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Lessons learned- CSI and the Jaguars & 20+ Years of Growth

By: Chris Flakus, COO

CSI was recently featured in the Jacksonville Business Journal for signing a partnership deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars (Jacksonville based company makes six-figure deal with the Jaguars). What the article didn’t say is that we both started around the same time in 1994 and have been partners with each other every year since.  In that timeframe, we have both grown considerably. The Jaguars value has increased to almost $2 billion, while stadium improvements, amphitheater and upcoming riverfront developments are exciting new income streams for the team. CSI has also experienced double digit growth annually and we continue to aggressively expand and offer new services to our clients.

While it may seem to be a stretch to draw further comparisons between running a staffing firm and operating a professional football team, there are certainly some parallels in business and sports that hold true. Here are a few.

1. Having the right players makes all the difference

We are a recruiting firm so we should know that right?  But even staffing companies make bad internal personnel decisions.  But those decisions are usually outweighed by great hires that lead the company to new heights.  Like they say in football, “you build through the draft” so it is true in business. Two of our most successful division managers started their career with CSI 10+ years ago as entry level employees. In the Jaguars case, for every ARob, and MJD there has been an RJ Soward and Matt Jones. And, once you get the right talent, it is an entirely different challenge to keep the talent in-house. Thankfully, unlike the Jaguars, we don’t have to worry about ACLs, salary caps, and retirement at 32.

2. Work Hard. Play Hard

It’s often true that the toughest coaches bring out the best in a team. Tom Coughlin as a coach and now as a GM is as tough as it gets and while there are a few former players that don’t care for his style, a majority highly respect the work ethic and discipline he brings every day. From day one at CSI, our mentality has been ‘Everything Now.  Nothing Later’. Just like the Jaguars seek out aggressive ball-hawking linebackers, we look for recruiters that won’t rest until we find that perfect candidate for our customer. We may not always win the battle ourselves, but having the right frame of mind and winning mentality puts us in a position to win most challenges.

3. Don’t be afraid of change

When I look at how far CSI has grown in the last 20 years, I know the reason for our success is because we had taken advantage of new opportunities and made bold decisions when we needed to. Whether it is acquiring a new company, adding a new division or making a key new hire, our best decisions have been made by being confident and determined. The Jaguars have made some aggressive moves too with free agent acquisitions as well as adding fan-friendly features such as swimming pools and new entertainment venues unlike any seen in the NFL. Bold strokes that will pay off for the team and Jacksonville!

4. Recognize and reward top performers

The NFL is a tough business (and so is the recruiting world, by the way), but there is one thing that is constant – high performers get rewarded. While we don’t operate in the world of guaranteed contracts and million dollar signing bonuses, we do see the tremendous value in keeping our best players and keep them motivated to earn as much as they can. We have instituted limitless commission opportunities and our top performers have benefited.

5. Treat your customers right

In our many years as Jaguars sponsors, they have always excelled in customer service. They can’t always control wins and losses, but they can control the customer experience. That’s a philosophy that we try to keep at CSI every day. We will be a great partner with you on your project, and most times we will succeed and give you the talent you need for your team. But, we do look at where we fall short sometimes and are always seeking to improve. We conduct two annual surveys each year with customers and consultants and continually evaluate where we can improve. Thankfully, we get very favorable responses and have been nationally ranked as a top staffing firm for customer service. This takes work, but it is one thing that we can control in the tough world of recruiting.

The Jaguars have been winners on some many levels for Jacksonville. And while wins and losses are the most important measuring tool for many, I am confident that the team is on the right track to fixing that area as well. One of Tom Coughlin’s famous quotes articulates it well…“Winning is what happens when commitment, desire, talent, preparation, hard work and leadership all come together.”

We’re all in Coach.

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