How PrideStaff’s VP of Franchise Development Paula Pizarro is Tackling Workforce Challenges During COVID-19

Many small businesses in Atlanta and nationwide are enjoying growth as we come out of the pandemic. Businesses are investing in their growth, and customers are living their lives again and spending money. The big challenge now is finding enough workers to service all this pent-up demand. On this episode of Atlanta Franchise Today, host Leslie Kuban, expert franchise consultant, sits down with a very successful franchise in the staffing industry that’s helping to fill that gap. Paula Pizarro has over 40 years in the staffing industry and is the Vice President of Franchise Development for PrideStaff.

Transcription: 

Leslie Kuban:
Paula, I don’t know anyone who knows more about staffing and is as passionate about staffing as you are. Welcome to the show.

Paula Pizarro:
Thank you, Leslie. It’s a delight to be here.

Leslie Kuban:
Well, Paula, will you kick us off and just for those of us who are not aware of, PrideStaff just tell us a little bit about your business and your franchisees and the customers that your franchisees service.

Paula Pizarro:
PrideStaff has been in business since 1978. We were a privately held company for many years, that was corporate owned. However, we started franchising in the late 90s and since then we have brought on very many wonderful franchisee, strategic partners who have helped us to help companies to find the best talent out there and to help people that are looking for great jobs and sometimes better jobs than they have now to help them move forward in their career.

Leslie Kuban:
And Paula, we’ve talked about how your franchisees many of them are enjoying a banner year, even in the pandemic. Will you tell us about why that is?

Paula Pizarro:
Indeed. In the beginning of any downturn, companies first let their temporaries go and then they start letting their permanent staff go. And then it’s, “Oh my goodness! What are we going to do?” We still have to get our product out the door and accomplish our business goals. So they start hiring more temps back and as the economy improves, they start onboarding them through us as well. Our industry tends to come out of a downturn very quickly and surges and actually goes to a higher level than even prior to the downturn.

Leslie Kuban:
And Paula, we can’t help but see on every street corner of small businesses with now hiring signs in their windows, and we’re seeing a labor shortage like we never have before in our lifetimes. And I’m wondering how is that impacting PrideStaff franchisees, or are you guys seeing the tides changes in the spring here of 2021 as we start to more and more come out of the pandemic, just what’s your viewpoint on that?

Paula Pizarro:
In the industry, it’s always that you have more jobs and not enough people, which is right now, or you have more people and not enough jobs, but either way our industry is needed. So what’s happening right now really drives usage of the staffing industry. So we have a lot of jobs. We have people that we are finding to place to work that are unemployed and looking for a job, but also we’re placing a lot of people into better jobs that want to up their career. So because of this, our business is booming. We’re having a banner year and last year was a very strong year as well. Even though we took an initial dip, we came out quickly and kept climbing.

Leslie Kuban:
And Paula, something we’ve talked about is how some of your franchisees, maybe some of the customers they were servicing retracted, but then they gained new types of customers as new demand was coming forth as a result of the pandemic. I thought that was really interesting. Any comments on that shift in new types of business and where people are finding these newer and better jobs?

Paula Pizarro:
Yes. And in fact, when a downturn occurs, a lot of times when people are let go from their permanent jobs, companies tend to restructure the jobs and they’ll merge jobs together and they bring new people in to do it. As well as during this past downturn, during the pandemic, the companies that are essential industries that are trying to get products out the door and into the grocery store, all the things that we’re looking for when we’re there temporaries and even temp to hire in permanent placement people were very big part of getting those products out the door to the public. So it’s been very interesting to see how that has grown. Also, there are companies that have allowed people in… I mean, in clerical and accounting and call centers work from their home as well virtually. So that’s been a shift as well.

Leslie Kuban:
Oh, that’s wonderful to hear that when one door closes another opens and new types of opportunities for your franchisees and for their customers and for the people seeking newer and better jobs. So let’s shift and talk a little bit about what your franchisees look like and something that is counterintuitive and something we’ve talked about before is how people think staffing. So if I have an HR background, maybe that means I’m a good candidate to own a staffing franchise like PrideStaff, but we’ve talked about how that may not necessarily be true. And that is a little bit of a mind shift for people. Can you talk a little bit about maybe why that is and who does make for a really strong candidate to be successful as a PrideStaff franchisee.

