Episode 29: The Most Expensive Hire You Will Ever Make

For years, business owners complained about how tight the job market was and how hard it was to find good employees. Well, so much for that. Funny thing, though. In this week’s episode, William and Jay talk about how, in many ways, hiring has gotten even harder during the crisis. Part of it is having to rely more heavily on Zoom. And part of it is having to sift through the many people who are suddenly available to find the right person. “The most expensive hire you will ever make,” William tells us, “is hiring the wrong person. I mean, you can spend all the money you want on a search firm, and it’s still not as expensive as hiring the wrong person.”

Episode 29: The Most Expensive Hire You Will Ever Make

Guests:

William Vanderbloemen is founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.

Jay Goltz is founder and CEO of Artists Frame Service and Jayson Home.

Producer:

Jess Thoubboron is founder of Blank Word Productions.

Episode Highlights:

William Vanderbloemen: “The most expensive hire you will ever make is hiring the wrong person. I mean, you can spend all the money you want on a search firm, and it’s still not as expensive as hiring the wrong person.”

Jay Goltz: ”People undervalue calling references. And I would agree that, nine out of 10 times, it’s a waste of time. But that one out of 10, you just saved yourself from hiring the wrong employee.”

William Vanderbloemen: “This is kind of funny. I was talking to a sweet person on a search committee at a church, and they said, ‘Well, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’d rather pay you to risk getting on a plane than me.’

Full Episode Transcript:

Loren Feldman:
William, we haven’t spoken with you in a few weeks. How’s business?

William Vanderbloemen:
It’s just great, Loren. Everything’s wonderful. [Laughter]

Loren Feldman:
I’m glad to hear that.

William Vanderbloemen:
No, I think it’s as good as I had hoped. We’ll have to wait and see. I have a friend, Loren. He’s a preacher, and he has a sermon titled “The Longest Sentence in the English Language.” And you’re like, “Ooh, what’s the longest sentence in the English language?” The whole message is built around the sentence, “We’ll have to wait and see.” That is the longest sentence, whether you’re at a job interview or at the doctor’s office or waiting to see what happens with a pandemic. I think things are moving along the course that we plotted way back in March. I wish it were faster, but it’s not.

Loren Feldman:
Give us a status report. Can you estimate what percentage of normal capacity you’re operating at?

William Vanderbloemen:
We had retooled our business to sustain a 25 percent drop for the year, and we’re running a little bit ahead of that. We’re probably year-over-year looking more like somewhere between a 15 and 20 percent drop now. I think the big tell for us will be in October, because that’ll be about six weeks after schools have pretty well started back. We’ll see how we’re doing with the virus. If it’s a total breakout and a shutdown, then we’ll have to retool things again. If it goes with some semblance of normalcy, then that’ll mean a better year than 15 to 20 percent down.

We just did a really interesting survey—we don’t have all the results yet—from all the people who received PPP funds who had contacted us during the flurry of activity for PPP.

Loren Feldman:
Just to remind people, you helped a lot of churches get PPP funds. Is that who you are primarily referring to?

William Vanderbloemen:
And faith-based schools. We had synagogues, we had Jewish schools, we had Christian Schools. I’m fairly certain that, of the faith-based organizations that received PPP money, we interacted with over 20 percent of them.

Loren Feldman:
In the country?

William Vanderbloemen:
That’s right. It’s kind of staggering if you think about it.

Jay Goltz:
Wait. Isn’t that thousands of people? How many would that be?

William Vanderbloemen:
Tens of thousands, yeah. We interacted with over 20,000, and I think it’s something like 90,000 received aid. It was unbelievable. Probably only 2,000 of those were people we knew before all this.

Loren Feldman:
Wait, when you say “interaction,” that doesn’t mean that you handled the application for them. You’re saying they attended one of your webinars or something like that, right?

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, although I would say the vast majority of those people—we didn’t fill out anybody’s application, I don’t want that liability—but we did walk them through things. Like we created a calculator that was free, like enter your payroll, enter your headcount. We had seminars on how to fill out your forgiveness thing. Hundreds of people a day would write in with the most miniscule questions and we’d get back to them real fast. It was somewhere between filling out their application and, “Oh, they just clicked on a link.” Does that make sense?

Loren Feldman:
Sure. That sounds like you had a lot of contact with a lot of potential customers for the future. Is that what you’re hoping?

