Departments - May/June 2012

>> case study

Jingle in Your Pocket
Custom Minted Coins Create Recognition

By Tammy York


Nowadays everyone likes the feel of a little extra change in their pocket. The tactile sensation of having coins in your pocket is reminiscent of the euphoria of having extra change as a child. Combine the nostalgia with a modern-day incentive program, and you have a unique and tangible way of reinforcing the behaviors and attitudes you wish to see in your employees.

One such incentive program is being used by a company called Landscape Development Management. The company utilizes 1.5-inch diameter coins to bring to life the attributes of a fictional character, Don Mario, from the book, "My Corner of Heaven," written by Gary Gordon, owner and CEO of Landscape Development.

The heavy bronze patinaed coins were minted Cincinnati, Ohio, by Osborne coinage. The coins are used as part of an incremental reward program that recognizes employees who are working to improve field safety, honesty, upward mobility and customer satisfaction.

When employees begin work at Landscape Development, they receive a copy of the Don Mario book and CD. The book shows by example the values and principles that can be applied to their work. Employees can earn a Don Mario buck by exhibiting one of the Don Mario's four keys to success in life:

  1. Set Achievable, Worthwhile Goals
  2. Bury Your Fear of Failure and Never Give Up
  3. Overcome Obstacles With Dedicated, Sustained Work
  4. Show Friendship and Compassion to Other People

They can also earn a Don Mario buck by exhibiting one of the five principles of creating Raving Fans:

  1. Take a Personal Interest in Every Customer
  2. Learn What the Customer Wants and Needs
  3. Exceed the Customer's Expectations
  4. Perform Consistently 100 Percent of the Time. Never Fall Short of Your Promise
  5. Improve Every Day

Or, they can earn a Don Mario buck by exhibiting one of the three pillars of Landscape Development:

  • Absolute Safety
  • Brutal Honesty
  • Create Raving Fans

A Don Mario buck is equal to a $25 bonus. Landscape Development began the program in August 2005 and was surprised that field staff liked the coins so much that they did not cash them in for the bonus. The monetary reward was instituted by the superintendent recording the coin presentation information on a recognition form to generate the bonus for the employee, as well as the information being kept in the employee's personnel file.

Landscape Development reports that by constantly pushing the doctrine of Absolute Safety to their employees combined with the reward system, workplace injuries have steadily declined.

"Safety is our No. 1 priority," said Ryan Nixon, director of the operations for Landscape Development based in Valencia, Calif. "If one of our superintendents sees our field employees demonstrating our commitment to quality, customer's concern, integrity and teamwork, they pull the team aside and recognize them for what they are doing by presenting them with a Don Mario buck."