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Ep 64 – Crafting A Winning Small Business Hiring Strategy With Corey Harlock

EP 64- Crafting a Winning Small Business Hiring Strategy with Corey Harlock


In today’s episode of Building Texas Business, join me as I welcome Corey Harlock of Key Hire Solutions to discuss his transformational journey transitioning from hospitality management to revolutionizing small business recruitment strategies.

We explore Corey’s grassroots experience and how reflecting on skills and networking empowered changes benefiting businesses, employees, and communities. From precision management to respectful rejection, Corey shares recruitment nuances and emphasizes reputation’s role in success over time.

As remote options demand adaptation, Corey relates relatable career anecdotes and perspective-shaping reads. His insights illuminate relationship-building, timing, and vision for seizing opportunities in fluctuating job markets.


Transcripts are generated by machine learning, so typos may be present.

BTB (00:00):

Welcome to the Building Texas Business Podcast, interviews with thought leaders and organizational visionaries from across industry. Join us as we talk about the latest trends, challenges, and growth opportunities to take your business to the next level. The Building Texas Business Podcast is brought to you by BoyarMiller, providing counsel beyond expectations. Find out how we can make a meaningful difference to your business at and by your podcast team where having your own podcast is as easy as being a guest on ours. Discover more at Now. Here’s your host, Chris Hanslik.

Chris (00:42):

In today’s episode, you will meet Corey Harlok, founder of Key Hire Solutions. Corey’s goal at Key Hire is to improve the lives of business owners by improving the talent they hire so they can focus on what is important to them. Corey, I want to thank you for taking time to join me here on Building Texas Business.

Corey  (01:03):

Oh, great to be here. Yeah. Good, good. Happy to

Chris (01:05):

Be here. So you’re the founder of Key Hire Solutions. Tell us a little bit about what Key Hire is and, and what it’s known for.

Corey  (01:12):

Uh, key Hire is, it’s a business solution for small business owners. So we really target those small business owners, five to $25 million. And the reason we kind of, the goal and mission of Key Hire is to make the lives of the business owners better by improving the talent and the capacity and the experience inside their business. So they have time to focus on the things they wanna focus on. Whether that’s getting a better night’s sleep, spending more time with their family, going out and getting more sales, uh, improving their business. And we can improve the lives of the business owners. They can be more focused and more happy at their business. It in turn, improves the lives of their people in their business, who then can go out and be more successful in their personal press, professional lives. And in turn, that reflects on the community. Right. So we really do see a holistic, I’ve hesitate to use the word global ’cause it’s really community focused, but if we can do right by the business owner, they can do right by their people who can then go out and do right by their community and their families and their surroundings.

Chris (02:18):

Oh, and it kind of builds, each segment kind of builds on the other, right? Correct. And then when you tell a story that way, it emphasizes how connected it all is, has to be. Yeah. So how did you get started with this? Or, you know, what, what’s a little bit about your background? Sure. What led you through your journey to get to key

Corey  (02:35):

Hires? Sure. Yeah. I’m a, I’m a recovering hospitality guy. Okay. Worked in restaurants for years and years. I did high end fine dining and boutique hotels out in Banff, Alberta, Canada, in the Rocky Mountains for years and years, where I met my wife. And one day I came to the conclusion I was, I didn’t wanna be in that game anymore. And so I went through this kind of reflection process and said, what skills do I have? And I kind of came out with three areas, three things I thought I could that could transition from the hospitality world into other worlds. And one of them was marketing, one of them was sales, and one of them was recruiting. And at that time I was working six days a week and I had one day off a week. And I, I made a promise to myself I would have coffee with anyone on that one day off a week.

Corey  (03:27):

And for about three, three months I just had coffee with, you know, you send out a help, help notice to your network, right? I’m looking at making a change. Here’s what I think I can do. Does anyone know anyone I should talk to? And people get back to you. So I started having coffee and I ended up with this, uh, guy named Bob Scott, who is a partner in a company called Quest Recruitment in Calgary, Alberta. And told him about my hospitality experience. And in hospitality, a large part of what you do ’cause of high turnover, you do a lot of hiring. So I thought I was pretty good at it. This, yeah. I thought I was good at it. And he told me about how they had this great hospitality program at, uh, recruitment. He then also went on to tell me that none of us know anything about hospitality.

