities. And, according to Senecal, “Our clients know they can reach out to us and report anything they want without ruffling any feathers.”
Diamond also points out that AffinEco works hard to empower its staff and align its team. “We do all we can to give our team the tools to excel. For us, building an exceptional team takes everyone working together and knowing we look out for each other. Training, safety and service delivery systems are basics, but setting a clear direction and providing all the best tools allow our management team to take us to great places.”
With a sizable workforce and a growing geographic footprint, creating a unified culture throughout the company is a significant challenge. AffinEco leverages technology wherever it can to help mitigate this and invests heavily in refining its management team to establish more specialists and fewer generalists. One way they do this is with the assistance of a coaching service, which ensures AffinEco’s managers are aligned on company vision and purpose. This alignment has transcended through mid-level management, and moving forward, the goal is to spread this culture exponentially throughout the entire workforce.
According to Senecal, this approach is akin to a team of rowers, making sure “we are all moving in the same direction.”
“The culture we are creating is one of a collaborative and inclusive environment with a high level of personal accountability,” said Senecal. “We want our culture to challenge our team members to strive to do their very best to effectively and efficiently provide best-in-class services to our clients.”
Further, as Diamond points out, employee retention is important to a company’s success and is achieved through excellent communication. “A recent article I read stated that employees leave managers, not companies. We’ve worked to be selective in who we hire and not just fill a position to get it filled,” he said. “We take our time teaching a new employee about company policies, job skills and the culture of how to manage through difficulties. Additionally, we perform regular performance reviews and consistently gather feedback on how their job is going. I’ve found that if someone is not performing or unhappy in their work, it is because our communication has broken down.”
“We are fortunate to have an incredibly dedicated workforce across the board,” said Senecal. “But this hasn’t happened by accident. We reward loyalty with loyalty and we offer our employees proper pay and benefits combined with dependable and fair treatment.”
AffinEco’s extraordinary growth—500 percent since 2008—along with the company’s consistently outstanding rates of customer satisfaction and employee retention are proof of Diamond’s and Senecal’s leadership and focus. It’s clear that, by providing great value to clients, recognizing and responding to clients’ needs and sustaining focus on staff training and communication, Diamond and Senecal have positioned AffinEco for continued success.
(image courtesy of clarecomputer.com)