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Lead With The Vision, Not The Job Description: The Bananas Hiring Philosophy With Berry Aldridge And Marie Gentry

FFE S2 5 | Savannah Bananas Hiring


Nothing really matters if you don’t get your team right. The Savannah Bananas does not believe in throwing bodies at problems just for the sake of hiring people. To help achieve the vision they have laid out for 2025, the company employs a meticulous hiring and onboarding process that gets the right people in the bus and puts them in the right seats. Jared Orton discusses how this process unfolds with Bananas Vice-President, Berry Aldridge and Fans First Director, Marie Gentry. Listen in and learn how they find new additions to their team who live and breathe “fans first, entertain always” mission and embody the company values of being caring, different, enthusiastic, fun, growing and hungry.

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Lead With The Vision, Not The Job Description: The Bananas Hiring Philosophy With Berry Aldridge And Marie Gentry

We are having a ton of fun as we go on this journey and take you, the reader, on this journey of the day-to-day operation of our business as with the context of this vision that we’ve laid out for 2025. It’s been exciting to hold ourselves accountable to the vision that we laid out. You can go back and find that in previous episodes, the first episode we put out after the trailer was laying out what that vision is. These episodes are giving people an idea and a glimpse of how exactly we’re executing on that vision. The day-to-day, the strategy, the decisions that we have to make, like how we are putting into play the things that we said? Here’s where we’re going and now how are we getting there? When you go through the vision conversation, it’s not about how. You can’t get caught up in the details, weeds, and the how. You got to say, “This is where we’re going,” and then commit to it and believe that you will figure out the ways to get the job done.

As we were putting that vision together, the first thing that came to us, and one of the big pieces of that is what is the vision for your team? What’s the vision for your people, the people that you’re going to bring on in the future? One piece of the vision is you’re not talking about what exists currently. You’re talking about what you want to exist in the future. We had to write out what we envisioned our team looking like in the future. That ultimately also meant bringing more people on as we were thinking about the number of fans we want to impact. One hundred fifty thousand, two hundred thousand, two hundred fifty thousand people. As we started mapping out the growth of our business, we realized like, “We’ve got to start adding a couple of people.”

I don’t believe in throwing bodies at problems for the sake of hiring people, but at some point, we have to hire some additional people to deal with the volume of business that we anticipate this vision bringing us towards. One of the most important things about that is getting the right people on the bus and also putting them in the right seats. That’s a huge emphasis as we started drafting this out, and I’m going to read you a couple of snippets. You can go back and read to the full episode one of season two, a few episodes back. This whole thing about our team was the foundational element.

We knew if we can’t get the team right, if we can’t get the right people and seats on the bus, then nothing else matters beyond that because we’re going to be spinning our wheels trying to do it all ourselves. Some of the snippets from the vision on the team side, one of the quotes we put in there was, “We have a team of extremely talented and positive who are committed and energized by our mission when it comes to the band, as they live and breathe Fans First entertain always. The Fans First Way guides our team and our teammates and body being caring, different, enthusiastic, fun, growing, and hungry. Everyone shows personal and professional growth, and they’re constantly serving and impacting others.”

“Our team is obsessed with challenging the status quo and finding a better way to do almost everything.” You’re going to hear us talk about the beer and barbecue test. Our team loves being around each other. Everyone who joins our team best as the beer and barbecue test, as somebody that we want to grab a beer with and have it a team barbecue, everyone has mutual respect for each other. It goes on and on throughout the vision of our team. Now, what we do is when we’re prospecting bringing someone on, we’ve got to go back into this and say, “Are we hitting these metrics of our vision?” That’s what our conversation is going to be about.

We’re going to go interview style. I’m bringing on our Bananas Vice-President Berry Aldridge and our Fans First Director Marie. Marie had another episode a while back about our culture and talking about how we do culture and the things that affect that. It’s one of the most downloaded episodes that we’ve done, which is exciting. I know people love people talk. We are going to talk about how we are going through this new process of hiring and onboarding new teammates as it relates to contextualize against our vision. How we’re bringing those two things together, the new things we’re doing, the things that I’ve worked on in the past, and things that haven’t worked in the past. What’s getting us excited about these new people we’ve brought on to the Bananas team?

You’re also going to learn Berry talk about him leaving, which is a weird thing. I’m bringing someone on the show that’s leaving us. The beauty of Berry, as it relates to this conversation, and you’ll learn this throughout as we get into it. Berry’s been here five years. Marie’s been here for years as well. We’re going to joke about the two weeks’ notice. Berry gave us unlimited notice. He said, “I love being here. I’m all in on the vision, but I’ve got future plans and I want to start working towards those.” Now, we get to come together with him on a weekly or monthly basis and say, “How can we help you progress to those plans?” He’s also now the coach for the new people being brought on. You can tell us if that’s the dumbest idea or the greatest idea, whichever you prefer, but we believe it’s working for us. This is our conversation about our team, our hiring, and our onboarding as it relates to the 2025 vision with Berry and Marie.

