'That personal touch'
Long-time AtWork franchisee dishes on changes in staffing services
AtWork franchisees typically provide staff for technical, light industry and manufacturing companies. But Frank Sprinkles will also help you staff a Boy Scout camp or a dairy bar at a state fair. Sprinkles runs three AtWork franchises with a total of about 15 employees in the Kansas City area; he was among the first AtWork staffing franchisees to set up shop outside of Tennessee, the home base of AtWork founder John Hall.
He’s been in the game since 1993, nearly every year of AtWork’s existence. The staffing services company is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and we are sharing the stories of franchisees who have been there since virtually the beginning.
Question: How would you characterize changes in the staffing industry over the past 25 years?
Answer: Daylight to dark. It’s definitely been an exciting but difficult business to be involved with; that’s why being a part of a franchise has really made the difference for me.
A: It helps (meet and understand) all the government requirements now with the Affordable Care Act and all the different state and federal legislation that comes our way that involves what we do. It’s been good to have a network of folks to really be able to confer with, and move forward.
Q: Have you noticed any change in demands or type of industries you serve?
A: We’ve definitely seen a lot of changes. Early on, we had quite a mix of clerical, technical and light industrial people. With the advent of the computer — we kind of grew up with the computer in our early days — there’s less clerical work now, because almost everyone is expected to do their own. We’ve gone more into technical and light industrial. We do some other things: We staff a Boy Scout camp for summer with all kitchen help; at the Missouri state fair, we actually source all the folks for the dairy bar run by the Mid-American Dairymen.
Q: What are some of your challenges?
A: The difficult thing in America today is finding enough qualified people. It takes longer to screen folks, test folks, and do background checks. There are substance abuse problems. You have to go through a lot of folks to find the right ones. And how America goes, our economy goes. We seem to be first out and first back in when we go through a recession. We see indications when things are slowing down usually a few months before the county realizes we are in a stagnant time.
Q: Will it be increasingly difficult finding qualified staffers?
A: We’re trying to get ahead of the game but it’s going to be difficult. You drive around and see (a lot of) signs ‘now hiring.’ One good thing about staffing is that we have a program that we use to screen, test and find an employee that’s going to be the right fit for industry, rather than having to spend a lot of time and money on human resources.
Q: Are you happy you made the transition into the staffing industry? Has it been a success?
A: It has. It has had growing pains, just like individual franchises. We have the best leadership team we’ve ever had. It’s been fantastic.
Q: What would you attribute your success to?
A: I learned early on it’s a people biz, meeting people, make sure they’re not just a number. We’re continuing to take the time to show we care about the people that work for us. This past weekend we were sponsors at the Wings over Whiteman Air Force Base air show. We had a young lady come up to us – sure, we use a computer every day to get in resumes — and visit with us. She said, ‘most of the time I send a resume I never hear from them, but I got a call from your company and that made a difference to me.’ It’s still that personal touch, that interaction, that makes a difference.