William Vanderbloemen:
What we were hoping was to serve some people. Sorry to backtrack, but we looked backwards. When all the junk hit the fan, I had a couple of options in front of me. One was to massively cut our payroll to the bone and cut expenses. The other was to do a fire sale: lower our fees during this crisis time and squirrel away money for the future. We chose to do neither of those. We did trim the staff some, but we chose to say, “We’re going to apply for PPP, we’re going to use that money—that salary money—to pay our people to serve other people.” And we were frankly taking a cue from some of our church clients that were spending their payroll money, having their staff get out and serve their local community, whether it was feeding centers or direct help.

Our hope was to help people, but I think a byproduct of doing the right thing sometimes is a good business benefit, and we have geometrically increased our database and our mailing list and all the things that we would have been paying Google AdWords to try and do for us. We back-ended it and looked at the monetary spend we would have had to make to increase our database by the same number, and it was well into seven figures.

Loren Feldman:
I want to get back to this, William, and to whether churches are actually hiring you to do searches right now. But first, Jay, I want to check in with you. How are you doing?

Jay Goltz:
Business is good. People are framing pictures. I’ve got plexiglass hanging over every sales counter. Everybody’s wearing a mask. The home store is doing well. My wholesale business selling to other frame shops is picking up nicely. People have been stuck at home, and they’re out and about.

I would say, going off of what William just said, going into retreat mode—it’s all about cash flow. If you don’t have the cash, you don’t have the cash. But if you do have enough cash, which the PPP did help, it’s never a good thing to go into retreat mode. He just illustrated an excellent example of doing the right thing is always a good thing to do. He’s helping out churches, and I’m helping out customers. You’ve got to be careful not to go into defense and go, “Oh, we can’t deliver this week.”

Loren Feldman:
You’ve talked to us in the past about a competitor that might be going out of business. Has anything come of that?

Jay Goltz:
I’ve met with him. I made him an offer. He wanted to sell his whole building. He inherited the business. He’s turning 50. He’s had it. He wants to move on. My kids are in real estate—

Loren Feldman:
You’re not implying that anybody turning 50 is—

Jay Goltz:
No, he’s just done. I’m just saying, I’m just painting the picture for you. He wants to be done. He doesn’t need the money anymore. He wanted to sell his building. My kids who are in real estate figured out what the building was worth, made him an offer, and he said, “Oh no, I think it’s worth more.” And then I said, “Okay, well, how about if I take over the store? Because if you go to sell to a third party, it’s always good to have a tenant in there.” “Well, I want to get a five year lease.” I said, “Well, I don’t really want to commit for five years.” And at the end of the day, he decided he doesn’t want to do anything. And it’s all friendly, but he’s just—

Loren Feldman:
He doesn’t want to do anything with you. Does that mean he’s gonna keep running the store?

Jay Goltz:
No, he’s closing it. Apparently he has enough money, and there’s a whole emotional thing to this. He took over the business from his father who died, and it was his grandfather’s. He just wants the name to be put away in a tomb somewhere, never to be used again. Sometimes it just turns into two things: doesn’t need the money—very important—and emotional. It gets down to, just because something makes a whole lot of sense doesn’t mean someone’s going to make the right decision.

Loren Feldman:
Jay, you also have a home store. Are people buying furniture right now?

Jay Goltz:
Yeah, absolutely. Jayson Home is doing nicely. I will tell you what I’ve learned through this whole thing. Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean that customers still don’t want good service, don’t want delivery, don’t want… With that being said, this sounds small, but it isn’t. My hours for my frame store—from the day I opened, I took from my father’s dimestore, who opened in 1957. I’ve been dealing with 1957 hours, which is, open at nine, close at six. Well, the world has changed in the last 63 years or whatever. I decided to start opening at 10 now, and I’ve gotta tell you, it’s just made life a lot easier, that extra hour.

Loren Feldman:
For you?

Jay Goltz:
For everybody. For me, I can leave a little later in the morning. Even though the traffic’s much lighter now, still, I miss the traffic. My employees are missing the rush hour. And you know what? Nobody died. It’s okay. We’re opening at 10 now, and it took a pandemic to get me to do that. Frankly, I probably should have done it 20 years ago. The other thing that’s changed is everyone’s got your hours right in their phone now, so it’s not like in the olden days that, “Oh my God, I got here and you’re closed.”

