This annual list of the best staffing/recruiting franchises was revised and updated on May 4, 2021.
Almost every business will face staffing needs at some point, whether it’s providing temporary labor, recruiting new staff, or performance and risk management. Many companies don’t have the specialist skills and experience in house to deal with these issues, and so staffing businesses have sprung up to provide these services. Among them are a number of franchises.
Staffing is integral to the economy, and so there will always be some demand for the services of staffing agencies. Staffing companies hire 16 million temporary and contract employees each year, helping companies to fill gaps in their workforces.
Recent shifts in how people work have been beneficial for staffing companies. Jobs for life are now a thing of the past, and most people will repeatedly change roles and employers throughout their careers. The gig economy has added to a sense of employment as something temporary and shifting, and it’s increasingly common to work part time, on short term contracts, or in several jobs at once. This increases the work available for staffing companies.
The exact level of demand is very dependent upon the state of the economy. This worked well for agencies during the long period of growth up to 2019, when the US staffing industry grew in value by $37 billion in seven years, to $151.8 billion. But the flip side of this is that the industry was very vulnerable to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, when many staffing and recruitment activities ground to a halt. The value of the industry fell by 21% in 2020, to $119.4 billion.
The industry is expected to recover to $134 billion in value in 2021, as the US economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic. With businesses rebuilding, and in many cases replacing staff they had to lay off during the pandemic, there will be plenty for staffing businesses to do, and this is likely to be true for several years to come. However, it is going to take time to recover to the incredible health the industry saw before the pandemic.
Many staffing agencies specialize in particular areas of employment, and it’s worth considering the value of these different sectors when looking at franchises. The busiest areas for staffing are industrial (36% of employees), office-clerical and administrative (24%), and professional-managerial (21%), and so this is where the most work lies. However, it’s also where the most competition will be found, and so anyone setting up a business has to consider the balance between opportunities and competition.
There are over 20,000 staffing and recruitment companies in the US, so the industry isn’t dominated by a few big players, and this means that there’s space for franchised companies to grow. As the economy rebuilds, now could be a good time to get in on staffing.
The Top Staffing/Recruiting Franchises of 2021
1. Express Employment Professionals
Express Employment Professionals provides a range of staffing services to companies who need workers. For companies who need workers, it’s all about the time and money spent finding, hiring, and replacing workers. Express helps these companies save time and money by handling a variety of employment services, including temporary and flexible staffing, evaluation and direct hire, professional/contract staffing, and management consulting for both individuals and businesses.
Founded by Robert Funk and William Stoller in 1983 and franchising since 1985, the number of locations has steadily climbed in recent years to the current total of 822 (up from the previously reported total of 800), of which none are company-owned and 58 are located outside the US.
Spherion provides workforce services to more than 3,000 client businesses that run the gamut in terms of industries and skillsets. It put more than 50,000 people to work last year alone, and claims a 94% recommend rate, though it wasn’t clear if that’s from the temp workers or the client businesses they serve.
Spherion is also one of the first staffing/recruiting companies in the industry to achieve the Safety Standard of Excellence mark from the American Staffing Association and National Safety Council. The company focuses on building long-term relationships with local businesses and being very active charitable givers to local causes in the communities where there are locations.
Founded by Leroy Dettman in Chicago in 1946 and franchising since 1956, the number of locations currently stands at 197 (up from the previously reported total of 193), of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
3. Labor Finders
Labor Finders has a distinct blue-collar focus as it provides temporary and temp-to-hire employees, payroll, and outsourcing to its client companies. The industries it serves include construction, maintenance, manufacturing, hospitality, moving, and trucking companies.
It especially makes a strong appeal to smaller and mid-sized companies for whom the various aspects of recruitment and hiring can take up a lot of time and money while also causing a lot of stress and hassles. Labor Finders works hard to take the pain out of the hiring process for its client companies.
Founded by Newton Burnett in 1975 and franchising since that same year, the number of locations hasn’t changed much in recent years and currently stands at a total of 194 (one less than the previously reported total), of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
4. Patrice & Associates
Patrice & Associates has a more narrow niche focus in its employment services as it focuses on the hospitality and restaurant sectors to help hotels, casinos, and restaurants of all types find the workers they need. The company especially focuses on filling executive and managerial positions in the hospitality industry.
