he Sr. Manager (Loreen Musterson) under whom he thought Diane might report and one of the few names he could find on LinkedIn relative to Diane – was definitely not going to work as that group turned out to not only not contain Diane but also contained mostly Analysts and not Project Managers.
This is the heartbreak of online search – no matter how promising it may look – no matter how much we care to color in between the lines – the reality of what we think it might be and what it turns out to really be are many times two entirely different animals.
What to do next?
Pam and I decided to take the other managers and senior managers reporting to the Director of Loyalty Integrated Marketing (Denise Smothers) and open up their groups because that’s where we suspected we’d find Bill’s turncoat Project Manager Diane and her three as-yet unknown co-workers.
Hell, we suspected we might even find more because we felt good about the fact we had the right group outlined - Loyalty Integrated Marketing - from the director on down through the managers.
Like a puzzle we had the outer pieces in place; now it was time to fill in the center!
We decide to break up the director’s reports – Pam will take the first three managers and I’ll take the last four.
One out of seven will answer (probably two out of seven in this, their 10a.m. Thursday morning hour) and we’re likely to learn something from at least one, if not both of them!
I retreat and push the bathroom door mostly shut behind me.
I barely have time to dial my first number before I hear Pam jabbering in the next room.
I go to the door and listen. I miss the first few exchanges but hone in on the third or fourth…
“She is? Sure, I’ll wait.” Radio silence. “Diane? Hi. This is Pam – for some reason I thought you were in Jerome’s group –that Loreen was your manager!”
I open the door and go to the room’s kitchenette and pour myself a cup of coffee, just a few steps from Pam.
I listen as Diane says something on the other end and then Pam says, “Then whom do you report to? Oh. I see. Renee. You mean Renee York?” and I see her circle a name on the page and draw a line from another name to that circle.
I listen some more and it appears Diane affirms Renee’s last name and then my gut tightens as I know Pam’s does as she then asks, “I’m unclear with the information I have; are you an airline employee or a Consultant?”
“That’s the direction I was going,” Pam said and then she really skated out onto the thin ice.
I could hear the crackling.
“Who are the other consultants who work with you?”
Every muscle in my body tenses.
“Sure, I can do that. I’ll call you in a few minutes.”
Pam put the phone down on her lap and looked at me and said the s word.
“She either went south on me or didn’t want to stand there taking up someone else’s phone,” she said to me. "I don't know."
I know what that means and you few phone sourcers out there reading this knows what this means but for those of you who don’t know what “going south” means it means when a source “turns” suddenly from giving you information to not giving you information, we in the phone sourcing business say they “went south” on us.
Again, to you few phone sourcers reading this; I'm sure you caught the whiff of danger in Pam's "I don't know."
When a phone sourcer tells you she doesn't know it means her next step is going to be a gamble. This doesn't usually happen; an experienced phone sourcer can usually "hear" what her next steps should be as she proceeds on a job. We'll get back to this "special-case" subject later (maybe tomorrow.)
For now, what had happened on her call, Pam explained, was that she’d decided to call one of the Sr. Manager’s reports (Jerome Peters) in the group that Bill had originally thought Diane belonged in instead of calling the Sr. Manager first, thinking she’d climb the chain of command and use all the resources she had available.
This is smart technique for a phone sourcer because calling in directly to the belly of the beast in these real-time exercises is usually the best and fastest way to get the best and most current information and there’s no point in not exploiting every rung on the ladder as we climb along.
Another reason to orbit this group headed by this particular Sr. Manager that Bill identified on LinkedIn is that there may be/sometimes is enough “exhaust” being given off that there could be some connection to the real targets Bill wants - those three other consultants Diane works with! Remember, we still don’t even know what company these consultants work for. That’s a tough one.
In other words, LinkedIn (and any social media/turned/turning jobs platform) has its place as a starting point but they should be viewed as only that – in general they hold about 10% of the information on any one specific group in an organization.
I get a lot of heat when I make this claim and it’s hard to prove but unless you’re in a position to be doing this kind of real-time information gathering (actual phone-sourcing; calling in and deciphering the data and placing it where it really belongs (not guessing) in an org chart) like phone sourcers do there is no way of knowing (or arguing against) my assertion.
Getting back to the reasons to circle a senior manager that emits a signal, as this one seemed to do for Bill, as it turned out, there was cause to investigate further.
Calling Jerome, the Marketing Transitions Manager who reported to Loreen (the Sr. Manager for Loyalty Marketing) just happened to not only find Jerome at his desk but it also found Diane standing next to the desk talking to Jerome!
Lucky, huh? As lucky as it sounds, surprisingly it isn’t as lucky as it seems. Things like this happen all the time when you’re phone sourcing!
