Episode 5 – Eric Conway, [solidcore]
[solidcore] got its start as Abs Morgen in Washington D.C. by Anne Mahlum in 2013 and has since grown to nearly 100 locations nationwide. Having celebrated over 1000 classes at D.C. headquarters alone, the demand for dedicated and qualified coaches keeps recruiters at [solidcore] on their toes.
As the company grows, hiring teams at [solidcore] are committed to finding coaches who align with their core value of service to surrounding communities and providing a candidate experience all applicants can walk away from stronger and more confident than before.
This episode of The Speed to Hire Show features Eric Conway, Director of Talent Acquisition at [solidcore].
- [9:21] Immerse your brand into the community – stand out from the competition by building a brand that is invested in contributing to the community it serves
- [14:21] Assess for alignment with critical criteria first – determine deal-breaker criteria and ask these questions in the first screening interview to save your team and candidates time
- [18:59] Reduce bias in the hiring process with a structured evaluation process – implement a candidate screening process that allows more decision-makers to weigh in objectively
- [23:40] Offer candidates timely, constructive feedback – providing candidates with feedback regarding why they are passed on improves their experience and helps them interview better next time
- [31:20] Be there to help candidates achieve their goals – make meaningful connections in the recruiting and hiring process that represent how your company consistently strives to support talent and facilitate success
JOSH TOLAN: All right, well, thanks so much for joining me, Eric. To kick things off, we’d love to just hear a little bit about yourself and also [solidcore].
ERIC CONWAY: Sure. Thanks for having me, Josh. I’m Eric. I am the Director of Talent Acquisition for a company called [solidcore]. We are a boutique fitness company that’s rapidly growing. We specialize in strength and conditioning training. Our workout is 50 minutes, high intensity, low impact. And right now, we are in upwards of almost 100 studios across the country right now.
JOSH TOLAN: That’s awesome. And first of all, I got to ask, do you do any of the classes at [solidcore]? Are you a fitness guy yourself?
ERIC CONWAY: Yeah. My very first class, interestingly enough, I took with our founder, Anne Mahlum, and that was intense – the most intense workout. I had to reevaluate like, do I need to really be working here? But it let me know like the energy, the passion, and the drive that even a client goes through, and our coaches that we hire on to coach these classes are absolutely amazing because you have to have a great experience to get through the workout and then really just want to come back for more.
It just tells you the fact that we’re growing so fast, like, how unique our workout is and how much people love it just because it’s not the average workout where you feel like eh, I didn’t get anything out of that.
JOSH TOLAN: Yeah, I know, it’s interesting, because when I was on your LinkedIn before this, I saw you had some posts about fitness and hitting goals and about your classes like it wasn’t all talent acquisition or posting job openings. So it seemed like that was something you were passionate about as well, which is always great. If you’re recruiting for a company and you’re passionate about the product or service, I think that’s– it’s kind of a must price of admission.
So tell me a little bit about the talent acquisition team. I know you guys are growing fast. You’re the director. What’s the makeup of the team look like?
ERIC CONWAY: We’ve grown so, so fast in this last year. Right now I’ve hired just a new personnel on my team. I have a senior talent acquisition manager. Her name is Jenna. She’s based here in D.C. where I’m located at. I have another manager named Shannon. She’s based in Chicago. And I have five recruiters who are spread across the country. I have Nina, who’s in New York. I have Mandi, who is in Richmond, Virginia, Luis in D.C, Delaney in D.C, Brittany in Chicago, and I also have Abby, who’s a new recruiter as well. She’s out there in Los Angeles, California.
JOSH TOLAN: OK, great. So tell me like, how many locations are you guys at right now?
ERIC CONWAY: Right now we’re about 95. In the next two months, we’ll be at 100. And we’re set to open about 15 to 18 more studios this year, some more in New York, Seattle, LA, one coming to Nashville, San Diego, one’s coming to Florida, Houston, New Jersey. We are rapidly expanding across the country, which is great. So mostly East Coast and West Coast expansion.
