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Tightrope Walkers: Team Member Partners (Conclusion)

Get off the wire, instead build a platform for you and your company to grow

DALLAS — One of the hardest things about being an owner in the drycleaning and laundry business is staffing. All of us have had sleepless nights wondering how we’re going to fill a position or what we should do about a troubled employee. It’s a terrible experience filled with anxiety.

It feels like you’re wobbling along a tightrope and if you lose one more employee, you and your business are going to fall right off the wire.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way.

You can build your business so that instead of your staff being that tightrope ready to bring you down, they can serve as a platform for you and your company to grow.

But before that can happen you have to ask yourself some tough questions.

When I talk to other owners about the importance of a safety net, I often hear: “I can’t afford a safety net.” While, I understand this concern, I would argue that you can’t afford not to have a safety net.

First, you as the owner are the most expensive labor in the company so if you’re filling in for a store associate that is way more expensive than having a float.

Second, the cost of keeping poor-performing employees around because you’re afraid you’re going to have to fill-in, has a hugely negative impact on the business that far outweighs the cost of a float.

Lastly, if your cash flow is so tight that you genuinely can’t afford a float, either your pricing is wrong or your business just isn’t going to work in the long run.

No long-run, sustainable-growth business relies on the owner filling shifts.


Creating a safety net will go a long way in reducing the anxiety that we have all felt during times of staffing uncertainty. However, once you’ve established your safety net, the next question you have to ask yourself is “why does it feel like I’m on a wire at all?”

The best companies view their employees not as unstable cogs to be plugged in to roles, but as partners in growth.

The catch is, for someone to feel like they are a partner in growth, they have to be paid a fair market wage and be invested in the company’s success.

To be clear, what I mean by a fair market wage is a wage where in the event that the employee leaves they can easily be replaced at that same wage.

Why is this so important?

At the most basic level it’s important because if you know that your employee is paid a fair market wage, then it empowers you to demand the best from them without living in fear that they will leave.

This accountability is absolutely vital to the success of your company. I know so many owners who feel like they can’t manage their people because they are afraid someone will leave.

Paying a fair market wage turns that tight-rope into a plank.

But if you want to build a platform for you and your company to grow, then making your employee part of the company ownership is the way to go. This can take many different forms, from profit-sharing to bonus pools to company stock.

Whatever the method you choose, giving your employees long-run ownership of the future of the company transforms them and your company from a shaky high wire act to a rock-solid platform for success!

To read Part 1, go HERE.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].