Join us as we reveal the shortcomings of the agency model, and explain why Stint is nothing like a traditional staffing agency…


The Problem

Looking for good, efficient agency staff? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we don’t think they exist.

That’s not to say there is anything wrong with the people that make up the agency workforce. We have no doubt that they have the potential to be hardworking, diligent employees. The problem is that they are held back by the system — agency staff are’t helpful because the agency model of working is flawed on so many levels.

The first thing you need to know about Stint: we are  not a hospitality agency in any way, shape or form — we know that agency staff just won’t cut it.

We’ve listened to horror stories from operators who have sworn never to use agency staff again, and put together a list of reasons as to why agency staff are so unlikely to deliver the results you need…

1. Experience

It is relatively insulting to assume that someone who has never worked in your business before can simply rock up and do a great job. They almost certainly can’t — and that’s by no means  a reflection on them as an individual. Nobody could.

After all, they don’t know who’s who, they don’t know where anything is, they don’t know your menu, your brand/concept, or your customers. These things considered, how are they meant to operate successfully? 

The more likely scenario is that they end up getting in the way and slowing things down, causing more stress for the rest of your brilliant team.

That’s because the agency model asks temporary staff to fill in all over your business, in roles they aren’t necessarily trained enough to do so successfully. This approach will only create entirely new problems, as you can’t paper over the cracks when it comes to customer service. 

You always need to have enough core staff to handle the more personal tasks, irrespective of who’s available when. Short-term replacements won’t cut it if they expected to own customer-facing interactions that are traditionally the responsibility of your full time staff.

That’s why Stint promotes a division of labour approach, whereby the Stint students take care of the  basic tasks, such as clearing and resetting tables, whilst your core staff remain customer-facing and in charge of the customer experience. 

That means that, unlike agency staff, your Stint additions won’t be scurrying around, asking questions or getting in the way. Instead, we encourage our students to keep a low profile, not make a fuss, and get on with whatever your core team needs. As a result of the information provided during our comprehensive onboarding process and the guidance visible on the app,  our students will be entirely aware of what’s expected of them and be able to get on with their tasks as soon as they arrive. 

2. Price

The agency system just doesn’t work — but you wouldn’t guess that judging by the price of agency staff. 

Agency staff are significantly more expensive per-hour than your permanent team, even though they may be nowhere near as experienced or competent. The main reason they are so expensive is because the agency charges a 20% surcharge on their wages. 

Not only that, but the reactive nature of the agency model means that any extra pair of hands can be seen to represent an increase in labour costs and additional financial burden.

That’s why we advocate a proactive approach, rather than the reactive model offered by traditional agencies.

We aren’t suggesting that you hire more staff; we advocate staffing more efficiently. We encourage businesses to integrate Stint into their business, meaning that the cost is considered within your overall labour bill. When used correctly, Stint should result in a reduction in your overall labour percentage, whilst ensuring that you have the correct number of staff throughout every hour of the day. 

And, unlike most traditional agencies, we factor in the cost of national insurance and pension contribution, holiday and sick pay, and other costs that you would incur when hiring an employee, ensuring that our model is as cost-effective for your operations as possible. 

3. Retention & Inflexibility

Say you do get someone from an agency who does well. What’s the guarantee that you’ll get to work with that same person again? 

It’ll only be possible if their availability matches up with your own, a reality that is more unlikely than it might first seem. That’s because anyone doing agency work is likely to be doing it for one of two reasons — neither of which suit you.

Firstly, they could be doing agency work as a means of finding the work they need from elsewhere. These staff won’t be interested in one or two hour shifts, as they need as much work as they can get. Equally, in this scenario, agency workers who do well are likely to form either more permanent relationships with the businesses themselves, drawing them out of the agency in the process. That means that any gems in the agency worker supply pool won’t hang around for very long, and those that remain probably aren’t good enough. 

Alternatively, they might only want to work every so often. But that desire for flexibility means that this type of agency worker is likely to request different shifts each week. As you know, that isn’t how the hospitality industry works. You don’t need extra staff on a Tuesday afternoon — you need them on busy evenings or during the run up to Christmas. Thus, by its very nature, the agency model is built to be inflexible — yet the staff they provide are more often than not looking for the exact opposite.

It is this paradox that renders the employment agency model flawed. It relies on people who want to work flexibly, but operates in what is ultimately a rigid and inflexible market. 

That’s why we believe that it’s time for a new model in regards to bringing in extra staff, this time one that actually works for operators as well as those actually seeking part-time work.

Unlike agency staff, students aren’t looking for full-time work; they’re happy to work short two to three-hour shifts around their university schedule as a means of earning an extra bit of cash. It just so happens that these shorter shifts match the duration of your spikes in trade. That means that a student is far more likely than an agency worker to be available to work on your terms, when you actually need them during your busy periods.

4. Short Term Thinking

The way agencies operate encourages you to think short-term. That’s because they are about filling gaps in your staffing rota at late notice. Realise you need an extra pair of hands for tomorrow evening? Going via an agency might be your only hope.

We prefer to think ahead, so we can put the long-term interests of your business into consideration. Our model is all about anticipating when you will need extra support, during consistent spikes in trade, rather than reacting to last minute changes of circumstance.

By using Stint, you will be able eradicate the need for any last minute call-ups, because we’ll make sure you have enough staff at every hour, every week. When was the last time you had more customers in at 4pm than you did at 8pm? That’s because hospitality peaks revolve around meal times and are incredibly consistent as a result. 

As a result, finding the right amount of staff for each individual hour isn’t something that needs to be left to the last minute. That’s why we encourage users to book Stints at least a week ahead of time. Rather than being a tool to help fill in the gaps when they arise, we want to be a part of your staffing rota in the same way that you would manage your core team. 

So whilst the need for agency staff might indicate that a restaurant is disorganised, using Stint implies the opposite — that you are proactive, innovative and efficient.

How do we do it?

We use personalised data to calculate how you should staff most efficiently throughout the entire week, including both your core team shifts as well as any Stints on top. 

That means we’ll be able to give you a concrete plan for every hour of the working week and set goals dependent on what we expect you to achieve. That leaves you with a clear guide detailing just how much you can increase your revenue and minimise costs if you take our advice onboard.

If you want to learn more about how we make sure you have the right amount of staff at all times, check out the blog on our Labour Productivity Model.