Staffing Companies: Good versus Great

If you ask staffing companies to describe themselves, most of them will say they provide great people and great service. Unfortunately, most of them are wrong.

In reality, most staffing companies do a pretty good job at a pretty good price. (If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be in business.) Very few staffing companies, however, are truly great.

There’s a strong distinction between “good” and “great” in this business. But what is it that separates most staffing companies (the “good”) from the exceptional staffing companies (the “great”)? What characteristic is present in the companies that consistently kick their competition to the curb?

Here’s the answer: those companies build and retain great internal teams.

Yes, it’s that simple. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. After all, the staffing business is about people, right? And it makes sense that the category “people” includes not only employees who are placed in positions with clients but also the staff needed to run the business itself.

About a year ago, I pointed out that the best staffing companies realize that “selling people is much different from selling copiers, cars, or software.” The top performing companies in your market know this all too well and keep it in mind with each and every internal hire they invest in. I wrote, “The best staffing firms understand that their success hinges on hiring internal candidates that fit their ideal candidate profile, not on simply moving ‘products’ (people) out the door or into a seat.”

When asked to identify the positions that are the most difficult to fill, nine out of ten staffing company owners will point to their internal hires. Even when companies already have good processes in place to identify and hire the right talent, though, retaining those employees is a completely different matter.

In the staffing sales world, closing the deal gets you only halfway to your paycheck. No one makes money on job orders alone in the staffing industry—you still have to make the placements in order to get paid. Under that kind of pressure, no wonder it’s hard for your internal hires to stay motivated. And if your great hires lose their motivation and become too discouraged, eventually they’ll walk out your door.

So what can you do? First and foremost, you must fully recognize the importance of building and keeping the right team. This means you must prioritize putting time, money, and other resources to work in achieving this goal.

But how exactly do you do this? That’s the tricky part. I can’t draw a road map for you here for two reasons. One, your solution must be particular to your organization and its needs, its people, and its overall long-term goals. And two, because a great team truly is the foundation of a successful company, it’s highly unlikely that all of the possible “how-tos” for this incredibly important process can be distilled into one short blog post! (You can, however, get some pointers from Jim Collins’s excellent books on the subject.)

What I can do, though, is assure you that if you focus your efforts on building a strong internal team, you’ll be one step closer to being the fiercest competitor in your market!


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