Founder and CEO of Staffing Technologies Jim McNabb talks about surviving in a downturn market and why his company was successful in doing so.
How did your company as well as your Sales and Recruiting teams stay consistent during the economic downturn when so many others in the industry did not?
Staffing Technologies has a lot of people that have been with us for a long time. We consistently did two things: We stayed true to our core values and did not change the commission plan by lessoning commission rates for our people. As a matter of fact, we made some positive improvements to our commission plans. This was a very tough time to make goals with the economy’s status and we did not want to diminish the way our people could make their money and continue to grow their careers. The second thing we did was with our branch offices in Dallas and Seattle–we actually moved those offices to bigger spaces. The reason we did that was because rates were so low per square footage. We saw it as an opportunity and took advantage of it. We generated a lot of press for these moves because no one else at this time was moving or upgrading in a market like it was, but we wanted to stay consistent and continue building our brand and image.
Did you do anything to prepare your company and recruiters for tough economic times?
We had to readjust the Production Goals of our Sales Team and Recruiters accordingly. Additionally, we had to readjust many aspects of the business. We had to pare back what was spent regarding client entertainment (as well as internal functions). We decided that maybe flying across the country twice a month for business wasn’t always 100% necessary. We did the things that anyone would do in their own business or personal household to cut costs.
The American Staffing Association has published that “Staffing employment trends coincide with economic trends (as measured by GDP) and occur in advance of overall employment trends”, in other words, as the economy grows, so does staffing employment. Has this fact rang true for you and Staffing Technologies?
We have previously been able to see a trend 90 days before it happens. When we noticed the trend of other firms looking for that inexpensive, mid-tier consultant, we started looking for that high end one. This brought our bill rates and gross profit margin up. There is a strong correlation between the economy and the Staffing Industry; as the market grows, clients’ begin to build out their IT organizations. Additionally, we were in an election year last year and a lot of projects and acquisitions were delayed and it kind of put everything in a lull.
While we don’t have the proverbial crystal ball, we do take notice of market and technology trends. And because we have such talented Recruiters, we are better than most firms in understanding and vetting the talent.
In your opinion, how has the recruiting industry changed in the last five years?
The technology available for recruiting is astounding. It is amazing how quickly we can search and how knowledgeable the Recruiters are about understanding the various aspects of different technologies and platforms. We have Recruiters on our teams that are former Developers, Networking Admins, etc. Additionally, technology has given us quicker access to the candidate pool. It used to be that if you wanted to know more about Java for your hiring purposes, you had to grab a book off the shelf and read the key word searches and highlights and that was the best you could do. It was difficult to drill down if the candidate was a developer, designer or an analyst. The candidate would tell you he was an analyst but he really wasn’t. Flash forward to now, there are a lot of ways for us to be able to discern if people are as technically astute as their resume states. Our processes are focused on quality. We meet our candidates in person or via Skype to insure the candidates’ technical abilities as well as their cultural fit for our clients. So yes, the recruiting industry has changed dramatically over the past 5+ years. However, we firmly believe that the “high tech / high touch” approach is the best way to bring top talent to our clients.