I call this the human element and it’s the advantage that phone sourcing has over Internet sourcing and it’s huge.
Coincidences like this happen all the time.
Humans are social animals; they meet and greet and mingle and tingle and interact and know one another and phone sourcers, by doing the same on their daily call rounds each day reach and touch the lives of these people that deliver real-time results to their companies.
Instead of finding information online that was entered a year ago (or even last week!) about which veracity can only be guessed about, phone sourcing allows up-to-the minute intelligence gathering unparalleled in the world of sourcing.
It has no equal.
Nothing even begins to come close.
To give you the bird’s eye view again to what we have gathered so far and where we are in our efforts; remember, there is a director, seven managers/sr. managers and their reports.
We have one group flushed out and it includes four people/analysts and one manager – all who report to one of the senior managers/the one Bill suspected Diane reported to and the one he had found on LinkedIn as one of Diane's right-column "connections."
We've discovered Diane DOES NOT belong in that group and we've just discovered she belongs under a different manager; one we had earlier uncovered by phone sourcing the very helpful Annette who had given us not only that manager's name but also all her co-managers and the director they all reported to.
We've seen how having that group intelligence outlined was helpful in Pam's phone sourcing exchange with Jerome and with Diane herself and now we're preparing to go in for The Kill.
Diane is in blue, below. Our mission has been to locate the group Diane belongs to (we've accomplished this) and identify who the three Consultant co-workers she has revealed to Bill who work at this airline with her are so he might contact them about the opportunity Diane has chosen to turn down.
He wants to do this with the idea because her skills are so unique and desired by his customer her coworkers may have the same attributes and his customer may want to hire one of them!
The project, at this point, looks like this:
Major Airline Headquartered In The Midwest
800 xxx xxxx <-Voice Mail Hell / Tracks Your Call Number
xxx xxx xxxx <- “Leave a Message” message
Denise Smothers Director Loyalty Integrated Marketing xxx xxx xxxx
Renee York Manager (or Sr. Manager) Loyalty Marketing xxx xxx xxxx
Diane Buenopello Project Manager / Consultant Company Unknown
xxx xxx xxxx Has three co-workers – find them!
Martha Newkes Manager (or Sr. Manager) Loyalty Marketing xxx xxx xxxx
Charlotte Sanders Manager (or Sr. Manager) Loyalty Marketing xxx xxx xxxx
Teresa Harkum Manager (or Sr. Manager) Merchandising xxx xxx xxxx
Ann Hersler Manager (or Sr. Manager) Merchandising xxx xxx xxxx
Sachia Kunz Manager (or Sr. Manager) Merchandising xxx xxx xxxx
Loreen Musterson Sr Manager Loyalty Marketing xxx xxx xxxx
Sheila Masters Analyst xxx xxx xxxx
Jerome Peters Marketing Transitions/Locations/Operations Manager
xxx xxx xxxx
Tim Gunther Analyst (no number listed - Jerome's one report)
Shenee Polson Analyst xxx xxx xxxx
Tomorrow we’re going to attempt to fill in those missing consultants and you’re going to emerge breathless from the ride Pam and I take you on!
Maureen's PHONE SOURCING TRAINING begins a fresh semester, Tuesday, October 22 at noon ET. Details here.…
te of the Southwest Florida economy
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Lee County is wagering up to $25 million, and the region's vitality, on an Economic Development Office that's struggled to recruit and retain businesses.
The agency's efforts to generate jobs have sputtered at the same time the county is suffering a 9.8 percent unemployment rate and the undesirable label as America's foreclosure capital.
In the past 10 years, the taxpayer-supported Economic Development Office hasn't knocked the socks off many CEOs looking for greener pastures. According to its own data, the agency provided extensive logistical help in establishing 36 companies in target areas. Combined, they pledged to create 1,903 jobs, which amounts to less than 1 percent of Lee's labor force of 284,036 people.
Agency projections turned out to be optimistic. The News-Press spent two months tracking down those 36 companies, finding that:
- Eleven have ceased their operations here.
- Ten remaining companies employ fewer workers than anticipated; two are about to call it quits.
- Thirteen companies met or exceeded employment projections by a combined 242 jobs.
- Two companies did not return multiple calls.
All told, those 36 companies dwindled to 25, and those 1,903 jobs were cut to 1,005 positions, not counting the two non-responsive businesses.
Those numbers have not deterred Lee commissioners from believing the economic development office can revolutionize our economy.
"They've done an extremely exemplary job, from Sony to Source Interlink to Lynx Services," said Commission Chairman Ray Judah, referring to three companies the agency has assisted. "There are a number of organizations they attracted to Lee County that are expanding and hiring more employees."
