With payroll supported in cooperation with the franchisor, the main focus for specialized staffing service owners is sales. Unlike most businesses, in which you're selling a product or service, in specialized staffing you have to recruit both your clients and your product: well-trained employees.
"The primary way you succeed in this business is through sales and marketing," says Bryce A. Arrowood, president and CEO of LawCorps, a Washington, DC-based staffing franchisor specializing in placing attorneys, paralegals and law clerks in temporary positions. "Our emphasis is getting in front of clients and prospects, because once we do that, our close rate is 70 to 80 percent [in the Washington, DC, office]. You have to be personable--someone who likes to cultivate long-term client relationships does well in this business because it's very consultative."
At Management Recruiters International (MRI) Inc., a Cleveland-based franchisor with more than 900 franchises staffing corporate management positions, franchisees undergo an intense, three-week training program specifically to deal with sales. "Even though our business takes more of a consultative sales [approach], all our franchisees live in a world of rejection," says Bob Angell, vice president of franchise marketing for MRI. "And part of our training teaches them how to overcome objections in a favorable manner--being consultative rather than confrontational."
Attracting employees is equally challenging in an industry often seen as a last choice for office and labor workers. But just as employers are being educated against this misconception, talented candidates are also realizing staffing services can offer the benefits of a full-time employer. "There's a war for talent out there," explains Steinberg. "The challenge isn't finding the clients; it's finding the people."
Fleischacker identifies a staffing service's greatest challenge as being viewed as an employer of choice. "I want to create an atmosphere where people in the field can feel they're connected to a company," she says. In addition to offering medical benefits and flexible working hours, Fleischacker tries to create a central hub at her office on paydays, when employees socialize with "co-workers" and bring in their children.
"We treat all our temporary employees as if they were permanent employees as far as benefits and compensation," says Arrowood. Indeed, LawCorps temps take part in a profit-sharing plan and receive medical insurance, paid vacations, incentive bonuses and professional liability insurance.