Business ideas
8 min read

How to Start a Profitable Staffing Agency Business [11 Steps]

Learn how to start a staffing agency business with our 11+ step guide. From creating a business plan to marketing strategies, we've got you covered.

By Nick Cotter
Updated Feb 02, 2024

image of a staffing agency business
This page may feature products from our affiliate partners, which could influence the products we discuss due to potential compensation. Despite this, our evaluations are impartial, based solely on our independent analysis. The content here is intended for informational purposes and should not be seen as legal advice. For professional guidance, consulting with a legal expert is recommended.
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1. Perform market analysis.

Starting a staffing agency requires a solid understanding of the current market to identify opportunities and tailor your services to the needs of potential clients and candidates. Perform a comprehensive market analysis by following these key steps:

  • Research the industry trends: Look into the staffing industry's growth patterns, emerging sectors, and declining areas to determine where opportunities for your business may lie.
  • Analyze the competition: Identify existing staffing agencies in your target location, assess their service offerings, market position, and client base to understand your competitive landscape.
  • Understand your niche: Decide if you want to specialize in a certain industry, job level, or type of employment (temporary, permanent, contract) and analyze the demand and supply in that niche.
  • Examine the labor market: Investigate the unemployment rates, labor force participation, and skill shortages to ensure there is a sufficient pool of candidates and demand for staffing services.
  • Gather data on potential clients: Identify potential businesses that may require staffing services, including their size, industry, and any specific workforce challenges they may face.
  • Regulatory considerations: Look into legal and regulatory requirements specific to the staffing industry and how they might impact your operations.
image of a staffing agency business

Are staffing agency businesses profitable?

The profitability of staffing agency businesses can vary depending on the type of business, the demand for their services, and the amount of competition in the market. Generally speaking, staffing agency businesses that are well-run and have a strong client base can be highly profitable.

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2. Draft a staffing agency business plan.

Starting a staffing agency requires a clear and comprehensive business plan that outlines your strategy, goals, and the steps you'll take to achieve them. This document will serve as a roadmap to guide your business decisions and help you secure funding. Below are key components to include in your staffing agency business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Offer a succinct overview of your staffing agency's mission, objectives, and unique value proposition.
  • Market Analysis: Research and detail the staffing needs of your target market, including industry trends and potential client types.
  • Services: Clearly define the types of staffing services you will offer, such as temporary, permanent, or contract placements.
  • Marketing and Sales Strategy: Outline how you will attract both clients and candidates, including your branding, advertising, and networking plans.
  • Operational Plan: Describe your agency's operational workflow, including recruitment, vetting, and placement processes.
  • Management Structure: Introduce your team, their roles, and experience, emphasizing how each will contribute to the success of the agency.
  • Financial Projections: Present realistic financial forecasts, including startup costs, pricing strategy, revenue projections, and break-even analysis.
  • Risk Analysis: Identify potential risks and challenges, and how you plan to mitigate them.

How does a staffing agency business make money?

A staffing agency business makes money by providing services to match employers with employees. They charge an administrative fee to the employers and in some cases, a commission to the employees. For example, a staffing agency might target small businesses who do not have the resources to hire HR personnel and assist them in recruiting qualified workers. It might also target companies that are in need of seasonal staff or part-time help. In the case of an air duct cleaning business, they could target real estate firms or property management companies that need help maintaining buildings they manage.

3. Develop a staffing agency brand.

Developing a strong brand for your staffing agency is crucial for standing out in a competitive market and creating lasting impressions. It's about defining who you are, what you stand for, and how you want to be perceived by both clients and candidates. Here are some key steps to help you cultivate a compelling brand:

  • Define your unique value proposition: Clearly articulate what makes your agency different and better than the competition. Focus on your specialties or niches that you serve.
  • Create a memorable logo and visual identity: Design a professional logo that reflects your agency's personality. Complement it with consistent color schemes, fonts, and imagery that resonate with your target audience.
  • Establish your tone of voice: Decide on the language and tone that matches your brand personality. Whether it's professional, friendly, or innovative, ensure it's reflected in all your communications.
  • Build a strong online presence: Develop a professional website and engage on relevant social media platforms. Share content that showcases your expertise and values.
  • Consistency is key: Make sure that every touchpoint with clients and candidates, from business cards to email signatures, aligns with your brand identity.
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How to come up with a name for your staffing agency business?

