Updated April 5, 2019.
The staffing industry is worth at least $160 billion in North America, and entrepreneurs who want to own a slice of that pie have an extremely solid list of companies to examine in greater detail with this list of the 8 best staffing/recruiting franchises of 2019.
The staffing/recruiting industry is doing very well – it is cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be among the largest growth industries in the coming years, and routinely grows faster than the overall economy. This is a rock-solid industry to be in with its steady growth, high revenue potential, and future that continues to look very bright. In other words, this is an industry that is ripe for entrepreneurs to seize the day.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, well over 90% of all companies use some form of personnel staffing service. From the client business perspective, recruitment and hiring are huge drains on resources, so outsourcing some or all of it can be a very good business decision, and especially when it’s for seasonal work, staffing up a short-term project, or filling a temporary vacancy.
Each year more than 12 million job seekers are hired by/through staffing firms. More than 75% of temporary employees from staffing firms end up receiving a direct employment offer from the client company.
One of the impressive things about this list is that all but one of the eight companies on it have achieved rankings on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list.
Here are the top 8 staffing/recruiting franchises of 2019:
1. Express Employment Professionals
Express Employment Professionals got its start in 1983 when Robert Funk and William Stoller started the company with the simple vision to “help as many people as possible find good jobs by helping as many clients as possible find good people.”
Express is all about providing temporary and flexible staffing, evaluation and direct hire, professional/contract staffing, and management consulting for both individuals and businesses. The company helps match job seekers to full-time, part-time, and temporary positions that fit their skills. The average first-year Express office generates over $1 million in sales and can be started with a total initial investment averaging only $160,000.
In 2016, Forbes named Express one of the best franchises to buy, and in 2017 Express received Inavero’s Best of Staffing Talent Award, joining the fewer than 2% of staffing firms in North America awarded this designation. This company currently ranks #66 (up from last year’s position of #69) on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list and has been the #1 staffing franchise for eight consecutive years.
Founded in 1983 and franchising since 1985, the number of locations has expanded in recent years to the current total of 779 (up from last year’s total of 761), four of which are company-owned and 47 of which are located outside the U.S.
2. Labor Finders
Labor Finders was started in 1975 by Newton Burnett and is now led by his son, Jeffrey Burnett, who serves as president and CEO. The company provides temporary and temp-to-hire employees, payroll, and outsourcing to a range of specific industries, including construction, maintenance, manufacturing, hospitality, and moving and trucking companies.
Labor Finders makes a strong case to businesses for outsourcing some of their human resources needs in order to save time and money. Routine job placement needs, whether for daily, seasonal, or cyclical assignments can be a real hassle for small and medium-sized businesses in terms of writing and running job ads, sifting through applications, conducting background checks, and waiting who knows how long for new hires to start.
Labor Finders takes the pain out of hiring. And for shorter-term projects or seasonal work, the business doesn’t have to worry about setting up payroll or providing benefits. It makes sense to use the experts who have already developed a pool of ready and willing workers.
This company currently ranks #130 (one notch lower than last year) on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1975 and franchising since that same year, the number of locations has expanded only slightly in recent years to the current total of 194 (one more than last year’s total), none of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the U.S.
Spherion dates all the way back to 1946 when founder Leroy Dettman started a company called City Car Unloaders to meet the temporary labor needs of Chicago freight companies. When the company started franchising in 1956, it changed its name to Labor Pool, then changed its name again in 1992 to Interim Services, and more recently settled on Spherion Staffing in 2000.
Spherion now serves the workforce needs of more than 3,000 businesses across all industries and skill sets. Spherion emphasizes its local connections, both in terms of relationships with local employers as well as being involved in community work and local charitable giving. After all, few things are more important to the health of any community than helping people find jobs and employers fill positions.
Spherion also tracks employment trends through its annual Emerging Workforce Study to provide both employers and job seekers with insights about the ever-changing needs and desires of workers as well as the challenges faced by employers.
This company currently ranks #151 (a big move up from last year’s position of #203) on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1946 and franchising since 1956, the number of locations currently stands at 181 (one less than last year’s total), none of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the U.S.
4. Patrice & Associates
Patrice & Associates was started by Patrice Rice back in 1989 and has become a successful staffing and recruiting franchise that is specifically focused on employment services for the hospitality and restaurant sectors, including hotels, casinos, and restaurants of all types from family-style restaurants to fine-dining establishments to fast-food chains and eateries in airports, malls, and travel plazas nationwide.