Corey  (04:09):

So they hired me to build up this hospitality program. And so that was my foray into recruiting, and that was agency recruiting. And, and I was with them for a number of years and it, it pro progressed. The, the main or uh, owner was a guy named Morgan Art. And so eventually I created a, a company within a company called Quest Hospitality Recruitment. And then Morgan and I partnered in that. And then I bought him out, went out on my own and changed the name of the company of the Hospitality Recruitment Network and did that for a couple years. And then we got transferred to Houston. So I closed the doors and came down here. But I never liked the agency model. I mean, it works for some people, but for me it just didn’t because it was so transactional. And oftentimes you would work with business owners or corporations and you could see the problem, uh, they had, or the disconnects or how they could be better. But as a transactional agency recruiter, they just find me people. Right. And don’t

Chris (05:09):

Bore me with that. Just gimme something.

Corey  (05:10):

Yeah. I don’t wanna be better. I just need people <laugh>. So, you know, oftentimes you’re putting people into a situation where you kind of didn’t know how it was gonna work out. And it was a lot of big failure rate in that, that type of, of recruiting and key hire. I wanted to create it to work with those little guys on a long way around. But I wanted to create it to work with the small business owners to really help them and impact them and work side by side with them and allow them to leverage that experience and improve their experience and their business, and then their lives of their people and the lives of the community. People in the community. Yeah.

Chris (05:47):

So I mean, I think one of the things that employers maybe don’t realize on the front end, but certainly at some point come to realize how expensive recruiting can be for your business from not just dollars out the pocket for a recruiting fee, but you spend time away from your business doing the recruiting. Sure. Uh, you have the onboarding, you have all these things until someone can be highly productive. And quite frankly from the the hiring side, you know, the transactional agency model, sometimes you don’t think they really care. Like you said, they just want to place someone once they get a fee. So there’s this bad taste about even having to engage in the process.

Corey  (06:24):

And, and I think where I never aligned with that is when my motivation is to get paid and your motivation as a business owner is to make your business better. Those don’t line up in the big picture. Right. Right. There’s a big disconnect in there. And I’ve seen, so

Chris (06:41):

What do you do then, I guess, or what have you done at Key Hire to, you know, bring that into, into

Corey  (06:46):

Line? Yeah. That, and that’s the question. So when I built the business, the three kind of core values I, I wanted to, that I thought were important, were devalue the time of the small business owner. ’cause exactly what you said, I don’t think anyone starts a small business or starts a business because they love to hire people. They have a passion and something they love to do. And part of growing a business is hiring. Right.

Chris (07:13):

Well, I promise you everyone that’s come on this podcast as a business owner has said how important it is to have good people and Right. Which means hiring good people, not missing. So to your point though, they think about the passion and the idea that’s the core of the business, but they all acknowledge down the road that hiring good people is the key to

Corey  (07:32):

Success. A hundred percent. Yeah. And, and so I agree with that. And do you golf? I do. Uh, so I, I haven’t golfed in a while, but I used to golf quite a bit and I was never very good. And I’ve probably hit tens of thousands of golf balls. Could I be an instructor, golf instructor? No. ’cause I probably hit 10,000 golf balls wrong. Yeah. <laugh>. Right? Right. And just because we hire every day doesn’t mean we are experts at hiring. It means we’ve hired because we’ve had to. And so we wanted to honor people’s time. We wanted to impact their business through kind of experience and talent, but we also wanted to create a pricing model that was fair and equitable for both sides. And that was the biggest key for me was, you know, not having huge fees, not have a business owner feel like, man, I paid a a lot, or I’ve invested a lot and trying to get someone, and the results were meh.

Corey  (08:26):

Yeah. So we, the model of key hire is, you know, we get paid for the work we do, but we guarantee the hire and the work we do is a lot more exhaustive than what a traditional agency might do. And so if I break down those three criteria, on average, our clients pay less than 15% per hire if you wanted to compare it to the agency model. Right. Sometimes they’re less than 10%. Wow. And I think that’s great because I want them to get value. Yeah. And we show up as a fixed cost on the p and l. There’s no surprises, there’s no gotchas. It is what it is. You can budget for what we do and we have monthly fees that are very affordable for the business. But the second piece of that is, you know, making sure that we’re valuing their time. We dive into the business and we spend, you know, 8, 10, 12 hours inside a business before we do anything, we wanna create an action plan for that business owner. You know, we’re an in-sourced solution. So be, we become their fractional department of talent. So we wanna make sure we understand the business almost as well as they do before we go to work for them. So we can tell their story in the marketplace. Right. Correct. And,

Chris (09:43):

And be looking for the right fit from a cultural standpoint, mindset standpoint for that company. Right.

