Street Culture: Qiigo Employees Discover Career Paths They Didn’t See Coming

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Qiigo CEO Rick Batchelor has experienced a problem not all company leaders will admit to: disappointing employees.

Qiigo is an Internet marketing company for multi-location brands, 12 years old with just over 60 employees. Making everyone happy, including both employees and customers, can be difficult. After many years, Batchelor is honest about things that go wrong, and over time he’s found simple communication is often the best resolution to personnel issues. One issue that occurred this summer is a perfect example:

“We had a guy who didn’t get a team lead position that he wanted,” Batchelor says. “He was a great employee and had been with us for a couple years, and when he didn’t get this team lead role, he quit. He didn’t have another job lined up; he was basically angry and came in the next day with a resignation letter. We immediately had to get a plan, spring into action, sit him down and talk about what’s going on here.”

Batchelor knows that employees are focused not just on their current jobs, but also on their future and their ongoing career paths. In this case, the employee didn’t realize that he had other options. He was beyond disappointed: He thought he was at the end of his career road.

“He said, ‘If I don’t get promoted to this role, I have no other path.’ That was his assumption,” Batchelor says. “So we said to him, ‘Tell us what you want. Being team lead, those aren’t really your skills. You said it yourself—you’re a tech person, not a people person.’ We were able to reverse his decision [to quit].”

The management team gave this employee new responsibilities and an opportunity to expand his technology skill set under a more senior tech employee, so he has a chance to expand his knowledge base in paid search, PPC, and programmatic. The situation was resolved in about a week, Batchelor says.

“He was going to look for another job, and we didn’t want that,” he says. “We work really hard at not having turnover. Our philosophy is on hiring for the person rather than the position.”

When hiring, the company usually does have a specific position that they’re targeting to fill, but people don’t always fit perfectly.

“It’s about the tangible skills that we can teach, and it’s about focusing on the person and the development of the person as we grow the company,” he says.

Qiigo has a training program for employees, where they can rotate through different departments and experience different options such as customer-facing positions or technology-focused jobs.

“It’s all about personal development,” Batchelor says. “What works for them, what do they want, where do they see themselves in 12, 24, 36 months, and then help them make a plan to grow toward that.”

Based in Roswell, Georgia, just outside Atlanta, the company finally ranked on the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Best Places to Work list this summer—an honor that Batchelor says the company has been hoping to land for the last four years.

“We kept ending up with items that would come out of it that were basically, ‘Well, you guys aren’t that great,’” he says. “You have to score a 96 out of 100 or something crazy high like that, and each year we just missed it by one or two or three points. But we kept making improvements and listening to the employees, and we made it this year.”

Batchelor says the company puts an emphasis on communication, both internally and with customers. The majority of Qiigo’s customers are in the franchise space, and depending on a franchise owner’s or employee’s level of technology understanding, they need a certain level of training in order to gain the most value from Qiigo’s SaaS model.

“When I hear SaaS, I typically think that most SaaS organizations are short on customer service and communication,” Batchelor says. “We pride ourselves on our customer touchpoints. A lot of miscommunication happens in email, and if I walk through the [office] in the middle of the day, I’ll hear a ton of people on the phone talking to customers and taking pride in what I call, ‘Owning it.’ If a customer has a problem and they’ve come to you, make sure you own it. Don’t take it and pass it off. You might not be able to solve it yourself, but you can become a decision maker on how does this problem get solved.”

Another way Batchelor approaches the culture at Qiigo is by taking his own advice.

“You can tell a lot about an organization, when you first start working with them, in how their executives act,” he says. “This is my third company, and you gotta lead by example. Put honesty, transparency, forthrightness at the front.”

Even with that experience and with more than a decade getting Qiigo running smoothly, it’s an ongoing process.

“We’re constantly pushing and growing and trying to be better,” he says. “Just because we did great yesterday… people’s lives change, attitudes change, and as a management team we have to be reflective and sensitive to that, and think to ourselves, ‘OK, this person changed what they’re doing; what’s changed in the rest of their lives?’ People don’t just work for the money. It’s the small things that make a big difference.”

April Nowicki is a staff writer at Street Fight.