Loren Feldman:
Are you staying open later?

Jay Goltz:
No, no, we were open till seven. Frankly, I’m embarrassed to tell you, I don’t even know if we’re open at night now. I think we’re closing at six. People are okay with some small adjustments. This has made life a lot easier for everybody, but it was a small thing. But there’s other stuff like deliveries, we’re not cutting back on stuff.

For instance, [at] this big restaurant chain, I order a mushroom burger. They don’t have mushrooms. You know what? I want mushrooms on my mushroom burger. I don’t know what to tell you.

Loren Feldman:
There are supply chain issues for everybody right now, Jay.

Jay Goltz:
But that’s my question: do you really think there aren’t any mushrooms out there? I have a hard time believing there aren’t any mushrooms out there. Maybe there aren’t. But I just think there’s a case of somebody said, “Oh, we don’t need to get mushrooms. We’re in a pandemic.” Really? I don’t know. I’m going somewhere else now that has mushrooms.

Loren Feldman:
Every week I hear something surprising that’s in short supply.

Jay Goltz:
Maybe. But an Italian restaurant doesn’t have bread. I stopped ordering from there because I really want bread with my Italian. I think you’ve gotta be careful where you’re cutting back.

Loren Feldman:
William, back to you. Are churches hiring you to do searches right now?

William Vanderbloemen:
Yes, the type of searches has skewed much more toward a senior pastor search. Now schools hire cyclically. It’s mostly January to March when the hiring happens. But the schools that are hiring us, it’s for a head of school.

I think a couple things have happened. You’d think with unemployment high—although it went down a little bit in today’s Morning Report—who needs a search firm when there’s so many unemployed people? Actually, you need one more because you don’t want to hire a desperate person who just needs a job—especially when it’s a faith-based thing where you’re supposed to be going for a calling and not just a paycheck.

And then the other piece is, people are like, “We’re without a leader now. We can’t be without a leader during this time. That doesn’t work and we’ve got to get it right. How are we going to get out there and search on our own?” I even had one person, this is kind of funny. I was talking to a sweet person on a search committee at a church, and they said, “Well, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’d rather pay you to risk getting on a plane than me.”

Yeah, no problem. We’ll take the business. But yes, they are hiring. And if we talk again in a week, I’ll have much more thorough details from our survey of PPP people. We’ll have thousands of results in a week. But the early results are very consistent [in] that over 80 percent of the people who receive PPP have not changed their staff headcount from a year ago today. The massive layoffs that you might anticipate with charitable-giving organizations is not happening, and that’s really good news.

Jay Goltz:
Partially they did that because they want to make sure it gets taken out as a grant, and you’ve got to keep your head count up.

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, not now. That day is past.

Jay Goltz:
Oh, all right.

William Vanderbloemen:
It expired a month and a half ago. That day’s over, so you could have gotten through—

Jay Goltz:
Hold on, I gotta go fire a few people.

William Vanderbloemen:
Exactly. I think that people are still kind of keeping their powder dry, especially larger churches where they’re not going to have in-person gatherings for a while. Everybody’s kind of in this wait-and-see mode—you know, the longest sentence in the English language—but it’s better than I thought it would be.

Loren Feldman:
What’s changed about hiring, William? Is it easier now because there are so many people unemployed?

William Vanderbloemen:
No, it’s way harder. It’s way harder.

Loren Feldman:
Why would that be?

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, for starters, interviewing over Zoom is nothing like interviewing in person. Zoom’s a great way to talk to people you already know, but first impressions over virtual are very, very difficult, especially if you’re talking about working together, and especially if the work is not going to be virtual work. One day you’re going to be back in an office. The skill that’s needed to assess someone and whether or not they’re a fit is much more acute than it was before we were bound to remote interviewing. Secondly, search firms historically do very well during churn. When the labor market’s tight and you can’t get anybody, search firms come in handy because they can convince people to believe.

The other side of things is, when there are lots of layoffs, search firms do well because you’ve got unemployed people out there. If I were unemployed, I’d apply with every search firm or with every possible job opening, but employers have to be careful they’re not hiring somebody who just wants a paycheck because undoing a bad hire is more costly. It slows the organization down, and people just can’t afford it. We’re actually pretty bullish on our need in the future.