Corey  (09:47):

Exactly. And then the, you just touched on something really important, right? There’s the kind of three things we wanna break down. We wanna break down the experience they need in their business. We wanna break down the culture fit, because that is super important. If you have a small business, if you have 20 employees and we’re bringing someone in, that’s 5% of your culture. And if that’s not aligned, or we always like to say, if we’re gonna put someone on your bus, we wanna put ’em at the front. So all the people behind you are saying, wow, that’s a really great, they’re really good at what they do and they’re a really good fit and I need to raise my game. Right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> rising tide raises all boats. So we wanna make sure we’re doing that. The third and most important and overlooked element is capacity. So many people hire for their current needs because they’re in this kind of fire drill. I just need someone and they look good enough.

Chris (10:36):

Right. Reactionary, right?

Corey  (10:37):

Correct. So we wanna get in there and build capacity in the business. One of our favorite phrases is, we’re not hiring someone to run your $10 million business. We’re hiring someone to run your $50 million business currently doing 10. So we want someone who can bring the experience and the capacity to build process and procedure and has leadership capabilities to scale.

Chris (10:56):

Well, I, you know, full disclosure for everyone out there, I can speak from experience having worked with you now for the better part of 2023, it’s a totally different experience in a good way. Thanks. And dealing with the hiring, recruiting, and acquisition of talent. Love the investment you made in learning our firm and our business. Right. And how, can’t imagine how much time I didn’t see you put in behind the scenes to make sure you were bringing us the right candidates. Right. And cutting out the first two rounds of interviews just to, you know, is a huge time savings, you know, for us.

Corey  (11:28):

Yeah. Well I think we’ve put two people in here, and if my memory serves me, you guys have conducted a total of four interviews to hire those two people. Yeah. And I bet you the total man hours on that would be two, four, probably in the neighborhood of 12 total man hours to make those two hires by from Boyer Miller.

Chris (11:49):

Yeah. I would say Max. Yeah. Uh, so it, it, it does seem like, well, well I’ll say this. A model that I think has value, you know, talk about maybe, I guess, you know, what led you to that? ’cause in my mind, what you’re doing in the hiring process is innovative. I, I don’t know anyone else that really does. You, does this, you know, what was it I guess based on your experience, uh, that kind of led you to this? What feedback did you get? You know, what’d you draw upon?

Corey  (12:18):

The agency model is kind of go out, hunt, kill, throw it over the fence, and then turn it over to a company who may or may not have a really effective interview hiring process. So selfishly I thought if I can control everything from beginning to end and understand the needs of the business and the needs of the candidate and manage those expectations, you would have a be a better success rate. And you can learn from what’s happening. You know, a lot of times we’ll go through the process with someone like we did with you for the first role, and we didn’t get it right the first time. But because I was there and managing the process and a part of it, I could hear the feedback I could learn about your company more so then I could be better at going into the market telling your story and identifying who’s right for your business.

Corey  (13:09):

So I think what’s different is if we’re gonna work with you, it’s required that we manage the whole process. We will never, when people say, well look, you just bring us the people and we’ll take it from there. That’s a hard no for me. ’cause for me to do all that work. You know, you talked about stuff behind the scenes. For us to do the 10, 12, 15 hours of work behind the scenes before you give us an hour of your time, it doesn’t make sense, right? To just say, here, I’ve done all this work. Here’s what it is now, give it to you and then be blind about why didn’t it work? Why was it a fit? Why wasn’t it fit? Right.

Chris (13:44):

I guess it prevents you from learning and adapting and getting to that success point. ’cause you said you earlier, you guaranteed the hire.

Corey  (13:50):

Yeah. And I can’t guarantee someone I wasn’t involved with from the beginning to the end. And the other thing is, we keep people on time. Yeah. Because timing is, is a big issue in terms of getting people on board in this marketplace. So if we’re driving that process and kind of, you know, tapping our client saying, Hey, I need to hear from you. We need to get this done. And they expect that. Right? If, if that wasn’t part of the agreement and I’m just this pushy guy who don’t worry about it. You’ve done your part, we’ll, let us handle the rest. It, it doesn’t make sense. So we just want, we just want to control the process. ’cause this is all key hire does. We just do, uh, talent strategy, acquisition and, and develop processes for hiring. This is what we’re expert in. So in our process, the data says the process works pretty good. Right. We have a 90% success rate in terms of putting people into companies and getting them to their six months and beyond. We have some people that have been working. I have a client, the second client I ever signed seven years ago, the person I put in, one of the first people I ever put in a business as a operations manager is now the VP of operations seven years later. And, and the owner is still ec static with, with that person.

Chris (15:06):

That’s awesome. So that brings up a good point. You clearly have built your business off of kind of key relationships, partnerships with companies and, and others. What’s some advice you can give to other business owners out there about, you know, how to go about building those relationships so that they’re sustainable and help kind of, you know, grow your business from them?