Commissioners authorized a $25 million incentive program to lure companies and help existing businesses expand operations. It's quick cash is meant to relieve the economic bedlam that's been plaguing our community.
But if the agency hasn't succeeded in building a solid, diversified economy, why entrust it with an amount that's 14 times its annual budget?
Ron Inge, former chairman of a community leadership group called the Horizon Council, initially suggested the incentives. He said Lee County has been at a disadvantage for the past decade as other regions wave cash at prospective businesses.
"It's a huge competitive environment," Inge said. "In that 10-year period, we were competing against communities that had incentives already."
Jim Moore, the agency's executive director since August, admits money won't fix a broader problem that Lee's economy is too reliant on construction, real estate and tourism. Today's business climate isn't exactly suitable for companies looking to expand or relocate.
"The businessman would be foolish to go ahead with plans, given the economy," Moore said.
Times are tough, but they're also tough in Brevard County, which managed to land the Brazilian jet manufacturer Embraer last May. Embraer inquired about building its $50 million, 150,000-square-foot aircraft assembly facility in Lee, but chose Melbourne, the beneficiary of 200 new jobs paying an average salary of $50,000. Embraer officials wouldn't say what qualities Lee was lacking, but Melbourne-area and state agencies ponied up $12 million in incentives.
Brent Barkway, business development officer for Lee's economic development agency, suspects this region was missing one key ingredient.
"The amount of aerospace engineers on that side of the state was too much for us to overcome," Barkway said. "It's not that there is anything wrong with us."
To woo prospects, Lee recruiters boast of our high quality of life, pro-business climate and growing work force. Sounds good, but corporate executives hear the same, if not better, sales pitches elsewhere.
In 2003, the Scripps Research Institute also checked into Lee, which emerged as one of four finalists. After evaluating contenders, the biomedical research group instead chose Jupiter for its 364,000-square-foot center. Keith McKeown, Scripps' vice president of communications and public relations, would not specify what Lee County lacked, but said Palm Beach County had six distinct advantages:
- The county donated 100 acres and $157 million in construction costs, in addition to $310 million in startup costs from state government.
- Palm Beach's housing inventory was ample for scientists and researchers.
- Southeast Florida had easy national and international flight connections.
- The Palm Beach area had variety in its cultural and physical amenities.
- Scripps staff felt Palm Beach closely resembled the institute's headquarters near San Diego.
- Palm Beach residents had money and influence.
"Palm Beach is one of the philanthropic capitals of the country," McKeown said.
Scripps' contract with Florida requires the institute to employ at least 545 people by 2013.
Lee wants to land a few "Tiffany targets," as Moore calls them, but the lack of a clincher is not just a Lee County problem. In December, the Economic Development Foundation in Naples released its 2008 Florida Economic Scorecard, comparing the state's eight geographic regions in 26 categories. Southwest Florida as a whole - Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties - ranked dead last. Northwest Florida was first.
There's no sense dwelling on the past, Lee officials say. Barkway believes Lee has 25 realistic, active prospects looking to relocate their businesses. Another bright spot is a 37 percent increase in recruitment and business assistance contacts logged by economic development staff in 2008 vs. 2007.
The Economic Development Office is a small operation with 15 employees and a $1.7 million annual budget. Moore, who earns $124,615 a year, took the helm this summer after Regina Smith, agency head for five years, accepted a county buyout.
The agency does not recruit restaurants, retail stores or hotels. It pursues companies in six target industries: aviation, shared services, corporate headquarters, information technology, life sciences and manufacturing. Staffers provide market research to anyone, but focus on target companies planning to create a minimum of 10 jobs, generate at least 51 percent of revenue outside Florida and offer salaries at 125 percent of Lee's average wage.
The 36 companies
Digital Telecom Access Control looked promising, a custom computer programming business projected to employ 15 workers earning $75,000 a year. It opened five years ago in Cape Coral. Today, callers are greeted by a recording: Press one for sales, press two for technical support, press three for the business office. Sounds like a big operation, but in actuality, all calls lead to owner and president Michael Fischer - the last man standing.
"We had a couple of good contracts, but the economy started to go in a different direction," Fischer said. "The telecom sector has come to a screeching halt."
D-TAC's decline isn't a rarity.
CallTech, a global call center, opened its Fort Myers facility in 1999, quickly outlining a series of expansions to bump the employee count to 500. CallTech's work force disintegrated just as fast. Director of recruiting Jim Phillips said the center closed in 2007 because of a client reduction that coincided with a lease expiration. Its 25,000-square-foot facility remains vacant.
