'Every employee as an owner'

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What's consultant Gary Schwantz really into these days?

"I just love this idea of every employee as an owner," said Schwantz, who helped rehab provider Doug Westerdahl implement "Open Book Management" principles at Monroe Wheelchair. "There are a lot of ways to do that and this one is very cool."

Here's what Schwantz had to say about "Open Book Management," a book by John Case that makes the case for owners sharing certain financial indicators with their employees.

On the need for openness in the HME industry

"With our industry in a tight position, we need our employees to act and feel like owners in their company. When things are good, (financial indicators) need to be shared with employees; when things are a challenge, everyone needs to work together to meet those challenges. If you're going to tell your employees, 'We're all in this together,' they should know the numbers."

On the importance of training

"We assume that our employees understand what profitability is about, but that's not a valid assumption. They need training. What's a profit and loss statement? What's EBITDA? They need to know what those numbers mean and they need to know how they can move those numbers."

On fighting the urge not to be open

"The book makes the point that people need to understand that folks have the right to make money. They also need to understand that there's a lot of risk that owners take on and a lot of times it's personal risk."

On giving away trade secrets

"Some will worry about competitors knowing their numbers. In the book, one guy says, 'I want my competitors to know my numbers and I want them to be scared to death of them.' I'm not quite there yet. I think there are numbers that you don't want your competitors to know, but I like the idea of trusting your employees."