We’re in a big retooling of our team, you all are a big part of this. That’s why we’re bringing you on. We were talking about all things hiring. Marie did an episode on culture. While we’re going to be a little bit in the culture conversation on this, this is talking to people through what we have been through since September-ish when we started this process. When did we start this new hiring process?

As we started diving into what our new vision was and transitions that were happening internally, it was probably mid-September, beginning of October. We started realizing that, “Maybe we do need a couple of other folks to come in and help start taking big steps towards what our vision is.”

We rolled out the vision mid-September or the 1st of September. That’s when it was like, “That where we’re going.” Now, here’s the how. We’ve got to start executing these things and things have been moving rapidly but then we realized like mapping out, “This is where we need to go. If we’re going to accomplish all these things, 125,000, 135,000, 150,000, 200,000 people, and all these big goals and ambitions, we’ve got to execute on the people’s side as well.” We’ve always talked about the right people on the bus, but also the right seat on the bus and finding where we need to grow at. Berry, you were a part of this in a different way. There are two sides to the stories on this. Do you want to give people a little bit of backstory on how you’re involved in this hiring, but also, we’re partially filling your role, but we’re not filling a role? Give a better example of how I’m explaining it. 

I don’t know that there’s a perfect example of it. I’ll lay the situation out as it is. I am phasing out of the Bananas. I’m slowly going to start exploring some other professional opportunities and it’s got nothing to do with being unhappy or anything to do with not believing in where we’re going. I was very much involved and excited about helping shape the vision. We all brought things to the table in regards to helping make sure that vision is going to the right place and also growing exponentially and not incrementally. There are some things that I want to explore professionally.

The big thing for me was I wanted to make sure that I was doing right by the people that gave me my first job and the people that have taught me more than a lifetime of school in college and stuff like that put together. It was important to me to come early in the process before I ever talked to anyone, before I ever posted a resume anywhere, and before I did anything of that sort. I went and I talked to Emily and Jesse, and then I came and talked to you, Jared, privately and said, “This is where I’m at. This is what I’m thinking. I’m still much in on the Bananas.” If there was a stock, I would buy it. I cash out my life savings and continue buying it.

I just wanted to explore a couple of other things. You gave me free rein to help fill the role and map out, “Let’s take everything that you’re doing and figure out, is there a better way to do it? Is there a retooling of the department that can benefit all parties involved?” I started sharing what was going on with the entire ticketing staff with Marie and with other people and talking through what is the best-case scenario. That led us to the start of the journey where we started hand-selecting people and going through our new first step, which is sharing the vision and seeing if it jazzes them up.

FFE S2 5 | Savannah Bananas Hiring
Savannah Bananas Hiring: Don’t just refill a role. Take a minute to think about, “Do we really need this role?” “Is it a different role?” or “Are there different objectives for this person?”


Right after the season ended, you shared with us that you were thinking about your future plans and that’s something that we’ve always talked about. Especially thinking about and we’ll go to another person, this whole idea of Jesse said it, eliminating the two weeks’ notice. We’re a smaller company, but we’ve been two weeks’ notice before and it sucks. It’s tough, especially on a small company like us with 8, 10, now 12-ish people, it hurts. Berry came to us in September and says, “I don’t know when I’m going to stop working here. I don’t know when that journey is going to end. I’m all on board in this vision. Let’s get together and let’s figure this out.”

That’s when it jump-started us thinking like, “We need to put a plan in place. If we’re going to grow where we say we’re going to grow, we got to put a plan in place on what that starts to look like on us bringing new people on.” Do you want to take a little bit of that? Where did your head go to on like, “Now that we’ve got the vision in place and we know someone of vast importance who’s been here five years is leaving us?” Talk about what went through your mind on like, “Here’s my role. I’m going to be bringing on our next two very important people. I thought I might’ve been bringing on one, but we’re bringing on two.” What did that look like for you? 

One of the most important things that we did was to not instantaneous say, “We’re now hiring a new vice president.” We looked at the people we have, the roles those people fill and what they’re most interested in and the strengths that they have. Almost like divided a few roles to come up with what we were going to be hiring. For example, Matt has done some of our ticket operations stuff and has also worked on finance stuff. His true passion lies in that finance realm. As he’s gotten deep into that and he started to prove how fired up he is about it and how his passion can advance our team forward, we’ve been more comfortable saying, “Let’s take that out of the ticketing department. Let’s totally take all of Matt’s ticketing responsibilities and figure out what we’re going to do with it.”

