To keep her property appraisal business humming during the downturn, Vicky Thompson shifted its focus to foreclosures. Last year, to keep her employees motivated, she started a vacation contest. Each time staff members did an outstanding job with a client, she gave them a raffle ticket. At the company's holiday party in December, she threw the entries in a box and selected 10 staff members, each of whom could bring a guest, to join her on an all-expenses-paid trip to Mexico's Mayan Riviera. In February, they spent four days snorkeling, sailing, and touring Mayan ruins. Employees are now collecting raffle tickets for a trip to Cancún in 2012. The contest has improved morale, Thompson says, as well as customer service. "We're getting a lot more positive feedback from clients," she says. "Our growth is up tremendously. A lot of that is due to the attitude of our staff."
J.J. MCCORVEY is a reporter at Inc. magazine, where he covers a wide range of topics, including technology and business research. He has covered metro news for The Detroit News, and his work has been featured in Men's Fitness. @jmccorvey