Client Spotlight: Amy Munroe, Staffing eTrainer
Many small business owners start out because they see something in their industry that’s missing. For Amy Munroe of Staffing eTrainer, soft skills are extremely important in helping people make the connections they need for a successful career. Her company helps recruiters and staffers to remember that making a strong first impression and developing the relationship makes all the difference.
Find out more about how Amy got started and how the staffing industry works in our client profile for the month.
Can you tell us about Staffing eTrainer and why you started it?
Staffing eTrainer is a training and development company specifically for the temporary staffing industry. I’ve been involved in the industry for 30 plus years. And I started working in a staffing company. I went to work for a staffing software company. I did their training and implementations. As staffing companies bought their software, I was the one in charge of making sure the implementation went smoothly.
I realized that there was one piece of training that staffing companies do not do a good job of– soft skills. We are a people industry. We work with people every day. In 1999, I opened Staffing eTrainer, so I could help staffing companies focus on developing their internal teams, to have stronger communications, relationships and loyalty with the temporary associates that they’re putting to work.
You teach all kinds of services. In a webinar, you mentioned that you are “reminding people that they’re career counselors versus recruiters.” Can you describe what that looks like?
Yes, first of all, thank you for finding that. That is one piece that I am very passionate about and am really going to be focusing on in 2022 and 2023.
Temporary companies have a tendency to focus on filling a position. They think, “I have a client that has a position and I want to fill that position.” When you do that, you’re a job filler. You’re not engaging with the applicant or the candidate. As a career counselor, I think it’s important that you’re helping every candidate you talk to determine where they want to be in their career, what does that look like, what skill do they want to gain that they don’t have today, how can they go about doing that—maybe what skill areas are going to be the highest in demand in over the next 5 to 10 years.
I think recruiters should be career counselors. They should be developing what I call a talent community amongst their candidates, to allow them to continue to grow and nurture and develop all of the candidates that they have. Versus putting them on an assignment or filling another job.
The minute you have to convince somebody to take a position is the minute you’re going to have a failure on that placement. I remember specifically trying to place somebody one time, and they said, “But that’s a 15-mile commute. I don’t want to drive that far.” I said, “But we’ll pay you extra, and this is such a great company and such great experience.” She took it, and then two weeks later, she said, “I can’t go back. It’s just too far.” If you don’t try to make the best match, you’re going to have a failure.
You also said that career relationships begin with the first contact. How do you incorporate that with the people you train and counsel?
There are 25,000 staffing companies in the United States. There’s a lot of competition. If somebody is looking for a job, they’re not just calling your staffing company. They’re calling every staffing company on the block.
I try to focus on the way to treat that person the very first time they call–the tone of voice, the questions that you’re asking them, not treating them as a number, but as a person. Really focusing on that phone call and not just trying to fill an interview slot while at the same time making sure it’s a good spend of the interviewer’s time and interviewee’s time to come in for the interview. It’s important to take an extra minute or two to have a conversation and determine if it’s worth the candidate’s time so the interviewer can help them achieve their career goal. I think that’s so important. If you focus on that on the first phone call, you’ve already created a sense of loyalty with that candidate. Any other staffing company, when you call them, they’re literally only asking, “Can you come in tomorrow for a two o’clock interview?” That’s the extent of the conversation.
When you do trainings, you must have a lot of “aha” moments among the attendees.
It’s amazing. People will say, “Oh, I’ve been doing this for 10-15 years. I know most of everything.” And then I’ll tell them the difference between counseling and recruiting, and they will say, “Oh, yes, I do that. I do turn on autopilot.”
What do you love about your work?
I love what I do for the “aha” moment. I like the opportunity to give somebody a new idea and to watch the wheels in their heads start turning. It’s not rocket science, but it is, “How can I do things a little bit differently? How can I turn this just a little bit on its side in order to have a different perspective or to sound different than every other staffing company?” It’s the “aha” moment that I absolutely love.
And I love people. I love being around people. I love getting to know them. I love trying to figure out different personalities and how I need to deliver something that will attract and impact one person, but then say the same thing in a different way to engage another person. To me, that is a challenge, and I like that a lot.
Tell me something about your work that you find challenging.