We had this quasi role already opening up then Berry giving the information that he’s going to be transitioning out. What parts of Berry’s role can this new person take on? What happens to the rest of Berry’s role? Who takes on that? Not just immediately thinking, “We have this one person leaving and we have to have one person to take over what they’re going to do.” It is that refocusing on, “Who do we have? What are they passionate about? Can they fill these parts of these roles? Can they give up stuff that they’re not as excited about? We then bring in somebody new for that.” That’s been cool to look at it from fresh eyes and not just instantaneously lock ourselves into, “This is what we have to do.”

I think every time someone has left, most people have left here and gone on to greater things or have said like, “I love being here, but I want to go try something else.” Every time I feel like we’ve been able to stop and say, “Do we need a body here? Do we need two bodies here? Do we need to retool this? Do we need to change it?” You make a good point with Matt. We had this ticket/finance person and we used to have a finance person a couple of years ago. We then went into a remote person. We brought Matt on and he started doing some finance stuff and now he took on tickets, but we came to this breaking point of like, “Do we need a full-time finance person? Do we need a full-time ticketing person? Is Matt passionate about what he’s doing?”

It’s important for people reading to remember, if someone leaves or if you have to let someone go, maybe take a minute and don’t say like, “We’re rehiring this person. We’re refilling this role.” Take a minute to think about like, “Do we need this role? Is it a different role? Are there different objectives for this person? Is it a mixture of outside and inside?” Back to when Cara came on and she straight up told us like, “This isn’t a full-time marketing role.” We didn’t have a full-time marketing role. We thought we did, but we didn’t. She came to us and said, “You don’t have a full-time marketing role. Let me be seasonal. Let me be part-time. Let me be remote and then work towards it.”

That takes me back to when Jonathan graciously gave us an eight-month notice before he went off to do his Master’s and then moved to Athens to do all that. What did it look like when we brought on Jonathan Walters his replacement? Maybe talk through a little bit about how we’ve been able to restructure and think about the food, beverage, and operations role in a different way. Maybe Marie or both of you, if you want to talk to that a little bit about how we tested him. He didn’t commit to a full-time person, but said like, “We know this person’s leaving. Let’s bring this person on. Let’s work them together and see if a full-time opportunity presents itself at the end.”

Particularly when it comes to bringing people into what we do because it is such a unique environment that we’re in. During the, “off-season, the slow season,” it’s 9:00 to 5:00. Once we get into April and May and all the way through August, it is a different beast. When people come in new and haven’t experienced that, giving them the opportunity to experience that for themselves, and then us have a mutual understanding of like, “Does this work for you? Does it work for me?” It’s a two-way street. When we did it with Devon, you bring people in not with an end-date, but with the understanding that, “This position exists until August,” and both parties understand it.

It gives them that time to see for themselves like, “Do I see myself being here? Do I want this? Am I going to work for it?” It also gives them an out to say, “This isn’t what I’m looking for.” When Jonathan Wood was transitioning out and Jonathan Walters was coming in, the beauty of that was how long Jonathan Walters runway was. He had much time to start getting his feet on the ground, ask questions, and see how things had been done. He always was given permission to challenge, “If that’s how it has been done, is that how it should be done, is that how it needs to continue to be done?” He’s done a good job of asking those questions and learning from someone who created the role. Also, he wasn’t afraid to make it his own in the weeks immediately following Jonathan Wood leaving.

My favorite thing that Jonathan Walters has always been a part of, he’s always asking like, “Why don’t we do it this way?” We’ve been given these people permission to say like, “If you’re a new person here, ask us why.” We’ve only been doing this for a few years, but it is a long time to build all these habits that we’ve put into play. “New person, come in and work with the person that’s leaving.” They worked together for months before COVID blew all that up. In theory, they worked together for 6 or 7 months.

I know everyone doesn’t have the ability to have those types of runways. If you thinking upstream, we’re trying to build that in on eliminating this two weeks’ notice idea, giving people comfortability in our office to say, “If you are pursuing something else down the road, if that’s 2, 4, 6 months from now, if you don’t know the date, come and talk to us. Let’s work through that. We then can put a plan in place for that next person to come in, work together, know the role, and then move forward.” Berry, you mentioned sharing the vision instead of leading with the vision first. You had the opportunity to do that with a few people. As we were putting these new ideas and new roles out there, talk about the importance that you feel that leading with the vision and not just leading what the job description was in those initial conversations. When we started feeling out people of, “We’ve got an opportunity.”

Everybody in the back of their mind has a shortlist of people that you have encountered in your professional, personal, whatever, but you’ve encountered them and you’ve thought, “They would crush it at what I do. They would crush it working with us or they are in their niche and they’re killing it.” Everybody has that list. I would highly encourage you to go to those people first anytime something’s available. Don’t immediately need your post a job description. Don’t get me wrong, there are qualified people all over that can do stuff, without a doubt, but there’s something to be said about your comfortability with them and them already being on your shortlist.

