“One key takeaway was that we needed to bring in people who could work in the areas where David and I were trying to work, but didn’t have the expertise. And that means bringing people into our organization and trusting them, which also means letting go and letting them make mistakes.”
“Let me tell you, letting go is tough. Especially when it’s something you’ve built and had some success. But while we were successful, we were also killing ourselves. And we were at the point where we weren’t going to be able to handle any more success.”
The company brought in additional leadership team members, people with experience in the home health care industry. Tessie credits Aileron with helping develop a process for finding people who would fit with Alternate Solutions’ family-style culture. Prospective employees spend hours with staff people before they ever meet with Tessie and David. One of the first things they tell potential hires is that if they don’t feel aligned with the company’s core beliefs at any time during the first 30 days of their employment, Tessie will pay them to leave.
“Culture is our biggest concern,” she says.
“We have no problem with that 30-day rule because we would much rather someone tell us today than to go down the road and find out at some time in the future that they don’t fit with our culture. So we don’t hire quickly. We’re looking for people who are going to make a difference in our clients’ lives.”
When Tessie and David attended that first Course for Presidents in 2005, Alternate Solutions HomeCare had about 100 full-time employees. As of late 2009, the payroll had increased to nearly 400 employees, with offices in Dayton and Cincinnati.
Tessie says the relationship she and David have with Aileron has made all the difference. Despite their company’s impressive growth over the past few years, she says the process has been a smooth one, owing mainly to the counsel that she and David have gotten from Aileron.
“The greatest thing about our Aileron relationship is that we’ve been able to surround ourselves with people who want to help—people who have been there and have done it,” Tessie says.
“They’re happy to do whatever they can, whether it’s through Aileron or through a connection Aileron can make to someone who has been through what we’re encountering. Because of Aileron, we’ve had networking opportunities with very successful people as well as people who are just getting started. But we’ve learned from everyone. Without Aileron, we wouldn’t have had those kinds of opportunities.”
These days, Tessie and David are getting calls from Aileron asking if they have time to help other entrepreneurs facing challenges of their own. They get excited when the phone rings and it’s someone from Aileron on the other end.
“We want to help,” Tessie says. “We want to give back. We’re grateful to be in that position.”