Keeping Small Businesses Competitive through Sharing Best Practices of Global Leaders

Monica Horan’s BIO

Monica Horan is the owner of Express Employment Professionals in Braintree, MA. Express is a full service staffing agency focused primarily in temporary administrative and industrial placements. Express works with businesses of all sizes in the manufacturing, distribution and services industries, among others, and offers customized employment solutions. Some of these solutions include recruiting for key positions, evaluation hire and temporary/contract recruiting.

Previously, Monica was the founder and CEO of Aspen Grove, a web-based software development company. Monica has over 25 years of business management experience in the areas of marketing, sales and operations. Her company is also a Massachusetts State Diversity Office (SDO) certified woman business enterprise (WBE).


1. Please share with us the inception of Express Employment Professionals.

Monica: I started looking for new business opportunities soon after I sold my last company in 2008. I previously had two partners and moving forward, I wanted something that I could own independently. I hired a franchise consultant and looked at several businesses before being introduced to Express.

Express had a large footprint ($2.5B with 600+ offices), but was not well known in the Northeast. As I got to know the company, I was impressed with their truly genuine regard for helping people succeed, e.g., their franchisees, employees, clients and associates. It was a great match for the philosophy that I believe in, and the investment had a good ROI.


2. Take us through a typical day, start to finish.

Monica:  We typically have a whirlwind of activity, e.g., clients calling looking to fill jobs, associates calling looking for work and our team calling associates to place them in jobs. We spend a lot of time on the phones, but we also use social media to make it easier for us to communicate with clients and associates. We utilize Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. We just started using ZipWhip, which allows us to send and receive text messages to our office number. We also spend a good deal of time recruiting for commonly requested positions, hard to fill positions, and reaching out to clients if we have an especially talented candidate. We have a proprietary system that we use to monitor and track activity.

In addition to all of the phone work, we conduct anywhere from 1 to 4 face-to-face interviews daily. Typically we have people stopping by to complete applications, do online testing or communicate with us in person. Aside from what goes on in the office, we are also out meeting with clients or prospective clients in the field, touring their offices or facilities, and marketing our services.


3. What was the best advice you received as you began expanding your business?

Monica:  I would say that the best advice I received was… try not to be all things to all people. We actually work with a variety of different companies, but we tend to focus on industrial and administrative placements. It’s important when you are starting out to try to build a reputation doing one or two activities particularly well.


4. What are your strategies for building awareness of Express Employment Professionals for the short term and the long term ?

Monica:  For the short term, become a good professional networker.

In addition to marketing my business during normal business hours, I participate in local organizations like the South Shore Chamber of Commerce and some small networking groups. I frequently attend networking breakfasts and after hours events. Once established in these groups, long term results arrive. It’s important to get the word out into your marketplace, what your model is, and how your business works to help the community.


5. What is your proudest achievement?

Monica:  Aside from business, my proudest achievement as a single parent, was raising my 3 children. I have seen them develop academically, launch into the business world and become well rounded adults. From a work prospective, I was a co-founder of a web-based workflow software company from 1997 to 2008. Web applications were just starting to be developed. Nobody had heard of “the cloud”. However, in fact, the technology existed to host applications for clients. I sold our first hosted (n/k/a cloud) system in 1999.


6. What are Your top 3 book recommendations?

Monica:  You are probably expecting me to rattle off a number of great business books! I will mention one, The Accidental Sales Manager. Not only is it insightful, it was written by one of my friends, Suzanne Paling.

Mostly, I like to read history or historical fiction. I am currently reading American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham. I have a lot of favorites but at the top of the list is A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell. I also love anything written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.


7. What other charitable causes are most meaningful to you & why?

Monica:  I have admired Jimmy Carter and his work with Habitat for Humanity since I first learned about it back in the 80’s. I am active with the Braintree Local Partnership Committee and we are trying to get another Habitat home in Braintree.

Shortly after opening my business, I met Lauren Payne, Executive Director of Friendship Home in Norwell. Friendship Home was founded by two mothers of adults with developmental disabilities. These women have worked tirelessly to create a wonderful environment for children and their families. I participate in a number of their fundraising events.


8. Who has been most influential toward your career successes with Express Employment Professionals?

Monica:  I have received the best advice and support from other Express owners here in New England and all over the US. It’s a wonderful community of people. The New England owners meet quarterly. It gives us an opportunity to share ideas and help each other with challenges.


9. What is your advice for entrepreneurs who are 1-3 months away from launching their business?

Monica:  Have enough cash or access to capital to withstand the unexpected. I expected the recession to be over sometime in 2010 when I opened my office in October, 2009. As we all know, that did not happen. Also, join local groups of like-minded individuals to bounce off ideas and learn from other people’s mistakes. There are so many groups and organizations to help, e.g., Small Business Administration, Chamber of Commerce, alumni groups, etc.


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