If you don’t have a shortlist, start building your shortlist. Know the people that you want to bring on your team. It doesn’t matter the role. When you said personal, professional, and anywhere that you know good people.

When hiring, lead with the vision, not the job description. Click To Tweet

That’s what we did. We got in a room we were like, “Who’s on our shortlist? Who are the people that in the best-case scenario we hire from? We never have to offer this position publicly and go through the 700 applicants. I am narrowing it down.” We each had some and we all were tasked with individually reaching out to them and sharing the vision. Nothing else. Not job details, not salary, none of that, just sharing the new vision that we had spent two and a half months creating. If that doesn’t excite them, if that doesn’t get them going and make them start asking questions, it’s not a good fit anyway. It doesn’t matter what the salary is and what all those other things are.

If it doesn’t excite them, it doesn’t matter if they’re on your shortlist. It doesn’t matter how good of a person they are. We called and we started sharing the vision with people. Before we knew it, we had three people in a pipeline that were jazzed up excited that we knew, without a shadow of a doubt, if any of them made it to the final round, we were going to be extremely happy with it. We knew that if all three made in the final round and two turned it down, we were still going to have an amazing person. I can’t say enough about the process that we took this time of not waiting to share that stuff and not just hooking people with a salary at the bottom of a listing or a sexy title. It was a 100% vision-based and these people were drawn in.

I got to share the vision with two people. One who did end up coming on board with us and one who didn’t. I remember the first time I shared the vision with the first person who ended up opting out and we had a game that night. I texted him the night before that we had a game the following day, and I shared the vision with him at 2:00 in the afternoon. He drove to Savannah and got there by 6:30. He was fired up about the vision. I don’t know if he would have been that fired up about a job description. We found out later in the process that he wasn’t fired up about the job description, but at least getting them to that point of like, “If they’re not fired up about the vision, then nothing else matters.” 

We could have given that person huge status, huge job, big pay. If that would have been the only thing that they were fired up and that was the thing that did it in for them and the vision was nothing to them, that role would have been totally reversed and we’d have gotten the wrong person. On the flip side, we got someone who was fired up about the vision, the role, the conversation, and so on. It goes back to people reading. If you’re sharing the job description, you’re going to get people looking for a job. You could qualify with us as a job. We do work here and we pay you twice a month and we’ll give you benefits. It is vision first and we haven’t done that always in the past. Marie, if you want to speak to maybe mistakes, we’ve made in the past by posting jobs and doing a couple of interviews and bringing people on. What red flags have you seen that come up in the past with us bringing people on posting jobs and taking applications?

A couple of things come to mind that is common. One of the main things I’m thinking of is we’ve allowed ourselves to get wooed by candidates before. We’ve fallen more in love with people than they have been in love with us. We almost have pitched jobs before, rather than allowing candidates to show why they want to work here. Not because this is the best place to be and everybody does want to work here, but there is an element of we can’t upsell what it is.

We have to be clear with what the vision is, what the role is, all those little pieces because once people get here and they’re going to see it for real. I don’t think that our intentions were poor. We were just trying to woo someone else to come in. That’s one thing. Another thing I was thinking about is that we let everybody meet everybody. In the past, we’ve had 1 or 2 folks involved in the hiring process and anybody can look at an interview. What happens in the one-on-one conversations later on, or when you feel like all of the guards are down and you’re having lunch with someone?

You mentioned us trying to woo people and we’ve definitely shopped hungry in the past. I felt in these previous scenarios, for example, we put the vision out to those people and then said, “If this makes sense for you, you get back in touch with us.” It seemed like every step of the way it was like, “Your turn. We’re not going to email you and call you again. If this is good for you, awesome. Bring it your way.” I remember there was someone, Berry, that you had mentioned that we were all fired up about. We halfway shared the vision with them, but we were like, “If you want the Bananas, get in touch with Jared and he will share the vision with you,” and that person never did. That’s the sign that we’re not going to move this any forward. Marie, do you want to talk more a little bit about us continuing to put the ball in their court and the responses you received or maybe did not receive?

The ball in your court mentality is something that at every single phase of our interview process, we do. However, we also make sure that candidates are given everything they need from us to be able to have the whole ball in that court.

What would some of those examples be?

One of the things we do is we ask for a future resume or a Fans First Way essay. I talked through those on the phone with folks and rather than immediately sending them a prompt and asking them to send it back. As part of the initial interview, we shared the vision first, we connected, got to know each other in the second step. The third step was, “Here’s what it’s about. You know this about the company so far, we’ve introduced the ideas of our culture but here’s your homework. Here’s the Fans First Way essay prompt. Here’s the future resume prompt, get it back to me. Once you’ve got it back to me, we’ll get our next interview on the calendar.” The next thing always was there was someone else has homework. We always gave people the information they needed to be able to do that homework. It wasn’t like, we were consistently asking for something. It was very much, “We’re going to give this. Now, we’re going to ask for that.”

