Over the weekend, a close friend of mine who lives in Washington D.C. was telling me about an article in the Sunday’s Washington Post. The title of the article is, “The Art of Letting Employees Go”. It takes an inside look at an outplacement firm and even pulls back the curtain for us to examine some of it’s vice presidents, Kim Hall’s, daily duties.
According to the article …“[the firm]…coaches businesses on how to execute mass downsizings and often visits companies on the designated day to help coordinate a layoff. Then… [it]… speaks to the newly unemployed within 30 minutes of their dismissal and
offers tips on how to begin a job search. …comforts those who cry and commiserates with those who vent. [It]… does this, sometimes, with 20 despondent people each day. It is a misery so numbingly constant that it no longer feels miserable.”
I have always been amazed how a capitalist system allows its clear minded, determined and open thinkers to form an income generating opportunity, even under the most gruesome circumstances.
The firm’s founder, Kim Wendleton has taken the classic lemons to lemonade concept and used it fully to her advantage. What is truly inspirational and exciting is how she extracted all the negatives about the downsizing process and come up with solutions for both the business and ex-employee.
The article goes on to example…
“When Kate Wendleton began her outplacement business in 2000, she wanted to humanize the layoff process. She had worked as chief financial officer for another outplacement firm, which provided space for job seekers in a Manhattan office. There, the unemployed could sift through job listings on computers with little supervision and infrequent counseling. The format failed, Wendleton believes, because the job seekers were left alone to flounder, so she built the Five O’Clock Club on the concept of support. Every job seeker gets a certified personal coach. Every job-seeker attends regular group meetings and finds a sponsor, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.”
In the past six months the company has brought in revenues of $3M. Currently the firm’s fee is $2000 per fired employee. Not only do they help the company with the firing process, they also automatically enroll the newly fired into their yearlong career-coaching program. According to their organization’s website, the average Five O’Clock Club member who receives coaching finds a new job in just 10 weeks, as opposed to 8 months for other professional job seekers.
It is easy to think $2000 per firing is costly to charge a company. However, by the company offering yearly career coaching and having a history of shortening the unemployment period of other at large professionals rather softens the blow.
I think its refreshing to hear stories like this. I hope this story inspires you as it does me. Where there is a problem there is room for a profitable solution. Go find a problem to profit on.
Do you have any lemons to lemonade ideas? Please share below. If your idea is good enough and you are serious I will consider helping you build your concept to profitability.