I’m reading all these business interest stories now. We still watch how many hospitalizations there are every day, but it seems like the media cycle has turned toward, “Isn’t it interesting how the pandemic has affected this?” Like Revlon is expecting a 70 percent drop in sales this year because everyone’s wearing a mask, so no one’s wearing lipstick. Oh, I never thought of that. Well, search firms are kind of under that same heading. I never really thought about it, but I guess you would rather pay somebody to help with the search than get it wrong when there are so many new ways to get it wrong.

Jay Goltz:
There’s another issue here, which maybe you’re too nice to say, but I’ll say it for you. The fact of the matter is, when people lay people off, generally companies don’t say, “Okay, let’s lay off our best people first.” I mean, the fact is, when the layoffs start, there are a lot of people in the marketplace who were barely holding on to a job.

Loren Feldman:
So you’re saying there are a lot more people to choose from right now, but it’s more dangerous because…

Jay Goltz:
Yeah, there are more people out there, and the best people in the marketplace probably are the last ones to get laid off. Is that not that true? Generally.

William Vanderbloemen:
Jay, we could go on and on. This is going to turn into a commercial for our business. Think about this: so you want to go after somebody who’s happily employed, right?

Jay Goltz:
Yeah.

William Vanderbloemen:
So how are you, Jay, going to convince someone to move across the country and inject a whole new level of uncertainty in their life during the most uncertain time in the last century? Anytime you move, you’re adding uncertainty. Am I going to like Jay? Are we going to work together? Am I going to fit in Chicago?

Jay Goltz:
Every single thing you’re saying makes perfect sense as someone who’s been hiring for years. It all makes perfect sense that just because unemployment is higher, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easier to hire. No, there are more people looking, and now there’s a smoke screen out there: “Oh, well, it was a pandemic so they had to let me go.” It’s a smokescreen.

Certainly there are hard-working, great employees who were laid off through no fault of their own. There’s no question about that. The people who are getting mad at me, hear me very clearly: I’m sure there are some great people who got laid off through no fault of their own. Okay, I said that. With that being said, there are lots of people who were marginal employees who no one had the stomach to fire or lay off, and this gave them cover to do it. There’s no question that they all look alike on the resumes. That’s the problem, and that’s where the search firm comes in. It’s trickier.

Loren Feldman:
William, I think you raised a couple of interesting issues. One, how do you connect with someone over Zoom in that situation? Do you have any tips for anybody who’s trying to do that on their own? And how do you convince somebody to move across the country at a time like this?

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, I have a couple of resources. If you just Google “Vanderbloemen Zoom”—and you can spell Vanderbloemen however you want. It’s weird enough that Google will pick it up the right way—you’ll see things I’ve written for various business publications—one for Forbes, several for our blog—we’ve created a whole toolkit of resources to try and help people.

I’m reminded, I’m guessing you two don’t listen to country music. I’m just guessing, but I live in Texas. We do, and there’s this old song by Brad Paisley that says, “I look so much better online.” He’s this short, fat guy who lives in his mom’s basement and plays online all the time. He says, “But online, I’m six foot five and mysterious, and girls think I’m cool,” and you know there’s so much about interviewing and searching that’s true about that. It’s never been easier to look better online than you really are.

The most expensive hire you will ever make is hiring the wrong person, bar none. I mean, you can spend all the money you want on a search firm, and it’s still not as expensive as hiring the wrong person. The quick tips, I would Google “Vanderbloemen Zoom,” and you’ll find tons of articles, just little simple things to look for.

Loren Feldman:
Give us one.

William Vanderbloemen:
One, are they on time? That’s the easiest one. That’s your first contract with a person. Your first goal that you’re setting, your first KPI is, “Meet me at 10.” Well, if they’re late, golly!

Jay Goltz:
Can I give you my opinion? Here’s mine. It is easier to be a great interviewer and be a mediocre or bad employee than it is to get people to lie for you. I would say one word: references. People roll their eyes and go: “Oh, people just use their friends!” Baloney. I’ve called lots of references who, within 30 seconds, they cave, because no one wants to lie for a bad employee. People frequently do not check references, and if they do…

I just had one last week. They’re just looking to validate themselves. I threw him a bone even. I said, “The person is good at this, this, and this, but they have absolutely no management skills whatsoever.” Do you think there was a follow-up question? “What do you mean by that?” No. “Okay, thanks.” They just hired a really bad employee, and like, I’m not gonna volunteer it, but I played fair. I gave him an opening to ask me the question, and they didn’t take it. Never have I had someone call for a reference on someone and really put the screws to me and make me tell them something that I didn’t want to tell them, because people don’t do it. I am confident that people undervalue calling references and I would agree that, nine out of 10 times, it’s a waste of time. But that one out of 10, you just saved yourself from hiring the wrong employee.

