Everyone in the staffing industry loves getting job orders—sometimes even to the point of celebrating their arrival with alarms, fanfares, and bells in the office! But not all job orders are good job orders and it's ok to turn some away.
In the very unique and challenging world of temporary staffing, staying at the top of your market requires much more than just great people and strong relationships. It requires a commitment to maintain focus on the following practices that alone will give you an edge but when combined they will help you solidify your place as a market leader.
Return on investment is one of the key metrics that companies rely on to measure their success and to chart their future paths, and calculations of ROI are based in part on quantitative analysis of outputs (products). But when your product is people, is it possible to quantify their quality? Yes!
The first step it to take a look at how the quality of non-people products is measured. For example, when you buy a computer, car, refrigerator, phone, television, or other high-cost product, you get a sense of its overall value by asking yourself certain questions about its makeup and function. Asking similar questions about the people you hire can help you assess their value as well.
What is it made of? An engine block machined from a solid chunk of aluminum is typically considered of higher quality (mainly because of significant weight savings) than one made of cast iron. Obviously, an engine block isn’t the same as a human employee. But asking a similar question about people helps you understand that the temps you provide are each the sum of his or her parts. Their value as employees is based in part on their prior work and life experiences, their personalities, and their dependability—all factors that can be measured and assigned a value.
Is its expected lifespan longer than that of the competitor’s product? Consider the longstanding “Mac versus PC” debate. I’m writing this on a MacBook Pro that I purchased new in 2009. Aside from some minor battery-life issues, it runs just as well today as it did on the day I bought it. I can’t say the same about a similar product from a competitor: in the past seven years I’ve had to replace my Windows-based computer three times. The up-front cost of one Mac is greater than the up-front cost of one PC, but the Mac’s longevity makes it a much better deal in the long term. You can do a similar examination of the duration of your employees’ “life” with your company by tracking not just the retention rates of your temporary employees but also the frequency at which your clients hire them as full-time, permanent employees.
What is its warranty? It’s standard practice these days for consumer products to come with warranties. You can offer similar guarantees for the work your employees do (though I don’t advise offering a lifetime warranty!). Compare your guarantee to what your competition offers, and be sure to highlight how yours adds to the overall value of your services.
How easy (or difficult) is it to get service from the manufacturer? Have you ever had a still-under-warranty appliance die and had to fight with the manufacturer to get it replaced? If the manufacturer was especially resistant to fixing the problem, you may have even told yourself, “That’s the last time I’ll buy anything from that company!” Staffing providers, too, need to be prepared to fix problems that involve their products—or risk alienating clients. Offering a warranty or a guarantee is fun, but unless you bend over backwards to right every wrong, clients will view your guarantee as an empty promise.
Does it come from a reputable source? In the minds of many consumers, the products from new companies often don’t stack up in terms of quality and value to products from companies that already have stellar reputations. Sometimes a reputation is based on how long a company has been in business; sometimes it’s based on the company’s demonstrated expertise. With staffing firms, referrals are key—and those are dependent on reputations. So think about how your employees contribute to (or detract from) your organization’s reputation among your clients, the talent pool, and even your competition.
These are just a few questions to get you started. Obviously, people aren’t objects or services. But subjecting your employees, their work, and their impact to close scrutiny can help you be sure that you’re providing the best people—the best product—to your clients.
I’ve written before about how important it is for anyone who wants to succeed in business to keep learning. Regardless of what field you’re in, if you want to stay at the front of the pack you need to keep expanding your knowledge base so you’re ready for whatever comes your way.
I take this advice to heart myself and stay abreast of new developments not only in publishing and marketing but also in the areas of interest to Mamu Media’s clients (such as staffing, sales, and HR). By paying attention to trends and news in my clients’ business areas, I’m better positioned to offer them excellent service.
Earlier this month, for example, I attended a staffing conference in San Diego. (I will be the first to admit that although I was there primarily to learn from and network with people in that field, I didn’t mind too terribly that attending this gathering required me to trade Pennsylvania winter for California sun for a few days!) The presentations, panels, booths, and conversations there all reinforced my belief in one of the hard truths of this industry: all staffing companies want to be different, but most of them are all pretty much the same.
