Rob Buffington is the Founder of Gordian Staffing and Gordian Financial. Gordian Staffing is a recruiting company with a mission to find elite talent across the globe. Gordian Financial is a third-party accounting firm that provides affordable bookkeeping solutions so business owners can focus on growing their businesses. As a veteran in the HOA management space, Rob loves to share his knowledge and experience with large and mid-size businesses that struggle with staffing, bookkeeping, vendor services, and general management issues.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- [01:53] Rob Buffington talks about Gordian Staffing and its services
- [04:30] How the idea for Gordian Staffing was conceptualized
- [05:54] Rob shares the beginning of his property management journey
- [07:59] Why emerging entrepreneurs should consider working with SBA
- [12:34] Rob explains how he manages his many entities
- [15:47] When is the best time to hire for a new position?
- [18:53] Common mistakes management makes during the hiring
- [21:46] Rob discusses the lessons he’s learned as an entrepreneur
- [28:18] Rob’s go-to tech stack
In this episode…
The life of an entrepreneur can be challenging and overwhelming. In the early stages of entrepreneurship, founders find themselves having to do everything on their own. However, as the business grows, this strategy quickly becomes counterproductive. So, what are effective strategies for operating a company as you scale?
The solution, according to Rob Buffington, is proper staffing and hiring tactics. As a business owner, you need to hire experts for positions where you need help the most. But, how do you know when to hire and what positions should be filled first?
In today’s episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz welcomes Rob Buffington, Founder of Gordian Staffing and Gordian Financial, to discuss the logistics of owning several businesses. Rob shares his strategies for managing multiple entities, effective hiring tips, the lessons he’s learned as an entrepreneur, and more.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- “[SAAS Series] Tips to Thrive in the SAAS Space With Sujan Patel”
- “[Sales & Revenue] Help Scout: Are You Too Proud to Beg? How Did They Get Users and Customers -With Nick Francis”
- “[Sales & Revenue] Help Scout: How to Run a SAAS Business & Lessons Learned -With Nick Francis”
Sponsor for this episode
At Rise25, we’re committed to helping you connect with your Dream 100 referral partners, clients, and strategic partners through our done-for-you podcast solution.
We’re a professional podcast production agency that makes creating a podcast effortless. Since 2009, our proven system has helped thousands of B2B businesses build strong relationships with referral partners, clients, and audiences without doing the hard work.
What do you need to start a podcast?
When you use our proven system, all you need is an idea and a voice. We handle the strategy, production, and distribution – you just need to show up and talk.
The Rise25 podcasting solution is designed to help you build a profitable podcast. This requires a specific strategy, and we’ve got that down pat. We focus on making sure you have a direct path to ROI, which is the most important component. Plus, our podcast production company takes any heavy lifting of production and distribution off your plate.
We make distribution easy.
We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.
Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90x, Atari, Einstein Bagels, Mattel, Rx Bars, YPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk, and many more.
The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.
Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Insider Stories from Top Leaders & Entrepreneurs…
You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.
Jeremy Weisz 0:23
Dr. Jeremy Weisz, here, Founder of Inspired Insider, where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders. Today is no different. I’m here with Rob Buffington of Gordian Staffing. And Rob, before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes, people should check out of the podcasts. There’s some recent ones, you know, I have a top agency series, a top SaaS series. There’s one in particular lately, Sujan Patel, who founded Mailshake. And he talks about how he grew that company, how he’s buying other companies in the SaaS space. And I think when we talk they over 70,000 customers for for that business. That’s pretty remarkable. And we’ll get into some acquisition stuff today with Rob and you know, before we do this episode is brought to you by Rise25 and at Rise25. We help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and partnerships. And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcasts. We’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast we do strategy, accountability, and the full production execution to make sure everything happens. We call ourselves I guess the magic elves behind the scenes. So you know, for me, rather, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I have found no better way to profile the people in companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should. If you have questions, you can go to Rise25.com. We’ve been doing it for over a decade now and love it. So without further ado, I’m excited to introduce Rob Buffington. And he grew a remote staffing company from 25 to 400 employees in two years, clients in 27 states worth over $5 million, currently owns seven companies with offices in eight states in three countries. And each run is run remotely, which is pretty remarkable. And we’ll talk about also they really have a philosophy of giving. And each company engages in profit sharing and charitable giving, with, you know, over six figures in charity, just from some companies alone. So, Rob, thanks for joining me.
Rob Buffington 2:36
Thanks for having me.
Jeremy Weisz 2:38
Let’s start off with Zoom. Somebody dig into like I mentioned, seven different companies. But let’s start off with Gordian Staffing.