Loren Feldman:
That’s what William was just saying.

Jay Goltz:
Absolutely. It makes up for the other nine you called. People don’t call references, generally. Am I wrong, William?

William Vanderbloemen:
No, you’re not wrong, and by the time they call them, they’ve already made up their mind.

Jay Goltz:
Yeah, absolutely. That’s the problem.

William Vanderbloemen:
It’s like, just as you said, “Just validate my conclusion, please.” I’ve done the same thing. I hired our COO. I happen to know him very well. I knew he was the right guy. I checked his references. If you’re in that spot, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But what you can do—that’s a great reference question that people don’t think of—is you can say, “All right.” I was talking to Sutton’s reference, Todd. I said, “Todd, I think you and I both know I’m gonna hire Sutton, and I’m doing this perfunctory reference call. Let me turn it and say this, ‘If you were hiring Sutton, what would you do to maximize his talent and to minimize risks?’” That’s a very disarming question. So all of a sudden, you’re not asking, “Is this a bad person or a good person?” You’re saying, “Where are they good and what do I need to watch?” And he was like, “Now that is a really good question.” Of course, we still hired Sutton, and it has been great, but it can be a great reference question. Unfortunately, though, Jay, most people don’t call references until late in the game and sometimes it’s just necessary. You can’t call the current employer or they’ll get fired.

Jay Goltz:
Right.

William Vanderbloemen:
I do think honing interview skills is critical and I don’t know how to replace face-to-face interviewing with virtual, with the one exception of: if the work you’re hiring them to do is virtual work, then virtual interviewing is awesome. But if there’s any in-person interaction that people are going to have, particularly if they’re client-facing, it’s just incredibly difficult. Loren, I don’t know how to tell people to get good at that.

Our team has about 25,000 reps of interviewing people over Zoom or Skype over the years. Sometimes you’re not the expert because you’re smarter. You’re just the expert because you’ve got more repetitions. That’s where I think people are gonna see it’s worth the money to pay somebody who’s good at this.

Jay Goltz:
How could it not be? How could the math not work to go hire someone to help you if they’re better than you are?

Loren Feldman:
I want to ask you both: There’s a big debate going on right now about the $600 federal bonus that just expired that was being paid to unemployed people. Some people focus on the $600 per week that was being injected into the economy that has helped keep the economy afloat. A lot of business owners have complained that it has made it harder to get employees to come back to work and maybe even to hire people. I’m curious what you both think. William has this been an issue for you?

William Vanderbloemen:
It has not been an issue for me. We didn’t have anybody that we furloughed that we tried to bring back.

Loren Feldman:
What about in your function as a search firm? Have you dealt with it with some of the organizations you represent?

William Vanderbloemen:
No, because we’re an executive search firm and not like a staffing placement firm. Most of the jobs we’re asked to fill, the salaries are well in excess of, what is it? Thirty thousand dollars a year is $600 a week. But I do have plenty of restaurant-owner friends. We were visiting with some neighbors last night, and we were six feet apart, but we were visiting in their house, and they own a gym. And they’re like, “We can’t get people to come back. We can’t pay him as much money as the government’s paying them right now.” So I think it’s real. It hasn’t impacted our business though.

Jay Goltz:
I’ve seen people on TV going, “Oh, it’s exaggerated.” You know what? All these talking heads, I wish one of them ran a business. I just wish one of them would run a business because that is just not true. There are lots of businesses out there that are having a problem with this, because even if somebody makes $40,000 a year, which is not minimum wage, they are literally getting twice as much money not working as if they were working.

William Vanderbloemen:
I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t agree more.

Jay Goltz:
That’s a problem. And then the problem is, they can’t just go, “Oh, I’m making more money at home.” They say, “Oh, I’m really worried about coming into work because my grandmother visits me once a week.” It really puts people in an impossible situation. Would it be so hard to just say, “We’re going to make sure no one makes more sitting at home than they could—” Is it really that cumbersome to just put something—

William Vanderbloemen:
You know, Jay, it’s so interesting that you bring this up, because no matter where I live, I’ve never seen our country more politicized than it is right now and more polarized. Everything is political. Do you want a new president or do you want to keep the current president or whatever? The one place that I see it differ is, if you ask business owners questions. I have business owner friends whom I vehemently disagree with politically, and we 100 percent agree on things like this. There’s just something about owning a business where you’re the bottom line that changes perspective, and sort of depoliticizes things and makes it more about common sense.

