Q&A with Jim Sweitzer of World Class Water/ECO Water Systems

TTH: WHAT DOES YOUR COMPANY DO?

Jim Sweitzer: ECO provides water filters and softeners as well as whole-house water purification systems to residential customers. ECO has over 400 distributors who are independent businesses. We have five technicians who service over 50,000 residential customers.

TTH: HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THIS BUSINESS?

JS: I have been in direct sales since the age of eighteen. I’ve sold life insurance. I’ve done meat sales door to door. You name it I’ve done it. I started my own company in 1991, becoming an authorized ECO Water Dealer. We’ve been in the top 20 dealers nationwide on a consistent basis.

TTH: HAS RECRUTING BEEN AN ISSUE FOR THE COMPANY?

JS: We’re pretty much a sales organization, so it’s important that we have a top notch sales team. It can be a tough job at first and many people don’t make it. That means we need a steady supply of potential candidates to keep our pipeline full. This ensures that we’ll continue to put people through our process until we find those superstars we’re looking for.

TTH: WHAT TYPES OF RECRUITING METHODS HAVE YOU USED?  

JS: Oh, you know… your usual go-to that everyone starts with. Newspapers, Craigslist, and, before we found Time To Hire, Ziprecruiter.com. Newspapers are expensive as hell. Ziprecruiter… you know it’s the damndest thing. We did a month-long effort with Ziprecruiter and got no hires out of it. Actually, we still barely got any calls. We got a little more with Craigslist, but most of them had no idea what commission only was and some of them were people that I didn’t exactly feel safe about letting into the office. With Time To Hire we’ve found more success than any other method we’ve tried, both in volume and quality. A few candidates still expect a salary but as a whole, there’s a huge wave of candidates who understand the grind of sales work. In addition to in-home and door to door sales reps, we’ve been able to find Costco demonstrators through your service.

TTH: WHAT’S YOUR INTERVIEW PROCESS LIKE?  

JS: We get them in as soon as we can. We don’t tell them much over the phone. We simply schedule in person interviews. We know we can’t sell the opportunity over the phone. When we bring them in, we tell them a bit about our business and then ask them to talk about themselves a bit. Then we give them a demo of what we do and simply ask them if they thought they could do the same thing. We ask them: “Why do you want to work for us and why do you think we should hire you” and give them five minutes to write down their answer. Based on their answer. we know if it’s a go or not and then we take it from there.

TTH: DO YOU PERFORM GROUP INTERVIEWS?

JS: We haven’t done that yet, but I’ve been thinking about it after the massive amount of candidates you folks have been bringing into our office.

TTH: HOW DO YOU DO SALES TRAINING?

JS: I promoted one of my field technicians to a sales management role about two years ago. He runs all new candidates through a five day sales training course. In addition, we have sales training every week on an ongoing basis. We’ve found that constant training is the key, both in-house and field training.

TTH: HAVE YOU HAD ANY ISSUES WITH A SLOW CANDIDATE SHOW RATE?

JS: Over the years we’ve gotten better at this but it took a lot of practice and making changes to our offer. We tell them they get an “activity based” salary. They get $60 per demo and ten demos per week is fairly normal. At a 10% commission rate it’s possible for them to make about $2,000 per week. The candidates seem to like the demos better than just straight commission on sales, so I think that helps us.

TTH: DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU’VE IDENTIFIED A CERTAIN TYPE OF PERSON THAT WORKS FOR THIS POSITION? WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTICS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR?  

JS: When we started, we tried to hire people who knew the industry but, after a few train wrecks, we quickly came to understand that it’s much better to train “newbies” or people who have no industry experience. They’re much easier to train on our sales process. People who had experience always wanted to do things the way they’d done them in the past and it was difficult as hell to train them. We’ve found that it’s better to find people who don’t have bad habits that we can train the way we want. We mostly want people who have the right attitude. People who say ‘good morning’ and mean it. People who are driven and self motivated.

TTH: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN USING TIME TO HIRE?  HOW FREQUENTLY?   

JS: We’ve been using Time to Hire since 2015. We typically use you guys every ninety days or so, depends on how fast we have turnover. We’ve still got a Superstar in the office we found through you on our very first campaign.

TTH: WHY DO YOU THINK TIME TO HIRE WORKS FOR YOU?  

JS: It’s given us some very high quality people, straight shooters with a good work ethic. and helps to keep our pipeline full of new recruits. It’s way cheaper than other sources as well. A $600 newspaper ad over the weekend won’t get anywhere near the response we get from Time To Hire. It’s exciting to see the new blood come in. Interviewing candidates pumps you up and keeps you on your toes. I feel good knowing I have a way to source candidates because recruiting is the engine behind our success.

TTH: WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE WORKING WITH OUR STAFF?  

JS: Very responsive. Your support is even better than what we get from ECO, our parent company – and we spend over $500K a year with them. I feel like you guys will do whatever it takes to keep us happy and I sure do appreciate it.

TTH: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO AN ORGANIZATION IMPLEMENTING A SIMILAR SOLUTION?

JS: Make sure you are ready to take the calls because you’ll be slammed like hell before you know it. You really need to be able to answer any questions candidates have and you’ll need a calendar to schedule the interviews. Don’t wait till the last minute because you’ll be left in the dust and won’t get the most out of the service. I’ve let a lot of good candidates go in the past because I haven’t been as prepared as I should have been. With a job posting or the newspaper, responses can come in very slowly. With Time To Hire you can get multiple calls at once, so you better have more than one person answering the phones.

TTH: THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME OUT TO TALK TO US JIM

JS: Thank you and keep doing what you’re doing!