Miss Details is honored to collaborate with visionary local entrepreneurs. We’re proud to present the latest installment in our Client Feature series, which showcases these remarkable leaders.
In recent years, the term “HR” has largely become shorthand for stifling bureaucracy, and its true meaning—both literal and figurative—has been buried in a sea of corporate jargon. But Camille French, founder and CEO of AmeriSource HR in Phoenix, AZ, has never lost sight of the human aspect of human resources. In fact, it’s why she chose it as a career path in the first place.
“I was working towards a business degree with a focus in accounting,” Camille recalls of her college days. “I talked to a couple people in accounting who had my personality, and they were all saying, ‘Run. You’ll hate this, you need to be around people.’”
When she says “my personality,” Camille is referring to her open and friendly extroversion, as well as her deep and genuine passion for strengthening relationships between people from all walks of life. Combine that with her natural business savvy, and it’s no surprise that Camille ultimately chose to abandon accounting for HR.
By the mid-2000s, Camille was the vice-president of a professional employment organization (PEO) that offered their clients benefits, payroll, onboarding, and other standard HR services. But for Camille, the absence of human connection was tangible.
“Because we were co-employers, there was a sense of, ‘We’ll handle HR, but at arm’s length,’” she explains. “We didn’t get involved in culture—it was very tactical. And I struggled with that.”
This was the impetus for Camille founding AmeriSource HR: an outsourced human resources consulting group whose team-based approach and individualized offerings allow for deeper connections with their clients.
“I started AmeriSource in 2010, with the mindset that I wanted to give that extra customized service,” Camille says. “We have clients who come to us who know they need some of the tactical services, but they don’t know what else human resources might look like. We help them understand what it could look like if they’re open to change and to getting us a little more involved.”
Although commendable, this relational approach hasn’t been without challenges. Originally, AmeriSource provided their smaller clients with a single consultant, allowing them to build a meaningful relationship through specialized service. But some of these relationships proved so strong that if a consultant left the company, AmeriSource would often lose their client alongside them.
Camille’s solution was to provide each of her clients with a team of at least three people—no matter the size of the company.
“Now when we have turnover, the client may lose one member of their team, but not their whole team,” Camille says. “So we can keep that relationship alive.”
AmeriSource experienced more structural changes, and even further growth, during the COVID-19 pandemic. After successfully moving to a fully remote work environment, AmeriSource added a whole new division based on demands for solutions to the unique challenges facing companies across the country.
“When our clients started to go remote, they realized they didn't really have any strong payroll or onboarding technology,” Camille explains. “They were using paper, but since they couldn’t go into the office, they had to hurry and come up with a quick fix. So we launched a business division where we helped companies move from one payroll system to another, and really built it out.”
Creating a Strong Virtual Workplace Culture
Although the quality and scope of their work has only increased, the adjustment to a remote environment hasn’t always been smooth for AmeriSource’s team of committed employees, many of whom share Camille’s extroverted nature.
“We had a really fun office,” Camille says. “I’ve had employees confide in me and say, ‘I’m struggling with working at home, with only seeing people on camera.’ It’s affected our culture.”
Keeping a strong team culture alive in a remote setting has been a formidable challenge for many business owners, and one Camille is determined to continue prioritizing in 2022 and beyond. When it comes to building a strong virtual work culture, Camille adheres to four main pillars.
“We need to keep in mind what employees really want,” she says. “They want to be in the know, they want to be heard, they want to be developed, and they want to grow. So if we can keep our focus on that, it will keep our culture alive and moving forward.”
As part of her commitment to these four principles, Camille has begun rolling out new initiatives within her company’s remote structure. One adjustment was to change the format of AmeriSource’s “State of the Company” addresses from quarterly two-hour Zoom meetings to shorter video updates delivered more frequently throughout the year.
“I was dreading those meetings, too,” Camille admits. “So I said to my team, ‘We’re not going to tie you down to these meetings for two hours every quarter.’ Instead, I made a 17-minute video, and it covered everything we needed to.”
Camille plans to continue making shorter videos like this to share news with her team, whether it’s a status update on a company goal or the acquisition of a new client. In addition to being respectful of her team’s time, this new method of communication serves to prioritize employee preferences in a time of remote work and high turnover.
“We can adapt and reinvent how we’re making sure we’re giving our employees what they need,” Camille says. “In my mind, it addresses the question of how to keep them in the know. If they’re waiting every quarter, they don’t know what’s going on, and they don’t even know why they’re doing what they’re doing. So if we can have smaller, more regular communications, then they’re more in the know.”
One Tip for Avoiding High Employee Turnover Rates
Camille’s open-mindedness and willingness to adapt makes her both an effective leader of her own team and a valuable consultant for her clients. When helping companies struggling with high turnover rates, Camille’s team takes a hands-on approach, digging deep into not only the client’s administrative processes, but the underlying patterns of their workplace culture.
“We look under the hood,” Camille says. “We might send somebody on site to make sure we understand their culture, what they deal with on a day-to-day basis, and what’s going on with their employees and their managers.”
The clients best suited for AmeriSource’s services are the ones willing to make changes based on the team’s expertise—even if it means going against the corporate grain. One such borderline radical suggestion Camille has for businesses? Ditch the annual review.
