Lynnette Coverly founded Coverly Professional Services in 2010 as a pro-active, hands-on, full-service marketing project management firm based in Ventura, California. Applying her 30+ years of marketing leadership experience, Coverly has created a thriving company with 5 experienced staff members with strengths in brand and marketing development, social media strategies, virtual/in-person event production, media/public relations, copywriting, graphic design, website management, and more.
The common theme of creating and implementing branding and marketing strategies for the “service” industry has become a CoverlyPro benchmark. The company is known as a creative organization that gets projects done, thus living its tagline: “Creative Ideas. Implemented Daily.” Coverly holds a BA in Sociology and is a Certified Financial Marketing Professional. She and her husband Scott have called Ventura, California home for the last 30 years and enjoy being surrounded by her two adult children who continue to build their lives in Ventura County.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to Valiant CEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Lynnette Coverly: By design, Coverly Professional Services was launched as a Marketing Project Management firm. Having worked in corporate America for much of my marketing and communications career, I’ve been around plenty of advertising agencies with big beautiful portfolios of ideas. What seemed to be lacking was implementation. I had also earned my chops as a project manager, learning the power of systems and organization (and Gantt charts!). In starting my company, I was determined to lead with project management, ensuring clients received not just marketing ideas but full-service implementation through strategic marketing leadership. In doing so, Coverly Pro works with clients providing turnkey solutions utilizing a three-tiered approach of Branding, Strategies, and Implementation.
Who has been the most influential person(s) in your life and how did they impact you? How did that lead to where you are today?
Lynnette Coverly: Truly my dad. I refer to him as my best friend. He went through a lot in his short 62 years, as the victim of a workplace accident that took out his kidneys at just 38 years old. Overnight he became a dialysis patient and our lives as a family changed forever. My dad taught me that nothing is too hard that you can’t overcome it. He taught me the value of positivity and being kind to others. And my dad still influences and informs my decisions every day as I think about his calm nature and sage advice. He may not have been a highly educated man, but he was everyone’s friend and always there for others and those qualities are hard to come by and worthy of modeling after.
2020 was a challenging year for all of us, particularly for businesses. How did the pandemic impact your business? Please list some of the problems that you faced, and how you handled them.
Lynnette Coverly: Surprisingly … and with a complete understanding of the devastation this pandemic has caused to so many lives and businesses … Coverly Pro has grown. I attribute this to realizing early on that this was going to be serious and felt marketing budgets were going to be one of the first to go. I prepared. I became open to the possibilities of new business streams and developed our virtual event production services.
Our turnkey project management approach to marketing and public relations has served Coverly Pro well as we find ourselves flexing into this new virtual world. Virtually overnight as the Pandemic began, Zoom went from 10 million daily meeting participants to 300+ million. This was an opportunity. Leveraging our project management skills and pairing them with our event management and marketing experience, Coverly Pro was able to quickly begin offering turnkey virtual event production services.
More than hosting and managing virtual events, we approach each project through a marketing lens. How can we build a virtual event that engages audiences and offers appropriate sponsor benefits? What creative influence can we bring to ensure client events are wrapped with event-branded graphics and marketed effectively through blasts, landing pages, and press relations? Together with our local collaborative community partners, Coverly Pro is evolving into a premier virtual event specialty company with a focus on celebrations and awards events. We’ve proudly provided turnkey virtual event production services for 18+ events since the start of the Pandemic, including a three-day conference drawing 300+ worldwide guests and 40+ speakers for a New York-based nonprofit.
The pandemic led to a myriad of cultural side effects, including one that was quite unexpected that is informally known as “The Great Resignation”. Did this widespread trend affect you in any way?
Lynnette Coverly: At this point, the “Great Resignation” has not impacted our business, and I attribute that to my mantra of, “building the company I’ve always wanted to work for.” I have always felt that if I ever became a business owner, I would do things differently when it comes to leadership. After all, we spend the majority of our lives with colleagues and people we work alongside five days a week. This should be a positive daily experience for employees, and I’m determined to make it so.
I am proudly growing Coverly Pro, which as of this writing is five employees strong. Where do these employees reside? In my mind, it doesn’t matter. Long before working remotely became a requirement, our team was effectively doing so. We are spread across the state of California. Keeping my mind open to how, when, and where employees work is allowing me to build the strongest team possible for our clients.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. How do you feel about this trend? Explain.
Lynnette Coverly: It’s concerning that so many people have voluntarily quit their jobs per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s also important to note this 4 million represents just under 3% of the workforce and many are not quitting as much as they are transitioning to other employers and industries. Keep in mind during the same period there were upwards of 11 million job openings. The question is, what can we do better as employers to keep our employees happy and fulfilled in our employ?
With this perspective, it’s really about ASKING our employees what they are looking for out of employment. You might be surprised to hear it’s not always paid. CoverlyPro conducted a survey earlier this year with our employees and found that Career Training/Courses ranked highest in importance with Retirement benefits a close second. As employers we must remember our employees, just like us, have full lives that they don’t want to miss out on. If we can provide flexibility and value for the work they perform, don’t we all win in the end?
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, Employees between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021. That can be quite an alarming rate. What advice would you share to increase employee retention?
Lynnette Coverly: As a virtual company, I think the best thing we offer our employees, outside of good pay, is the freedom of flexibility. When I meet with applicants, I often say we are not a large corporation that can offer health insurance or retirement plans (though it’s coming) or signing bonuses but we can offer a flexible work-from-home schedule where we trust you as an adult to perform your work well without any of us having to watch a clock. Of course, our hourly employees record their work schedule for payroll, but we are not standing over them, checking to make sure they got to their desk at 8:00 a.m. on the button and not leaving before 5:00 p.m. I recall a time when a former employer had us all record every minute of our day with what we were doing. To this day I don’t understand what they were trying to prove but what it did was a tick off many employees, including me. We began recording every time we went to the bathroom, and the time it took to record our day. It was an awful feeling to be treated that way and I don’t ever want any of our CoverlyPro employees to feel the way I did at that time.