Corey  (15:30):

And when you say relationships, you’re meaning just within their own markets or?

Chris (15:35):

Well, both. I think within your own market and maybe beyond just how, how you’ve done that to kind of grow your business Yeah. Off of relationships. So what, what are some of the things that you would say you found to be successful in helping you do that?

Corey  (15:46):

Well, doing your, whatever your product or services you have to deliver it well, right? Yeah. And I think that’s the goal of every business that gets set up. But I think one of the more overlooked things is reputation is one of your biggest recruiting tools. Your reputation in the market, your reputation amongst your peers, reputation, cross market, who other people might interact with you. But the big one is the reputation you have with people who have applied to your company and whether they were hired, interviewed or not. And let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. We don’t post jobs, but I know a lot of business owners do. And that’s kind of what you have to do as a business owner to try to attract the people. So you post a job and 50 people apply to that job and 49 of them don’t hear anything ever from you in return for that application.

Corey  (16:44):

Those 49 people are three or four times more likely to never reapply to your company. Even if you get successful and become a big company, they have a bad taste in their mouth and they’ll, they will not apply to your company. And they will tell people, I mean, I applied to those guys, they never even come back to me. Mm-Hmm. That’s reputation in a really important market. The candidate market. Now, if you were to create a template that just said, Hey, thank you for your application, your experience looks really good. Unfortunately, I don’t think it aligns with our, the job we have right now. And I wouldn’t want to put you in a situation where you weren’t gonna be successful, but I would love to keep your information here on file and reach out if something more suitable does come open in our company, all the best, what’s that person gonna say? Now

Chris (17:34):

You’re definitely gonna feel like you cared enough right. To reach back out

Corey  (17:37):

And you’ll be one of the one in a hundred that took the time to reach back out. I can tell you this, I’ve interviewed people and I believe in the good, the bad, and the ugly. So throughout the interview process, I might come to the conclusion they’re not the right fit. And I’ll have a conversation with them at the conclusion of our conversation and say, here’s where I land on this. I don’t think this one’s a fit and here’s why. You’re obviously very good at what you do, and I get that. But what we’re looking for is really specific, and I don’t doubt you could figure it out. My challenge is we don’t have time for you to figure it out. And I would not want you to break, start a new role where the expectations are super high and you are disappointed and we’re disappointed.

Corey  (18:23):

I, I don’t wanna do that too. And man, I bet you 99% of people say, you know what, Corey, that makes a lot of sense. Thank you for being honest with me. Then some of them, and I might say 10% or less have will follow up with this. I get it. It’s not right for me. But I have someone you should talk to. I’ve just told them they’re not getting the job, but because I took the time to be honest and respectful and clear about why they say this sound, you sound like a good guy, let me help you.

Chris (18:55):

That’s amazing. Yeah. I, I can see how that would be. Right. Right. So let’s talk a little bit about just what you’re seeing in, out there in the job market. And I mean, you and I were talking a minute ago. I mean, you know, here we are and you know, kind of starting a new year. What are some of the things you think employers should be looking for? And then maybe the other as a candidate, you know, what kind of things, what, what should the expectations be? Right. ’cause I think a lot’s changed even in the last 12 months. Yeah. Uh, about, you know, those two topics.

Corey  (19:28):

Sure. A couple things. The unemployment claims are going up slowly and they’ve been talking, I think we’re supposed to be going into recession, what, for about 18, 24 months now. So if it’s gonna happen or not, it’s still unknown. It feels like we’re dipping a bit. But what’s important to remember is even in our current market, which feels a little softer than it was, there are still fewer people available than there are jobs open. And I think that number sits around like 0.7, 0.8 people per open job.

Chris (19:58):

Really? Okay.

Corey  (19:59):

We’ve we’re through the thick of it and now the the people coming up in the system, there are fewer of them, right? Like, we’re past the baby boomers and there’re just fewer people. Yeah. And there, there are more open jobs. So if even if we get into a bit of a, a recession, there’s never gonna be that, well, I’m, there’s gonna be so many people apply for this role that we’ll just pick. Right? We are for now an imp perpetuity in a, in a situation where it’s a candidate driven market and they can be choosy. So that’s something worth.

Chris (20:32):

And just to kind of, uh, tag on that, I would have to believe that some of the flexibility and work remote has contributed to that as well.

