Social Enterprise Alliance Kevin Lynch presentation

It’s another exciting day here at the 2013 Alternative Staffing Alliance conference! Here’s a recap of today’s events.

Steve Moore of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust opened the morning with encouraging comments about the work that alternative staffing organizations are doing, and their relevance to business and the larger community simultaneously. After that, we rolled into a three-part presentation:

Outlook for Employment Social Enterprise
Social Enterprise Alliance president Kevin Lynch, Business4Better USA director Nina Brown, and VeraWorks president Bea Boccalandro

+  Building an economy ‘on purpose’ is what social enterprise is all about — engaging in the business world (traditionally known as ‘for profit’) for a greater social purpose (traditionally ‘non-profit’ or ‘NGO’). The Social Enterprise Alliance fosters this ‘for purpose’ economy, which is exactly what ASOs are doing in the Alternative Staffing Alliance.

+  The Business4Better movement and conference from UBM is driven to make the connections between the traditional ‘for profit’ business world and the world of ‘for purpose’ organizations that have a social mission. Business is changing — business needs to be active community contributors in the present day. The connections fostered at Business4Better go beyond just CSR — sometimes we actually want the same things, but use different language, or use a different model to get there.

+  Bea Boccalandro offered an interested perspective on how to capitalize on the ‘wave’ of social enterprise and corporate social responsibility — you have to meet businesses where they are: in the business world. Alternative staffing organizations are very relevant to commercial enterprise. Dividing organizations into the binary for-profit and non-profit is like dividing people by ice cream preference — it’s absurd. You need to talk about the costs and risks in your case for corporate social responsibility, too. Speak business language. The best way to battle the skepticism surrounding alternative staffing is to not fight it, but GO WITH IT. “I don’t think this will work.” “You know what? It might not. But let’s do a small-scale pilot, measure it, and see where we’re at.”

Tours of Real Portland Businesses in Action, Employing People with Barriers to Employment
DePaul Packaging (below), Dave’s Killer Bread, and MetroPaint

Travis Pearson DePaul Packaging tour

Measure Your Double Bottom Line
Minakshi Radhakrishnan, REDF
Social costs are any costs incurred by a social enterprise above and beyond ordinary business costs in order to fulfill its mission. Managing business costs and social costs are two very different activities, so it’s important for social enterprises to define social costs and focus on making a clearer case for investment and funding.

Develop Your Brand
David Searns, Haley Marketing and Rudy Herrera, Goodwill Staffing Group in Austin, Texas
Your brand is not just your logo, it’s something you live! Turns out the church is a better trainer than corporate america, because they consistently and constantly reinforce the exact same message across all channels. Businesses are going to tend to see mission as a value-add after their staffing needs are met — all other things being equal, mission might push you over the edge, but businesses are not going to choose you based solely on your mission. As ASOs, our goal is to get people jobs. For-profit staffing firms’ goal is to maximize profit. So, our goal as ASOs is actually more consistent with business’ goal of getting work done.

Create a Sales Playbook 
Kelly Rupp, Lead to Results
The sports analogy works really well, actually. Playbooks are great for new hire orientation, ongoing sales training, sales call preparation, counter-competitive tactics, and key account planning. The sales playbook is a living, breathing, evolving thing. Inside each play is a situation, objective, unique business value, compelling event, strategic considerations, and tactics. Is your CEO running the same plays all the way down to your front-line sales person, differentiating on the same unique business value?

Learn from the “Best of Staffing”
Eric Gregg, founder of Inavero 
Just as we want employers to judge our candidates solely on how well they do the job, Inavero wants staffing firms to be judged on how well they deliver. Remember, mission can be thought of as helping find a job, not necessarily giving a job. Customer service is important. Be REALLY responsive. In rating staffing firms, the best thing rated was how responsive sales reps are. The worst thing rated was how unresponsive sales reps are. 3 out of 5 staffing complaints are actually about process, not outcome. It’s all about how your customers and stakeholders feel about you.

Ask the experts on alternative staffing presentation

Ask the Experts!
Amy Bingham, Bingham Consulting Professionals
Eric Gregg, Inavero
Jenifer Lambert, TERRA Staffing Group
David Searns, Haley Marketing

+ Biggest concerns of staffing often don’t change, such as ‘how do we support all of our stakeholders?’, but a new one is the Affordable Care Act.
+ Alternative Staffing Organizations, though, have a unique story to tell (and one that can, if used correctly, can make commercial staffing firms jealous).
+ Data will resonate with customers and will drive growth, but the graph is only interesting as part of the story.
+ Niche differentiation is better — do something and do it well.
+ Most firms don’t often lead with their social mission, but times are changing and sometimes that makes the difference. Sometimes ASOs get approached by forward-thinking businesses… maybe now isn’t the time, but soon it will be.

Keep following along with the conference hashtag #ASApdx on twitter… and join in for the last day with us tomorrow!