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Black Friday for the Staffing Industry

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Can you imagine if 20% of your sales–and your entire year–was virtually determined by a single day of selling?

For retailers, Black Friday (and the holiday season) equates to 19.5% of annual sales (Source: National Retail Federation). For some retailers, holiday sales represent as much as 40% of annual revenue.

In the staffing industry, seasonality is definitely a factor, but (thankfully) nothing like it is in retail. However, while our industry doesn’t live or die by the holidays, we can learn some good lessons from Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the whole host of holiday events:

Lessons for staffing from Black Friday

  1. Everyone loves a deal. While you might not think about “staffing sales” you might want to think about creative uses of discounts to drive greater use of your services during certain times of year. For example:
    • Offer a discount for first time clients.
    • Create incentives to use staffing during your “off” season.
    • Offer a discount on perm fees when recruiters have excess time.
    • Offer reduced fees for hiring a candidate out of your database.
    • Create bundles – discounts for purchasing multiple services together.
    • Offer volume discounts.
    • Offer discounts for pre-purchasing services.
  2. Make buying an event. For hardcore shoppers, Black Friday is nearly a religious experience. They love the thrill of getting the best deal, the excitement of the crowds, and the social aspect of shopping with friends and family. Retailers have very successfully transformed holiday shopping into a highly anticipated event.

    In staffing, creating a Black Friday style event might not be feasible, but you can create events that your clients will love. Consider educational events, trade conferences and job fairs. The key is to make your events into something special–something fun, exciting, and highly useful.

  3. Stretch your selling season.This year, Black Friday become “Gray Thursday” as many retailers opened their doors Thanksgiving evening. Then comes Local Saturday and Cyber Monday caps of the Thanksgiving weekend. So why all these special days? To keep you shopping longer and get you to spend more! Retailers know that consumers have little buying fatigue at the beginning of the holidays, and they want you coming back time and time again.

    In staffing, your version of the holiday shopping weekend, might be to ask about assignment extensions. Or better yet, consult with clients on their staffing strategies and constantly show them new and better ways to use temps to get work done more efficiently and effectively.

Should staffing be like retail?

In a word, no. The downside of Black Friday is that it has trained consumers to only make purchases when they get a deal. And since the last thing you want to do is lower your margins, focusing on deals is NOT the way to go.

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn from retail. Staffing firms need to find ways to make the buying experience more enjoyable (prospects hate all our cold calls). You need to find ways to create excitement for the services you sell and to make working with your firm a better experience than working with anyone else. Do that, and every Friday will become Black Friday for your firm!

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