Corey  (20:41):

Correct. Yeah. So I’ll, I’ll touch on that in just a second. Okay. So we understand we have fewer people that are going to apply or we’re gonna be competing for people. If you’re, I always tell my clients, if we’re excited about someone, I can promise you someone else’s too, because they didn’t just apply here. But that’s one of the, the advantages using like a key hire because we kind of go out and get people, even if they’re not looking and we can kind of get in their ear and have a conversation and engage with them. But it makes sense that, I mean, it’s a competitive, but if someone has decided to make a move, they’re not just talking to you. And if they’re good, more companies than yours will be excited about them. Right. So speed matters, right? It’s the, I think the stat is most candidates when they start looking for or interviewing for jobs are off the market in two weeks.

Corey  (21:34):

So you have 10 business days to get it done. That’s not a lot of time, but it can be done right. When we do, that’s part of the process that we have because that’s one of those key elements in landing that those people you want. So then you touched on, so we have fewer people and now we have these classifications of schedule that didn’t exist what, three years ago? Yeah. Right. We have remote, we have hybrid, and we have in-office schedules. Now they always existed, but they were never prominent. And there the remote people were told they weren’t able, we can’t afford to have you working at home. We’re not set up for that. Then overnight it was like, Hey, go work at home. We we’re set up for that. So people, we hear this right, like, well, I’ve always wanted to do this and I was told I couldn’t.

Corey  (22:18):

And now the big companies are calling people back, right? They’re starting to. So there’s a movement back to the office, but there’s also a movement amongst individuals and people out there saying, well, I don’t need to go back to the office because I know there are other jobs out there that will let me work in the office. And so this is a conversation we have with our clients a lot. I think I had this with you guys, I think so was about the, so if, if we have an in-office role, we need to target people that are for argument’s sake in a 10, 10 mile diameter from our office for make the commute, have the commute make sense. Now if there are a hundred people in that diameter or radius or it’s diameter. Right? Fair enough. That’s the whole, so there are a hundred people that can do our job in that diameter.

Corey  (23:04):

10, 10 mile diameter. There’s only about 20 of them, 20% that are willing to come to the office. So we’ve taken our candidate pool and chiseled it at down to 20 out of a hundred. Now we have to, of those 20 people, we have to, A, find them B, make sure they have the skills we need, and C, make sure they’re even open to a new role. Right. 10 of those people are probably gonna say, no, I’m not even interested. Right. So now we’re down to 10 people. If we move to a hybrid, and I think I need to preface by saying there are two types of roles. There’s flexible and inflexible roles. So if I’m at a machine turning a metal part, I can’t do that remotely. That’s not a flexible role. Sure. But if I am in, in accounting or an administrative function or sales, those are flexible and we can allow people to have that flexibility. So if we move to a hybrid role, we can expand that diameter a little bit, say to 20 miles. ’cause if people only have to come to the office two or three times a week, they might drive a little longer. But we also might increase our talent pool by three x. Now we maybe have 300 people and we have 80% of 300 to draw from. Because there’s 20% of those are like, I only want remote. But the people that are in office and the people that want hybrid, we’ll we’ll look at it

Chris (24:21):


Corey  (24:22):

Yeah. Right. The interest. Correct. So now we’re at 80% of 300. We’re at 240 people versus the 20. Yeah. Now, if we go remote within the city, say, look, I want someone remote, but I need them here in Houston because I, I want to bring ’em into the office once a month or twice a month to do whatever. Now we have, you know, 10 x, now we have a thousand people and the people that like being in the office won’t be interested. So we have 80% of a thousand people. 800. Yeah. So it’s just a, a, for me it’s working the probabilities of it and whatever you choose to do is fine. And I think what I’m hearing a lot about hybrid is people are saying things to me like this a lot more. I’m happy to go in the office, but I want the flexibility if I have a doctor’s appointment just to work from home that day so I can go to the doctor and come back and I don’t have to drive all the way in the office and all the way back. So people are looking for, hybrid is starting to take on a, a, a bit of a different, if I could get a like one day or two days from home or have the option, like if I have stuff going on, if my son has an early game on Thursday, if I could just work from home that day so I can just like get my work done, not be stuck in traffic and then go see my child’s game or performance or whatever. Maybe

Chris (25:39):

Work up to 30 minutes before game time instead an hour and a half.

Corey  (25:42):

Right. Because of the commute. So I think hybrid, the definition of hybrid is shifting and changing a bit. I am hearing more people saying, yeah, I, man, I just wanna, I’d really like to be back in an office. I like being around people. This remote thing just doesn’t work for me. It’s not gonna go back to the way it was. But I think it’s gonna normalize here a bit.

