That’s how Ronnie Hollis has grown Prestige Staffing between 80 percent and 105 percent per year for the last four years, with estimated 2006 revenue of $18 million and anticipated 2007 revenue of $20 million to $35 million. The company, which fills temporary, permanent and contract positions for businesses across North America, employs 55.
The average age of employees is 26, and such youth, coupled with the company’s anticipated continued growth, means that training is critical. “Our goal is to create leaders, not just manage them,” Hollis says.
Smart Business spoke with Hollis, CEO of Prestige Staffing, about how he keeps employees motivated and the importance of finding weaknesses even when things are going well.
Q: What is the most important skill for a CEO to have?
A CEO has to be humble. Nobody has all the answers, and if you’re humble, you’ll take advice from others, and you’ll need advice from others. It may be an entry-level person; it may be your right-hand man who has been with you since the beginning.
If you’re not humble, you’re going to try to call every shot without gathering the pertinent data you need to make a decision. Other people have brains, too, and you have to use them.
Hire smart people, and be smart enough to take their advice. You’ve got to have good gut instincts, because sometimes there are decisions to be made, and the data’s not there. You’ve just got to have the courage to take some leaps of faith.
Q: What is the biggest trap a CEO should avoid?
Contentment. If, as a CEO, you don’t stay focused on the big picture, the company’s not going to grow. If you become content, the company becomes content.
If you become stagnant and content, your staff is not going see opportunities. If they’re not going to have opportunities for themselves, they’re going to leave. Your people are your most valuable asset, and the best way to keep them around is to keep creating opportunities for them.
As a CEO, if you get content, you’re dead. Whatever numbers you hit this month, great. Let’s beat them next month, and every month. You’ve got to reinvest that money in your company for opportunities for your people. You can’t be too greedy. The temptation is there, especially in a successful company. You didn’t make it by yourself.
It doesn’t have to be in pay; it can be in opportunities. Create opportunities for your people. In return, they’ll make you a bigger, more successful company.
Q: How do you avoid stagnation and contentment?
You have to be able to identify weaknesses before they become problems. When a company is doing well, it’s easy to just sit back and watch it and enjoy it. But in reality, what you should be doing is identifying weaknesses before they become problems.
Where are you weak? Where can you get better? If you don’t fix it, it’s going to become a huge problem for you, and that can stunt your growth. I don’t care how good you’re doing; you have to look for weaknesses.
Yesterday in the weekly meeting, we had our best week ever, and we’re on track to have our best month ever, but the meeting was about an area I found that we need to work on. I focused more on that weakness.
You have to celebrate your successes and all that, but the clich is that there is 90 percent you’re doing right and 10 percent you do wrong. My job is to always identify the 10 percent we’re doing wrong.
Q: How do you attract and keep quality employees?
Why do you get up and go to work every day? Well, you want to be successful at what you do; you want to make as much money as you can, and you want to have a successful career. So your vision must be built around giving people those opportunities.
Our vision is built upon giving our employees everything they would want from a job so it becomes their career, not just a job. We give them a career path they can be happy about, and they feel like they are a part of creating something.
Q: How do you do that?
You have to make sure there’s no division between management and staff. So many times, leaders just try to tell people what to do. You have to get out there and show them. They have to feel like you’re in it with them.
A lot of companies use classroom training. We avoid that. We try to roll up our sleeves, get out there and show them how to do it.
HOW TO REACH: Prestige Staffing, (770) 200-3565 or www.prestigestaffing.com