Among the company’s special partners for those positions are well-known chains such as IHOP, Golden Corral, Applebee’s, The Cheesecake Factory, Arby’s, Chipotle, Panera, Burger King, and Red Robin, among others. This gives new franchise locations a distinct advantage because they will get immediate leads from these partners.
New franchisees don’t need to start off with an office. Instead, they can work with recruiters who work from home and establish an office location later. And startup costs for their basic model can be as low as $75,000 to $110,000.
Founded by Patrice Rice in 1989 and franchising since 2010, the number of locations has risen rapidly in recent years to the current total of 173 (up from the previously reported total of 157), of which none are company-owned and three are located outside the US.
5. Sanford Rose Associates (SRA) International
Sanford Rose Associates (SRA) International has a high-end focus on executive search services, specializing in retained search services to assist companies in finding and hiring highly qualified executives, managers, and other key individual contributors. To maintain its reputation, franchisees have search, recruitment, and hiring backgrounds that include an average experience of 20 years.
Because the key to success in this industry is making the right match between company clients and candidates, SRA has developed a proprietary system called Dimensional Search that covers a wide range of factors and characteristics. This company is now a top 9 search firm according to Executive Search Review.
Founded in 1959 and franchising since 1970, the number of locations has grown in recent years to the current total of 137 (up from the previously reported total of 102), of which none are company-owned and two are located outside the US.
6. Remedy Intelligent Staffing
Remedy Intelligent Staffing serves as the franchise division of parent company Employbridge, among the largest industrial staffing companies in the US. Like Spherion, it was among the first staffing companies to receive the Safety Standard of Excellence mark from American Staffing Association and National Safety Council.
Remedy works with all types of client businesses to provide a variety of staffing solutions, including recruiting/screening/selection, workforce management, performance management, risk management, and order/billing management.
Founded in 1965 and franchising since 1987, the number of locations has held relatively steady in recent years and currently stands at 130, of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
PrideStaff works with a wide range of client companies ranging from small and medium-sized businesses all the way to Fortune 500 corporations to fill all kinds of positions from entry-level workers to executive-level leaders. PrideStaff strives to ensure that the company’s workforce looks like the market the company services in terms of diversity.
The types of roles the company most commonly fills include administration, customer service, information technology, accounting and finance, legal support, healthcare, and production.
Founded by George Rogers in 1978 and franchising since 1995, the number of locations currently stands at 80 (up from the previously reported total of 79), of which three are company-owned and all are located in the US.
8. AtWork Group
AtWork Group has three primary divisions, including AtWork Personnel to fill administrative and light industrial positions (temp, temp-to-hire, and direct hire services); AtWork Medical to fill medical, home health care, and senior care positions; and AtWork Search to fill executive management-level positions in a variety of industries.
The company notes that an average of 3 million workers are hired each and every day, and there are many territories and markets available for new franchisees.
Founded by John D. Hall, Jr. in 1986 and franchising since 1992, the number of locations has risen in recent years to the current total of 74 (down from the previously reported total of 79), of which one is company-owned and all are located in the US.
9. Link Staffing Services
Link Staffing Services is somewhat different than the other companies on this list. Whereas the others give equal play to employees (job seekers) and employers (client businesses), Link’s website is clearly more geared to serving job seekers. The employer side of the equation is necessarily there as well, it’s just not as prominently featured.
While its initial focus was finding jobs for people in the skilled trades and light industry, it has since expanded to matching job seekers to roles in accounting, finance, IT, and administrative work. Staffing services include direct hire, full-time/part-time placements, temporary hires, contract hires, peak period staffing, managed staffing, vendor management, LINK-on-Location, and LINKCORPS veteran hiring. There are also a dozen different consulting and support services available to employers.
Founded by Bill and Karen Pitts in 1980 and franchising since 1994, the number of locations currently stands at 44, of which seven are company-owned and all are located in the US.
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.