Out of Hours or Out of Order?

Dan Marshall, Group CEO, 12th June 2020
When my wife and I established our company, our son was 5 weeks old. Admittedly, not the best time to start a brand-new venture, with all the energy and effort that would be needed to get it off the ground.

But we were young and enthusiastic, eager to offer the best service to our Clients and keen to prove that recruitment companies could be a valuable business partner.

Despite the pressures of having a young baby, we threw everything we had at it. I would pick day shift Workers up from home at 5am and run them to work; I’d pick up night shift Workers at 10pm and run them home (although this is something that we would never advocate these days, but this was when the law permitted!).

We would be on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We would take out-of-hours, last-minute staffing orders and we’d fill them, no matter whether it was 6pm or 3am, because that’s the service we had sold to our Clients and that’s what we needed to deliver.

Last week, as part of his compliance process with a Candidate that was being put forward for a new position, one of my Consultants noticed his Candidate’s file was missing a second employment reference. The Candidate had previously worked for five agencies in the local area, so the Consultant set about calling them at around 5.45pm.

Of the five agencies the Consultant called, two didn’t answer the telephone at all, two had pre-recorded answerphone messages that informed him to call back in office hours and one answered, but was unable to help as they didn’t have access to the database and couldn’t remember the Candidate.

Is this what passes for a 24 hour on-call service these days? Are some other recruitment agencies really such a weak link in their Client’s supply chain that they only respond during office hours or only provide limited services out of hours?

Surely that’s more ‘out-of-order than ‘out-of-hours’?!

We have always worked our on-call on the basis that if a Client or Candidate calls our number, they will receive the same service at 1am as they would at 1pm. If a Client needs extra staff for a 6am start and calls at 4:30am to place an order, they will speak to a Consultant and be assured that they will do everything they can to fulfil the order (we have a 99.6% fulfilment rate across all Group companies, so the on-call service is clearly effective!). If a Candidate calls to let us know that they cannot make it in for a shift at 10pm, they know that they will get through to a Consultant and the Consultant will cover the shift with another Worker, or, at very least, will contact the client and let them know, safeguarding the Worker’s position for when they are able to return to work.

We are always looking for new incentives for Clients to use our services. We often sit and rack our brains trying to identify something different that we could offer that other agencies don’t. But, in reality, do we have to reinvent the wheel?

Surely, as long as we keep up what we started two decades ago, and deliver on the promises we make – like an effective 24 hour on-call service (even with a baby in tow)! – we’re already a more effective business partner than many of our peers and we’re already adding value to our Clients businesses.