Jay Goltz:
Or it’s called reality. We’re dealing with it. I’m not saying get rid of the $600. I’m going, “If somebody was making 80 grand a year, okay, no problem. But for someone who was making 40 to get double their income to not work, how does that make sense to anybody?” We’re not talking a little money here. We’re talking about literally millions of people who have been making… it’s gonna turn into billions of dollars. How does that make sense to anybody?

Loren Feldman:
It is putting money into the economy. There is a benefit that business owners derive from that. I’m not an economist. I’m not saying I have the answer as to whether this was a good strategy or a bad strategy, but let’s not pretend that there isn’t some reason for doing this.

Jay Goltz:
Take that same money and give it to the other people who did take a pay cut and extend it longer. Why don’t we give it where the pain is instead of just, “Oh, you got lucky, here, you’re gonna make twice as much income for the next—

Loren Feldman:
These aren’t people who got lucky. These are people who are unemployed!

Jay Goltz:
They’re unemployed, but they’re making more. They’re making twice the income not working. Why not take that extra money and give it to people who really need it? Why would they need to make twice as much money sitting home?

William Vanderbloemen:
Loren, you’re losing this one two-to-one, buddy. I couldn’t agree with you more. I have good friends who were cutting their household budget, and they’re an affluent couple. They have a nanny. They pay the nanny a very fair wage, but they realize, “We need to cut our budget a little bit, so we’re going to furlough the nanny because she’s gonna make about $1,000 a month more sitting at home than she is working for us.” I don’t think it’s just about the money, Jay. I think that people were made to work, and if you sit at home, it does not help your overall well-being.

Loren Feldman:
For the record, I’m trying to illuminate this discussion and point out some of the nuance that I think Jay was missing.

Jay Goltz:
I’m not missing at all.

Loren Feldman:
I’m not saying who’s right or who’s wrong. I think there are issues to keep in mind here. Jay, you raised one of them. Some people don’t want to go to work because they do have a compromised person at home, and that’s a legitimate issue.

Jay Goltz:
No problem. Stay at home and get unemployment. But don’t make twice as much money!

Loren Feldman:
But the other thing is, what does it say about a person if they’re really, for no other reason, choosing not to go to work because they are temporarily getting more money from the federal government on this bonus—which has in fact expired right now. It doesn’t exist as we speak. Why would someone choose not to take a job that, presumably, is going to go on for a benefit that clearly has an expiration date, even if they extend it?

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, Loren I have personal contacts and friends who were furloughed by their company and have been told, “You’re not coming back,” and have opted to not even begin to look for a job until it’s expired. I think there’s a reason—and I’m not an economist—but there’s a reason unemployment came in better today than expected and I bet now that this is expired, unemployment continues to drop a little bit. Hiring’s a two-way street. You’ve got to have employers that want to hire, but you’ve got to have people who want to go interview. I think you’re gonna see it start to correct itself. I do hate that the spigot gets totally turned off. I’m with Jay. If there were some way to say, “We want to make you whole or partially whole, enough to get by…”

Jay Goltz:
Absolutely. Extend it longer. The theoretical thing with, “You have a hard time believing it”? Well, that’s unfortunate. But that’s the reality, Loren. I’m on the front line of it. So are another 3 million business owners. It is reality. There are people who would like to sit home and get twice as much money and play this thing out. It is reality. It’s not a theory, and that’s the part that the talking heads don’t seem to accept. Take that extra money, extend the benefits—

Loren Feldman:
Hey, Jay, I think that extra cup of coffee is kicking in.

Jay Goltz:
I needed it. See, I knew you were gonna give me a hard time, so I wanted to get ready for it. So yes, I had my double coffee thing, and I don’t drink coffee, so I was ready to go to battle. I feel like I’ve completely dominated this. Thank you, super coffee, as seen on Shark Tank.