Chris (26:02):

So let me ask you this. From a company standpoint, I think from what I’ve experienced talking to friends, you know, read and Wall Street Journal or whatever, the companies are saying, look, you this, the fully remote maybe or hybrid, that bias towards remote is eroding our company culture. ’cause our people aren’t together as much. What are you hearing from employees and the candidates about their view of building culture or fostering culture and the need to either be in the office, some versus, or they really think it can be done fully remote? What’s the kind of the, the sense you’re getting in the candidate pool on that

Corey  (26:42):

Topic? I think it’s easier to do in a smaller company. You know, I have a client now, they’re 20 people, but every morning they have, they’re all remote, but every morning they have a video call and they talk about who’s working on what and what, who needs to interact with who. And so, so they do it that way. In a larger company, I see it being harder. Yeah. It makes sense. Just, yeah. And there’s just, there’s more moving pieces and, and more departments and, and more people that have to get connected. And trying to get 500 people on a video call every morning would be hard. Sure. But I do think, and it might boil down to the person, Chris, you know, some people are, are at home and they just do what they do. And those, I always say these employees, the people that just want to go work in a, in their office and close their door and say, yeah, please don’t bother me.

Corey  (27:32):

I don’t want to talk to anyone. They’re super valuable people. If you have ’em in the right role and if they’re working remotely, that might be just fine. But then there are some more dynamic roles in the company where you do need that interaction. And I think that’s where that hybrid piece is important to say, Hey, we do need you in the office. And I know your company culture here is really built around human interaction and keeping people close together and <inaudible> and yeah, it’s important to be able to walk down the hall and knock on someone’s door. So I think that’s where the hybrid model, if you can pull someone in instead of a fully remote to a hybrid and kind of transition them there, you’re going to get that kind of dynamic interaction and you’re gonna foster culture more and people get to know each other and kind of on a personal level as well as professional level.

Corey  (28:22):

But it, it’s, I don’t know that there’s one answer to, because every company needs to figure out every company’s per, I always say every role is perfect for someone. We just need to be honest and really define what that role is and what the company is and what their culture is, and then find the person who’s looking and craving that. Right? Yeah. And so I think a lot of what a lot of people will do is find people and tell them what they want to hear, and then when they get in the door, they kind of think, well maybe I, I don’t know if they told me the truth here. Yeah. And then you start that relationship off a little bumpy. But if you’re clear like you guys are about what you are and who you are and how you, you see the people interacting, people are either gonna love that or they’re not.

Corey  (29:05):

But that’s all you want. Right. The be getting a hell yeah. Or a hell no. That’s, that’s a gift. There’s value in both, right. I mean, hell, Noss is valuable as a hell. Yeah. Because you’re not gonna waste any more time if you put it up front and say, this is who we are and what we do. And and if that excites you, let’s talk more. If that doesn’t sound exciting to you, probably not for you. There’s, there’s another place that’s right for you. Yeah, for sure. There is. That’s what I tell people all the time. That may be bad person, there’s just a different place that you’re gonna fit. Yeah, that’s exactly it. And I think we do get a little, people get a little, uh, hurt or whatever when they get rejected by someone, but sometimes that’s nature. Absolute the best thing that could happen.

Chris (29:42):

Yeah. Any, you know, just thinking about the business owner out there. Make, you know, with the pressure of making some hires or filling some roles, trends that you’re seeing, any pointers you might add, you know, provide, say, you know, if you’re gonna, if you’re find yourself in the need, you know, hiring, here’s some things to focus on to make sure you get it right.

Corey  (30:01):

Yeah. So what the business owners I deal with, and I love working with business owners is they’re always passionate, smart, driven people. And they’re, they’re all different personalities. And I love speaking with them and learning from them. That’s kind of the, the, the secret behind why I started Key hire too. Because hanging out with business owners is a really awesome experience just to hear how they think and what they do and why they do it. And I love hearing their stories and I love to be able to take those stories out and tell people about them. Yeah. The, if I could give them a piece of advice and, and I’m speaking to small business owners here, right? So we’re always looking to bring people in with capacity. So don’t hire for current needs. Hire for what you need five years from now. That’s number one.

Corey  (30:48):

Right? Remember the phrase, we’re not hiring you to run our business currently, we’re looking for you to run our business five x Right. Currently doing with our current revenues. So if you do that, you’ll redefine what good looks like. And uh, I have a client in Birmingham, his name’s Edgar, and he runs one of the coolest food manufacturing, uh, businesses in Birmingham. I worked with him four years ago and he wanted, he had a role within his business that he thought he needed. And after we did our diligence and spending time, I flew to Birmingham, spent two days with him. I said, I think you’re too small on this. You know, we got a dream bigger. And so we redefined the role, we found an amazing guy and put him in there. And Edgar loves him and he’s now his director of operations, right? And he wanted him to do this kind of smaller role, but I said, no, we need to hire someone with the capacity to take over your whole operation.