When deciding to name your staffing agency business, it is important to consider the impressions that your name will give potential clients. A name should be professional, catchy, and easy to remember. You may want to use words such as “staffing”, “recruiting”, or “consulting” that indicate exactly what the company does. Additionally, using your own name or a combination of the names of employees in the business can also add a personal touch. To make sure no other businesses have your chosen name, you should search online and make sure none of your competitors have a similar title. Ultimately, your staffing agency business name should reflect what type of services you offer and help you stand out from the competition.

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4. Formalize your business registration.

Formalizing your business registration is a pivotal step in establishing the legal foundation for your staffing agency. This process will vary depending on your location and the structure of your business, but it's essential for ensuring compliance with local and federal regulations. Here's how to go about it:

  • Choose a business structure (sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, or corporation) that best suits your needs and offers the appropriate level of personal liability protection.
  • Register your business name with the appropriate state agency, ensuring it is unique and meets all naming requirements.
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for tax purposes and to hire employees.
  • Apply for any necessary business licenses and permits specific to staffing agencies in your area, which may include a general business license, a staffing agency license, or both.
  • Register for state and local taxes to ensure you can legally operate and comply with tax regulations in your area.
  • If required, file articles of incorporation (for corporations) or articles of organization (for LLCs) with your state's business filing agency.

Resources to help get you started:

Explore vital resources designed for staffing agency entrepreneurs, featuring key publications, industry reports, newsletters, and materials providing market trends, operational best practices, and strategic business growth advice:

  • American Staffing Association (ASA) Publications: ASA offers publications such as "Staffing Success Magazine" and research reports that highlight industry trends and best practices. -
  • Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA): SIA publishes reports, newsletters, and articles on market trends and analysis, crucial for strategic decision-making. -
  • LinkedIn Groups for Staffing Professionals: Networking groups where entrepreneurs can share knowledge, ask questions, and find mentors. - Search LinkedIn for specific groups related to staffing.
  • Entrepreneur Magazine - Staffing Section: Offers articles, guides, and tips on starting and running a successful staffing agency. -
  • Provides a wide range of content, including industry news, operational tactics, and growth strategies for recruitment agencies. -

5. Acquire necessary licenses and permits for staffing agency.

Starting a staffing agency requires complying with various legal requirements, including obtaining the necessary licenses and permits. This step is crucial to ensure your business operates legally and avoids any future complications. Here's a concise guide to help you acquire the necessary documentation.

  • Research Local Regulations: Each state and municipality may have different licensing requirements for staffing agencies. Contact your city's business license department and state labor department to understand the specific licenses and permits needed in your area.
  • Business License: Apply for a general business license to legally operate your staffing agency. This might be at the city or county level, depending on where your business is located.
  • Employment Agency License: Many states require staffing agencies to have a specific employment agency license. This may involve an application process that includes background checks and proof of bonding or insurance.
  • Specialized Permits: If you're staffing in particular industries, such as healthcare or construction, you might need additional permits. Check industry-specific regulations and compliance requirements.
  • Worker's Compensation: Register for worker's compensation insurance to cover temporary employees in case of workplace injuries.
  • Tax Registrations: Obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), and register with your state tax department for unemployment insurance and other tax-related matters.

What licenses and permits are needed to run a staffing agency business?

To operate a staffing agency business, you will need to acquire several different licenses and permits from local and state government agencies. Depending on the state where your business operates, you may need to obtain an employer’s identification number, a business license, a workman’s compensation insurance policy, and zoning permits. You may also need to obtain tax accounts, such as a sales tax license and payroll tax account.