JOSH TOLAN: Got it. Did you guys start on the East Coast? Because it seems like most of your recruiting team is like East Coast and Midwest.
ERIC CONWAY: Yeah, our very first studio was right here in D.C. called Abs Morgan. We just celebrated the 1000th class anniversary. And some people have taken between 200 and 500 classes out of the studio alone. It’s crazy.
JOSH TOLAN: That’s amazing. And how long have you been there?
ERIC CONWAY: This company was founded around 2013 by Anne. She started a program called On Your Feet, and it expanded from there, where she was really just being on building a community and outreaching. And she started a small running club, and it’s grown into developing what we call our sweatlana, our reformer machine and really just bringing it back to the community of becoming stronger versions of yourself. That’s something we represent in our motto.
Coming into our company, we don’t talk about losing weight. That could be a goal, but it’s more about becoming the stronger version of yourself. So it’s really you challenging yourself when you come to that studio and that machine.
JOSH TOLAN: Love it. I love that mission. So tell me like, what are the goals for this year? I know you guys are growing a lot but maybe put some numbers to it.
ERIC CONWAY: Yeah, we have hefty goals out of the first quarter just for our coaches. And I’ll explain how we recruit the different things. We recruit, I would say, four different levels. We have most of our part-time coaches. That’s the majority of our fleet in our company. We have about 800 part-time coaches across the fleet.
Then we have our head coaches. Above that are area managers and our director of studios and then all of our headquarters staff. So from our coaching fleet alone, we’re probably– last year we recruited about 460 to 480 people. This year we’re going to probably be somewhere between 500 to 800 just coaches alone. But we’ve already put 100 coaches in January just alone in January. So we have a goal of 250 coming out of the first quarter.
JOSH TOLAN: That’s a lot going on, especially with the size of your team as well. So are you coordinating with the hiring process? Are you coordinating with managers at each of the locations or how does that work? What’s the collaboration like?
ERIC CONWAY: Yeah, we collaborate daily but for sure weekly about the hiring needs of the area. And we try to get far ahead, especially when we know if it’s an area that has a new studio coming open or if it’s an area that we need backfill for current existing coaches. So we try to predict how many we need coming up and we start the process as early as possible, get the message out, and then start sending out our Spark Hire invites to get their recorded interview on file.
JOSH TOLAN: Got it. And then as far as the roles that you’re recruiting for, is it mostly coaches?
ERIC CONWAY: That’s the majority. Yes, majority coaches, that’s going to be the bulk of our recruitment efforts because we have such a high volume that we bring in every month.
JOSH TOLAN: Yeah, and it’s interesting. I think it probably presents you guys with a number of challenges because A, you guys are growing really fast. So you need to hire a lot of people just to keep up with the growth. But there’s also pressure to move fast because you need a coach to run the classes, right? So it’s like a huge part of your company is the people. So if your team can’t get them and can’t get them fast enough, then obviously, that’s going to impact the bottom line. So tell me a little bit about some of the challenges that presents for you.
ERIC CONWAY: Sure. I think multiple challenges, one being that in existing markets like D.C, and New York, or LA, there’s a vast amount of fit pros in the area where we can source from, or if we already have studios in that market and we open up a new studio, they already know [solidcore]. It’s more challenging when we come to a new market that we’re not currently in and nobody knows about [solidcore] or the population is a little bit less dense, opening up a studio and finding those fit pros to get the message out about us.
And then also, screening down to find our style of coaching is really unique because it’s not an apples to apples where any fit pro really can’t coach our style because our coaches, they don’t really demonstrate coach, where some people stand up on a box and they demonstrate the movements. We do more like a coach on a microphone and we’re just like going through cues of performance of how to coach our style. And so we’re really just cueing clients versus like let me show you how to do this movement.
So we have to have those coaches that are energetic, that’s comfortable talking on the microphone, that’s comfortable cueing, giving encouraging feedback. So a lot of times we have a lot of candidates that might apply and these don’t fit what we’re looking for. Even if they’ve been in fitness for 20 years, they might not be that particular type of style that we’re looking for. So it presents another challenge of finding the right fit for our brand.