Rob Buffington 2:48
And talk about what you do there. Sure. Gordian Staffing very simply as a recruiting company, we find the best talent regardless of where they are. We have offices in Mexico City Guadalajara, and we have a satellite office in Manila. And as you said, we have over 400 employees that we’ve placed with clients in 27 states on a permanent basis. People tend to think of call centers, things like that that’s not what we provide. We provide college educated, skilled employees that happened to live a little farther away. That can be very valuable members of the team.
Jeremy Weisz 3:24
So what type of positions are common for people to come to you for?
Rob Buffington 3:27
You would be surprised most people assume it’s data entry or something like that. But customer service is very popular admin assistants, accounting, personal assistants. But we also have vice presidents and office managers and controllers, and we have very skilled people that that assist companies and the best part is that they hire people at one level, and they grow with the company. So after two or three years, they have reached higher levels.
Jeremy Weisz 3:58
Yeah, I mentioned again, we’re talking about seven companies, where does this fall in the evolution of your business journey?
Rob Buffington 4:06
This was my fourth company. And as with most it was my I was my own first customer. And it worked so well for me that I told other people about it. They wanted to give it a try. And they’ve been very generous to us and have grown with us.
Jeremy Weisz 4:22
What was the original idea? What were you experiencing with which of the businesses that allows you to kind of use it for yourself?
Rob Buffington 4:30
At the time I had two property management companies and a building services company in California and like so many people today I was I was having staffing problems and this was pre COVID. This was 2016 2017. So just you know, I know how bad it is today, but it’s been bad for a while. And after having repeated turnover in a position and just not being able to keep employees and dealing with the EDD in California and unemployment, just all the hoops to jump through. A friend of mine said, Hey, I’ve been hiring people out of Mexico, you should give it a try. And so I did. And that was April. And by August, I had 10 people. And then I just kept hiring, I never fired anybody. I just I kept growing the companies and as positions would open up, I’d ask myself, you know, is this something that can be done remotely, and it was just absolutely game changing, we were able to staff more people. So the quality got better. And then because I saved money, I had more to pay the domestic employees so I could keep and retain the best talent. So it was just win win.
Jeremy Weisz 5:37
So I want to go back to the beginning of your journey when I won’t ruin the story. But I know that you end up buying a business, but you were trying to do other things up until you were buying that business what what was going on at that point?
Rob Buffington 5:54
Sure. So I’ve always I’ve always wanted to solve problems. I’ve always looked at new ways of doing things. And in the crash of a late I started buying short sale properties. I was in college at the time, and I was able to buy I bought my first property for $69,000. And then I bought another and I bought another and it just kind of grew. And so the logical leap there was to get into property management for other people. The problem was I was in a catch 22. I was in my mid 20s, I had no experience and nobody would hire me, because I didn’t have experience. But I couldn’t get experience because nobody would hire me. I even went so far as offering to work for free for six months to a property management company, if they would let me learn but I still couldn’t get any takers. And so when a property management came up for sale in San Jose, California, I reached out and bought it. And in hindsight, it feels very reckless. But it turned out okay. And I think one of the things that made us succeed was that we didn’t have any of the bad habits. This was 2013 or 2014, I think. And we’ve tried new things. We tried new technologies, we tried remote staffing, and ended up being very successful.
Jeremy Weisz 7:06
Were you looking for that time, specifically a property management company to buy? I was, yeah. So what were you looking for as far as certain number of staff size or location? What was the criteria for you?
Rob Buffington 7:22
Yeah, it had to be in our area. And I got I got fortunate that we found something that was about half an hour away. It had to be not so large that I couldn’t handle it. Not that I was opposed to hiring staff, but I didn’t want it to be so big that I was just going to be jumping into something I couldn’t control because I was I was still young, had to be able to afford it, of course. But I also didn’t want it to be something that brought in 20,000 a year and was just a hobby, I wanted to a full on business. And so I was very fortunate that I found that
Jeremy Weisz 7:52
I was how did the financing work? Because you’re young right at that time? Yeah. How do you end up financing that
Rob Buffington 7:59
I used an SBA seven a loan, so they covered 80%, I got the seller to cover another 10%. And then I convinced the broker to kick in a couple percent to me because I was a licensed agent. So I negotiated that down and ended up paying less than 10% total. Love it. Yeah, piano. Working capital to
Jeremy Weisz 8:17
the SBA is a great, amazing, yeah.