Loren Feldman:
All right, we only have a few minutes left. I’m curious if we’re far enough into this thing that you guys have already identified things that have changed that aren’t going back. William, are there things that you’ve learned? Are there technologies you’ve adopted, has your process changed in a way that you have no doubt will continue on, long after this ends, whenever that is?

William Vanderbloemen:
We’re not in an industry that has been utterly disrupted. I know there’s some that, my goodness, they’re doing things differently, and oh boy, how I would have loved to have owned a plexiglass company a year ago. They’re doing pretty good this year.

But in our world, I think what I’ve noticed—and not just our business but our clients’ business—is COVID might be remembered as the great accelerator. The church is not known for accepting change quickly. Historically, churches and new ideas, they don’t get along. But you know, a lot of our clients are fairly innovative and entrepreneurial. They already had an online service.

My mother attends a wonderful traditional Presbyterian Church of 200 or 250 people in the woods of North Carolina—or the mountains, if you want to be a Chamber of Commerce, but it’s the woods—and their new pastor, back in January, if their new pastor had said, “I’ve got an idea, why don’t we livestream all of our worship over the Internet for the whole world to see?” he would have been laughed out of the boardroom. No way. It was a change that was happening, but it was happening very slowly and would have come a long time from now for that little Presbyterian Church. Now they’re online all the time. So it was a great accelerator.

For us, we do executive search, which is top-level search, but a lot of our clients need help with middle-level positions. Well, that’s not really what we do. But we have learned how to do that. So COVID accelerated us into—it’ll launch in a week—we’re opening a new business for mid-level search. It’ll be completely virtually done. That would not have been acceptable five years ago, 10 years ago, and it might not have been accepted five years from now were it not for this great accelerator.

To be utterly clear, so I don’t sound like I’m contradicting things I said earlier, this is, “Help me find a high school math teacher for the school we serve.” “Help us find a staff accountant for…” Mid-level staffing agency things where the process now can be done virtually and done quite well. It’s not that they’re changes that are here to stay as much as changes that got here quicker than they would have without COVID.

Jay Goltz:
Totally, totally agree.

Loren Feldman:
Jay, I want to ask you the same question. You can take it wherever you want. Have you already seen things change?

Jay Goltz:
I’m gonna give you three things completely all in different categories of entrepreneurship. One, I’m gonna have to consider there are going to be some people who want to work from home, which I would have never considered before. It’s working okay. I don’t know where it’s gonna end up. But that’s an open conversation now, people working from home.

Two, William used the phrase that I’ve used a thousand times that I want to remind all the entrepreneurs of. He said “dry powder.” So I’ve said, “Oh, I’ve got my building paid off. It’s dry powder if I ever need the cash.” It’s dry powder in a keg that’s nailed shut, and I don’t have a hammer. I’ve been through nine banks. Literally, I’m not exaggerating. Eight. I went through eight banks and wanted to get a 50 percent loan-to-value on the building. I’ve got plenty of assets to cover it. I’ve got a huge life insurance policy. It is literally a zero-risk loan, and not one of these banks will lend to me against the building because they’re afraid I’m not going to make money, even though I’ve got plenty…

What I learned, though—and I just figured this out yesterday. My kid’s in real estate. He went to his real estate bank. The real estate bank is ready to do the deal no problem. So what I’ve learned is, now’s the time to figure out whether you’re at the right bank or not, because when things get bad, nobody wants anything to do with you. Unfortunately, in business, you go through some cycles. I’ll be changing banks to this real estate bank.

And three is, good business practices are good business practices. I feel very good about the fact that we haven’t lowered our service level and that customers appreciate that. I just have to tell you one funny anecdote—huge company, Home Depot, they have a sign in their front door. You’ll appreciate this. It says, “We’re opening earlier for our elderly customers.” Not senior, elderly. So we’re elderly now, and I looked up the definition of elderly. Most people call elderly “80-plus” or something. I’m just thinking, “This is a huge, multi-gazillion dollar company. They couldn’t come up with copy that they all stuck to.” So it’s on their front door, and everybody sees it, and nobody thinks anything of it. I looked at it, and I just laughed. So 60 is the new elderly, according to Home Depot. Like I said before, there are some bad decisions that are being made. Those are my three things.

Loren Feldman:
William Vanderbloemen and Jay Goltz, as always, thank you for taking the time. I really appreciate it.

Jay Goltz:
Always good to be here.

William Vanderbloemen:
Same. Always good, Loren.