Editor’s Note – Welcome to “Leaders Talk with Dave Hall” a series of interviews posted every third Wednesday of the month here on the DMG blog. The series features experienced business writer Dave Hall interviewing an incredible line-up of DMG clients, giving you an inside look on what makes them tick. The questions will surround their success, their experience in their sector and the type of characteristics that drive them to be leaders in our community.
We kicked things off last month with Todd Hohauser and we’re moving things forward this month with Maureen Lucas.
What gave you the confidence to launch you own agency after years of working for someone else?
ML: I believe that it is somewhat easier to start a business if you have been in that same business for a number of years. You know the ups and downs and you understand the things you can do that will make you different from the competition. I truly believed that a worst-case scenario would be a small operation where I could at least do things the way I thought they should be done.
What helped you to decide to expand into London, Woodstock and Kitchener?
ML: Our region was going into a recession and we were still doing reasonably. I thought it would be a good idea to use this “downtime” to start up another office in London. I thought if we positioned ourselves during the slow period, we would be established and ready for growth when things started to turn around. Kitchener was next and we set up a satellite location for our professional search division. Finally Woodstock – we opened that location to service an existing customer and we have been surprised by how much we have grown in that market. I guess the over-riding reason was to establish LucasWorks as a regional recruitment firm and not just a local supplier.
How were you able to survive the recent recession when many companies were cutting back on their hiring?
ML: We had a diversified customer base which helped a lot. We also didn’t focus on the negative and we used that time to open new branches and launched a whole rebranding process. It kept LucasWorks in the public eye and positioned us as a growing business in a difficult time. Perception is important and we weren’t going to let the recession take us down.
What strategies have you used to attract and retain clients?
ML: The single most important thing is to do a good job. It sounds simple but we focused on our core business which is temporary staffing and we did it well. We listened to what our customers said about our competitors and we implemented changes to ensure we didn’t let them down. Word of mouth is the best sales tool and we did everything we could to make sure our customers liked our services and recommended us to their friends. We are also very involved in the community because we believe people want to do business with people they know.
What are the most important customer service tips you can offer.
ML: Say what you’ll do and do what you say. People get very frustrated when they are “overpromised and under-delivered” If we say we are going to do something, we stop at nothing to get it done.
How has technology changed the way you communicate with clients?
ML: It is challenging to develop relationships via email so the process of getting to know your customers is a long one. You really have to go out of your way to get “in-person” time.
How important is social media to your company?
ML: It has become an important tool. People no longer look to newspaper ads for job opportunities. They are looking at Facebook, Linked In and internet job posting sites so we have to have a presence in all those areas.
What has been your most successful collaboration with another company or organization?
ML: I have a great many customers and we have collaborated with each of them in a different way to ensure we have been able to provide unique, specialized services that their company requires. We need to understand their business cycles and their internal challenges. It is an exciting process of getting to know our customers inside and out in order to develop a strong collaborative business relationship. We don’t just fill jobs, we need to understand their corporate culture and understand the jobs we are filling.
One of our best collaborations, though, has been with Douglas Marketing. They understood me and LucasWorks before I did. They spent a lot of time understanding who we were and where we wanted to go. They gave us our new look which I love. When you are a business owner, your brand is your baby and they understood that and walked us through what we needed to do to launch our new website, logo, social media presence and blogs.
What is you ideal way of spending a day off?
ML: Working out, reading and making (and eating) a great dinner.
Do you have a favourite vacation spot and why?
ML: All vacation spots are awesome because you have a chance to change your pace and focus on yourself and your surroundings. My favorite for this would be Greece because of the architecture, blue water, amazing friendly people and great food.