Becoming a Trusted Partner

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It’s a truism in the staffing world that the ideal is to have close partnerships with your customers. Unless you’re in a purely transactional mode, partnering lets you advise your customer, plan ahead for upshifts and downshifts, and work through any staffing problems you have together.

But how do you get this coveted role? As we all know, a great sales team is a must, but this goes beyond the sale. Here are three tips (and one bonus) to get a seat at the management table, or at least have the ear of the management team.

Tip One:

Become a Thought Leader. By attending staffing events such as ASA’s Staffing World, you can meet hundreds of professionals like yourself and attend thought-provoking panels. And by joining ASA, and Staffing Industry Analysts’ Benchmarking Consortium, you’ll have powerful data to share with your customers, and be apprised of marketplace trends.

But that’s just one part of becoming a trusted advisor. You also need to be intimately familiar with the industry you are serving, whether it’s manufacturing or IT or healthcare. Go to your niche’s industry events whenever possible. You may have originally started in the field that you are now servicing, and that’s an absolute plus as well. But even if you didn’t begin in IT, for example, you can become an expert through research and networking.

Now you’ve got the knowledge and confidence to be an expert, and you should have something to say. Whether it’s writing a work trends profile for the local paper, or speaking at the Chamber of Commerce, let your voice be heard. Of course, this is now easier than ever, with so many avenues open to you in the new media, whether it’s a podcast or a Twitter feed.

Tip Two:

Metrics, Metrics, Metrics. What is your average placement time? What is your internal turnover? Do you charge more than your competitors? (This might not be a bad thing if you can prove you deliver superior service). How many of your temporary employees end up getting hired by your clients?

All of these data points (and many more) are necessary for you to run your business effectively. But by sharing them with your customer, you’re showing that you trust them and that you’ve got nothing to hide. Transparency has almost become a business cliché, but in this case, it’s a great bonding tool.

Tip Three:

Back up What You Say. Who do you trust, not just in business but in real life? People who keep their word.  And that is what you need to do to have an engaged and mutually successful relationship with your client.

This means that if your selling point is that you deliver great people, that needs to be a primary focus of your business. So that comes down to a core recruiting team, which then vets and hires the best in your industry.

And what about cultural fit? If your customer is a start-up, for example, you will often need to look at people who are willing to put in some crazy hours and work in a frenetic environment. It’s not for everyone. This is just one instance where you can show your knowledge of your customer’s business in a meaningful way.

It comes down to delivering what you promise. 

Bonus Tip:

A True Partnership Works Both Ways. This is a key to a truly successful partnership. Your client needs to be open about hiring needs and future plans. Without giving you at least minimal information, you’re operating in the dark.

They also need to be forthcoming about their company culture and the employees who ‘fit’ there, as we mentioned in the previous tip. These are just a few examples, but the idea is that there’s two-way communication.

Fortunately, many companies, from the very biggest to the most creative or successful in their niches, recognize that staffing is a key part of their business model. For instance, companies such as Johnson & Johnson, TIAA Cref and Adobe are members of Staffing Industry Analysts’ CWS Council because they realize contract workers are vitally important to their business. These are the companies that “get” your business, and those are the types of companies that make ideal partners.

You can reap great rewards by partnering, and the secret is to go beyond the talk and prove real results.


Do you need a strategic partner for your staffing company?

If you want to know more about funding, outsourced back office services, staffing technology, or how we can make your staffing firm more profitable, contact us today.