JOSH TOLAN: Interesting. Yeah, because there are tons of folks that probably have the credentials, right? They’re a personal trainer or they’ve been coaching in another program. But for you guys there’s a very specific energy, personality, and communication style that is ingrained in the culture of your guys’ class and your guys’ business as evident like you said from when you took that initial class with the founder, you felt the energy. So that’s something that you need to consistently look for when you’re recruiting people for the business.
Is it pretty competitive for you? There are so many different types of classes and programs and gyms. I feel like even in my hometown, there’s a new class or program popping up every few months. So are you competing with all of those programs for coaches as well?
ERIC CONWAY: Yes, it is. It’s very competitive, especially in certain markets. You see a market like Seattle is very competitive, California, New York, so it’s very competitive. There are some of these other fitness companies have been around a lot longer than us, so they’re a little bit more popular by name.
But what we found is that when people actually are introduced to our workout, they love it. They’re like, wow, this is so unique and different from most people that are out there. They gravitate towards our workout because it is a very unique style, and you get a full body workout every time, and you can never master our type of workout, where just say, you went to the gym for six months straight doing a certain program. You might say, I’ve kind of plateaued here now. I’m not getting as much out of the workout. For us, a client can come in on day one and out of class number 500, and they feel the exact same. They’re like, wow, it’s still kicking my butt.
JOSH TOLAN: Yeah, every single time you’re feeling new muscles you never knew that you had.
ERIC CONWAY: Absolutely.
JOSH TOLAN: So when you’re competing for this talent with these other programs, what are some of the things– obviously, like you mentioned, the program is very unique. But what are other things that you guys use as differentiators to attract folks to work at [solidcore] versus somewhere else?
ERIC CONWAY: Great question. I think for one, your brand should speak for itself. So we do a good job of branding ourselves as far as introducing people to what [solidcore] is. And number two, we really just focus on community. And a lot of times you see other fitness companies that are just hiring, hiring, and hiring and they’re really not a part of the community and we’re the opposite. We actually really try to be a staple in the community for those studios where we’re located.
So we not only bridge community events, but we make sure we try to participate in local events that are going on. So like our local coaches, they are a part of the community. So we want people to take the class to resonate with what’s going on and not just be like, hey, I have a class here. It’s more like, oh, that’s this coach. This is Josh. He’s a coach and he also does this in the community. So I think that’s really the foundation of our program where people feel like they’re coming to a community versus like, I’m just going to take a class.
JOSH TOLAN: Yeah, and I like that because as you mentioned earlier, it’s not about going to class to lose weight. That’s not what you guys are pitching. You’re pitching to become the best version of yourself. So there’s like a bigger vision and bigger mission than what you might hear in your typical fitness class, say.
And so I think that’s interesting than the tie-in to even the way your coaches participate in the community. They’re not just coaches at the local gym. They’re participating in local community events. And that helps you in turn get clients as well, but it’s a more holistic approach, I think, from a branding standpoint.
ERIC CONWAY: Correct. And then people what we found that our client base that comes to [solidcore], you’d be amazed at the stories that you hear because it’s not– like you said, some people are coming to achieve professional weight loss goals or professional fitness goals. But a vast majority you hear because they resonate with our coaches in a different way where they were abused or they were alcoholics back in the day or they were body shamed or they had all these different issues, they get some accident, they have a disability. And this is a great workout where it doesn’t put a strain on their muscles as far as high impact.
So many different reasons why people love [solidcore]. You’ll shed a tear literally when you hear those stories of why people come to us. That 50 minutes where they’re on that sweatlana machine, our reformer machine, all those problems go away for them. And that’s what they really just feel like it’s just them in the machine. Our lights are low. As far as our workouts, it’s like a dim space, neon lights are on, the music’s loud, and this is you and the machine.
And I think people just love the fact that you’re getting the workout and you’re just really lost in that 50 minutes where this is your refuge away from problems, and you’re getting a great workout at the end of that. By the time you leave, you feel great. You’re like, wow, that’s therapeutic for my soul. So that’s why I think people resonate with our brand once they get exposure to it.
