This article appeared in MarktImpulse 2/19
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Order, organize and optimize... Markus Fieber puts everything into ensuring that processes in his companyare always becoming easier and making them as transparent as possible. And his customers and employees know to value that.
It’s morning, around 4.30 am. While most people are still deep asleep, Markus Fieber has already been up for a long time and is in his workshop. The master painter from Ammerthal, a small village in the vicinity of historical city Amberg, with its medieval city center, loves to begin his days at the crack of dawn. He can clean up unhindered, perform his preparations in peace, and above all tackle his favorite task: Organizing and optimizing.
I am notoriously a fan of planning and organization.
Markus Fieber, owner and managing director
“I am notoriously fanatic when it comes to planning and organization,” says the 42-year-old owner and managing director, laughing at himself. “For me, there is nothing better than always seeking opportunities to structure my business better and simplify processes.”
His latest discovery is a calendar system with a name that is as quirky as it is catchy, “Super Blick auf alles”, SBaa for short, or “an overview of it all”. It was developed specifically for the building trade by Peter Kübel, based in Badenwürttemberg, and makes it possible to get a clear overview of up to a year of workload and process planning by means of a pinboard and multi-colored charts.
Markus Fieber refers to this remarkably simple, but thoroughly effective tool as “God’s gift” – even if it cost him “a small fortune”. But since the likable local has been entirely won over by the system, he’s happy to pay for it. “Thanks to this system,” says Markus Fieber, I no longer need to explain things to my employees and I don’t forget things. Everyone can see immediately who is at which construction site and when or where there’s a window of time for a new job. We can also react much more quickly to changes and reschedule if necessary. This not only makes our work easier but also benefits the customer – because we can avoid overlapping appointments and can make definite, binding commitments.”
Although Fieber swears by an innovative, yet classically analog solution, in other situations he is glad to reach for digital support – when it comes to recording time and work.
Even in the digital world, the perfectionist is not satisfied with standards that do not meet his. In that case, he’d rather come up with something of his own accord. Together with his friend Jörg Müller, who runs a drinks factory in the site next door, and who is also a well-versed hobby programmer, he spent six months tinkering on a piece of software that was specially tailored to his needs.
For Markus Fieber, it was about “simplifying processes and making them more transparent” here, too. In the mornings, his employees now record which site they are going to and what material they are taking, on one of the two computers in the workshop. After work, they record their hours and if necessary, note any upcoming vacation. “That means I can keep track of everything, I know exactly where we were on a construction site with the estimated time and can apportion the costs calculated. So I also save myself effort in the office,” says the boss. At the end of the month, all it takes is a few clicks, and all the vital information for accounting is sent to the tax office.
On top of that, the system tracks the stock levels for everything; from adhesive tape, to tins of paint, to winter tires for the company’s trucks. “If something is missing or a car needs to go for vehicle inspection, the program immediately reminds me,” enthuses Markus Fieber, who is above all happy that everything works so “easily” and no one in the company needs to spend more than a couple of minutes on the PC.
Fieber’s team is also enthusiastically on board. With the computer system – and above all, with the well-thought out structure, managed by the boss. Simply the fact that he never tires of encouraging his employees to be organized is well received.
“Of course, you have to get used to the fact that each tool has its place and that after use, it needs to go back there, so that it is logged digitally. Or that each vehicle has to be clean and tidy at the end of the day. But clear approaches and reliable structures make the work so much easier and provide certainty,” says Nadine Kachel. That’s exactly why the 29-year-old chose to apply to work with Markus Fieber three years ago. And his reputation for being a great employer helped, too. He does not only pay fairly – read, well above average – put also sees his employees as his most important asset.
We have a fantastic working environment and the work itself is great. I have found my dream job.
Samantha Lück, Apprentice
“The boss,” says Hermann Hirsch, the oldest in the business, at 56, with 13 years of experience with the company, “takes care of us individually and is always willing to listen. You can rely on him completely.” Actually, Markus Fieber has another outstanding skill in addition to his talent for organization. He sees the potential in other people and puts his faith in everyone. If he believes in someone, then he’ll provide them with an apartment, paying the deposit and the rent up front. He also gives candidates a chance who might not have the best qualifications, saying, “What does a piece of paper tell us about their talent for handiwork?” He also looks after his apprentices and helps to keep them punctual: If desired, they are provided with a company scooter – for commuting and trips to the vocational school, but also for personal use. The boss even pays for the driving licenses and any insurance required. The youngsters only need to pay for the gas.
His team shows their appreciation of this approach with absolute loyalty to their boss. Expensive courses in personnel management or team building measures are just not required. “To encourage teamwork, I used to send my employees to the spa in Erding or hide Easter eggs that they had to search for over the course of an hour. Now, the team organizes these things for themselves. But I’m always invited along!” The passionate mountain biker and motocross fan also knows to value the wellbeing of his team – and good working conditions. Everyone meets punctually at 6.30am in the workshop and finishes by 4pm; on Fridays, even at 2pm.
Markus Fieber learned his profession from the bottom up. He accompanied and learned form his father, who ran a small painting company with two employees in Amberg. After training, he initially worked in a vehicle paint shop. But when his father died out of the blue, as the youngest of three brothers, he decided to follow in his dad’s footsteps and continue the company. When he was 20, he completed his master painter qualification, and two years later, was running the firm. The company has been growing steadily since then. In Amberg and its surroundings, the Fieber name has long been a guarantee of quality. He is considered as “not exactly cheap”, but extremely precise, reliable, and highly professional. The order books are full up right up to 2020 and almost all of his customers are local to the region.
With his company, Fieber has come to specialize in renovating external facades. In the meantime, he’s come to act as a consultant, “sometimes almost project manager”. He’s the one to establish initial contact with the customer, contributing his technical expertise and creative suggestions – and calculates things well. “In our profession, being an excellent tradesperson is not enough,” he resumes. “You also need to be a great salesperson.” Fieber is both – from Monday mornings at 4.30 until Friday afternoons at 2. Then he’s no longer a master painter, and instead just a normal person, husband, and father of two. Or as he says, “the weekend belongs to the family”. Come what may.
The small business in Amberg, which Markus Fieber took over in 1997 as a 20-year-old, has become one of the most well-known specialist firms in the area. The 42-year-old now has 13 staff and places great importance on regularly training the next generation. His innovative company, which also has its own scaffolding, has come to particularly specialize in surface design within airless spray applications.