Were there times when you felt like people started to fall off in any of those or were there times when people stop responding or they were giving up on us?

There was one about a week-long gap in communication. I was like, “That person doesn’t want it.” It turns out my email got lost somewhere in transit and so it never made it to them, but they followed back up. It was a signal of, they followed back up and then once the prompt got there the next day, then they had it back in my hands the next day later. Yes, it had slowed down at one point and I thought it was a signal that they weren’t interested, but once they reached back out, we found out they were interested. Honestly, the fact that there hasn’t been that many people who fell off the thing just proves how good the process is. Once they’re already in that 2nd, 3rd phase, they’re not falling off because they already know what the vision is. That’s excited them much that they want to be part of it.

You mentioned there was a step 1, 2, and 3, there was vision talk. What was the second step that we made?

FFE S2 5 | Savannah Bananas Hiring
Savannah Bananas Hiring: If the company vision doesn’t fire them up, then that person is not a good fit for your team.


How we’ve done it for the last couple of one’s is the vision is shared. That’s the first thing. We reach out and we say, “Are you interested in hearing about the vision? If you are, then you should reach out to so-and-so.” They follow up with a different person to share the vision. That person says, “This sounds good. Let’s see if there’s a time.” “You think about it. If you’re interested in the actual job, talk to Marie.” People reach out to me and I set up a 30, 45-minute just, “Who are you? I haven’t met you before. I know maybe who you are a little bit, but explain what’s going on.” From there it’s a feeling like, “Did we like the conversation? Did we have a good time? Do I see them fitting in with our culture?” That’s where we assign the Fans First Way essay and their future resume. The next step was where we would talk about the role specifically. Once we’ve received the Fans First Way essay and the future resume, we jumped in on a call with Berry at this point because Berry’s the one who’s the expert on what the roles are.

I’m curious if other companies do these intense conversations and they have no idea what the role is, which is the day-to-day. 

They’ll know what we’re going to do together. They know what we’re trying to accomplish together, but they’re not exactly sure how they fit into it yet.

You get looped into the conversation. The third one is to set up a time with Marie and Berry or maybe Berry alone. 

Whoever their point person is going to be.

What did you start sharing in that role-specific conversation versus what you were looking for from them?

This is the part of this new interview and onboarding process, where it is important to not be hungry, to not be selling. Your job is not to sell the job. Your job is to be explicit about the job, to make sure that you are giving them crystal clear instructions and expectations of the job. This is your opportunity to give them everything they need right down to the day-to-day, to the good, bad, ugly, amazing, the best parts of the job, the parts that are tough, that parts that you struggle with and they may be worried about. It’s an opportunity to hammer out the nuts and bolts and be explicit and give before you’re asking, “Are you interested?” If you’re worried it’s too much information, don’t be, they want it. People want more information at every turn if they can get it. You’ve been withholding for a couple of rounds now and sharing the good stuff and getting them excited. This is the opportunity to be explicit and be able to make sure that there is no misunderstanding about how they’re going to now help the team accomplish the vision.

What were you looking for in their responses as you were going through this role back and forth?

I wanted to see someone who was still excited at the end of the conversation, who were excited about the vision, or they wouldn’t be in this conversation. After we were explicit about what it’s going to take from you specifically to help us all get there together, are you still excited about it? Does the vision still excites you more than the day-to-day, “scares you,” or anything like that? For example, somebody may be fired up about the vision, but when they find out that their job is to sell, then maybe like, “Selling’s not my thing. I’m this. I’m more suited for this.” If they’re still fired up about it, not, “I will do that. I can do that,” but no, “I’m going to do that. I’m going to beat those expectations. We’re going to go to the moon with this.” That enthusiasm at the end of this conversation is something that is I’m specifically looking for.

This is also the point in which we share compensation with this. This is that when we lay out the expectations of what the role looks like, it’s every person here has a “scorecard” or key performance indicators. We lay all that out at this point and it has salary and compensation right there at the bottom of the paper. We straight up say, “This is the offer for you. It’s not official, but we want you to have all the information you need so that before we get into the final step, we much know where we stand.” When you offer it to one person, it may not be the same exact offer as what it is to someone else because of experience or whatever. We make it clear that this is what your offer would look like if you receive the official offer.

I don’t know if we can do this every time, but it was helpful that we had a sales position and we also had more of a servicing inbound sales. It was an outside and inside sales if we want to simplify it. What was interesting was we found that in some conversations, especially when we had both of them, we would all look at each other and be like, “This person would fit much better in the other position, but we’re much already locked in on that other position.”