Rob Buffington 8:22
Yeah, as much as we love to gripe about the government, and I’m as guilty as anybody. The SBA does some amazing stuff as to start the economy. Like it’s there’s some amazing programs out there for a seven a 504. There’s a lot of good programs out there. eidl, and PPP Of course,
Jeremy Weisz 8:39
let’s talk about evolution, right, because we’re talking about so the first is you’re doing short sales, then you’re like, I need a property management company, to help me manage this or I’ll have my own, and then you buy a property management company. What’s what’s next.
Rob Buffington 8:56
After that, I bought another property management company that was about an hour north want just wanted to grow faster. And that’s actually what got us into HOA management. after that. The same broker who sold me the first company approached me because he had a building services company for sale that does gutter cleaning, window cleaning, power washing, bought that company. That’s the point where I actually I bought it with partners, and that’s a whole, that’s a whole sidetrack we could get into but that was not the best choice I could have made at the time. Given that I didn’t know the partners. Well. From there that kept me busy for a couple of years. And then I started hiring remote staff and I did that for myself for a few years. And then we found
Jeremy Weisz 9:38
the remote staff doing were they doing more customer support like for you at that time? Because obviously, there’s certain aspects you need to be on location. Sure. And what were you utilizing the Remote Staff for what positions
Rob Buffington 9:52
we started with your basic customer service and admin assistants? Answer the phone take messages, type up proposals, send reminders ers follow up on invoices, your basic stuff. But little by little, they began to grow with the company and they would learn stuff. And I mean, they were, some of them are still with me. And they just they did amazing work. And now I have Entire divisions that are run by people out of Mexico that have been with me for years. So very rewarding.
Jeremy Weisz 10:22
So on here next with after that, but to point out, this isn’t a small business thing, you know, I’m on the phone, trying to do something with United Airlines, all these big companies are doing the exact same thing. They’re, they’re having staffing all over the world. Right. So there is a perception I think when I talked to some people have, well, you know, I don’t want to be perceived and have someone in another country. But guess what, when you call American or United, you’re talking to another country, a lot of times at least I found that. So what was next?
Rob Buffington 11:00
From there, we founded Gordian Staffing. And then, about a year after that COVID hit and things really took off. After that, we founded Gordian Financial, because people wanted more in depth accounting help. And then Gordion Consulting in a similar timeframe. And then in 2021, and 2022, we bought a property management company in Chicago, where you’re at, we had an accounting firm, and then I bought a local website here focused on stuff for family because I wanted an excuse to do something with my kids, and something that would help me learn the area more, because we’ve only been here a few years, so.
Jeremy Weisz 11:43
So talk about Gordion. Financial, and what you do there.
Rob Buffington 11:47
Sure, it’s a third party accounting firm, we do everything from the tiny companies that need their corporate books, taking care of some clients, we do, we’re their entire accounting department. And we have a dozen people doing AP, ar, financials, etc. But the advantage there is that it’s customizable. And we can combine it with the full time staff. So maybe they need a couple of customer service people financial back office, and then they need consulting to help them map out the processes and policies they need in place.
Jeremy Weisz 12:17
We’re talking about the management side of things, right, some people, a friend who, let’s say, Me, I have a hard time, you know, just there’s a lot going on with one company, how do you manage all these different entities? What is your day look?
Rob Buffington 12:34
Kind of like a squirrel bouncing on a trampoline, I just kind of go everywhere. Um, you know, I have good people, and I trust him to get the job done. And I try my best to treat them well and keep them I don’t know if I have any real secrets as to that other than put the right people in the right place. Is it the Peter Principle that people tend to rise to their level of incompetence. And that’s always misquoted, people always think that it means the dumber you are the higher you rise. And that’s not what it says at all. It says, you do your job, well, you get promoted, you do your job, well, you get promoted, you do your job poorly. And then they leave you there because you’ve been promoted beyond your skill set and training. And that gets a lot of people in trouble. Because you can’t be scared to say, hey, you know, turns out, this wasn’t the best fit for you, we’ve got another opportunity here, that could be better for you. Because you can have good people in the wrong position. And it turns out poorly. And it’s not their fault. It’s not your fault, it was just a bad decision. So people can’t be afraid to say, Hey, this is not working, let’s move you over here. They think they either need to just silently let them do a bad job for years, or they have to cut them. And I don’t think either is the case. It certainly is in some instances. But we’ve had people that have moved from one company to another because they were very skilled and there was a need, and we decided to give it a try. And sometimes they excelled. Sometimes they didn’t but either way, we tried our best to take care of them and give them the opportunity to grow.
Jeremy Weisz 14:05
Rob, let’s take Gordion Financial for a second. Because you’re like you find the right people. And that makes all the difference in the world. What kind of leadership did you have to put in there so that you didn’t have to be there day to day and you could have it run smoothly?
[continue to page 2]