Building a Culture of Trust with Tim Murch
Tim M. Murch, CBSE, is president and CEO of 4M Building Solutions, one of the biggest janitorial-related service suppliers in the Midwest and Southeast regions of the United States. Under his leadership, the company has expanded over to operate in 14 states and has a payroll of more than 3,000 team members.
And Murch is all about team. Since 4M was founded in 1978, the company garnered a reputation for having one of the best corporate cultures in our industry. So much so that Murch often lectures on the importance of building cultures of trust that extend throughout a company and outward to the clients and the communities a firm serves. He will be a featured speaker at BSCAI's Contracting Success 2018 Conference in Dallas, which runs Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 in Dallas.
We sat down with him to get his thoughts on building cultures of trust and what wisdom he hopes to convey at the upcoming conference.
BSCAI: What are the one or two keys to building a culture of trust in a company or organization?
TIM MURCH: It's pretty basic. My father taught me and my siblings this, and it's turned into one of our key corporate values. "Right is right, and wrong is wrong." When you're right, stand up for yourself. When you're wrong, admit it, deal with it, and make it right. It's especially important, as a leader, to let all of your team members know they can count on you no matter what. We also have an open book policy where we share financials. We empower all of our operators to run their own book of business, which is a huge amount of trust that we give them that they value and appreciate. Their success is our mutual success.
BSCAI: What is the most common mistake that you see other companies make in trying to build a culture of trust?
TM: Everything that you say or do translates into your culture. I don't accept poor follow through. If you say you're going to do something, you'd better do it and do it timely, committed and consistently. Otherwise, it's going to bite you in the rear in the form of dysfunction. To that end, a common mistake is poor communication. You have to constantly be messaging and communicating your expectations. And if there's something that changes, you really need to over-communicate that and over-explain it so the team understands why we're making a change and buys into it. Because things are always going to change.
BSCAI: For those unfamiliar with the term "ghost employees," what are they and why are they a potential problem?
TM: They're a definite potential risk, and one that has bit us a few times in our 40 years in business. Fortunately, they always get caught. What it is, whether it's a supervisor or a manager or an account manager or somebody in payroll, they end up putting somebody on the payroll who doesn't actually work. So, there's an extra check that someone is getting. It could be somebody who was terminated that never actually got taken out of the system. Or, it could be a relative or a friend of the manager that is in cahoots.
The best way to prevent ghost employees is doing payroll audits at accounts. It's just another burden that payroll, operations and management needs to do. Basically you show up unannounced to an account, you review the payroll register, and you validate who's there and who's not there. Whoever is not there, you need to understand why they're not there and validate that they actually are a real person working for the company. When you're doing this consistently, the word gets out and people know that they're going to be audited. It's a proactive procedure.
BSCAI: How can a company extend its culture of trust to its clients?
TM: From our end, we have to do what we say we're going to do. I call it "Follow up, follow up, follow up!" It builds trust and integrity with your clients. It's about never putting them into a position where they have to ask the status of something. Beat them to that punch. One of the things we've learned is that we're going to stub our toe from time to time. We're going to miss something. We're going to have a situation that we're not proud of. It happens. But when those situations occur, deal with it, fix it, and make it right immediately. It might be painful. It might be embarrassing. It might be costly. But when you turn that negative into a positive by your immediate response and your urgency, the client is going to look at you in a much higher regard. They're going to appreciate your values and knowing they can count on you. Sometimes a bad situation can build a stronger rapport and sense of trust with your customers by the way you handle it. If they didn't know they can truly count on you before, they'll know then.
BSCAI: Are there any techniques or training tools that 4M has implemented that have proven successful in creating such a culture
TM: We're really, really big into culture. It starts in the interview process and making sure we have a right fit. You might have a rock star candidate. But they might not be a good fit for our culture in regards to our teamwork. They may be more of an individualist. They may be all about them. We also do a tremendous amount of training and onboarding, then a lot of messaging thereafter. We have an online, in-house training program that is very extensive. We talk a lot about culture and what differentiates us. From myself to my COO, we do companywide messaging to all of our regions every other month. It's a live broadcast that is recorded and can be shared online.
We're setting the bar, and we let new team members know that we're always raising that bar for constant and continuous improvement. Positive recognition is also a huge part of our culture, finding those team members who are doing things right and making a really big deal out of it. I write a personal note on all compliments that goes back to the team member. We also hold pizza parties, "good works" drawings, and really look to make 4M a great place to work.
BSCAI: What drives you? What do you consider to be the favorite part of your job?
TM: I'm a very competitive individual by nature. Winning is very important to me. When you're winning, you're building. I also enjoy seeing all of our team members grow and prosper with their success and leadership.
BSCAI: What do you still find a challenge?
TM: Labor, labor, labor! If it was easy, our customers would all be cleaning their own buildings. There are also all of the labor-related issues and government regulations that make it harder and harder to do business. But that's life in the big city, or rather small city, as they say. You have to play the cards you're dealt, make the best of them, and the world will see that the cream rises with our innovative solutions.
BSCAI: You will be speaking at the upcoming 2018 Contracting Success conference in Dallas. What can attendees expect from your session?
TM: There will be two of us speaking, and the session will be titled "Big Problems and How to Avoid Them." We're going to be covering ghosting, fraud, and prevention. I'll also get into a couple of meaty subjects: past-due accounts and collections, which are always an issue with cash flow, along with team member recruiting and retention. So, we're going to jam a whole lot into an hour, and I know everybody will walk away very enriched.
BSCAI: How can BSCAI help those looking to improve their company culture and move forward with confidence?
TM: You can't do it alone. If you think you know it all, then shame on you. BSCAI was started and founded in the mid-1960s to educate, share best practices, and help each other out. Those who are involved in BSCAI, there is no question they are the ones who are excelling in their markets and regarded as leaders in the industry. Much of that success is due to the exchange of information and the knowledge they've come back with from all of the different BSCAI meetings, seminars, and events. We wouldn't be nearly as successful today without our involvement and participation in BSCAI.
Tim Murch will be a co-presenter at the BSCAI Contracting Success Conference, held in Dallas, Texas, Oct. 31-Nov. 2. Join his Ignite Session, “Big Problems and How to Avoid Them” on Friday, Nov. 2. Register today.