Q: Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
A: Compliance Central is a Safety and Health Services business located in Hughes Springs, Texas. We provide employee testing and training services as well as Industrial Hygiene monitoring and DOT drug screening for clients in a four-state area. Our testing services include Audiometrics (hearing), Respirator Fit Testing, Medical Approval to wear a respirator, and vision screening. Training topics include most mandated training requirements mandated by OSHA 29 CFR 1910 as well as for the Oil and Gas spectrum.
The business was started in 1993 by Jan Irvin. Jan is a Registered Professional Industrial Hygienist, practicing since 1980. Jan has two Master’s Degrees, One is in Environmental Management and the other is in Biology. In addition to working as an Industrial Hygienist, Jan has taught high school sciences (Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy & Physiology, Biology)and also was instrumental in starting the Safety & Health Program for Texas State Technical College in Marshall, Texas, where she taught Safety and Industrial Hygiene Classes. Jan also taught for a short time at Texarkana Jr College in the nursing degree program. In the economic slump of the mid 80’s, Jan furthered her income by enlisting with a direct marketing company, where she rose to the rank of Divisional Manager over 5 states. Direct marketing is what really taught Jan the in’s and out’s of running a sole proprietorship.
Jan has always been a “workaholic” and has been nicknamed by her peers as “The Energizer Bunny”. A combination of factors led her to start Compliance Central in 1993 which included the realization that since most employers exploited her energy and enthusiasm to the point that she was never home but yet not making much of an income, she decided that if she was going to work that hard she should do it for her own benefit. Jan also realized that if she could have a successful business, she could offer jobs to other “Energizer Bunnies” that would be gratifying and appreciated, and she would enjoy knowing she was supporting their family with a good job and income. She vowed she would be the kind of boss she never had. At this the time she was beginning to get interested in her skills as a consultant on various industrial jobs, and with encouragement from friends she decided to make it officially a business.
Q. Jan’s advice to someone considering starting their own business?
A. 1. Love people, not money. If you get it the other way around you will fail.
2. Be prepared to be the one who works the hardest and puts in the longest hours for a good while.
3. Most of all, be a “Kingdom Enterprise”. Name Jesus as your CEO. Yoke yourself tightly to Him and go His direction and at His pace. Put Him in charge of your finances, your safety, your goals, and objectives. Do all things with His love; your employees, your clients, your vendors, etc.
Currently, Jan works about 8-10 hours a day, although she does have the luxury of taking a day or two off when she wants/needs it if she plans it ahead of time.
Jan’s success is attributed to JESUS. When she tries to call the shots, make the choices, fix the problems and issues on her own, it’s always a mess and quickly headed down the tubes. But when she steps back and once again lets Jesus take control, there are no real issues and the business thrives.
Initial marketing of the business was done through the old fashioned method of “cold calling”. After attaining a Chamber listing from every town within a 2-hour radio, Jan targeted any industries there that might use her services, made an appointment and went to see them. In this method, Jan managed to secure about 75% of the business that is still with her today, even though as she called for appointments she heard:
- Why do you want to see me? Isn’t your business teeth?
- You do realize you are the wrong sex to ever make it in this business?
- Okay, I’ll keep you in mind but I can’t think of anything we could really use your services for…..
Once she secured some business, she began to ask for referrals. This boosted her business more, and for years the business continued to grow quite well strictly on referrals.
Things have changed, now, and the WORLD WIDE WEB is where all the action is. Nowadays if you try to call someone, you get a VOIP phone system that will not let you through to anyone unless you know their exact extension number, and people are so busy they simply will not return a phone call to a voice mail they feel is strictly a “sales call”. Jan has recently launched a campaign of digital marketing and hopes to see the fruit of that in the near future.
Long term success is best achieved through over the top personal service. There are so many choices now, so much competition, that if you don’t highly value each of your clients and give them old fashioned, family style service, you will lose them in a heartbeat. Not only must your work be of high integrity and very professional, but you must be FRIENDS with your client!
In another 5-10 years, I see Compliance Central thriving on the top of their nitch market. I envision potential clients all but begging us to provide their services, people knocking on the door and nearly begging to work for us, the business supporting a lot of great charitable sources that Jesus will point us towards.
Q. Why do I see this?
A. Because Jesus is our CEO, and we work to follow His lead and do what He wants us to do. Already I see the following indicators this will happen:
I frequently get emails from clients that say things like:
- Jan, we love you and we love your team! Thanks so much for taking such good care of us!
- Jan, I had no idea a company could provide such awesome service! I would have switched to you years ago!
- Hey Team! Can you come to take care of this issue for me?
- Hey Jan, can’t wait to work with your great group when they get here to do our testing!
- Counting the minutes till you’re here! Just because you don’t have a desk here doesn’t mean you aren’t a member of the team!
On top of that, I have witnessed:
- More than one client has literally picked up one of our team members and hugged them
- At a military event, soldiers gathered around our testing van, laid hands on it bowed their heads and prayed over us
- Employees approach a team member and say “Wow! Are you guys hiring?
I’d LOVE to work for a company like this!”
Q. What business do we admire most?
A. I would say Chic Filet. They not only do business God’s way, but they really train their young employees to give that special personal service, which I know will benefit them the rest of their lives in all they do.
Good employees are vital to our success. Good employees are more important than clients because without them we would have no clients. Additionally, good employees are vital to the “behavioral culture” of “Family” that we all love to have here at Compliance Central.
I stick with an idea until I don’t feel peace about it anymore. If it’s the wrong idea, wrong direction, etc., I won’t have peace about it for very long.
Q. What motivates me?
A. The opportunity to show love to those around me, be they family, friends or pets/animals.
Q. What are my ideas?
A. Not sure how to really answer this one…
Q. How do I generate new ideas?
A. By putting the “facts” of what’s going on on a white board and looking for ways we can improve, stream line, etc. Also by good contact with my team members on what we could do to make their job easier for them or better for our client.
Q. How do I define success?
A. Happy employees, happy clients, enough money to meet bills, payroll and extra for wherever God wants it.
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
A. Great personal service generates lots of referrals, and that’s the best way you can grow.
Q. Favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A. I feel that my talent for being in business for myself is God-given, and with that comes a huge responsibility of making as much money as possible so He can direct me what to do with it. Charitable giving is my favorite thing! I could not do that on a “regular salary”.
Q. What kind of culture exists in our business?
A. Family! Teamwork! We established this culture by reaching out to one another and mostly by seeking God and including Him in every aspect of our business. We selected this culture because it’s the BEST.
Q. One word that characterizes my life as an entrepreneur?
Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
A. I’m expected to do everything because I am an energizer bunny; I get a few offers of help because they take advantage of me “get er done” attitude and work ethic. Other than that, no effect.
Q. My greatest fear?
A. Losing family, friends, pets….. This is only managed through prayer.
Q. Pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
A. Be willing to work. Set goals. Plan into the future. Don’t give up easily. Don’t leave out God.
Q. If I could talk to a person from history — it would be Jesus. Why?
A. He alone has all the answers!
Q. Who has been my greatest inspiration?
Q. What book has inspired you the most?
A. Too many to list.
Q. mistake I’ve made?
A. Being too quick to hire someone and then really regretting it later.
Q. What makes me happy?
A. Seeing other people happy, and particularly if I was able to contribute to that.
Q. Sacrifices I have made?
A. Lots of work hours!