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Small-business profile: MarkIT Staffing Solutions

Kevork Salmastlian created a fast-growing IT staffing business while keeping overheads low

Every business these days needs talent to help it keep up with a disruptive marketplace. Back in 2010, corporate recruiter Kevork Salmastlian recognized how important tech talent was going to be for corporations in finance and capital markets. However, at the time “recruitment firms weren’t focused on these clients,” Salmastlian says.

“We’ve had clients with us since the beginning. Now over 90% of our business is repeat clients”

So he launched Toronto-based MarkIT Staffing Solutions and began connecting corporations with candidates who possessed the rare combination of tech savvy and financial acumen. His focus reaped rewards. From 2012 to 2016, the firm’s revenues jumped 410%, and now range between $3 million and $5 million annually. “We’ve had clients with us since the beginning. Now over 90% of our business is repeat clients,” says Salmastlian.

With the rise of the freelance economy, roughly 80% of the IT people MarkIT Staffing places at companies work as contractors, and the rest as salaried employees. The firm employs an honesty-is-the-best-policy approach to building client relationships, which Salmastlian credits with helping MarkIT Staffing maintain its first-to-market advantage.

While some firms tell clients what they
want to hear, we will give a reality check on
their requirements

“Before we take on an assignment, we’re thorough about asking the client a lot of questions about what they are looking for and being really open and honest in reviewing their requirements for the position,” he says. “In some cases, we’ve had to educate our clients about the market. While some firms tell clients what they want to hear, we will give a reality check on their requirements.”

Profit margins are also very healthy for the business. That is because Salmastlian works to keep overhead costs low. The firm outsources back-office needs like accounting and has its staff, which fluctuates between three and five full-time associates, work remotely using mobile and digital connectivity. MarkIT Staffing also keeps its documents – including a constantly updated list of candidate profiles – in the cloud.

“It is much cheaper for us than having servers and technical specialists in-house,” he says. “This way everything is taken care of, and there is no downtime, as this business demands you be on seven days a week.”

The resource MarkIT Staffing uses most to help keep its business top of mind with both clients and candidates? LinkedIn.

When the firm needs a physical meeting place, it relies on “office hoteling,” renting out downtown office space by the day and even by the hour. “Sometimes we need to do a lot of interviews with candidates face-to-face. Office hoteling is a great solution for us as we don’t have to pay rent and it keeps our overhead costs low.”

The resource MarkIT Staffing uses most to help keep its business top of mind with both clients and candidates? LinkedIn. “We network through it, and let our connections know what is going on in the market with updates,” says Salmastlian. “LinkedIn also has an Instant Message feature that allows us to converse back-and-forth with people.”

At the end of every year, Salmastlian reviews MarkIT Staffing’s client accounts, identifies the hiring managers for whom they’ve done particularly good work, and explores whether those managers have colleagues who may also benefit from the firm’s services. “It has been a great way to grow the business and tap into our strengths,” he says.

Learn how another small business is helping other companies work better.