“Unique” and “innovative” are hot buzzwords today, but most companies fail to live up to that self-description. Every firm wants to claim to be distinct from all the others, but the reality is that most staffing companies are saying the same things to the same companies and recruiting from the same candidate pool as everyone else.
Standing out from the crowd involves more than just saying, “We stand out from the crowd.” Companies who want to be genuinely different need to know what’s going in their industry—and then say and do something new.
Mamu Media’s publications offer one powerful (and affordable) way for firms to be unique. I’ve often discussed the effectiveness of our magazines vis-a-vis other marketing and outreach media, and although print is a remarkably successful communication tool, it’s still a fairly new and innovative tool in the marketing tool kit. Companies that recognize its value and have become our clients are getting a leg up on their competitors.
At the San Diego conference, for example, one of our clients gave a presentation on what works (and what doesn’t work) in marketing her staffing services. She explained the value of leveraging a branded HR magazine in her marketing efforts: “The HR and Labor Insights publications allow us to have new conversations that are relevant to the challenges the person we’re calling is facing. And these challenges often have nothing to do with staffing. We finally have some new and relevant material to discuss on a call.”
Not only do branded publications help your clients stay up to date with the important information in their fields, but it provides them with a great option for connecting with their clients by giving them a great reason to "drop in" every other month to hand-deliver the latest issue.
In 2015 the staffing industry grew 2.6% over the previous year. It’s been growing steadily for quite a while now and shows no signs of slowing, which means that more and more new firms are entering the market. Companies that are able to find true innovation—by leveraging their knowledge of cutting-edge research and practices, by finding ways to have new business-relevant conversations with the same old prospects, and by using methods to engage their audiences—will have an edge over their rivals in this highly competitive field.
Last week I wrote about taking stock of the state of my business—a common practice among companies during the first few weeks of a new year. Figuring out what did (and didn’t) work in the past year is a critical step toward formulating a plan for the year ahead.
If you, too, are taking some time to evaluate your organization’s current practices and direction, don’t forget to challenge the status quo. I’m not saying to ditch everything you do. Rather, examine your practices critically. Ask yourself, “Is this really effective?” and “Is there a better way to do things?”
This is especially important when you’re trying to increase your staffing sales. How many times have you heard a salesperson say, “This strategy always works” or “That strategy will have the clients knocking on our door”? No doubt you’ve come across plenty of sales strategies, suggestions, and practices during your career. Whether you’ve just heard about them, seen them in action by others, or tried them out yourself, though, they actually weren’t strategies.
Having recruiters pick up the phone during a lull in job orders to see if any former clients are hiring is not a strategy.
Hiring a new sales representative is not a strategy.
Undercutting your competitors’ rates is not a strategy.
Sending the 5,000 contacts in your sales database a marketing e-mail that teases them with a list of “hot candidates” is not a strategy.
Sponsoring thought-leadership events is not a strategy.
Advertising on the side of a bus or buying billboard space out in center field is not a strategy.
Riding the elevators in an office building to drop off cards or make in-person cold calls is not a strategy.
Religiously attending monthly meetings at your local SHRM chapter or even becoming one of its board members is not a strategy.
Developing and sharing with your clients a local salary guide for your market is not a strategy.
Posting on social media relevant information about your company and fun pictures of the office is not a strategy.
Offering better pay and benefits than your competitors is not a strategy.
Sending a hard-copy HR-themed magazine published by your company to your clients and prospects is not a strategy.
Writing a monthly blog post is not a strategy.
“What do you mean?” you may be thinking. “Those sure look like strategies to me!”
Here’s the thing: each one of those practices is actually just a tool in your sales toolkit. In any field—whether you’re doing carpentry, marketing, baking, sales, whatever—some tools are more effective than others (especially under particular circumstances). But in all cases, tools are what you use to achieve a goal. To achieve a goal, you need a plan for how to get there. And that plan is a strategy.
The tools listed above can be used to develop relationships, build your brand recognition, augment your web presence, and even bring in new business. But if you use those tools without a strategy, at best your results will suffer—and at worst you’ll find yourself spinning in circles.
So as you take a good hard look at your company, if you get the impression that your “strategy” is actually is a hodgepodge of techniques that lack unity and direction, then it’s time to reevaluate the current state of affairs. Figure out what your goal is, then figure out your strategy for getting there. And then decide what tools to use.