The company has established partnerships with a number of restaurant chains to recruit managers for their various locations, including IHOP, Fuddruckers, Cheddar’s, Golden Corral, Applebee’s, The Cheesecake Factory, Arby’s, Chipotle, Panera, Burger King, Red Robin, and others. The advantage of these arrangements is that a newly-opened location will receive immediate leads from these partner establishments.
Although each Patrice & Associates franchisee has a territory to develop, new clients may be obtained anywhere in the country, and a franchisee can essentially operate a virtual business with a cell phone and laptop from anywhere they want to travel.
This company currently ranks #155 (down from last year’s position of #119) on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1989 and franchising since 2010, the number of locations has risen in recent years to the current total of 142 (up from last year’s total of 107), only one of which is company-owned and two of which are located outside the U.S.
5. AtWork Group
AtWork Group has been in the staffing and recruiting business since 1986 when it was started by John D. Hall, Jr. It matches job seekers to positions in administrative, light-industrial, medical, home health care, and management level positions “at some of the nation’s largest and most recognizable companies,” although the AtWork website does not elaborate on that claim by providing any specific names of companies it works with.
On the employer side of the equation, AtWork has three specialized divisions: AtWork Personnel for administrative and light industrial temporary and recruitment service (temp, temp-to-hire, and direct hire); AtWork Medical for medical recruitment services focused on recruiting medical, home healthcare, and senior care professionals; and AtWork Search executive recruitment services for recruiting management-level professionals across a range of industries.
This company currently ranks #363 (a giant drop from last year’s position of #88) on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1986 and franchising since 1992, the number of locations has risen in recent years to the current total of 93 (two less than last year’s total), of which only one is company-owned and all are located in the U.S.
6. Sanford Rose Associates (SRA) International
Sanford Rose Associates (SRA) International has a different focus than the other companies on this list because it is an executive search firm specializing in retained search services for experienced executives, management, and individual contributors. Its reputation depends on recruiting highly qualified professionals.
What SRA brings to the table are office owners who have an average of 20 years of experience in their industries and an in-depth understanding of what clients need, and most of them have been executive search consultants, hiring managers, or both.
SRA uses its proprietary Dimensional Search process to match clients and candidates along multiple dimensions such as basic expectations, technical requirements in the form of education and experience, cultural fit, chemistry between candidate and hiring manager, and the translatability of the candidate’s experiences and capabilities to the position’s responsibilities and major projects.
SRA has been named among the top 10 search firms by Executive Search Review. This company currently ranks #298 (up from last year’s position of #308) on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1959 and franchising since 1970, the number of locations has grown in recent years to the current total of 90 (up from last year’s total of 87), none of which are company-owned and two of which are located outside the U.S.
PrideStaff was founded by George Rogers in 1978. Its core business is placing its associates at small and medium-sized businesses as well as a number of Fortune 500 companies and multinational organizations who need to maintain high-caliber workforces. PrideStaff can place associates at all levels in companies, from entry to executive, and takes care to develop a workforce that reflects the diversity of the market being served.
The company utilizes the Net Promoter framework (developed by client loyalty guru Fred Reichheld), which utilizes continual measurement and response to feedback centered on the all-important question of whether or not someone would recommend this company to a friend or colleague. This constant feedback from both employer clients and job candidates is the company’s primary method to achieve continuous improvement.
PrideStaff has received the coveted Best of Staffing award from Inavero. This company currently ranks #156 (down from last year’s position of #113) on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1978 and franchising since 1995, the number of locations has risen in recent years to the current total of 80 (one more than last year’s total), of which only two are company-owned and all of which are located in the U.S.
8. Fortune Personnel Consultants (FPC)
Fortune Personnel Consultants (FPC) is an executive recruiting firm founded in 1959 by Rudy Schott in New York City. Each franchisee has the freedom and flexibility to choose the industries and disciplines they want to focus on and assist client companies through the entire recruitment and hiring process.
Franchisees also have a lot of latitude to develop individual models for success within the FPC network structure, so it’s an opportunity ideally suited for entrepreneurial recruitment experts who want to be innovative in their work. The company website lists 34 different specializations, each with multiple example job titles for which FPC services would be appropriate.
Franchisees receive training centered around telephone technique, time management, focusing on the best clients, and developing a strong client and candidate base.
Because recruiting is a commission-based profession, the most talented and hard-working recruiters will enjoy the most financial success. As an owner, franchisees will also benefit from the success of any recruiters hired.
Founded in 1959 and franchising since 1973, the number of locations currently stands at 62 (down from last year’s total of 66), one of which is company-owned and one of which is located outside the U.S.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.