People were great, but they work themselves out. As you were saying, if we were presenting them the, “All we have now available because of us filling this other position, we have an outside sales position for ticket sales. This is what it’s like, and this is the role.” You would sometimes get back, “What I’m passionate about is marketing and taking care of fans and the fan experience,” and we would all get together afterwards and be like, “Great person, loves the vision. He believes.” If we had this role for them in the future, we would hang on to them. 

You know where that person goes, Jared?

Don’t sell the job. Just be crystal clear about it. Click To Tweet

Right on your shortlist.

At some point, if you’re doing the right thing, you’re growing and you’re adding positions at the right time, you’re going to have another opportunity to call them. You’re going to have something to write up their alley.

We got to interview 3-A, 3-B, 4 with people and started fighting through this thing. “Is this the right person for this role? The right person on the bus, but are they in the right seat?” As we got narrowed down to we got to 2-ish, 3-ish people for a couple of different roles, talk through a little bit of how we worked through, “All of these, we agree, right people on the bus. Are they going to be in the right seats?” Who wants to speak to that?

Once you get down to that phase, there’s not a wrong answer and person. Once you get all the way to that portion of it, we know they’re jazzed up to be with us. We know they’re fired up. At the very least, they’re not upset in any way about the role, compensation, and any of those things. What you had to start looking at then are what I would call company values. Do we play the short-term? Do we play the long-term? There’s a huge conversation in one of our hires that was like, “Short-term, long-term. One person may edge the other out, but is it the right short-term players, is it the right long-term player?”

Can they start now or can they start in four weeks?

That’s where the details of the actual hiring and onboarding start to come in. I’ll say this, in almost every scenario, the long-term play, at least at our company is the play. It goes back to the way we treat fans. We’ll take long-term fans over short-term profits. It is more beneficial to onboard that person that is ready for one week. If the long-term play is somebody that’s going to be more beneficial for your fans in the long-term and pay those dividends, it might be worth that loss of short-term productivity. I don’t know the specific categories for every single job description or every single process, but this is that point where you have to decide what’s most important to your company. You have to start figuring out the best between those people that are all at the top of your list, which is tough. It’s not an easy thing to do.

We started adding steps into the process when we got it down to two people. With the one hire, it was clear, there were three phases of the interview application process and that third and final phase was him coming to Savannah and sitting down and having a whole day with our whole team. The beer and barbecue test. That one was clearly three steps. We got into the other hire, it was two people who were both local to Savannah, who both could come in for different reasons. We ended up adding additional steps to get down to we know they both are going to bring certain things to the table. They’re different. They’re both have amazing strengths. We can see both of those things taking this role to the next level, “Let’s bring them in. Let’s show them the day-to-day. Let’s see, A, how do they do it? B, are they still as fired up as they were going into it?” Neither of them had ever done it before.

We brought them in for almost like on the job training.

What I think was, going back to what Cara did, it’s a test drive. I don’t know if you’ve talked about test drives on this show before.

Not specifically. Maybe we mentioned it but go into it because it’s something we’re trying to find for every position. How can we create a test drive opportunity for every position?

The step that Marie added to this because we were still in love with both of these candidates was the test drive. It’s part of on-the-job training, but it’s also part of putting them into it. For example, part of the test drive for both of these positions where we got old employees.

We still stay in touch with our old employees, which is a good thing to do.

We were tight with high level up a former vice president and a former team president. We had them do sales calls with them. One of them said he suspected, but they said they did not even know that they were former people. They thought they were calling a business owner. We didn’t just send them in blind. We gave them the tools. We did some training, practice calls, the recording, and let them listen back, the whole nine yards. We let them take a test drive and do it. We got those reports back from those people. Shocker, surprise, they both nailed it. They couldn’t make our job easy. They couldn’t make the hire easy.

FFE S2 5 | Savannah Bananas Hiring
Savannah Bananas Hiring: It may be more beneficial to onboard a person who’s ready in one week, but if the long-term play is somebody who’s going to be more beneficial for your fans in the long term, it’s worth the loss of short-term productivity.


Neither of them said that they wanted to opt-out after that.

They were both fired up about it and excited, which kept making it tough. I don’t know about you. I haven’t been involved in a million hires. I haven’t been involved as many as you too, but this was throwing my two cents in was hard because I was in love with both of them.

Marie finally called a drop-dead day and said, “Family meeting, we are not leaving this room until we figure out who it is.” We had not myself, but I consider myself half a person, but Marie, Barry, Devon, and Patrick, 4.5 to 5 people. You can argue that’s too many people to make a hire, but it was people who were going to be directly involved with them. Devon and Patrick on the ticket side, Berry, who’s someone who’s been here for a few years and understands what it’s going to take. Marie, who’s someone who has been here since the beginning, who understands the culture of what it’s going to take to bring someone on, as a part of our culture and as a part of our team. Us getting all together and saying, “What’s going to take? What’s the answer?” Marie, you were like, “We’re going to make this happen now. This is it.” 

