BOCA RATON, FL - Contracting firms serve internal customers — employees — as well as external customers, stated Mitchell Cropp, president of Cropp-Metcalfe Air Conditioning and Heating, Fairfax, VA, but it is those “internal customers [that] are our future.”

In a training session at the Excellence Alliance, Inc.’s, National Executive Meeting here, Cropp emphasized that contractors cannot serve anybody unless they first have quality internal customers.

Professionalism is important to attract the best people. “Everybody wants to be associated with a professional,” he said. It’s also important to provide training for supervisors and managers on how to work with your people.

Every company should have a written mission statement, said Cropp. His firm’s mission proclaims its commitment to customers, staff, and the company at large. For its staff, the company mission statement includes:

  • Excellent benefits;
  • Strong family and community ties; and
  • Exceptional training for career growth.
  • The goal of his business is “customers for life, whether it’s an internal or external customer.”


    To demonstrate professionalism, the management team must have a positive attitude; set the example for their employees; smile and say “Thank you”; expect the best and gain respect; and “Show respect for your people,” stated Cropp.

    The company has a dress code putting its installers and technicians in uniform. Friday is casual day, but only for those staff members not in uniform. All vehicles are kept clean and organized; any nicks or problems are taken care of right away.

    All vehicles have their inventory set up the same way, with a section of the warehouse set up like the vehicles to make it easier to restock. Techs are told of the required tools for the job; the company’s tool fair enables them to get quality tools at a good price.

    Cropp noted that it is also important to let your internal customers know of your business’s industry and community involvement. Inform them of your membership in EAI, ACCA, and other organizations, and your support of little league baseball, the family crisis center, and other worthy groups.

    Share your goals with your people, he added. These include department, branch, company, and employee goals. Cropp even shares his profit and loss statements. “I used to be scared of that,” he admitted, but now he freely shares what it costs to run the business.

    Honesty is another important characteristic. “Always honor your commitments to your internal customers.”


    In recruiting employees, Cropp looks for people who are honest, have a positive attitude, and like to work. He offers employees a career path, letting them know what the next step is. An interview outline makes sure that every interview covers the same territory.

    Publish all the benefits you provide for employees, “because people forget all they’re getting,” he said. If they should decide to leave, let them compare your list of benefits with your competitor’s. He also recommended having a policies and procedures manual, and an organization chart.

    Visit jobsites periodically and stroke your employees, he remarked. Cropp also handwrites personal notes on individual check stubs to help recognize employees. Regarding communication, “We constantly create an atmosphere of two-way feedback.”

    Personal recognition for employees includes a customer compliments form which is posted for everyone to see whenever a staff member receives a compliment by phone, letter, etc.

    Contractors must always lead by example, never asking others to do something that they wouldn’t do themselves, said Cropp. The key, he said, is to “Always be honest.”