Corey  (31:43):

So I’m working with Edgar again, but I asked him this question. I said, when we talked four years ago, you thought you had a really great team. And then we put this new person in there, a professional, someone who had more experience than you needed today and was a true professional at what they do. Did that change your definition of what a good employee looks like? And he didn’t even hesitate. He said, absolutely. And I could see it in him. The way he viewed his hiring was different. The people he had hired since we worked together were different. They, they were just bigger, better, more capacity, have that level of professionalism. And I guess what I wanna stress is you have to grow your business a certain way, right? You hire your friends, your relatives, your neighbors, your relatives of your neighbors, and you hire a team that you hope can get it done.

Corey  (32:36):

And if you’re successful, here’s the paradox. If you’re successful, your business will outgrow the ability of all the people, how, who helped you get where you wanna go. That sucks because now you want to grow. And all the people that helped you get to this level of success don’t have the jam. They don’t have the capacity, they don’t have the experience to draw upon to help you get to the next level. To next level. Yeah. And it’s a horrible position for a business owner to be in it. And I’ve said to them all, I said, the hardest, I don’t care how long you’ve had your business and what you’ve gone through, the hardest decision you will ever have to make is looking across the table from someone who helped you get where you are today and telling them, thank you for everything you’ve done, but I don’t think you can get me where I want to go from here. Yeah.

Chris (33:23):

It’s, I’ve seen it happen time and time again. You just company outgrows their capacity.

Corey  (33:29):

Yeah. They just, and they’re not, they’re great people doing the best job they can. They just don’t have, you know, the busiest business they’ve ever worked in is your business today, the busiest business they will ever work in is your business tomorrow. And they, they don’t have anything beyond that to say, oh, this process is broken, or here’s where our constraints are, or here’s what we need to change when your only input becomes ours. You, you’ve run into that wall where you think, okay, we, we need to upgrade process, procedure, we need to include automation. And if people don’t understand how to do, that’s kind of your real limiting factor. That’s your biggest constraint. So if I were to give business owners advice, it’s that right? Understand what 2.0 looks like in terms of your talent and capacity and experience. And I, I never advocate for like abandoning those people who got you where you are.

Corey  (34:25):

Sure you have to treat them well, but there will become a point where they could turn into a constraint to your growth. And I’ve had lots and lots, I mean, that’s the other part of what we do, right? We sit with business owners and we walk them through these like how to have these conversations with someone and we can help them lead the company gracefully. We can reposition them within the company. There’s lots of things we can do, but we always wanna make sure we’re treating them with respect because they’ve probably given you blood, sweat, and tears to get where you are. And you just don’t wanna, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a business owner who’s like, yeah, I just need to get ’em outta here. Right? They’re like, it tears ’em up. It’s, it’s a hard decision to make. Yeah.

Chris (35:07):

No, I can see that’s great advice though for anyone that’s out there running a business about to start one that you’ve got to, you know, there’s another analogy and you’re a hockey guy. I’m not, but I’ve told this before, it’s kind of same. The business is you look to where the keep your eyes on where the puck’s going, not where it is, right? That’s, you’re always looking forward and what do you need to be doing to drive forward and talent your talent’s? The key to that,

Corey  (35:31):

Well it, I don’t know how much time we have, but I can give you kind of a quick walkthrough in terms of the kind of growth through a business that we’ve identified. Let’s do that and then we’ll wrap it up. Okay. So we’ve identified kind of five stages of growth for a business owner. And so the first one we’ve identified is what we call the paralyzed business owner, right? It’s a fire drill. They need instant relief. Uh, if you use a car analogy, the wheels have fallen off the machine, right? They’re, if you look at their org chart, they’re sitting in 5, 6, 7 different seats because everyone’s trying to do everything. And they’re at this, my only input is time, right? And so their mindset is, I just need help. And they often think if I can just hire the right person, my life will be better.

Corey  (36:13):

But obviously that’s not how it works. But if you can hire the right person, you can take a little pressure out of the tire, right? Give them back a little time. You know, maybe they can have one dinner at home with the family versus zero. And then from there, from this kind of paralyzed state, they move in, they move into the unsure state. So you put a, a, a really good professional person in the business, whether it’s operations or in the administration or in the sales department, and they go, oh, that’s what good looks like. This person’s really helping me. So they transition into this unsure, and they start thinking, well, what else could I do? I know I have other problems in the business, but I don’t know what they are, right? So we call this the wobbly wheel. Now the car’s kind of, it’s, they’re on the road, but they’re wobbling down the road, right?