JOSH TOLAN: Amazing. So let’s jump over and talk a little bit about the hiring process itself. Can you give me an idea? Maybe we’ll focus on the coaches because that’s your highest-volume role. Just give me an idea of end-to-end, what are the different stages?
ERIC CONWAY: Sure. Once we post a job out, people apply through our platform, through our either job site or external sites like our Indeed or LinkedIn, or like for us promoting it out there on social media or Eventbrite or something of that nature. But once they come through our system, we view the resume, take a quick peek at their background, and then if they’re like a potential candidate, we will send them a Spark Hire invite for that particular job post to say like, hey, we like what we saw. We would like you to advance to the next stage in the process and complete this one-way interview.
And we’ve gotten with Spark Hire’s personnel, kind of, tailored it down to best practices, those type of questions that we were asking to make it easier where people would fill out that process. And I want to say we have a pretty really good completion rate coming out of that. Once they complete the Spark Hire, our recruiters will review the videos. And part of the video, they do submit a two-minute audition of them coaching the exercise or coaching something of their choice so we can evaluate those soft skills we talked about, personality, energy, those things we talked about.
And from there, if we like them, we will pass that over to the hiring manager to say like, hey, we got a great candidate. We would like for you to view this workout or this video audition, and they would view it. If they like it, they would say, yes, let’s bring them on board, and we will submit them an offer letter to join our team.
JOSH TOLAN: Oh, wow. So you guys really are streamlining it then from you get the resume, you’re validating, OK, they’ve got the credentials and on paper the skills needed to do the job, and then you go straight to the Spark Hire one way. And then from there, a hiring manager at the location can actually make a decision. Wow, OK, so that’s really, really fast. So how are you– in the one-way interview, I know you’ve got the two-minute audition. What are some other questions or what are things you’re trying to evaluate in that interview as well?
ERIC CONWAY: Yeah, we’re trying to get a good fit. Like, if they’re a coach, going back on some of the things I said, we want to know, what is their time like? What are some of the previous experience they have as far as fitness-wise or job-wise or leadership-wise? We also want to know how well do they build our community? That’s an important part like I talked about. We want to know, we put you on a schedule, like, how well will you fill up your classes? Or are you really dedicated to being a part of this community because that’s really what’s going to resonate with the local community?
We also ask them about availability due to any time you’re coaching and fitness. That’s a huge part of it because you might have the right fit, and you might be everything we’re looking for, but you might not be available for the times that we need you to coach. And our coaches have to coach up to a minimum of six classes per week, and they have to have at least one day of weekend availability. So a lot of times they will get bumped out of contention because they don’t have their weekend availability or like I’m only available on Mondays from 6:00 to 9:00 and maybe all their schedules are full.
So there’s a lot of different nuances that we have to consider where we can’t bring as many people on if we want to because all those factors have to line up. So we try to capture that all in the video to identify potential challenges or anything we might be able to work with before we decide to move forward to the next stage.
JOSH TOLAN: And then with the hiring managers, are you collaborating with them on the questions that you want to ask or are you using the same ones across all different locations?
ERIC CONWAY: No, well, a little bit of both. We’ve modified it now, where the first couple of iterations where we created the Spark Hires, we got feedback from them saying like, hey, can we– who makes the questions? I’m like, well, essentially, you can make. You’re a hiring manager, so we can take what you need to ask and we can modify it. We did a couple of modifications where it fits the needs to get what we’re looking for.
Some have been more specific in some markets like some saying like, hey, can you put in here like a New York market? They might say, based on our market, it’s volatile, and we really need people with coaches to have also strong sales skills. Can you mention something about being able to sell products or sell packages and services? Some like a North Dakota may be a little bit different.
And then sometimes they’re even leerier of technology. So we have to cut down the questions to like two or three like, hey, they might scare them off because they don’t use– we found that they were not completing the videos as much as some of the other locations. So we had to, kind of, scale some of the questions back to say like so it’s not so intimidating that they might not want to spend a lot of time on a computer. So based on the markets, we do have to make a lot of modifications based on what we view as far as what could be potential roadblocks to getting the most coaches through the system and also completing the videos.
