"If you give people ownership of something, they take better care of it," declares Bob Ottley, owner of One Step Tree and Lawncare, in North Chili, N.Y. Acting on this belief, the company gives newly-trained service representatives a deed to their service territory.

Although Ottley started the program as a lighthearted effort to increase employee motivation, employees have come to view receipt of the certificate as a rite of passage. He notes, "Each area representative hangs the framed deed in his or her work space with pride. The deed helps establish a sense of ownership, and employees are motivated to make their territory the best in the company."

The deed reinforces the idea that the representative has full responsibility for the territory's management, customer retention, and new sales. In the eight years since One Step began the deed program, its customer retention rate has jumped from 67% to 85%.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing