How to Start a Staffing Services Business


Traditional advertising can be effective in the staffing services industry, as long as you do it well. To produce an effective ad, you must first make clients aware of the advantages of using a staffing service. These advantages include the following:

  • Pre-tested, pre-screened employees. Clients get employees who are ready to work.
  • Reduced turnover. Replacing permanent employees is expensive. All companies want to reduce turnover and its associated costs.
  • Savings of time and money. There is no need for clients to invest in recruitment or human resources efforts.
  • "Tried and true" employees. Clients get to try out prospective employees to see if they provide a good fit for the company.

Notice that the above points, while important, are very general in nature. In theory, they are true of any staffing company. Put them in your ad, by all means. Just don't imagine that they do anything to differentiate your service from other staffing services. The way you do that is by listing those features that set your company apart from the rest. Emphasize the benefits your clients receive from using your staffing service.

Advertising Options

Here are some typical advertising strategies:

  • Brochure. A well-designed, high-quality brochure can be an effective advertising vehicle for your staffing company. Note, however, that brochures are generally expensive to produce and not always immediately necessary.
  • Direct mail. This strategy works well in the industry. Choose your mailing list well, focusing on those companies whose size and industry sector make them likely prospects.
  • Internet. Electronic ads on various industry-specific bulletin boards can be an effective way to advertise for the professional and technical sectors.
  • Newspaper. This is a good method for some sectors of the staffing industry. Major newspapers may not be helpful in the professional or technical sectors.
  • Specialty publications. These can help you target particular types of companies. Several of the owners we talked to advertise this way.
  • Telephone. Some staffing services call existing clients to let them know about applicants currently available. Handled well, this can be an effective way to generate more business.
  • Trade journals. These are most effective for attracting clients in the professional and technical industry sectors.
  • Word-of-mouth. This is the best kind of advertising. It's the most credible and definitely the least expensive. Dyana V. says her company kept a low advertising profile in the beginning. "If you enter a market that has high competition like Seattle, you don't want to just bust down doors and say 'Here we are.' " Many firms, she explains, have long-standing, loyal staffing relationships. Initially, her company relied heavily on word-of-mouth advertising.
  • Yellow Pages. Most owners said their Yellow Pages ad is effective for recruiting employees but not for attracting clients. In fact, some owners are is suspicious of clients who find them via the Yellow Pages. These are often high-risk clients with bad credit.

Finding Employees

There are many ways to find employees. Studies show referral is the most effective (i.e., least expensive and most productive) way to recruit employees. Some staffing companies receive as many as 40 percent of their new hires from referrals. Rita Z. estimates that referrals comprise about 36 percent of her applicants.

You can also advertise to find employee prospects. The following are methods of advertising for employees:

  • Newspaper. This is a good method if you need lots of people quickly or very broad-based skills. Consider ads in smaller daily or weekly newspapers, especially if the jobs are available in a particular location.
  • Specialty publications. These include neighborhood monthlies, arts listings and religious or business publications. All of these can be effective for targeting particular groups. Several of the owners we talked to advertise this way.
  • Business cards. Carry business cards with you wherever you go. You never know when the person sitting next to you might be a good prospect.
  • Yellow Pages. A good-sized Yellow Pages advertisement is useful for recruiting.
  • Television. Consider cable TV, which is less expensive and easier to localize. Recruiting experts in the staffing industry consider cable TV an effective option.
  • Internet: For staffing services in certain industry sectors, especially professional and technical, effective recruiting is achieved by searching resume databases.


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