It’s time to take stock. Right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re a front-line recruiter, a sales representative, a staffing manager or the owner of a recruitment agency — it seems like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it in. All of which contributes to a level of anxiety and pressure to ‘get it done’ that you know has a negative impact on the quality of your work. Despite the many external pressures you face, the truth is that your attitude, preparation and actions will determine your ability to succeed.
While attitude arguably plays the most important role in your success, here I’ll focus on three areas you can take action on that should enable you to do more with less. They are almost sure to help your recuiting and staffing business regardless of what direction the economy takes. In Bond’s forty years of providing the staffing and recruiting industry with software tools, we have seen these axioms – consistently applied – lead to exceptional profitability.
ONE: Build Efficiency into Your Operations
When times are good it’s easy to tolerate business practices and workflows that deliver only marginal profitability. But when job orders slow, you must reduce or eliminate those practices so that you can get more done with less effort. Building efficiency into your staffing and recruitment organization is an ongoing process. A regular re-appraisal of your operations focused on how you might be able to tighten up your practices can help wring more profit out of every transaction.
You should make it a practice to get your team together on a recurring basis to review the steps of successful sales and order transactions.
Believe it or not, your sales process is probably the first place to look for inefficiencies. Dave Stein, CEO and Founder, ES Research Group, Inc., which specializes in sales training selection, says that his research indicates that many firms have as many sales methodologies in place as the number of sales people in their organization. If your staffing and recruiting firm has similar inefficiencies, figure out how to streamline the process in such a way that it is consistently followed. That means you will close more deals.
Another area where saving time equals profits is in your recruitment processes. For example, Tom Porter, CEO and Founder of Marquee Staffing was able to reduce the time it took his recruiters to qualify candidates by 75 percent by having every candidate apply through a Web portal integrated to their staffing and recruitment software. The time saved goes to revenue generation, not data entry.
Similarly, a staffing-specific integrated payroll/billing system will reduce or eliminate back office workflow inefficiencies saving you both time and money. John Porrello, CEO of Priority Business Services, found such a system would; “…enable us to double our growth without having to hire a new back office employee.”
Finally, run your business ‘by the numbers.’ Your key performance indicators for your operations and your staff members should be measurable and actionable. This is the difference between so-so and stellar performance. As one CEO of a multi-office staffing firm once told me, “Instead of seeing a report of the business metrics which are a week old due to a manual, time-intensive process, we see what is happening right now.”
TWO: Build Long-Term Value
Building a staffing or recruiting company is somewhat like building a well-performing stock portfolio for your retirement. Strategically, you don’t focus on next month; you focus on consistent performance over a long period. By making your portfolio choices based on that, odds are that you can rest easy in its long-term performance.
Likewise, your staffing and recruiting “portfolio” should focus on delivering similar long-term performance and value. Jim Childs, Partner of Childs Company, a long-term veteran of the staffing industry as a CEO and investment banker, has five strategies for value building:
- Develop niche leadership. “Niche staffing and recruiting companies are always more valuable than generalist companies,” Childs says. Niche leadership means that your business is the “go-to” business in its service area or specialty.
- Focus on specialties and higher gross margins. Childs points out that, “The specialty players can have gross margins well over 30 percent due to their specialty focus and their mix of permanent placement revenue.”
- Avoid customer concentration. Childs notes that having a big account can be “a high-class problem to have. The trick is to create urgency in the organization to build around this anchor account.”
- Build a deep management team. Drive customer decisions as far down the chain-of-command as possible. Childs says, “It’s vital to build a deep management team that can drive the business so that it is not overly dependent on one or two people, including the owner.”
- Keep building real client relationships. Childs suggests that you avoid indirect business such as being a second-source supplier. “Over time, your model needs to have deep, long-term client relationships to really get a premium in the marketplace.”
THREE: Stick to Your Business and Invest in Your Staff
What, exactly, is your business? Nothing is more important than how you clearly define the very specific core competencies that are at the heart of why you are in the staffing and recruiting business. Yes, you can say with pride that your core business is ‘finding and putting people to work.’ But there should be more specificity to it.
If you haven’t done so already, write down your business purpose – your mission. Analyze what it means and what it takes to support your staffing and recruitment mission successfully. Let’s say that your mission statement is “We find and place financially trained and skilled employees into temporary contract assignments and direct-hire placements with Fortune 1000-level businesses.”
You would then list everything you must do to support your mission. Things like recruiting financial talent through the best college and university accounting programs and networking with local financial associations. Then make a second list that includes everything else you have to do that doesn’t really support the mission; like cleaning the office or doing data backups.
The point is that you must focus yourself and your team on your core competencies. That means that everything not central to the success of your business – that second list – are things that you should eliminate, streamline or outsource.
For example, you can outsource areas of your business operations such as your information technology infrastructure — your staffing or recruiting software. This is gaining growing acceptance with Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription-based services or Managed Services Programs (MSP). Pam Plasky, Vice President of Operations for Ryan Alternative Staffing, observed that, “Traditionally, we’re ‘old school’ in that we wanted complete control over our data. Now, in retrospect, I’d say that MSP is the only way to go. It cuts IT costs and many of the headaches of IT management for us – while handing over accountability for our bread-and-butter software and servers to a trusted partner, Bond. Most importantly, MSP gives us more freedom to do what we do best, helping our customers and putting people to work.”
Similarly, you could also outsource staffing operational activities such as payroll and W2 forms processing. While not every such strategic initiative may be right for your business, it pays to look at the potential opportunities to reduce your operating costs while maintaining or improving service delivery.
Finally, recognize that your own staff members are looking to you for leadership.
That’s right, your staffing and recruiting team is looking to YOU for reasons to out-perform the competition. According to surveys by the American Staffing Association, the average turnover of staffing firm staff personnel is nearly 50 percent. Yet reducing your own internal staff turnover and increasing their level of satisfaction can generate big returns.
How much of a return? One survey conducted by the Gallup organization found that business organizations where employees have high satisfaction rates delivered 38% higher customer satisfaction scores, 22% higher productivity, and 27% higher profits.
What can you do to improve your own staff’s satisfaction-based performance?
First, develop a strong staff employee retention program around continuous training and other tactics that generate one response from your employees, “The pay ain’t bad, and they treat me great!”
In many workplace surveys done the past several decades, it was shown that employees placed a higher value on appreciation for their work and feeling that their work and role was important than on real wages. Thus, the training and retention program you put into practice reveals the value you place on your own staff. Your investment in their careers and development creates a sense of appreciation, motivation, loyalty, and understanding of their importance to the success of the firm that delivers huge paybacks.
Continuous improvement at both the organizational and personal level is the key to efficient profitability in your staffing and recruitment businss. To building value by doing more with less. So that you and your team members aren’t each feeling like a one man band.
W. Edwards Deming, the statistician credited for helping Japanese businesses become world leaders in quality, performance and profitability, once said, “Long-term commitment to new learning and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation. The timid and the fainthearted, and the people that expect quick results, are doomed to disappointment.” (READ MORE>)
Perceptive staffing and recruiting agency business owners and managers will take those words to heart and reap both financial and satisfaction rewards.
If you would like to talk to Bond about how our solutions can improve your business value, CLICK or give us a call at 800-318-4983 today. We’re here to help you succeed.