Express emphasizes smaller, local accounts, varying aggressively from the large-account philosophy that has helped make competitors Manpower and Kelly Services household names in the industry. "It’s all about developing relationships locally," says Sandy Hagen, an Express franchisee in Mount Vernon, Washington. "I’m here and live in this community, and you see me in church and at the supermarket; and the relationship really is between a client and me, and their company and my company, and of course they know that I want to help them."
To optimize her presence in the community, Hagen emphasizes what one might call "enhanced" cold calling. Each week, Hagen will target a handful of prospective clients as part of a "breakfast campaign." For instance, she or another key figure in the firm will drop in on a potential customer and leave behind bagels or a coffee cake or some other goody for the morning repast. The next week, she’ll do it again. Maybe by the third week, her presence in the lobby, again bearing gifts, finally will prompt the owner of the business to take a peek out there.
"Eventually, they feel guilty enough to come out because I’ve been grabbing their attention by delivering this stuff, and they have to thank me because I’m the one that’s been doing it," Hagen says. "It’s just a foot in the door but often that’s all we need."
The other side of the business ledger for temporary-services franchisees, of course, is to be able to supply clients with the right number and types of qualified people to fill the open positions. So Hagen puts on her "neighborhood marketing" hat in scouring for workers as well.
"We do anything and everything to recruit," she says, including going door-to-door with door hangers provided by Express headquarters, visiting Laundromats, talking with classes of graduating seniors at local high schools, and addressing classes of women at a local college who are returning to the workforce.
"This weekend, we’re doing a barbecue at a client called Draper Valley, a local chicken processor, because we’re trying to recruit people to fill some job openings there," says Hagen, referring to an event this past autumn. "It’s hard to recruit people for these kinds of jobs, so as part of the event, we’re also offering referral bonuses of $50, which someone would receive after the person they refer is hired and works a total of 80 hours."
But Hagen says that, while workers of various sorts and for certain jobs still can be hard to come by, a big part of the appeal of Express in Mount Vernon is that she and her husband, with the help of Express headquarters, find ways to bring detailed and relevant information and perspectives to potential job recruits just as they strive to do with business owners.
For example, Hagen might talk with high school students about how to find a job and how to prepare for a job interview. "This can be just sharing a lot of things that you’d think these kids would know just because it’s common sense but that many typical 18-year-olds today, unfortunately, just don’t understand—such as if you start a job today, you should be on time. And when you get your first paycheck, it doesn’t mean you go party with it until it’s gone," she explains.
Express and Hagen also help Mount Vernon adult residents who may be on the cusp of some sort of job or career transition, in ways that would benefit both parties. For example, Hagen says, local layoffs in the aerospace industry have forced a good number of non-working spouses to hit the job market now to help support laid-off significant others.
"[…] These may be housewives, for instance, who still have good typing skills, but maybe they didn’t get to the point of learning Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint, so we can help them with our free online tutorials and then test them and help them figure out where they stand," Hagen says. These people, not coincidentally, also might be available to fill some positions that Hagen has open.