Corey  (37:01):

And so they know they have some constraints in their business, but they’re not at the point yet where they can put their finger on and say, that’s a problem. So then you put kind of another professional in there to kind of take a little more pressure outta their tire and they go, oh, now they have a little more time to focus on important things. They have some professionals, some transformational talent in, in key places. So now they transition and this is a big transition where they go into the curious owner, where else can I make upgrades in my business? And this is where they start looking. Now they can say, I think this leader is a problem. You know, I’ve expected, I’ve asked them to, told them, here’s some deliverables, I need them done by this timeline. They’re missing them. I think that is a problem there.

Corey  (37:49):

So they’re starting to now understand where the problems are. And this is where we say, you know, you have a flat tire, right? You just need to put some air in that tire and you can get back up on the road. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And then they transition into a growing company. So now we’re kind of putting professional transformational talent and key roles. And now they’re at the point where they moved to a growing company where, you know, before they were paralyzed, then they were kinda walking and now they’re kind of into growing. Like they’re moving forward, they’re confident in their team and growing company is now we’re adding new talent. I need new layers, new levels, new roles we never thought about. So we’re creating a lot of new roles and we’re really kind of bolstering the company with the talent and the capacity and experience they need to continue growth. And then the final transition is they become strategic. That’s just like, we know exactly what we need, just start filling in the spots and let’s roll. Right? So that’s kind of the progression we take our people through and that how we identify where people are in that kind of, okay.

Chris (38:48):

Yeah. I love it. Yeah. It’s a, it’s a great almost visual as you, you know, describe it and walk through

Corey  (38:53):

It, right? And so if you do the wheels, right? So the curious person has the flat tire. So you go from wheels off the machine to a wobbly wheel to a maybe a flat tire. And then the growing guys, like we just upgraded the wheels, gave ’em low profile, new rims, the whole deal, right? And then it’s strategic. It’s like we’re adding wheels on the, on the car, on the machine. ’cause it’s just flying down the road. Awesome. Yeah. Awesome.

Chris (39:15):

Well, Corey, thank you for coming on and, and, and sharing this. Let’s, let’s talk a little bit on the personal side. Sure. Uh, what was your first job?

Corey  (39:22):

My first job, <laugh> was a dishwasher at a restaurant called Casey’s Road House in Oshawa, Ontario. Alright.

Chris (39:30):

Yeah. You like started literally in hospitality.

Corey  (39:33):

<laugh>. That was probably why I stayed with it. ’cause when I was 14 I was washing dishes. The uh, unintended con consequences of that job is I met two guys that I went to school with that I didn’t really know very well. Actually, I didn’t go to school with ’em at that time. I was, I think I was, maybe I did. I didn’t know them very well. But, you know, fast forward 40 years later and one of them still a good friend of mine and I was able to hang out with them last summer. And so made some lasting friendships out of that very fir I mean, it was a horrible job. Right, right. <laugh>, you have all the service coming in, all the cool people, like you’re 14 and there’s all these 18, 19, 20, 20 1-year-old cool kids coming in, throwing slop at you and yelling at you and making your life miserable. But

Chris (40:14):

Yeah, built

Corey  (40:15):

Character, I guess.

Chris (40:16):

<laugh>. Yeah. Okay. So you from Canada, newer to Texas, but do you prefer TexMex or barbecue? Oh man, that’s

Corey  (40:25):

Tough. I got textbook. Yep.

Chris (40:28):

Any books you’re reading that you would or read recently you recommended?

Corey  (40:31):

I just listened to the Energy Bus that was recommended by Bart Pitcock in my Vistage group. Okay. It’s kind of a fable that’s along the lines of the, A man has sold his Ferrari. Oh, Mon, who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma. It’s just kinda this fable about kind of changing your mindset, which is cool. And I have barbarians at the gate sitting on my desk right now, which I’m about to get into.

Chris (40:55):

Okay. A little holiday reading <laugh>. Yeah, guess

Corey  (40:57):

So. Yeah.

Chris (40:59):

Well, again, Corey, I, I really appreciate your time. I think what you’re doing at Key Hire is great. Awesome. We certainly appreciate the relationship and the friendship.

Corey  (41:07):

Yeah, I, I mean, thanks for having me on. I think you guys are doing a great job too. I love this company and can’t say enough nice things about the way you run your business. You guys are clear on what you do. You run a great organization and I’m super happy to be helping you out.

Chris (41:20):

Oh, thank you. We appreciate it. Take care.

Corey  (41:22):

Thank you.

BTB (41:25):

And there we have it. Another great episode. Don’t forget to check out the show notes at and you can find out more about all the ways our firm can help That’s it for this episode. Have a great week and we’ll talk to you next time.

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