JOSH TOLAN: Got it. And what’s the typical hiring timeline for you guys look like?
ERIC CONWAY: It’s reduced greatly, especially since there are so many other steps past that as far as once you go to the hiring managers and they submit the video, then we have to get back on with them at a certain time where all the people we are hiring for their round and do what’s called expectations call to get them prepared for training. And then they have to do like pre-training homework and stuff, so there’s a lot that goes into it.
So I would say like, before we implement a Spark Hire, the time to hire for a coach was over 100 days. So it took us 100 days to find people on average and get them through the process and say, have them sign an offer letter. The last time I checked when I pulled it for the end of last year, that got reduced down to about 67 days or something close to that nature. So that’s a significant change. I think that’s more like being a streamline process.
The feedback we’ve gotten from Spark Hire from the coaches’ side has been outstanding. They said it was simple, they knew what to expect. And I love that it gives us a time capsule also from before. Before we were using Spark Hire, we were doing phone screens. So that means every single person that applied, we would have to call them and ask these questions on the phone, and then we have to have them go back again and submit a virtual video that we would keep on like a Google Drive and then we have to type all those notes up, take that video, send it to hiring manager, and it was taking a lot of processes.
And then two or three months, we didn’t hire somebody. We would forget what happened like, man, I know we talked to somebody. We have to go back and find our files or find notes on them. And I think this gives us a perfect time capsule of like, hey, we talked to this person six months ago. Let’s go back and review the video, see if they’ve made any corrections have them resubmit a new one, and see if they’re ready to go. And we do that pretty often. There might be somebody that we interview with and they’re not ready to go, we’ll have them submit another video a couple of weeks after they’re taking the class and then it’s like night and day almost.
JOSH TOLAN: That’s awesome. And with the recruiting team and with hiring managers, have you guys set any type of deadlines on OK, recruiters once the interview comes in, you have X days to watch it and move it on to a hiring manager, and then the hiring manager, you have Y days to determine, do we want to make this person an offer or not?
ERIC CONWAY: We’re trying to get there, buddy. Yeah, we’re trying to get there. It’s easier in some markets than others, and we have a lot of new area managers that have come in and out. And then their schedules are very busy, so it’s not as active as I would like it. We try to put like a 72-hour deadline from the time the Spark Hire comes to the area, the hiring manager another 72 hours, and the hiring managers to make a decision.
It’s flexible within there, but for the most part, they give it to us within a reasonable time, not always 72 hours, but it does happen like probably within a week. I would say like a week goes by. If we don’t hear something, I’ll be pinging them like, hey, remember that person that we need to get to training? Have you thought about the decision process?
And also, it definitely helps. Like with having Spark Hire, one thing we didn’t have consistently was a standardized evaluation process. So it was more like say, if you’re a candidate and I’m an area manager, I’m viewing you a video, I might like, eh, you’re OK but I don’t think that you can do a good job in a community. Well, how do you know that?
So we found that there were a lot of small personal biases making the decision process before we had this. And I think having everybody be able to view the video, helps us remove some of that bias because I can go back and say like, hey, let’s talk about Josh. What didn’t you like about him again? Let’s both look at this video together and then we can make that decision to say, are you willing to give him a chance or not, or what can he fix if he’s missing another video? What does he need to work on?
So we are a very feedback-based organization. We’re able to give candidates like hey, we like a coach with better energy, this and this and this. You’ll take a couple of classes, go back submit another video, show us the energy, and then try to improve versus like, I just didn’t like Josh.
JOSH TOLAN: Yeah, for sure. And I think that’s one of the problems oftentimes with traditional screening methods that happen in silos, right? Like even a phone interview with a recruiter, number one, yeah, the recruiter might be making decisions just based on did I like that person or not? But there are other things that come into play, even things like what time is the recruiter talking to that person during the day, right?
