Most clients I meet these days ask me a variation on the question “what do you think about the apps”. For those who are not in our industry I am talking about the self-proclaimed heroes of the gig economy. The “disrupters”, staffing platforms, “the final nail in the coffin for temp recruitment agencies” apparently. And nowhere are they more prevalent than temp hospitality. Pretty much without fail they all cropped up mid-end of 2015; in fact almost exactly the same time as we started appetite4work- we are pretty much the only “traditional” agency to start up since then and the market has moved a mountain since, but whilst they have definitely had an impact it certainly hasn’t stopped us growing a decent business in a congested market place.
My answer, when I’m asked, is always pretty similar – they are just agencies, and should be judged on the same things as the rest of us – quality of service and staff they deliver. Far from being the death knell to us, the industry is realising the great benefits of integrating new technology into their businesses to create not only a better candidate and client experience but also substantially cut admin (and therefore costs) in what is a margin sensitive industry. Meantime the Apps are getting the gist that you DO need middle men in a people industry – tech staff and a platform are not enough especially in hospitality – and it’s no surprise to see them investing in bricks and mortar as well as customer service teams to look after the clients and staff. After all (as a client of mine once said) can you shout at an app when your staff member doesn’t turn up? Can an App garner enough loyalty to get someone to go to work when they’d really rather not? Can an App solve a pay query, or make someone feel they are not just a number, or even ask how your weekend was? Algorithms can deal with the boring stuff but in a candidate short market people are king and the personal touch goes a long way.
So almost Tony Blair like there is a march for the middle ground where great technology meets real people and ultimately the strongest of both will survive. We have already seen some agencies have disappeared, my guess is that shortly some of the apps will also, and we will be left with the best of both (with very similar propositions) and of course more newcomers to keep us on our toes. And as for appetite4work – yes we have an app4work– I never publish pictures of it, as it can’t pull a pint or knock out 300 covers at a banquet, so I prefer to show you pictures of our wonderful staff in action. We also have online booking for staff, a paper free application process and electronic timesheets and invoices but they sit in the background helping us to deliver a seamless service – they are not what we “do”. We “do” great staff backed up with personable honest service – and that will always be the winner in my opinion.
So that’s what I think about the apps – what do you think?