Promotional Staffing Agencies face Two Challenges

Ten years ago, Josh, an actor and promotional staff member earned between £10 and £12 per hour, up to three times minimum wage, working on experiential marketing campaigns up and down the UK.  The comparative high pay made the industry compelling, enabling him, as well as countless students, artists, actors, musicians, dancers etc., to pursue their primary career or educational goals.  This value proposition enticed excellent staff and left room for the agencies to make strong margins.

Fast forward ten years and minimum wage has increased from £4.20 to £6.08, whilst agencies continue to pay £10 per hour due to price pressures from clients.  In real terms, the value of this industry to the likes of Josh has declined 31%.  The pain isn’t one sided either, the cost of employment has increased for the agency over this period and the economic conditions have driven margin down considerably.

This leaves staffing agencies with two challenges:

  • How to create a value proposition for staff that continues to entice the very best people and keeps them motivated enough to deliver excellent work, consistently, and for a sustained period of time.
  • How to deploy staff on to activity more efficiently without dehumanising the booking process, creating significant resource savings that ensure agencies can increase profit per head and shore up defences against increased cost competitiveness.

Both of these challenges are excellent opportunities and those agencies that choose to address them stand to capitalise as old school agency models gradually lose to market pressures.

At watu, we believe that the solution to both of these challenges lies in the technology platform, more specifically, in a platform that creates an ecosystem that drives time efficiency, transparency and stakeholder participation from both sides of the fence.  We’re building this ecosystem.

Exciting times lie ahead.

Our mission

The world of staffing is changing and is set to go through radical change in the coming years as we shift to more flexible working models of freelancers, multiple jobbers and short term contracts.  The old staffing agency model of ‘them and us’, the agency calling an otherwise unengaged database of faceless individuals to fulfil a short term contract will no longer stand up to the economic and cultural demands of the next decade.  Success in this new age will come to those agencies committed to running community centric businesses, engaging with their databases of staff as stakeholders, valuing the individuals as customers and treating them as such.

This new philosophy, a commitment to more intimate engagement with the community, will bring huge productivity gains as collaboration enables the distribution of resource, an amplification of knowledge share, far greater staff retention and more productive application from those staff on activity.

Fundamental to this goal is the technology that drives this engagement.  We are building this technology.  We know that within each element of the staffing lifecycle, productivity efficiencies and communication opportunities reside, along with a whole host of newly imagined ways of working and it is our mission to realise these gains to ensure that agencies don’t miss out on the energies and capabilities of their people.

Why ‘watu’?

We’ve been getting loads of great feedback on the our name and our logo, so thank you…Mum and Dad.  Watu (pronounced wa’too) is a swahili word meaning people. Our CEO & Co Founder was born and bred in Mombasa, Kenya and in contrast to the usual time consuming name jostling and branding that startups go through, we came up with our name in no more than 5 minutes.  

watu is an appropriate moniker for our business as we’re creating an application that is entirely about people, creating efficiency and rich user experience for the people who use watu from the manager side, through to those who utilise it to find and apply for jobs. watu is for the watu wote (all the people). 

Our watu warble

Welcome to our blog and thanks for coming. 

Full disclosure: Our ramblings aren’t particularly ‘strategic’.  We’re here to talk about our startup, our vision, all of the challenges (whether technical, strategic or mundane), the highs and lows and everything in between.  There may even be the occasional cry for help. 

‘Do’ expect stretches of nothingness but ‘Don’t’ assume the worst of us, it’s only because we’ll be really busy elsewhere.  We’re looking forward to our little blog, the voice it gives us, and hopefully, the chance to engage with you. 
So here goes.