Red Door Interactive

There is no doubt Topgrading has made Red Door Interactive more successful. With more A Players, we can achieve higher margins on our services. And clients appreciate the results driven by the high caliber of people we hire and retain. All we have to sell is people.

- Reid Carr, CEO

Company: Red Door Interactive

No. of Employees: 65

Industry: Online Marketing Services


  • Improved from 20% to 90% A Players hired with Topgrading.
  • Employee satisfaction with promotion processes 4% prior to Topgrading, and 80% with Topgrading.
  • Awards build the recruitment brand (to attract As).

Company History: Red Door Interactive helps clients develop smart, long-term strategies for leveraging multiple platforms and distribution channels to acquire customers and build deep and powerful relationships. They handle technology integration, online marketing, web traffic analysis, search engine promotion, Web site content updates, and comprehensive Web site design. And since digital lives within the wider world, Red Door also offers print, offline marketing, signage, packaging, and collateral.  In fact, they believe every communication should be interactive. This is why they won’t produce anything that doesn’t have a cross-channel connection. If your consumer doesn’t experience life in silos, why communicate with them that way?

Topgrading Methods: CEO Reid Carr heard about Topgrading and YPO and EO conferences, read Topgrading, and was impressed with his client Jim Collins’ advocating getting the best talent.  The EVP Human Resources and another executive attended a Topgrading Workshop in early 2010, and Topgrading methods were immediately implemented throughout the company.

All the basic Topgrading methods are used, including Job Scorecards, tandem Topgrading Interviews, and reference calls organized by the candidate.

Unusual Topgrading Methods:  Networking.  About 75% of hires come from referrals, not just from employees; but a lot come from asking vendors and clients who the sharpest people are they meet.

Also, Carr has sought and won numerous “best company to work for” awards.  This, naturally, gets social media to do recruiting for the company.  When a job is posted at the company’s Web site, an average of 150 resumes are received without advertising on job boards.  One example:

SAN DIEGO – September 20, 2010 – Red Door Interactive, a premier strategic Internet Presence Management firm, today announced it was recognized by Advertising Age as one of the Best Places to Work in Marketing and Media.  The employees surveyed gave the company very high marks on its leadership and planning, employee engagement, corporate culture and communications, as well as relationships with staff.

Topgrading Results: Prior to Topgrading, the hiring success rate was about 20%, and since Topgrading 90% of those hired have turned out to be A Players. Since implementing Topgrading, third party employee engagement survey data shows a dramatic increase in the company’s promotion practices and success rate.

The question from the engagement survey related to promotion practices is: “Decision makers promote people into roles that fit with their knowledge, skills, and abilities.”

Between 2009 and 2011, there was a 4% increase in favorable response, and an 18% decrease in people to strongly disagreed with that statement. In 2009 20% of the staff strongly disagreed and now only 2% disagree and 81% are strongly favorable about our promotion practices.

Business Results:  Carr states that prior to Topgrading, the 10-year-old company was spending almost $100,000 annually on recruiters and associated placement fees, and now is spending virtually nothing.  Revenue and profit per employee have increased year over year:  Specifically, gross profit is 7% higher in 2011 over 2010 which represents an 11% increase in margin year over year.  Operating income is up 250% in 2011 over 2010.

Much of this is directly attributable to Red Door's increasing consistency and quality of hires; it spends typical industry-high training budgets on new, productive avenues rather than on on-boarding replacements. Carr reports that the company has been able to expand into new service areas more quickly and has continually proven to clients that it employs quality people who consistently bring high-value ideas to their businesses.

Best Advice for Would-Be Topgraders 

  1. Don’t rush or skip Topgrading steps. Hiring when desperate is a recipe for a mis-hire.
  2. A red flag is a red flag. Do your research and then listen to the data you collect.
  3. Tandem Interviews are key. Always keep one person engaged at all times — it minimizes the chance that you’ll miss something.
  4. Keep training and refreshing people at all levels of the organization regarding the various aspects of Topgrading. People need to keep these skills tuned.
  5. Make “the bench” part of every one-on-one conversation and managers’ scorecards. There are always creative ideas to enlist and new resources to tap in order to find new top talent.

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