Placing employees first helps fuel Arrow Strategies’ growth

Taking Center Stage this month is Arrow Strategies, a Bingham Farms, Mich.-based provider of information technology, engineering and finance/accounting staffing. The firm appeared on Staffing Industry Analysts’ list of fastest-growing staffing firms in 2011, and the company celebrated its 10-year anniversary on April 15. It has also appeared on Inc. magazine’s list of fastest-growing firms last year. Arrow Strategies posted $30 million in revenue in 2011 and is on track for approximately $40 million in 2012. Managing Editor Craig Johnson recently spoke with CEO Jeff Styers.

Q: What sets Arrow Strategies apart from other staffing firms?

A: There are a few things. One of the unique traits we have is we don’t hire anyone with industry experience. Everyone we hire has no previous staffing experience. The leaders of our organization grew up within the organization. From our branch managers in Los Angeles, our recruiting manager in Chicago to part of the branch development team here in Detroit, all came up through the company.

The second part of what I think we do unique is we still stick to old- school tactics. We can find candidates that our clients and competition can’t. Instead of working the job boards all day, our recruiters learn to cold call, target recruit, refer, reference, but find candidates that aren’t actively in the market. Once we find them, we take them through a stringently adhered-to 10-step recruiting process. We meet all of our candidates. We do the reference checks. We do the technical assessment, prescreen interviews, final interview with the account manager — all before they’re even submitted to a client for consideration.

Arrow Strategies was rated as a cool place to work by Crain’s Detroit Business in 2011 [a sister publication to Staffing Industry Review]. How did your firm achieve that award?

Internal staff at our Detroit office have a concierge service to help with errands like getting your oil changed or picking up dry cleaning. We have a masseuse who comes in every Friday. We have a shoe shine guy who comes in once a week. We have a game room, a nap room, a gym, locker rooms, meditation room. We have breakfast and lunch on hand all the time as well as beverages.

We cater to our employees in many aspects. That would be kind of our mantra. We do a Ferris Bueller’s day off in the summer where we just shut the company down for two days and fly everyone in from around the country, and do something fun, whether it’s boating, swimming or golf or paintball. It’s just kind of a chance for people to connect with others in the company.

Our product is our people. The minute you take your eye off that reality, I think you fail as a staffing firm. If people are our product — which they are — then we have to bend over backwards to take care of them.

You talked about the Arrow Strategies’ 10-step recruiting process. Can you describe that further and how it helps make Arrow Strategies a successful firm?

I think a lot of companies say they have processes. I think one of the unique things about us is our fanatical and passionate adherence to it. There is no deviation.

We’re looking for candidates who are not on the job boards. We don’t run postings. We don’t want people to reply to postings. We find people who aren’t active in the job market. Once we do that, we go to a prescreen interview, which is a scripted interview that gets all the basic information, as well as some psychological pushes and pulls about why the person may or may not be interested and entertain other job opportunities.

Once they pass that gate, then they are brought in for an in-person inter- view. Once we do the in-person interview, we do the reference checks. We do a technical assessment of their skills, either with one of our existing field staff or during an online assessment. After that is a joint interview with the account manager. Then they’re coached and closed and submitted to a client.

That kind of funnel, if you will, is just like a machine here. Everyone talks with the same vernacular, the same process, everyone talks about where people are in the process, and they know there’s no deviation. That discipline to a process has been a big part of our success.

What is in store for Arrow Strategies’ future?

If there’s one thing I can say about Arrow Strategies is that we need to look and feel a lot like a performance organization, whether that’s a sports team or a business. It has to be a performance- based organization. That’s what we are. We’re also very disciplined in knowing our strong points and what we’re good at. We’re not going to offer VMS solutions or project management. We are a staffing firm, and that’s what we intend to stay. Our goal is $100 million in revenue by 2018, and we’re on track for that. Everything we do here is to achieve that $100 million by 2018. In fact, there’s a large clock in every office with the Arrow logo on it that is counting down to 2018.