WSI, a light industrial staffing agency based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is a highly rated agency that has won multiple Best of Staffing awards from ClearlyRated.

As a way to leverage their talent community to grow their business, WSI made candidate referrals a key part of their sourcing strategy. They’d heard about Staffing Referrals automated referral management (ARM) software, and in mid-2020, they gave it a shot. This was before Staffing Referrals was integrated with Avionté, and the initial results were not as strong as they had hoped. Then, last year, after hearing positive things about the new Avionté integration, WSI decided to give ARM another try.

“We’d heard about the Staffing Referrals/Avionté integration from a customer who was having a lot of success with the platform, as well as from a consultant we work with, which prompted a second look,” said Lindsey Grassnick, WSI’s Manager of Technology and Implementation. “The difference has been night and day. We’re at almost a 40% placement rate for our referrals.”

“Referral starts have increased significantly as a percentage of total starts,” added John Johnstone, an account manager at WSI. “In Q4 of 2022, referrals represented about 15% of all starts. We rolled out Staffing Referrals in Q4 of 2023, and immediately saw referrals jump to almost 20% of all starts.”

Setting up for success: Referral culture consulting

For their second rollout of the platform, WSI participated in Staffing Referrals’ referral culture consulting program, which sets agencies up for success by surveying their talent and recruiters to uncover opportunities, helping set goals and KPIs for referrals, and getting everyone in the organization on the same page.

“The referral culture consulting helped us reset and let our people know that we’re making referrals a priority,” Johnstone said.

Grassnick noted that the program also helped them understand the benchmarks they should be aiming for, as well as set and track KPIs related to referrals.

The results: 20x ROI on the platform, admin time saved, and a better candidate and recruiter experience

Higher ROI with higher quality candidates 

In just over three months of using Staffing Referrals, WSI is already seeing results. They currently have a placement rate of 38.9% for referrals, compared to 10% for candidates from Indeed.

Not only that, but referrals stay 346% longer on the job than candidates from Indeed (58 vs 13 days, respectively). That makes every placement from referrals equal to 3-4 placements from Indeed.

“Our ROI on referrals is much better than any other lead source,” Johnstone said. “We get a $1,100 ROI from every referral placement, compared to $300 from job board placements. Even if we just maintain starts, but more are from referrals, we will be ahead financially because the referrals work longer. This means we can spend less time and money recruiting into the ever-revolving door of turnover.”

Taken together, this adds up to a 20x ROI on WSI’s investment in the Staffing Referrals platform.

Less admin work

On the admin side, Staffing Referrals allows WSI to track referrals much easier and much more accurately than they could previously.

“Before, we had to log the referral on the Avionté talent profile and also put all of the person’s information into a spreadsheet. It was very tedious to fill out,” Grassnick said. “Now, with the integration, Staffing Referrals automatically tracks referrals and hours worked for us, which significantly cuts down on admin work.”

Having the information in Staffing Referrals also allows WSI to audit their data to ensure accuracy. “Sometimes our recruiters forget to update the source tag in Avointé for referrals they add manually [i.e., referrals that come in via email, by phone, or in person]. But I can compare the data in Staffing Referrals to our new starts reports in Avionté to catch any that we missed, which makes our referral data much more accurate.”

A better experience for candidates and recruiters

WSI had a referral program before implementing Staffing Referrals, but the software has improved the referral experience for both candidates and recruiters.

On the candidate experience side, Grassnick notes that the entire process is more transparent. In addition, one unexpected benefit of the automated messages is that candidates now have a point of contact at the agency.

For recruiters, Johnstone says that the platform keeps referrals top of mind. “The team has a more positive attitude toward referrals knowing we have this tool,” he said.

And both audiences like the gamification aspect. “Staffing Referrals gamifies referrals in a way we didn’t have before,” Grassnick said. “Branches can compete against each other, as can ambassadors.”

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