BeSafe International, which manufactured protective vests for police officers, spent the past month moving its operation from Fort Myers to Miami after four years here. Flexi International, a software company that brought its regional office to Lee in 2000, moved to Naples five years later.
BeSafe and Flexi are the types of business Lee County wants: manufacturing and high-tech industries that sell products outside the region and pay above-average wages. They also are the types of business Lee County has trouble attracting and trouble keeping.
In December, the county hired Denver-based Atlas Advertising to create a campaign promoting Lee on a national level. Ben Wright, Atlas' CEO and founder, said losing businesses is not uncommon as company executives evaluate their options.
Wright discerned that two Floridas have emerged in economic development, and Lee isn't necessarily vying for an Embraer or Scripps with Brevard or Palm Beach, counties that feature bigger, better-trained work forces.
"Prospects and companies differentiate between the west coast of Florida and the east coast," Wright said. "We're not so sure we're competing with the rest of the state."
The Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast helped bring 12 companies to Brevard County in the past five years, when it began tracking the data. Lee, by comparison, landed 14 companies in that timeframe. Brevard's companies generated 977 new jobs to Lee's 776.
The true difference between Brevard and Lee are the types of new businesses opening shop. Brevard's include a glut of manufacturers: aircraft, airplane parts, medical supplies, electronics, guided missile and rubber. Lee's newcomers manufactured bulletproof vests, doors, metal products and pharmaceuticals, along with food packaging and headquarters for manufacturing and insurance firms.
Four months after commissioners approved the $25 million incentive, the economic development office is revealing its first recommendation, the expansion of a marketing research and public opinion polling firm. The undisclosed company plans to build a 70,000-square-foot facility and create 200 jobs over five years, each averaging $60,000-a-year salaries. Commissioners will vote Tuesday on whether the project merits $350,000 in incentives.
Jennifer Berg, marketing and communications manager for the economic office, said an 80-employee consumer finance company soon will announce it is relocating here.
Moore repeatedly has stated he'd rather not spend a penny of the $25 million, calling the incentives a marketing tool.
"The only way I'm going to use the $25 million is to close the deal," Moore said. "I'm not going to put it out there on the table and say 'please come have as much as you want.'"
New vs. existing
In the past decade, the economic development office helped 77 businesses expand their local presence, creating 3,403 new jobs. Just like new companies, some existing businesses also closed their doors. Paragon Marketing added 40 employees in 1999, but closed the office three years later. Neomedia Technologies was going strong when the software design company added 35 employees in 2000. The company restructured in 2007, uprooting its world headquarters to Atlanta so it could "offer close contact to potential customers and easier access to international markets," according to a news release.
As the economy worsens, Lee's economic development office will monitor local businesses.
"Who is more loyal to this community than the people who are already here, have their roots here, have their families here and would like to keep them here?" Moore said.
That's fine, but Carlene Maurer, co-owner of Beach Bowl near Fort Myers Beach, admits she is struggling to keep the business afloat, but still wants to open a snack shop and arcade there. Beach Bowl, like a majority of local businesses, does not qualify for incentives because it's not a target industry looking to create 75 new jobs. Maurer relayed her idea after The News-Press solicited comments from the public.
She suggested $100,000 grants for 250 existing businesses. That $25 million, she said, would inject cash flow into companies with desire to stay in business here.
"What about us existing businesses?" Maurer said later in an interview. "We might have to shut down."
Horizon Council chairman John Wiest said a future discussion can, and should, include existing businesses that need financial help, but the $25 million has a one purpose.
"That is clearly to diversify the economy and mitigate against future economic problems," he said.
About the series
Lee County has always relied on two main industries: real estate and tourism. Despite a lot of time and money spent on the need to broaden our business base, the current downturn shows we still are not diversified enough. When the construction industry collapsed, it led to the loss of thousands of jobs from retailing and restaurants to government and financial services.
We solicited comments from the public and got dozens of suggestions on how to improve our economy. We held five meetings in which 38 business and community leaders gave us their thoughts and suggestions. And we’ve set up Web pages so the discussion can continue through the coming weeks and beyond.
A rundown on the series:
Millions: Lee County recently handed its Economic Development Office $25 million to spark economic growth. But that agency’s performance is mixed. What industries should the agency be looking to recruit?
Problems: How Lee’s lack of diversification hurts local residents. As we try to recover, there are plenty of stumbling blocks.
The upside: Lee County is well-positioned for a return to prosperity and should be able to reinvent itself.
Beginning Jan. 26, we’ll have a daily solution to our economic problems based on your feedback and we’ll wrap up with a look ahead Feb. 1.…