How PrideStaff Created Industry-Leading Growth: Interview with COO Tammi Heaton
Posted August 25, 2014 by Ryan Estis in Recruiting
PrideStaff is a staffing agency that’s grown more than 30 percent every year for the past four consecutive years. The industry is growing at an average of 7 to 8 percent a year.
I was fortunate to support their national sales convention this year and recently got a chance to catch up with Tammi Heaton, EVP and COO at PrideStaff, to discuss how the company is making it all happen.
How to Create Industry-Leading Growth: Don’t Stop Innovating
Running a staffing firm during the Great Recession wasn’t easy. As Tammi explains it, “temporary staffing is the first category to be hurt during a recession. But it’s also the first to recover.” Instead of hunkering down and biding their time during the recession, the team at PrideStaff made necessary adjustments and kept moving forward.
“That was a huge distinguishing factor for us. We made smart decisions during a time of suffering. We kept pushing, coaching, and driving sales, and set ourselves up for growth once the market started to move again.”
Tammi remembers the company’s national meeting in 2009 (a hard year for staffing). “The theme was ‘It’s going to be a good year.’ So much of what leaders do is mental — motivating people and helping them see the light at the end of the tunnel. We made two decisions: to keep investing in the company, and to keep driving the sales strategy. We were always looking for more ways to innovate and improve.”
PrideStaff’s success story isn’t flashy. Instead, the company has found success through consistent, day-to-day execution.
During the recession, PrideStaff invested in their website. They watched where the market was moving — toward online, mobile, social job applications. The team re-launched the company website to optimize for mobile, and add a new focus on blogging and social media. “The whole landscape of our business has shifted to mobile. We were ready for it. We invested early. Now, 50% of candidates search for jobs on mobile. Because our website is mobile-friendly, we’ve seen our traffic jump over time from 10,000 to 185,000 unique visitors a month.”
The companies and people who are winning today had the courage to make difficult decisions. It’s tough to invest heavily in a company when business is slow. But, because of bold decisions and smart investments, PrideStaff was positioned to grow once the market turned around.
How to Create Industry-Leading Growth: Invest in Your People
PrideStaff has invested carefully in its people, too — specifically, training employees to deliver exceptional service. In 2010, the company started implementing a new customer loyalty program based on Net Promoter scores. The Net Promoter system asks customers and employees the question, “On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” The leaders at PrideStaff knew that companies with a high Net Promoter score perform better over time.
They launched the survey to their two primary audiences, clients and job candidates, and started measuring results three times a year. PrideStaff uses those survey results to make changes at the individual level, coaching employees on how to drive customer satisfaction, and on an organizational level, making big changes based on customers’ expectations and feedback.
Today’s buyer is different. Companies have to evolve to meet drastically increased expectations. “Customers don’t respond to traditional sales approaches — identifying problems and offering solutions,” Tammi says. “Instead, they’re looking for insight, storytelling based on our past successes, and specific examples of how we’ve helped other clients who’ve had similar needs. People want to work with experts who can add real value to their business.”
Old-school sales strategies that rely on relationships alone just don’t work anymore. Today’s salespeople have to develop strong relationships and bring massive value to buyers. No one has time for an open-ended conversation about their business. Buyers are looking for someone who can contribute new thinking about their business — fast.
PrideStaff is keeping its team ahead of the curve through continuous education, using every tool available to educate and inform employees.
3 Recruiting and Retention Best Practices from PrideStaff
Talent is a top-of-mind priority for most executives. Tammi shared her tips for attracting and retaining the best talent.
1. Get proactive about compensation.
“If you want top talent, you’re going to have to pay for it,” she says. Tammi recommends proactively looking at the market and analyzing how your compensation stacks up — for both new hires and current employees. Make proactive moves to adjust your compensation, instead of waiting for current employees to get frustrated, find other opportunities and start bargaining about compensation. Be in touch with where your top people stand, have regular conversations about what they’re looking for, and always stay proactive.
2. Speed up your recruiting timeline.
“Job candidates today have a lot of opportunities. Great candidates aren’t on the job market for long. So, employers no longer have the luxury of acting on their own recruiting timelines.” Every employer who’s serious about getting the best talent should seriously examine their recruiting process. Do you require candidates to meet a long list of people, during multiple in-person interviews over several visits? Do you leave candidates in the dark for days or weeks at a time while you make decisions internally? It’s worth considering how you can speed up your recruiting process to hire great candidates before they go elsewhere.
3. Focus on internal communication.
Tammi has been leading teams at PrideStaff for 17 years. She’s an effective and respected leader because she focuses on people first. PrideStaff makes internal communication a priority, to help employees share their input and understand the “why?” behind changes that affect them.
When I asked Tammi the most rewarding part of her job, she answered without hesitation: “Developing people. Seeing them grow.”
Tammi and the team at PrideStaff focus on people first. The results speak for themselves.
Ryan Estis helps progressive companies embrace change, attack opportunity and achieve breakthrough performance. Delivering more than 75 live events annually, Ryan provides high-impact keynote presentations and professional development in partnership with the world’s best brands. Learn more about Ryan.
About The Author
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.
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