Like, a candidate’s experience at 9:00 AM with the recruiter, could be very different from 5:00 PM with that same person because they’re ready to get out the door, it’s after a long day of meetings, whatever it is. And so that could impact some of their decision-making. So the collaboration I think is really, really important to make sure that you’re validating decisions from multiple angles versus just what one person thinks or their opinion, and then also those outside factors that could impact that opinion as well.
ERIC CONWAY: And it gives us a small capture of what we probably didn’t have before. Like you said, if I look at 10 videos from the area manager and I noticed that in every video they’re declining this person for that, I can go back and say like, hey, this person has a tendency to say no for this area. I can make sure we make sure that the candidates are aware that this is the area looking at, or it could be the opposite where they consistently mark an area that’s not– like something is not even there.
And so we can come back and correct and say like, hey, we noticed you passing on candidates but there are no real criteria that you’re using. And I put a checkmark by this person, say, like you as the hiring manager, maybe you need to look at some of your evaluation process. Maybe you’re being a little bit too biased. So I think that helps both ways where we don’t want to tell somebody they don’t know what they’re doing, but it does help to have the data to self-correct and review over a period of time our hiring trends.
JOSH TOLAN: Yeah, and it helps you help them, right? Because when you can go back to them and say, hey, I noticed you’re rejecting people because of reason X. How can we help make sure that we’re getting you the right candidates that you wouldn’t reject because of X? Or maybe there’s another question that we need to ask in the interview to help you better assess those. Maybe we’re not giving you all the information you need to make the right decision and therefore, it’s a gray area for you.
So I think that’s a really good point is you can use this. And when you have structure to your interview process, you can actually iterate on it. When there is no structure, you don’t know what’s working and you don’t know what’s not working. And so this gives you the opportunity to go back to the time board.
ERIC CONWAY: Yeah, and outside of like coach jobs just like communicating with other– this person out there on LinkedIn and stuff like that. And right now, the job market is not strong as it was maybe like a couple of years ago with a lot of mass layoffs going on. Candidates want to know– like there’s a person I talked to and I just felt bad, so I just reached out to her and try to help her, take a look at her resume.
And she’s like, I’ve been unemployed so long, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I can’t even get to the second stage of the interview process. And then even after that, the hiring managers won’t follow back up on her when they’re passing on her or give her feedback. So I’m like, that’s a problem.
I said, let me take a look at your resume. Let me give you some tips. So a lot of times I think that as a hiring manager, whether you’re going to pass on a person or not, I think they deserve to know– you don’t have to be detailed, descriptive of like what can they do next time to maybe stand out better as a candidate? Because anybody that’s searched for a job, you know how stressful and strenuous it is like, job application, application, and you’re just told no. And sometimes you don’t hear anything at all. You’re just like, I don’t want to talk to this person. I’m not going to say anything to the person.
I think every person deserves at least to understand they’re being passed on and maybe some context around how they can improve or what they’re looking for as a company so they can reset themselves for the next interview process. And I think that’s a huge thing missing from the employment market in itself.
JOSH TOLAN: Yeah, that’s great you guys do that. And I think, again, that goes back to some of the core values that I’m hearing from you guys around taking the more holistic approach and being part of the community. And I think delivering that type of candidate experience where you’re getting back to folks and you’re giving them feedback and you’re coaching them along the way, I think, is really great and reflects really well on your brand. And maybe when they make some of those tweaks to their job search process and they come back and do an interview for you later on, you help them advance to now where they’re actually somebody that’s going to work for you guys, so that’s great.
So I’m really interested because when I was on your LinkedIn, I saw you spent quite a bit of time in military recruiting before [solidcore]. So I’d love to just know what made you make the switch, and what are some of the big differences or maybe there are a lot of similarities between the two? I’d just love to hear you compare and contrast those experiences.
ERIC CONWAY: Absolutely. Always shout out to the army and the army recruiting command. It’s my first love and first home. I started off as a military police. I did that for about eight years and then I switched over to recruiting, which I did for almost 17, or 18 years of my career.
