Checking In: Shelley Nilsen

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Our Checking In series visits with established Express Employment Professionals Franchisees in various stages of their Express journey.


When an Express Employment Professionals Franchisee is awarded their location, their journey is just beginning and since being awarded the Eureka, CA, territory, Shelley Nilsen has written an impressive story.

Many new Franchisees bring Express to a new territory, but Nilsen secured an existing office through a resale opportunity.

“I was able to leave a job with a good salary and walk into a business and still keep a good salary,” Nilsen said. “I felt kind of spoiled because of that.”

Not only was Eureka, CA, already profitable, the location also had the distinction of being a Circle of Excellence location. Circle of Excellence is designed to inspire and challenge Express Franchisees to achieve greater sales success and be the total employment solution in their community.

“When I took over, my main goal was to not let the office go backward,” Nilsen said. “It has been fantastic. In about three years we’ve doubled the gross margin and are consistently hitting Silver (Circle of Excellence level).”

Along with the success, Nilsen is quick to point out her office faces a unique challenge because of new legislation consistently being passed in California. However, she isn’t running away from the challenge.

“With Express’ model, we’re capitalizing on the legislation and doing everything we can to make business owners’ lives easier,” Nilsen said. “We can turn a lot of the legislative fiascos into opportunities and prove we are employment experts.”

Nilsen certainly had ideas of how she wanted to operate her Express office, which included fostering an inviting culture.

“It was important to me to make sure I created a work culture that not only I wanted to be in, but so did everyone else,” she said. “I want the culture to be fun and my team to feel appreciated and enjoy coming to work.”

Nilsen has fine-tuned that culture in many ways. She and her team are active in the Eureka community by participating in the city’s Pathway to Payday and Inclusion Works programs. When the team achieves a success, whether big or small, it is celebrated. An important part of the team is their resident feline named Office Cat who helps keep spirits high in the office.

While the Eureka team focuses on putting community members to work, Nilsen focuses on making sure she invests in her team to help them grow.

“I love helping my team become the best they can be before the next step in their careers,” she said. “Being able to truly cultivate them on their journey has been amazing. I appreciate the investment Express makes to help me be my best and I want to provide that type of investment to my team.”

For Nilsen, the investment Express made in her includes an incredible amount of training and resources, from the Express Leadership Academy to Express University eLearning courses.

“Express knows how to train people and coach them over time,” Nilsen said. “They have a structure to support you. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how I haven’t had to go at this journey alone. I’ve had great support every step of the way.”

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