My advice to improve employee retention is to have a process for checking in with employees regularly, which can be quite hard if you are a virtual company. We now have in place weekly 30-minute one-on-ones between employees and their supervisors where the employee leads the meeting discussing their wins, tasks, and challenges for the week. We also have weekly all-staff meetings that are high-level brainstorming so we can pick each other’s creative brains for the very best client outcomes. We also celebrate success with a “prize wheel,” birthdays, and more.
Fun side note – Upon hire, all CoverlyPro employees receive slippers or coffee mugs imprinted with “I Love My Slipper Commute.” Because truly – we love being able to work in environments that make us comfortable, while not wasting time, resources and negatively impacting the environment with traditional commutes. Long after the pandemic is behind us, CoverlyPro will continue working remotely, gathering when needed but not feeling the pressure to do so.
According to a Nature Human behavior study, In 2020, 80% of US workers reported feeling that they have too many things to do and not enough time to do them – a phenomenon known as “time poverty”. What is your take on the work-life balance? Explain.
Lynnette Coverly: Work-life balance is tough — tough! It’s something I’ve addressed with my business coach. As employers, we are the models and I admit I’ve not been a good model. When we as business owners are sending emails on weekends, responding to client texts after hours, we are sending a message to our employees that “work” is 24 hours. This is not ok. So we must put work-life balance into practice for ourselves to model the behaviors of our employees. And, if you simply must work on the weekends, do not send emails to your employees, rather schedule them to arrive during regular business hours. And certainly, don’t answer any of their emails or work chats/texts.
As a company, I’m proud to say we just announced a surprise to our employees. We called it the “Gift of Time” and let all our clients know that we would be closed between December 24th and January 2nd (As the company owner, I will be on call for emergencies). Our employees are getting this as paid time off to rest, reset and refresh for 2022. As a small business owner, I was unsure how our clients would take this and was pleasantly surprised at how receptive they’ve been. So yes, work-life balance is important, and thoughtfully folding strategies to encourage balance into your company will pay dividends with employee satisfaction and retention.
A more recent survey by Joblist asked about 3,000 respondents if they’re actively thinking about leaving their job. That survey found that 73% of 2,099 respondents who answered this question on their employment plans are considering quitting. How are you preparing for the future to counter this potentially persistent problem?
Lynnette Coverly: I would say at CoverlyPro we are preparing by putting a solid foundation in place as an employer. We are learning and growing from our mistakes by formalizing our on-boarding and training process including ensuring new employees have virtual one on one “sit-downs” with every member of the team to get to know them personally and professionally. We are creating systems for success including 30-60-90 days performance reviews to ensure new employees are on the correct path. We deploy Performance Improvement Plans when needed and we creatively celebrate wins often. Essentially, we are preparing by doing all that we can do to encourage retention over employees being dissatisfied and actively seeking to quit.
Thank you for all that, our readers are grateful for your insightful comments! Now, if the Great Resignation isn’t your greatest concern, what is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
Lynnette Coverly: Determining to grow the company in clients, staff, and revenue has been my biggest focus starting in 2020 through now. The hardest thing for me as a business entrepreneur was thinking I could do it all. Thinking that my clients expected me to do it all by myself. Thinking that they were hiring ME personally. It was self-limiting. All of this small thinking kept me just that, small – and tired, so very tired, as I worked long hours to keep securing clients, deliver services, and handle invoicing. At one point in 2016, I was managing 16 clients by myself – I was killing myself. I was also afraid. Afraid of hiring employees and all that I thought that entails. NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) helped. I became a member in 2014 and started opening my eyes to the possibilities. I showed up, listened, and grew. But I was still risk-averse. It took me until 2018 to transition my sole proprietorship into an S-corp. It took until 2019 to hire my first employee. I now jokingly say that I’m a recovering sole proprietor.
In the summer of 2020, I hired a business coach. This was a big step for me. I had not invested in myself in any significant way as a business owner. The results have been quick and inspiring. My coach helped me get past the “imposter syndrome” and build my confidence as a 10+ year business owner. Now with outreach systems in place and growing a structured and creative team, we are seeing progress. When my coach asked me what my growth goals were going to be in working with her, I said, “20% revenue growth.” To me, this was comfortably safe and achievable. What this mindset wasn’t was stretching me. She said, “I was thinking more along the lines of double.” I gulped. While her goal was big, it got me thinking and planning for larger growth and I’m proud to say that through a new mindset and establishing growth systems I’m well past the limiting 20% growth mindset and will close out the year with 100% revenue growth.
Before we finish things off, we do have one last question. If you had 10 Million Dollars to spend in one day, what would you spend it on?
Lynnette Coverly: First, I’d invest several million – because investing in the future “you” is the key to longevity and happiness in our elder years. I’d then give each of my employees a huge bonus! Next, I’d pay off my daughter’s dental school tuition (exorbitant tuition is something I’d love to address and help fix someday). Next, I’d ensure my children’s home mortgages were paid off so they can feel the freedom of being out from this burden. Then, I’d donate to some worthwhile causes, including increasing affordable and equitable housing in our region. I would do all of this from a hidden destination where I’d get some much well-deserved rest and time away with my husband!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Lynnette Coverly for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Lynnette Coverly or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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