When I was at my transition point in early and mid-2021 coming out of COVID when I was thinking about my retirement plan, initially I was going to get a government job like most military people. It’s not easy to do, walk right into one. And I thought about corporate. I said, let me just look at corp and see if there’s something I might want to dip my toe into. Had a mixed bag about it as far as the structure and the camaraderie versus being in the military versus outside, but I said, let me not shortchange myself and just see if there’s opportunity.
When I came across [solidcore], what really attracted me to this company was I saw there was a small but growing company at the time. And I thought like, something I like where sometimes people might say, oh this is small. You might not get paid as much, but I love the opportunity where I can maybe bring an outside lens in there that may be different and have some ideas and also be part of whatever’s happened with growth.
I always try to liken it to imagine if you’re the person that put one of the bricks in the Great Pyramid and now we’re in 2023 you get to look at wow, look at this. And you can be like, Josh, remember that? That brick, that was my idea. This brick was mine. And in most companies that are more established, you don’t get to do that. You might already come into something that’s already built and you have ideas that are things that need to change but you don’t have a voice to change them. Nobody wants to be in that position.
So here is [solidcore]. It is so– I’ll tell you how openly crazy it is on ideas. Our CEO, Bryan Myers does a great job of just really investing back into the employees. He rewards people every month. I don’t care if you just started there. I don’t care what level you are, if you’re a VP, if you’re a coach, part-time person. He gives people like $1,000 to $2,000 a month if they come up with an idea that drives the business forward in any type of way.
You can come up with an idea for sales. You can come up with an idea for retention and recruiting. You can come up with an idea for a door code that lets people come in quicker. Whatever it is, that lets you know that everybody in that company has a voice, and that makes everybody feel valued. Like, I can submit an idea and potentially, whether I get paid or not, I know somebody is listening and they’re taking my ideas versus other companies. You don’t even get to meet your CEOs in most companies. You don’t even know who they are besides the picture on a website.
So he’s very involved, and I really love that about our leadership team. He might pop in and take a class with you, might take you to lunch. He’s very active, and you see him walk around the office all day long. And also yesterday our founder was in, Anne Mahlum, who founded us. She was in the office yesterday just popping around and talking to people. So that’s really energetic when you can just really have face time any time with your leadership team at that level is amazing.
JOSH TOLAN: That’s awesome. And I’m assuming you’re using that. You sold me on working there, right? So I’m assuming that’s part of the message when you’re talking to potential candidates.
ERIC CONWAY: Yes, I speak from the heart. A lot of people ask the question of why join? And I’m honest with them as far as what I feel as far as like being in a great culture and also not just coming in but coming in and having ideas that we want you to not just think about the now, think about 5, 10 years from now and come up with something that we don’t have in place. Or don’t be scared to try something it may not work. Let’s try it, and see if it works.
Most places you don’t get that opportunity. It’s like you can’t try things. We can’t afford it or if you try it and you fail, now we’re going to punish you for that because now you wasted time and money. We are totally opposite. We are like, we might be in the transformation phase where let’s try something different, which is one of the reasons why I got Spark Hire.
I went to my boss and I told her when I was looking at my processes and I was saying like, I want to see if there is a way I can cut the interview process in time. And when I first mentioned it, she was like, I don’t know. This sounds kind of weird. And then by the time I got the Spark Hire team and I came up with a case of how it was going to save us time and save money, person-hours for each recruiter, she was like, let’s try it, let’s do it. And it’s been a huge success.
And I was like– she told me Spark Hire was probably the best thing you did in 2022. She was like, that was a great idea that you implemented that at the time you did because we have all this hiring that we’re doing now. And so it’s those opportunities where most time if she just said no and not be open-minded, you probably wouldn’t even be talking to me right now. I’d be doing phones for you right now with a coach like five hours later until the day of 100 phone screens later so those are very important.
JOSH TOLAN: Yeah, it’s interesting to me because I feel like, in the– I’m just drawing so many parallels and I can see why you have so much passion talking about [solidcore] and why you love working there because coming from the military where you were for like you said, 17 or 18 years, the big thing about the military is being a part of something that’s bigger than yourself, right? And I feel as I’m talking to you, I feel that from you about the [[solidcore]], what it’s like to be an employee there.