Paula Pizarro:
We find that a person who is a business executive for perhaps a vice president of operations or general manager or vice president of sales or marketing even CFOs tend to do well in our business because they have a very positive attitude about building a sales business. They understand that sales drives an organization and they’re good developers of people. So the type of individual who works best with us is not someone who is extremely risk averse. And there are some positions in organizations like HR, which are so highly valued and needed in an organization, but tend to be a little bit more risk averse. And that’s their job, right? To make sure that if something goes wrong, that they fix it. And we have a fabulous risk management and HR department to help our strategic partners. What we’re looking for are executives who have a mindset of building a big business and that embrace a sales team, and that they’re good leaders.

Leslie Kuban:
Paula you and I know this, but many of our viewers may not. That PrideStaff is a highly accoladed organization in the staffing industry, as well as in the franchising industry. And we’ve both been in franchising a long time. And what we’ve seen is that not all franchise orders are equal and too many entrepreneurs are looking to use franchising as a way to grow, who ultimately are really unprepared for franchising. So as a highly reputable franchise, or maybe speaking to our audience who has a business and maybe looking to use franchising as a way to grow it, what advice would you give aspiring franchise orders as to how to prepare or how to think about franchising as a growth strategy coming from such a place of success in franchising?

Paula Pizarro:
I Think it’s very important that any company that has the desire to franchise their business has a very solid base of support. That they don’t just run out and open a whole lot of new offices overnight, but that they make sure that they have a very strong training program, that they have excellent systems that they’ve really thought through every piece of the puzzle to make sure that when a person invest their life savings, that they’re getting into a company that is strong and that has excellent management, but also a lot of techniques and strategy of how to accomplish the success of the franchisees.

Leslie Kuban:
So Paula PrideStaff has been in business for 40 years and you guys are almost to a hundred franchisees. So you haven’t been a rush to, in a rush to grow your franchise organization. You’ve really gone about it the right way. Any specific examples within the PrideStaff organization that aspiring franchise owners can learn from? How have you done it in a way that others can learn from so that they can do it right when they become a franchisor?

Paula Pizarro:
I think first point to consider is how you find your candidates. So we use franchise consultants like you, who vet the candidates for us and only bring the highest quality people to us with a good match for not just culture, but their skillset, that’s transferable. And many people have never thought of staffing, but when they work with a franchise consultant like you are Leslie, they really get a chance to see what their strengths and weaknesses are and to match them with a company that will help them to be successful. I think that is probably the most important. The second is that a franchise or has to have a very solid base of support. And there’s so much to that it’s training, it’s a support team. It is having the top IT technology available. It is having a very strong management team. And I think it’s also… A final note on this is making sure that you’re not afraid to tell someone no, if you don’t think that there’ll be a good fit, because we don’t want anyone to lose their money or hurt their family or our brand.

Leslie Kuban:
So Paula, as we think about franchisee candidates then, that person out there who maybe is thinking about franchising as a retirement career, maybe they’ve been a part of a reduction in force in corporate America, and they’re exploring franchising as their next career chapter. What advice would you give that individual as they start to explore the 4,000 plus franchise choices that are out there? How can they go about this strategically?

Paula Pizarro:
I think a big part of it is validation when they talk to the franchisees and an organization that they’re considering joining, and to also keep an open mind to industries that they may not have thought of before. There’s a wonderful book written about… It’s called the E-Myth. Written about how people often will pick their hobby, but that’s usually not where their main strength is. So they need to think about those transferable skills. I use that term a lot because I think it’s very important to someone who’s considering doing this. And also to remember that corporate America, while it sounds wonderful, there are limitations to it and things happen. Downturns happen, people get cut. I can tell you, I don’t think we have a single franchisee in our systems, strategic partner, who said that they wished they had waited longer to do this. They said they wished that they had done it sooner and that they had taken control of their lives and moved out of corporate America into their own business.

Leslie Kuban:
Sometimes disruptions in life tend to be the best things that happen to us. Isn’t that the truth?

Paula Pizarro:
It surely is.

Leslie Kuban:
Well, Paula it’s so good to see you. I really appreciate you coming on the show today and folks thanks so much and we forward to seeing you again on the next episode of Atlanta Franchise Today.

Paula Pizarro:
It is my pleasure and honor to be here. Thank you so much, Leslie.


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