1000 Point Drop in the Dow...and your Staffing Firm

Is the sky falling?

Over the past week, your 401K has probably taken a big hit. Global financial markets are in turmoil. And the lead story on all the national news outlets (and most of the local ones) was the dramatic decline in the U.S. stock market.

But what does that mean for your staffing business?

In the short-term, the decline in the market means just about nothing. Yes, your investments are worth a little less. And there’s no question that Asia has real economic problems. But overall, the U.S. economy is strong, demand for talent remains high, and the skills gap is a bigger issue than the decline in the Dow.

So does that mean you should do nothing?

Absolutely not!

For most of us in the staffing industry, 2009 feels like it was only yesterday. And NO ONE wants to go back to those days. Between 2009 and 2010, staffing industry revenues fell by more than 30% (and we saw some firms lose as much as 70% of their revenue).

While we don’t appear to be headed into to a recession (not yet at least), here are a five things you can and should do to recession-proof your business:

  • Diversify your client base.
    In turbulent economic times, some firms use more staffing services—and others use less. You will lose clients. To protect yourself, you should strive to get to the point that no client represents more than 10% of your revenue. In other words, it’s time to get even more aggressive about business development–and focus on creating a larger base of small to midsize clients.
  • Train your recruiters.
    The faster you can source hard-to-find talent, the more job orders you will have. Even in a recession, staffing opportunities go to the firms that are the most efficient and effective at recruiting. If your recruiters are not Certified Staffing Professionals, invest in getting them trained. If they are not Google experts, invest in Boolean search and other technical training. And please, please teach them how to write better, more captivating job posts. Companies that make recruiting skill a priority do better in turbulent markets than those that are more complacent.
  • Strengthen your firm’s employment brand.
    Right now, candidates can choose where they work. Will they choose your firm? Overall, the staffing industry does not have a very strong employment brand. Only one in five job seekers turn to staffing firms for help. And the industry has a reputation for lower quality, lower paying jobs. If you want to attract better talent and make faster placements, focus on improving the perception of your company. Strive to become the best place to work in your local community and/or for the specific types of people you place.

    If you have not recently done so, benchmark the experience of working for your firm against your competitors. Look at every touch point you have with your candidates, and then ask your team “how could we make it better?” Becoming a best place to work starts with one improvement at a time.

    In addition, seek to strengthen your online presence through SEO, social media and proactively building positive staffing reviews with our reputation management service on Yelp, Glassdoor and Google Reviews. A strong online brand will yield more placements!

  • Sell more strategically.
    Most staffing sales professionals are tactical. They are great a opening doors and nurturing relationships, but their sales activities tend to be too reactive to each client’s perceived staffing needs. The best staffing sales reps are strategic. They work with clients to evaluate business challenges (and opportunities), and they recommend ways to use staffing as a tool to drive revenue growth, better manage overall labor costs, mitigate employment and business risk, and help organizations achieve their strategic goals.

    If your sales team is not selling as strategically as it could, you need to make changes. Start by teaching your sales team about the economics of staffing services. Train them to be more consultative. And restructure your sales process so that you are doing a better job diagnosing business problems and then presenting strategic, higher margin staffing solutions.

  • Improve your marketing.
    Of course, you knew I’d recommend stronger marketing. And here’s why improving your marketing is so important:
    • A strong direct marketing campaign makes your sales efforts easier.
    • Online marketing brings more clients and candidates to your door. As one of our clients recently told me “My website has become an ATM machine for my business!
    • Integrating marketing into selling makes your sales reps more efficient.
    • A strong online presence is critical to attracting millennial talent.
    • Social media has become the new cold call…and it’s more efficient.
    • Well-crafted marketing materials make it easier to sell strategically.
    • Content marketing provides an ideal foundation for educating clients…and it sets up your sales team for easier calls.
    • Companies that invest in marketing before and during a downturn recover faster and stronger than those that don’t!

Need more ideas for strengthening your staffing firm?

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