Listening to MoneyTree

| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

HALL OF FAME WINNER

MoneyTree Inc. has won
first place in the Best Companies to Work For competition for the past three
years in a row, and thus has been entered into our Hall of Fame, alongside such
previous winners as Russell Investments and Nextel Partners.

After more than a quarter of a century of doing business,
MoneyTree has learned to make listening its highest priority.

The check cashing business has always listened to the market
and to customers, but of late, the company’s leadership, David Bassford, Sarah
Bassford (David and Sarah are married), CEO Dennis Bassford (David’s brother)
and company president Aggie Clark have been listening to employees—all the more
crucial in a cool economy.

The founders and senior executives have traveled to every
district of operations in the five states where the company does business to
conduct workshops with management teams and to meet employees face to face.
Visits have allowed senior executives the chance to reassure the staff amid
economic and legislative changes that threaten its business model, such as
attempts to cap the interest rate MoneyTree can charge on loans. That personal
touch has gone a long way with employees.

“This is one of the most innovative and caring companies to
work for,” one employee writes. “When the economy crashed, MoneyTree found ways
to reorganize and rethink its way of doing things without layoffs. Because of
that, this company has my loyalty and support.”

To earn such dedication in trying times, the leadership
sends employees daily e-mails about company updates. A monthly newsletter also
goes out to all 1,050 employees in Washington, Idaho, California, Colorado and
Nevada. All employees have access to the company’s intranet, where they can get
information on benefits, the employee assistance program and a blog where they
can post questions.

But a personal touch goes a long way. One day an employee
was unloading a van full of boxes when it started to rain. Aggie Clark happened
to pull into the parking lot at the same time. “Before I knew it,” the employee
writes, “the president of the company was holding an umbrella over my head for
me.”

Clark laughs at the story. “If I saw him again loading boxes
in the rain, I’d hold the umbrella again,” she says. “Because that’s what you
do for each other.”

Of the more than 200 comment respondents,
dozens note and are grateful for the company’s fully covered medical, dental
and vision benefits. Sarah Bassford is well aware of its importance to
employees. Last year, while the company was searching for more cost saving
measures, it spared the benefits package. “We make a lot of tough decisions,”
she says, “but we’ll get rid of the plants in the lobby before we give up
benefits.” True to her word, the company benefit program is very much alive.
That perk tells the employees their bosses are listening.

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