In addition to the licenses and permits required at the state level, many cities require businesses to obtain additional permits or special approvals. It is highly recommended that you contact the city where your business will operate to determine the additional permits or special approvals that may be required.

6. Open a business bank account and secure funding as needed.

Opening a business bank account is a critical step for separating your personal finances from your business transactions, while securing funding ensures you have the capital necessary to start and grow your staffing agency. Here are some pointers for completing Step 6 in your business journey:

  • Research banks and credit unions that offer business banking services, and compare their fees, services, and customer reviews to find the best fit for your staffing agency.
  • Gather the required documents to open a business bank account, typically including your business registration, EIN (Employer Identification Number), and ownership agreements.
  • Consider applying for a business credit card to help manage expenses and build your company's credit history.
  • Explore various funding options, such as small business loans, lines of credit, or investor funding, to secure the capital you need to cover startup costs and operational expenses.
  • Develop a solid business plan with financial projections to present to potential lenders or investors, demonstrating the viability and growth potential of your staffing agency.
  • Network with industry professionals and attend business events to potentially find angel investors or venture capitalists interested in the staffing industry.

7. Set pricing for staffing agency services.

Setting pricing for your staffing agency services is a critical step that balances being competitive in the market while ensuring your business remains profitable. Consider the value you offer, the costs you need to cover, and the pricing strategies of your competitors. Here are some tips to help you establish your pricing structure:

  • Cost-Plus Pricing: Calculate your costs for providing services, including staff wages, benefits, and overhead, then add a markup to ensure a profit.
  • Market Rate Evaluation: Research what competitors are charging for similar services and position your pricing accordingly, whether it's matching, undercutting, or exceeding those rates based on your value proposition.
  • Flexibility: Offer different pricing models such as flat-fee, percentage of employee's salary, or hourly billing to accommodate various client needs and preferences.
  • Volume Discounts: Consider providing discounts to clients who place large orders or commit to long-term contracts to encourage business growth and customer loyalty.
  • Value-Based Pricing: If you offer niche specialization or superior service, you might charge a premium by demonstrating the extra value you bring to clients.
  • Transparency: Clearly communicate what your pricing includes to avoid misunderstandings and build trust with clients.

What does it cost to start a staffing agency business?

Initiating a staffing agency business can involve substantial financial commitment, the scale of which is significantly influenced by factors such as geographical location, market dynamics, and operational expenses, among others. Nonetheless, our extensive research and hands-on experience have revealed an estimated starting cost of approximately $33000 for launching such an business. Please note, not all of these costs may be necessary to start up your staffing agency business.

8. Acquire staffing agency equipment and supplies.

Starting a staffing agency requires not only a keen understanding of the job market but also the right tools and equipment to operate efficiently and effectively. Below is a list of essential equipment and supplies that you'll need to acquire to ensure your agency can function smoothly and meet the needs of both clients and job seekers.

  • Office Hardware: Invest in reliable computers, printers, fax machines, and telephones to handle daily operations.
  • Software Solutions: Purchase staffing agency software for applicant tracking, customer relationship management (CRM), and payroll processing.
  • Furniture and Fixtures: Get ergonomic office furniture and professional fixtures to create a comfortable work environment.
  • Office Supplies: Stock up on stationery, filing supplies, and organizational materials to keep your office orderly.
  • Communication Tools: Set up a business email system, conferencing tools, and messaging apps to facilitate seamless communication.
  • Marketing Materials: Prepare brochures, business cards, and promotional items to market your services to potential clients and candidates.
  • Legal and Compliance Documentation: Ensure you have the necessary legal forms, contracts, and employee handbooks in compliance with labor laws.