This is both challenging and frustrating. When people don’t realize the importance of investing in their internal team. When I’m talking to an owner of a company, and they say, “Well, I really can’t afford that.” Then, I’ll offer other alternatives at a lower price point. Finally, I realize that it has nothing to do with price; they don’t see the value of offering development to their current staff, trying to make their staff better, stronger, more productive, more engaged.
That’s my biggest challenge. In sales, you can try really hard to work around that. I have some questions I ask around that, but it’s a challenge. It’s very frustrating to me, and it kind of breaks my heart for the people in their company. I think, “You’re just going to have high turnover.” In this industry, you have to give something to your employees to get them to want to stay.
Tell me a little about the kind of customers you serve.
I serve customers nationwide in every vertical. It could be commercial, which is something like light industrial or warehouse and office clerical. I work with IT companies, accounting firms, healthcare companies—a wide variety—engineers, pharma.
Actually, one company that was fascinating to work with was a mining company. They sent miners all over the world to mine for gems. It was fascinating how many different verticals there are in the staffing industry. I work with all kinds of vertical markets.
I normally work with small to mid-sized to mid-to-large companies. I really don’t work with national companies. They have their own internal training department. Staffing companies from $10 million up to about $300 million. That’s my sweet spot where I focus
Staffing, if you get in at the right time, has a fairly low entry threshold to get into the market. You do have to have the funding because we’re payroll-driven—we pay people every week—but it’s pretty easy to get into staffing. Many people who get into it don’t have staffing experience.
Did the pandemic have a large effect on your company or did you work with organizations that are used to the virtual environment so it didn’t change much?
It was really interesting. We had been doing virtual webinars for years with break-out groups. We’ve always had very highly interactive webinars. However, our clients always wanted instructor-led sessions. They said, “We want you to be here.”
Now, it’s amazing how many companies say, “I don’t need you here. If you can do a virtual webinar, we can do the same thing.” Actually, one thing that’s it’s helped me with is that I’m able to be home more. I’m not traveling as much, which is a pretty nice thing. I’ve been traveling for 25 years. It’s nice to not be traveling every week or two weeks a month.
What advice would you give to other business owners?
Two pieces of advice: you can’t do everything, so don’t try. You will be burning both ends of the candle, and you’ll wear yourself out. And, number two, never stop selling.
What happened with me is that I would sell, sell, sell. I would get all these projects. Then I’d be wound up in the projects, and I wouldn’t be continuing my sales mode. Eventually, I would come to think, “Oh, these projects are coming to an end; I need to get back out and sell again.” My advice is to find a way to consistently maintain sales. Set a day or a week apart as your focused sales days, reaching out to current customers and reaching out to prospects. Figure out a way to calendar block to make sure you get your sales efforts in every week.
How has it been working with VaVa?
Working with VaVa has been very helpful. I’m kind of a control freak and when I was giving up the social media piece, the first individual that I was connected with—I think it was partly my issue with giving up the control—we didn’t necessarily blend very well. I loved that VaVa stayed in touch with me for the first several weeks when I had this new person, and I was able to say, “I’m not sure this is the right person.” Then VaVa was able to match me with somebody else who was more my style. They probably coached that individual as well telling her, “She’s a little controlling. Let her get kind of used to it, and then she’ll hand it over.”
All in all, I’ve loved it because I don’t do social media anymore. We have a weekly standing call. If we can do it at the beginning of the month and get everything organized, then the assistant runs with it for the rest of the month. It has been a lifesaver for me. I’m considering going to another avenue with VaVa to take a few more things off my plate.
Tell us a “fun fact” about yourself.
I am related to Abraham Lincoln. We did our family tree, and I am related to Abraham Lincoln which is kind of cool. I look at my profile, and I think, well, I probably do see some of him in there.
Is there anything more you would like to share?
I think for me, 2022 is about changing the mindset of some of my clients to look at talent in a different way, creating what I’m calling a talent community among our staffing companies. That’s my focus for 2022. I also need to continue to remember my own advice—that I can’t do everything. I need to be able to know when I need to step back when I have to let somebody else help. I need to allow myself to do what I love doing and what’s going to move the company ahead.
Amy gave us some helpful advice about letting go when running your own company. You can find Amy and her resources for staff training at StaffingeTrainer.com.
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