“When people want to do annual reviews, I cringe,” Camille discloses.
In place of traditional annual reviews, Camille suggests companies take a page from AmeriSource’s processes and hold “same page meetings” every 90 days. Along with preventing managers from unfairly reviewing employees based on only the past few months of performance, these smaller, informal, more frequent meetings cut back on employee anxiety and encourage more open communication between parties.
“It’s about being heard,” Camille says. “If an employee is struggling, they want to know that somebody is going to help them.”
When to Delegate as a CEO
As AmeriSource has progressed, Camille has seen a major evolution not only in her business’s office structure, but in her role as the CEO of a rapidly expanding company. Although exhilarating, the transition hasn’t been without growing pains.
“When you’re starting your own business, you’re wearing every hat,” Camille explains. “And as you start building your company and hiring people, it’s very hard to let go of things.”
Over the past few years, Camille has learned to delegate areas such as accounting and sales to both newly hired talent and longtime team members, allowing her to zoom out and focus on her role as CEO. She encourages other entrepreneurs experiencing rapid growth to do the same.
“The biggest thing is to surround yourself with people who will be able to take on more, and add new team members at the right time,” she says. “Otherwise, you’ll grow stagnant.”
But while delegation is essential to growth, Camille has also learned that some responsibilities should remain with the CEO. When AmeriSource began growing, Camille’s leadership team encouraged her to step away and focus on expansion, while they took over much of the daily operations and decision-making. Although well-meaning, this move resulted in a near identity crisis for the brand.
“All of a sudden, it wasn’t my vision anymore,” Camille says. “And it happened pretty fast. I panicked—I called my business consultant and said, ‘I feel like I’m losing my company.’”
Camille realized that her leadership team’s actions were contributing to major changes in her company’s culture and vision—the hearts of businesses that entrepreneurs can’t and won’t compromise.
“I had to tell them, ‘I can’t back away if you’re going to take my vision in a different direction,’” she recalls.
It’s a challenging entrepreneurial balancing act—delegating roles to allow for company growth, while maintaining a level of involvement that ensures your vision doesn’t veer off course. Camille notes the importance of communicating that vision to every member of your team.
“You can let go of roles and responsibilities, but make sure you’re communicating your vision,” she says. “Make sure you’re checking in with the people you’re delegating to, so they feel confident that what they’re doing is what you want to have done.”
A Brand Refresh for a Consistent Vision
It’s clear that accurately and effectively communicating your company vision to your employees is crucial, but what’s less clear is how to go about doing it. One method that’s proven successful is Camille’s branding work with Tanya Gagnon of Miss Details. Camille was first introduced to Tanya early in 2021, when she was looking for a website redesign.
“It was long overdue,” she says. “Our website was ten years old, and it just did not speak to who we were.” Camille knew it was time to redesign the site when she found herself redirecting prospects to brochures to explain what AmeriSource did. But when she met up with Tanya, Camille decided to go even deeper by documenting her brand messaging foundation and completing a Brand Snapshot process.
“We didn’t just build a website, we found our voice,” Camille says. “It was such a fun exercise—we were asking, ‘What do we want our brand to look and feel like?’”
Camille also quickly realized that such a deep-level branding experience was another task best left to the CEO herself.
“Some of my team members were kind enough to try and take it off my plate,” she says. “They would go to the meetings and then show me what they came up with. But I knew everything about it had to match my vision, so I jumped back in.”
Camille and Tanya met one-on-one to discuss how best to visually communicate Camille’s vision through the website and other branded materials. And when Tanya’s first website design didn’t quite hit the mark, she was eager to get back on course.
“Tanya and I sat for an hour, and I showed her other websites and explained why I loved them,” Camille recalls. “When she presented the second design, I was like, ‘This is perfect.’”
Camille emphasizes that Tanya’s expertise lies not only in her design skills, but in her high level of communication, which was critical in ensuring AmeriSource’s final brand documents would remain accurate and useful for years to come.
“I loved Tanya’s communication,” Camille says. “She would follow up with what she heard to make sure we wouldn’t have to keep revising and revising things.”
Tanya replaced the brand’s outdated mix of bright colors, which Camille describes as “cartoony,” with a striking combination of black, white, and green. Besides being featured on their redesigned website, this new color scheme was delivered in AmeriSource’s final 8-page Brand Snapshot document, alongside preferred fonts, moodboards, and other sensory representations of Camille’s brand.
AmeriSource launched their new website in October 2021, and the impact has already been noticeable.
“It’s made a world of difference in talking to prospects, because they’ve already checked out our website,” Camille explains. “They’re coming to us a lot more educated on what we do, and they’re asking better questions.”
Even better, the in-depth work AmeriSource did with the Miss Details team has given Camille’s employees a clearer understanding of her brand vision.
“I loved the exercises I did with Tanya so much that I had my team do them, too,” Camille says. “It really solidified our branding, and I couldn’t say we had that before. There’s consistency now.”
If you’re interested in further solidifying your business vision and achieving consistency in your branding, Miss Details is here to help. Schedule a complimentary call today to discuss which of our branding + design services are right for you.
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