That’s fairness though.

It is. We can’t keep them going.

Other candidates had other opportunities. I knew that we were in tune with what was going on. We tried to be a ball in your court as much as possible, but we want you to have all the information that you need. It came down to we told this person that we’re going to have the answer to them by the end of the week so we have to have an answer by the end of the week and that’s what we did. It was a lot of fun. There wasn’t a wrong decision to make. It’s one of those weird situations where it’s like, I hope we didn’t burn a bridge.

Hopefully, we have something in the future for this person.

That would be very much my hope. I want to go back to where I made a comment about how the play for us is always going to be the long game. I don’t know that’s necessarily going to always be true. As we grow and as we get into the next 3, 4, 5 years, and if it looks like we grow as much as we were thinking, we are on paper now, it’s okay for us to bring people in knowing that this is a step for them and how can we help get them to their next place.

That’s part of that future resume that we’ve mentioned. It’s a real thing. I know some people have heard us. We’ve talked about it for a while on shows and speeches and consulting. We’ve always talked about this feature resume, and people are blown away by it. Some people maybe think it’s like a chintzy jokey thing. No, we want to know that you want to be the XYZ of this company one day, you want to own your own thing, or you want to go into real estate. Whatever you want to do, keep us abreast of those things.

If we know upfront that this is where they want to go in the next 2, 5, 7 years or wherever we can legitimately, honestly say to them, “We want to help you get there.” When that’s known upfront and we all agree on it, and in three years they say, “Remember, I want to get to this place.” “We know about that, we hear from you. Let’s help you get there and let’s not make it a two weeks’ notice. Let’s make it a six months’ notice, a two-year notice or wherever that leads to.” What would you guys change? I know we went through this, but is there anything that you were like, “Can we do this next time? I want to change this. I want to get better at this.”

The only thing that I would change is, and it’s funny, there was only one person of the 4 or 5 that we’re talking about that we did this way and it worked out fine. We onboarded this person. They’re doing great, but the person that called them that had that mutual connection wasn’t the one to share the vision. I think that’s important. It’s important for me if it’s my connection to have them go to Jared because my natural proclivity is going to be to describe it as a hungry hire. I’m going to be trying to woo them.

That’s not the point. If you’re close to the situation, if they’re on your shortlist and you’re too close to it, send them to the other person to share the vision. That’s super important. It worked out in the one case that we did it the other way and it was me personally. They were on my shortlist. I shared the vision. It ended up working out, but I can see how I could have been trying to woo instead of sharing the vision exactly as is. Whereas if Jared didn’t have that personal connection with them could share the vision in its perfect entirety without any bias whatsoever. We did that in every other scenario. That’s the only part that I would say that maybe I dropped the ball that one time.

I loved the fact that I wasn’t the first person that talked with them. When they called in, they already knew what the vision was. When they reached out to me, when we set up the time to chat, but I also still got to play the, “Yes, we already know you. You’re on the shortlist, but we set up our processes for a reason. We’re going to respect those.” Even though you’re on this “shortlist” you still walked through each and every step. We modified maybe a smidge.

Trust is given before it's reciprocated. Click To Tweet

We used to, if it wasn’t someone who we knew, they would send in their future resume of video cover letter and Fans First Way essay on the frontend of everything. Because we knew these people, they were on our shortlist. We had them do it at a little bit later step. I love that because it gave us that chance to explain what the future resume was and then to dial in on, “They said these things in the interview. They put these things in their future resume, I’m going to come back to that in this next conversation and figure out, ‘Is this them being creative and dreaming or they see a plan for how they’re going to get to this spot?’” We’re part of that.

Sometimes people can maybe hear shortlist and they’re like, “You’re like, ‘Can we let them into the top?'” They maybe got 30 minutes less of work on having to introduce themselves and that was about it. They might’ve been on my shortlist, but Marie didn’t know freaking who they were. They’ve got to prove themselves to her or they got to prove themselves to Berry or whomever, vice versa.

You’ve already mentioned, I had someone on my shortlist that didn’t take the next step and that’s fine. That’s great. Do you know how much time both parties saved by not pursuing something that maybe they weren’t passionate about?

Anything else you want to share that we missed?

I don’t think I answered what we would change. The test drive for everybody is something that has to happen. For every level, at least seasonal full-time, it’s important to see, “What would it look like for this person to be in this role?” Also, gives them a picture of, “What am I doing on the day-to-day?”

Now, we’ve got some opportunities with us going more year-round. We’ve got more opportunities to see people a little bit more in action. Whether it be coming up for spring games or we’ve got this one fall game. We’ve got people who are either local or maybe they’re graduating soon. We’ve got like extended internship opportunities. We’re trying to continue to build this bench of people and give them more than just, “Here’s the interview. Are you qualified? Here’s the offer.”