And so I can see why while it’s like whoa, from the military to this fast-growing workout program company, they seem so different. But I think really like, industry, company, it really doesn’t matter. It’s really about you’re motivated by the vision, the mission, and the values of the organization. And so I draw a lot of parallels there. So that’s cool and really interesting.
What about on the recruiting side? Is there anything that you feel like recruiting for the military really prepared you for in this high-volume environment that you’re in now at [solidcore]?
ERIC CONWAY: Yeah, recruiting, especially in the United States Army, recruiting command is as fast-paced as well. So I think the biggest difference is from that side of it is high volume too. And you’re dealing with people in their time, so that’s similar in a way. But then that side is more layered, especially when you are somebody making a decision to join the service. Now you’re dealing with a person. You have to deal with family sometimes. It’s not even restricted to age.
You’d be surprised where somebody that’s 24 years old, graduated college getting ready to make a decision. Their parents had to be there. Their grandparents had to be there and had to get permission to have to convince everybody that, hey, this is the best decision for this person that doesn’t really want to leave home at 24. And it’s like so it doesn’t matter if they’re 18, 17, or 24, 34, spouses, wives.
So I think the biggest part is what I always related to an army is making sure that my goal is the same, that my job is to not convince you, but I’m here to help you. Either I can help you or I can’t help you. But if you’re here to talk to me about helping you, then I really got good advice for you, so you have to be open-minded to that.
And I treat the candidates the same way. I’m trying to help them achieve their goal, whether it’s becoming a fitness professional, whether you’re just getting into it or you’re recruiting for any of our headquarters roles, you want to come into this starting off, you want to be a VP one day. I want to help you achieve your goal. That’s how I approach it.
And if it’s not the right fit for me, that’s why I always extend myself outside of that. It’s like, hey, follow me on LinkedIn. If I can help you out in any way, refer you to somebody that’s hiring or give you some tips and something like that for the next thing, then I make myself available because I truly want to help people. And I think that’s where if people did that enough, then the business or everything will drive itself.
So when people join the army, it’s structured but it’s not as structured as people think. Those people, those young men and women that join, they join because they like the recruiter that’s recruiting for most of the time. They don’t always join like– they hear the benefits and stuff, those are cool. 90% of the time they like the person that they sat down with them and they saw themselves in that person.
So there’s no difference out here and in the corporate world. You might know what you want to do, but they’re going to like the person presenting because that represents that company’s culture. If you talk to somebody that’s crap, then you’re going to think the culture is crap. You’re not going to want to work there no matter how good the pay is or the benefits or anything like that.
JOSH TOLAN: Yeah, that’s awesome. I love that approach. And yeah, just from talking to you, you’re such a great ambassador for the company you work for, and I could see why you guys are having so much success because I think you’re really setting the tone from the recruiting culture perspective. And I think that’s really important.
Look, I mean, at the end of the day, even in sales, right, people buy from people. If you can connect and if you can help somebody and are truly there and are authentic, that resonates with people. And so I think it’s the same thing in recruiting, where if you’re connecting with folks and they really feel that you have their best interests in mind, like, you’re here to help them, right?
Like you said, even in some scenarios where it doesn’t work out, you’re offering to coach them up or give them tips or point them in the right direction. And so I think that really reflects well on you but also the recruiting team and then the company. So I think that’s a great approach to have. I feel like that’s just amazing advice. I got to call it there.
I think this has been an awesome episode. I think that’s a great point to wrap up and a great takeaway for everybody that’s going to listen to this, and I really appreciate your time. It was great talking with you. I got to try some [solidcore] workout classes myself, so I got to find the nearest location.
ERIC CONWAY: Come get the shakes, we call it. Come get the shakes. You’ll always come back at some point in time, trust me.
JOSH TOLAN: I’m in. I’m in. All right, well, I’ll let you know when I get in there and how it goes. So thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it, Eric.
ERIC CONWAY: Thank you, Josh. I really appreciate you.