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  • Intelligent Shift

Coffee Shop Questions - Taking Stock

Back to our series of Mike, Alissa and me chatting about the business and industry. We just hit two and half years. It’s flown by so it felt like a reasonable time to take stock in the achievements and setbacks. I asked Mike and Alissa what accomplishments of which they were most proud. It hasn’t been all rainbows so I also asked what setback would you share with others to help them.


  • When we were named a "Best Place to Work in Virginia", I was way more excited than I imagined. I wasn’t even really paying attention to it. When the letter came in, it caught me. This was something the employees did for the company. We had nothing to do with it. It just validated our approach and vision.

  • When contracts end there is always a scramble for companies to find coverage for folks. Bigger companies have lots of open positions, but tend to leave it to the individual to do the matching. Early on, we decided to be all hands-on deck. We’ve had several people lose coverage, but despite our size have given those folks access to a large volume of positions. This has enabled us to place every person. In fact, they have had choices.

  • I am proud that we did not chase every lead that came our way and stuck to our plan. We put together a plan when we started and it would have been really easy to not trust the plan and run down every opportunity. But in the end having a solid plan and sticking to it was the right thing to do for the company and our employees. We are stronger as result. We were deliberate and smart about growth. We hired great leaders who helped us to put the right candidates in places to add value and impact.


  • For me, the hardest thing has been breaking into new markets. I had to learn not to chase everything that was thrown at us. That’s really hard. We had to settle on a strategy and use that as a North Star. Saying no got easier but I still am sore over a development bid team we turned down for a few heads now on a SETA job. That development team went on to win a big contract. In the end, all you can do is learn and keep pressing.

  • I agree. It’s definitely more challenging than expected to break into a few, new targeted markets. Maybe that's due to relative success we've had in our core markets; or maybe it's just a really hard thing to do. You have to line up the right contracts and the right location, with the right customers and then find the right people. Many hurdles to clear during this process and you need to prepare for whatever can go wrong. The hard thing has been to not get disappointed or give up.

  • Yeah, even in our core markets. Boy, does it take a long time to get things closed. If you plan for one month, it will take four months. It can be frustrating and demotivating at times. There are many times I wanted to change plans. It is easy to get frustrated or run out of patience.

  • We have found a dozen ways to see a contract fall through. At one point I started saying even “sure things” are 50/50 at best.

Well there it is. Interesting we have different accomplishments, but pretty close on the setbacks. I guess we know what to focus on!

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