Hi, my name is Tim, and I run a staffing firm. It’s been six days since my last placement.”
Frankly, sometimes, it feels that way.
Running any business is tough. Running a staffing agency is harder than most companies. I’ve been doing this for six years and every single night, as I lie awake in bed, I think of a thousand ways my company, HRU Technical Resources, could fail.
Thankfully, I also think of a thousand and one ways we could succeed, which allows me to get up in the morning and get back to work!
The staffing game is funny. The service we are selling to our clients is one which they have the ability to do on their own. So, for all intents and purposes, they don’t truly have to buy from us. Obviously, I’m glad that many decide not to do this on their own.
Our clients claim they want a staffing vendor who will “partner” with them, but anytime you add money into the equation of a relationship, the partnership thing can get fuzzy. In the end, staffing firms hope to find a client who, at the very least, respects the work they do for them, being that most of the work is done for free until the actual placement is made.
So, what keeps me up at night as a leader of a staffing firm?
It’s the simple equation of how much “free” work my recruiters are doing, versus how much “paid” work are they doing.
It’s an age-old issue facing staffing firms at all levels. Leaders ask, “Will my account executives be able to make enough right calls on prospects who will actually pay us for what we provide? How can we avoid corporate shoppers who are just playing around with us with no real intent on paying us?”
It sounds simple. Why don’t you just ask the client, “Hey, are you really going to pay us for doing all this work? Or at the last minute, are you going to cancel the position, find an internal candidate or find a candidate on your own?”
That conversation always goes the same. “Of course we are going to pay you! Well, unless, you know, we fill it on our own.”
When I ran corporate talent acquisition teams, I tried to avoid using staffing firms because I was unwilling to ask them to work for free. Too much free work kills most staffing companies. In fact, free work is what kills most businesses in the world, regardless of your industry.
The majority of corporate talent acquisition pros and recruiting leaders have no idea this is the issue keeping us up at night. Free work? Well, that just sounds like a bad business model! Yes. Yes, it does.
Welcome to staffing.
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