List of software, tools and supplies needed to start a staffing agency business:

  • Computer with internet access and basic software (est. $1,000)
  • Accounting Software (est. $200)
  • Phone and unified communications system (est. $500)
  • Fax Machine (est. $50)
  • Office Supplies (est. $200)
  • Job Posting Websites Subscriptions (est. $1,000)
  • Advertising Budget (est. $1,000)
  • Recruiting Software Package (est. $200)
  • Legal Advice and Council Services (est. $500)
  • Insurance and Bonding Coverage (est. $500)

9. Obtain business insurance for staffing agency, if required.

Securing the right business insurance is a crucial step in safeguarding your staffing agency. It not only protects your business from potential risks but also provides peace of mind to both you and your clients. Here are some key points to consider when obtaining business insurance:

  • Assess your risks: Determine what kind of risks your staffing agency might face, such as workplace accidents, liability claims, or property damage.
  • Research insurance types: Look into general liability insurance, workers' compensation, professional liability, and employment practices liability insurance.
  • Compare providers: Shop around and compare quotes from multiple insurance providers to find the best coverage for your needs at a competitive rate.
  • Consider bundled packages: Business Owner's Policies (BOP) often combine various types of insurance in one package and can be cost-effective.
  • Review regularly: As your staffing agency grows, review and adjust your insurance coverage annually or whenever significant changes occur in your business.
  • Seek professional advice: Consult with an insurance broker or agent who specializes in business insurance to get tailored advice for your specific needs.

10. Begin marketing your staffing agency services.

Once your staffing agency is set up and ready to operate, it's crucial to start marketing your services to attract both clients and candidates. A strategic approach to marketing will help you build your brand, establish your presence in the market, and grow your business. Here are some effective strategies to get you started:

  • Develop a comprehensive website that showcases your services, industry focus, and value proposition.
  • Utilize social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to connect with potential clients and job seekers.
  • Engage in content marketing by creating insightful blog posts, whitepapers, and case studies that demonstrate your industry expertise.
  • Network at industry events, join professional groups, and attend local business gatherings to establish personal connections.
  • Implement a referral program to encourage current clients and placed candidates to refer others to your agency.
  • Invest in targeted online advertising, such as Google Ads or LinkedIn Sponsored Content, to reach your desired audience.
  • Collaborate with local businesses and educational institutions to increase your visibility within the community.
  • Use email marketing campaigns to keep in touch with clients and candidates, providing them with relevant updates and job openings.
>> MORE:

What licenses and permits are needed to run a staffing agency business?

  • Computer with internet access and basic software (est. $1,000)
  • Accounting Software (est. $200)
  • Phone and unified communications system (est. $500)
  • Fax Machine (est. $50)
  • Office Supplies (est. $200)
  • Job Posting Websites Subscriptions (est. $1,000)
  • Advertising Budget (est. $1,000)
  • Recruiting Software Package (est. $200)
  • Legal Advice and Council Services (est. $500)
  • Insurance and Bonding Coverage (est. $500)

11. Expand your staffing agency business.

Once your staffing agency has established a strong foundation and a steady stream of clients, it's time to consider expansion. Growth can be a strategic way to increase your market reach, diversify your services, and enhance profitability. Below are ways to carefully push your staffing business into its next phase of development:

  • Explore niche markets: Specializing in specific industries can set you apart from competitors and allow you to offer more tailored services.
  • Invest in technology: Utilize advanced staffing software to streamline operations, improve candidate matching, and offer innovative solutions like mobile apps for job seekers.
  • Open new locations: Identify geographic areas with high demand for staffing services and consider establishing branch offices to tap into new markets.
  • Form strategic partnerships: Collaborate with other businesses to extend your service offerings or reach new client segments.
  • Enhance marketing efforts: Increase your online presence through SEO, content marketing, and social media campaigns to attract both clients and candidates.
  • Develop your team: Hire specialized staff and invest in training to improve recruitment processes and client satisfaction.
  • Offer additional services: Consider providing training, consulting, or HR services to become a one-stop-shop for your clients' staffing needs.