Mi Casa, Su Casa

Do you remember the movie "Field of Dreams"? "Shoeless" Joe Jackson whispers to Kevin Costner, "If you build it, they will come!" This father-and-son movie was about faith, hope and redemption. Six Christmases ago, my family and I were staying at the Four Seasons in Seattle for two days during the holidays, a sort of recharging of the batteries. My then 12-year-old son, Colin, and I were standing

Do you remember the movie "Field of Dreams"? "Shoeless" Joe Jackson whispers to Kevin Costner, "If you build it, they will come!" This father-and-son movie was about faith, hope and redemption.
Six Christmases ago, my family and I were staying at the Four Seasons in Seattle for two days during the holidays, a sort of recharging of the batteries. My then 12-year-old son, Colin, and I were standing at the front desk when I noticed Kevin Costner walk by.
I said to my son, "Hey, Colin, there goes Kevin Costner!"
Needless to say, he did not believe me. The woman at the front desk smiled and whispered, "Yes, it is. He is leaving today."
As we walked out the front door for lunch, he was standing waiting for his car. I smiled and said: "Kevin, I truly admire your work. The characters you portray have a common theme that appeals to many people. Your work is making a difference."
He smiled and humbly said, "Thank you."
Then, knowing he was avid golfer, I asked, "How is your golf game?"
His face lit up and he began talking enthusiastically about his short game. My son stood in awe; after all, this was KEVIN COSTNER, the movie star! He then turned to my son and asked, "Do you play ball?"
Colin smiled, turning three shades of red, and admitted he played basketball.
"Are you any good?" he asked.
I smiled and affirmed he was. Kevin's car arrived after a very spirited 10-minute conversation. He shook our hands and drove off. As we walked away, Colin said: "What a nice guy. Why did he talk to us so long, Dad?"
I thought for a minute and replied: "I think it´s because famous people like to be treated like regular folks and regular folks like to be treated like famous people. Remember the film 'Tin Cup'? We talked about something in which I knew he had a passion for, golf. We also started the conversation with sincere appreciation. Everyone craves that, son."
A river never rises above its source. With the Costner lesson in mind, I ask the business question, "How do you decrease turnover and attract great people to your organization in this drum-tight labor market?"
I turned to one of my clients, let's call him Joe in Ohio, for the answers. I was hired to assist him to increase his service sales. He has a line of people waiting to come to work for him. Why? As I interviewed him for this column, I was able to identify a number of elements that were causal to this phenomenon. The observable behaviors are as follows:

  • The first thing out of his mouth when he sees one of his employees is,
    "How is your family?" He genuinely cares about people.
  • He pays a little more than his competition.
  • He passionately believes in training of all kinds.
  • "Mi Casa, Su Casa.& Translated from Spanish, "My house is your house."
    If one of his guys needs to borrow anything the company has, like a flatbed
    truck over the weekend, it's theirs to use. He trusts them.
  • He promotes from within whenever possible.
  • He has a passion for Service and he takes unhappy customers personally.
  • He surrounds himself with good people, trains them like mad and then gets
    out of their way.
  • He loves what he does. (He is in the plumbing business.)
  • Someone once asked Chi-Chi Rodriguez after a particularly great round of golf
    on the seniors tour why his touch on the greens was so amazing. He smiled
    and said, "Maybe it's because I mowed them for so long!" Joe has done it all
    in his business, and his people know it and can ask him anything.
  • He is not afraid to say: "I don't know. Let's go find out."
  • Finally, he never stops growing, and he is flexible. He knows what he wants
    and is willing to change, grow and adapt.


  • These aren't the only reasons, but they are some of the obvious ones. If you are responsible for finding and keeping good people, look inside first. Before you invest a huge amount of money on advertising and promotion, consider the following questions:

  • What's been my turnover rate inside my company the last four years?
  • Why do people leave?
  • What can I do to reduce turnover and attract the people I need?


  • I am not suggesting don't advertise. I am saying consider investing a portion of your discretionary capital in growing and improving your culture from the inside out. Become more. Grow yourself and your people.
    Consider this simple truth, "Everyone needs three things: to be appreciated, respected and understood." Do your employees feel that way in your company? When was the last time you asked them in a non-threatening way?
    If you build it, they will come. Like in "Field of Dreams," people will knock on your door if you become the company of choice by treating people with dignity and respect.

Mark Matteson of the Pinnacle Service Group can be reached by phone at 877/672-2001, by fax at 425/745-8981, by e-mail at [email protected] or visit his Website at www.mattesonavenue.com.

Mi casa, su casa is Spanish for "My house is your house." Is your business like your extended family?
Ask Joe about his family.