Seven Habits of Successful Staffing Agencies




Generally, only the best survive long-term in staffing, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a LOT of staffing agencies. It seems like everybody these days thinks they can open up a staffing business with a 401K withdrawal, a cell phone and a prayer. Just hang a sign, start knocking on doors, and rake in the cash.

If only it were that easy! In reality, staffing is a brutal, dog-eat-dog business that makes anything Darwin imagined seem like a lazy afternoon at the kiddie pool. To be successful in this industry, you’ve got to work hard and get the key things right. Staffing agencies that practice these habits are the most successful, profitable, and longest-lasting in the industry. The ones that don’t, well, if they aren’t out of business yet they likely will be soon!

Successful staffing agencies stay hungry

Its easy to become complacent on the sales side when it seems like you’ve got more job orders than qualified candidates to fill them. Problem is, with staffing on the tip of the spear of economic shifts, any of our clients could lay off, close a plant, or go out of business at any point. If the only constant thing in the business world is change, it applies TRIPLE to staffing! While there is certainly wisdom in not biting off more than you can chew, successful staffing agencies are ALWAYS after the next new account to replace the one that’s about to slow down.

Success staffing agencies treat their associates well

You’d be amazed at how many stories we hear about how poorly the agency down the street treated our applicants when they applied with them. Even if you would never under any circumstances place someone, that fellow human being is still worthy of your respect. Besides, no matter how much money you sink into marketing and reaching out to candidates, your largest applicant source will always be associate and candidate referrals. If you treat your people like they are a nuisance, aren’t important, or like you’re better than them, the absolute last thing they’ll do is send you their friends and family. I know I wouldn’t!

Successful staffing agencies choose clients wisely

Don’t we always want clients? Isn’t that the first point of this article? Well that’s true, to an extent. We don’t want just any client, but rather clients that will keep our associates safe, both physically (by providing a safe work environment) and mentally (by providing a workplace free of illegal harassment and treating our associates with respect). We can roll out the red carpet to associates all day, but if we’re sending them to hellholes our reputation will fade fast and it WILL hurt applicant flow long-term. Plus, get enough people hurt or harassed and legal fees & comp mods will quickly drive your agency right out of business.

Successful staffing agencies have a process and stick to it company-wide

Whether it’s the application process, onboarding, client sign-up, orientations, or any other non-client-specific process, what one branch office does should mirror all the others. Having everyone on the same page speaks to both a staffing agency’s professionalism and its competency. If people are doing their own thing, what does that say about the people supposedly running things?

Successful staffing agencies know what they are worth

Of course, some clients will try to get staffing agencies to lower their rates. While it’s certainly understandable and commendable for any HR or purchasing manager to do their due diligence, we aren’t a non-profit entity. It’s OK to be flexible now and then, but being able to clearly explain why the rate is where it is and being willing to walk away if necessary are far better than losing money on an account, which can easily happen if we let some clients lowball us into oblivion.

Successful staffing agencies pick the right internal staff and treat them well

Your staffers are your front line employees, the link between you and your clients. You and/or your salespeople can make all the sincere promises you want, but if you get the business and your staffers don’t deliver, you’re back to square one, except with a bad reputation. Hiring great staffers is more than the right education or experience – it’s personality, attitude, flexibility, and the ability to maintain focus under pressure. Get them in the door and treat them so well that the only way they’d ever dream of leaving is for a better job (hopefully in HR or management at a place where they can utilize your agency!).

Successful staffing agencies preach, promote, and practice their core values

From the top down, an agency (or, for that matter, any business) that instills a culture of honor, integrity, diligence, and unflappable customer service throughout all levels of the organization is bound to be more successful than those that do not. Do the right thing, no matter what, and people will take notice and want to do business with you.


This post originally appeared on Staffing Talk.