Great Topics for Plant Tech Service Meetings

What is your stance on service meetings? As few as possible? A necessary evil? Or a chance to bring everybody together to INFORM, INVOLVE, and INSPIRE them…no matter the size of your operation.

If your meetings are spent talking mainly about “company business” and problems, you may be missing a chance to increase your technicians’ plant knowledge and customer service skills, as well as building their partnership in the company. Here are a few meeting topics, conversation starters, and “how to” ideas that might help you make better use of meeting time.

INFORM

When people are armed with information, they’re likely to be more effective in their jobs. Here are a few topics you may want to cover in your service meetings.

  • Plant Care – Pest and pathogen diagnosis and treatment, soil moisture testing, pruning, vertical walls, atriums, outdoor containers, lighting, service efficiency, and other techs’ tips and tricks are all points you can touch on as needed.
  • Basic Biology – Make sure that the staff has an understanding of how plants work and how that relates to professional plant care techniques.
  • Common Foliage Plants – There are many plants sold in stores, commonly available to consumers, but rarely or never used in interior landscaping. It’s good to know a little about them in case they show up, or if people on the accounts ask questions about them.
  • Landscaping In Your Area – Again, it’s good to know the basics of landscaping so techs can answer questions when they arise. Also, this might be a good time to share information on local hobbyist organizations and gardening activities that they may be interested in participating in.
  • Share Day – Ask a tech every now and then to bring in or talk about a favorite plant of theirs, any techniques or products they’re fond of , or any horticulture activities they are involved in.
  • Industry – Make sure your techs, especially the new ones, know they are part of an actual industry. You might share websites, dates for upcoming meetings, various awards, projects other companies are doing, etc.
  • Government Regulations – It’s something that everyone needs to know. And more importantly, they should know how these regulations pertain to everyday service. An annual discussion on this topic should be sufficient.
  • Health and Safety Guidelines – These are usually part of any talk about government regulations, but are worth repeating every couple of months.
  • Your Company Business – This topic comes far down on the list. Most of the time, you can cover it with a few sentences, a paper handout, or an e-mail.

INVOLVE

Information alone doesn’t create a valuable meeting. Since your techs work alone so much of the time, meetings provide the opportunity for them to feel like part of a team. And that can help keep them with you much longer.

  • Encourage Dialogue – Almost everyone prefers meetings where real dialogue occurs, rather than just sitting and listening to a lecture. You might have to really engage a few employees to get it started, and you may need to keep the discussion on topic at times, but you’ll start having meetings that folks look forward to.
  • Assign Tasks – You don’t want to have to do all the work yourself. Ask different people to do research on a topic and present what they find. Ask if anyone has (plant related) interests or expertise outside work and let them talk about them. Make sure everyone has a heads up on the next meeting so they can be thinking of what they might want to say.
  • Feedback – Use the old “anonymous suggestion box” trick. Dump it out and read it in front of the group…preferably with doughnuts and coffee.
  • How Do You Do That – Get techs to thinking about how they’re doing various tasks, how they would explain it, how they might teach it to someone else.

INSPIRE

People are more motivated when they can see a vision of the future. Here are a few items that can help inspire your crew.

  • Green Movement – Show off the current trend of green cities with planted roofs and walls, construction of green-ways, L.E.E.D buildings, etc.
  • Biophilia – Talk about biophilia,the vital connection between people and plants, and biophilic design.
  • Organics – Control of pests and pathogens with beneficials and organic antibacterials. Then there’s the whole field of growing food indoors in large commercial operations – “Food Cities of the Future.”
  • Create Excitement Around New Plant Varieties – It’s good to show off and talk about new plants the staff may encounter, whether they’re currently available or still in the development stage.
  • New Research – This is always an interesting topic, whether about how plants work, growing techniques, plan/human interaction … the sky’s the limit.
  • Your Company’s Vision – Growth and/or improvement plans, ways for techs to contribute beyond servicing accounts (the share day, community activities, etc.)

That’s all that I have for right now, but there are quite probably many more that you can think of. If you think of some topic that sounds interesting, let us know. Maybe we’ll do some research on it, write a post, and you can use that as the starting point for a meeting. Or if you’ve had some interesting discussions among your folks, we’d love to hear about those too. Meetings can be a valuable resource – use them to your advantage. You’ll be glad you did.

Marlie Graves, known as The Ficus Wrangler, has been keeping plants beautiful, training techs and relating to clients at half a dozen companies for 30 years. She studied creative writing and psychology in college and went on to start an independent film company with her first husband. She decided to focus on plants full time after completing the NYBG Horticulture School interior landscaping course. Marlie is retired, operates "The Ficus Wrangler" YouTube channel, contributes regularly to several houseplant forums, and is working on a plantcare book based on professional methods.

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