My final thought, Jared, is that I know some of the business owners reading this are skeptical that they’re ever going to have somebody give them 8, 6, 4, 5-month notice. I’m going to tell you the secret to it right here, right now. I’m going to give you the secret sauce business owners from an employee’s point of view. It 100% revolves around the way you’ve responded to things in the past. If they don’t feel like they can do that, you can talk the talk all you want. If they don’t know without a shadow of a doubt that you’re not going to turn around and say, “We’ve thought about it, why don’t you go ahead and take two weeks?” If they don’t trust that you’re going to trust them to still bring their best effort every day because that’s something that’s natural. Somebody tells you they’re leaving in 4, 5, or 6 months. Are they going to still show up every day and give their best and stuff?

Trust is given before it’s reciprocated. That’s the truth of it. If an employee doesn’t know without a shadow of a doubt that you’re going to back up the words that you’re telling them, I would want you to come early. When someone does it, put your money where your mouth is, give them the runway, encourage them to provide the best possible experience for that person that they’re helping onboard, and then you’ll never have to worry again. Everybody after that will do it that way, barring unforeseen emergency circumstances, which happen. The truth of the matter is if you want this to happen, don’t look to the employees. Look to yourself. Look to how you’re responding. When people do give you short notice and when they do give you things, are you spiteful about it or are you giving them the runway? Are you providing them with the resources?

You won’t have to hire hungry. You won’t have to speed up the process and you won’t have to put out a job description quickly and hire the next warm body that walks in.

It gives you that opportunity to be fully transparent and bring in someone who may be seasonal. Find an intern, a college student that’s about to graduate that could learn from the person doing the job and make it clear. It’s like, “This person’s leaving in these many months. When you graduate or if you crush this internship, if we see this working out, there’s potential for growth here.” The transparency and the clarity that it gives all parties involved are amazing.

Be slow in your hiring. Be slow in your two weeks notices. If you have to hire someone remotely for part-time, if you have to hire someone on nights and weekends. Even now, we’re bringing people on that they couldn’t immediately come on full-time like, “Can you come on this day and this day for afternoons, and can we keep trying this thing out?” Don’t just go and commit to a full-time person off the bat. Figure out a way that you can be slow in that process. Bring the right people on, give them the right seat on the bus, and then create a winning culture. 

It’s magic.

Not really. It’s taken us a while to get there. Thank you, guys, for hanging out with us. I appreciate it. 

FFE S2 5 | Savannah Bananas Hiring
Savannah Bananas Hiring: Don’t just commit to a full-time person right off the bat. Figure out a way that you can be slow in that process so that you can bring the right people in and create a winning culture.


It was a lot of fun.


That’s where we’re at with hiring some new people and bringing new people onto the Bananas and where Marie and Berry fit into that and the rest of our team. The whole point of this show is to be as transparent as possible with people reading about what we’re going through. I don’t know if people do that as much. I don’t know if that’s uncomfortable or weird but we’re fine with it. We want to put it out there.

We want to speak it into the world and hope that maybe one person can learn from it. Maybe you can learn from it. Maybe it helps us get it off our chest and talk about it and talk through ideas. I get fired up sharing those things with people and talking through them with our team and figuring out where are we going? How are we doing things? How are we tweaking things? How are we making them better for people? We joked beforehand. It sucks for the people who we hired originally because they never went through any of this.

We just hired people on and hope for the best type of thing. That’s not against the people who were hiring those people or came on. We just didn’t have a system. We didn’t have a process, and structure. We didn’t know what we were looking for. We were just going off the gut. Yes, they sound good. I’m confident in the process that we’ve put in play and seeing it play out the last few times and seeing the candidates that we’ve whittled it down to knowing that any of those last couple of people that were going to pick, all of them are going to do great. It comes down to minute things.

A lot of it’s on our side. You heard Berry and Marie mentioned it, like, “Long-term versus short-term, are they going to fit this way? Are they going to fit that way?” Trying to figure out the nitty-gritty details of bringing someone on and we’re having a blast with it. If you have questions about us, our hiring methods, what we look for, the future resume stuff, and the video cover letters, we have all that information. Shoot us an email or get in touch with us on LinkedIn. Get in touch with us at any point and we are happy to share any of that stuff with you. Thanks for reading. We will see you next time.

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Jared Orton

Jared Orton

Because of a relentless focus on entertainment and ticket sales, the Royals were fortunate to see tremendous growth in attendance and revenue during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Jared is now taking those experiences, along with the experiences of Fans First Entertainment, to develop a value-packed, non-stop, entertainment experience for Savannah fans. Jared currently lives in Savannah with his wife, Kelsey.
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