TaxSlayer, an Augusta-based online tax preparation company, has faced seasonal hiring challenges since its inception in the early 2000’s. The company’s call volume increases steadily for roughly six months leading up to Tax Day in mid-April, and then falls off dramatically beginning in May. This results in a unique need for skilled, informed employees for nearly half the calendar year.
TaxSlayer partnered with Loop in 2015 to address the challenges inherent to a relatively long seasonal hiring sprint for a trained, technically-savvy workforce. Our situational analysis of TaxSlayer in 2015 yielded three primary challenges the company faced in staffing its call center:
1 - Volume
TaxSlayer typically hires 300 customer support specialists each year to assist with a mix of technical support and tax support questions. The busy season lasts between 5-6 months and customer volume rises and falls quickly. We first responded to the challenge of uniquely timed, high-volume hiring by examining TaxSlayer’s standard candidate profile, including education, previous work history, and current pay rate. We found that they were underutilizing Augusta’s robust student population and refocused their recruitment efforts towards Augusta University, Augusta Tech, and USC-Aiken. We also identified that their hourly pay rates needed to be increased to remain competitive within the market. These subtle changes immediately enabled us to tap into a previously underutilized population of candidates. This significantly increased the volume of qualified candidates and helped us reach the goal of recruiting 300 candidates for the 2016 tax season.
2 - Competition
TaxSlayer onboards and trains their team in November and December, which coincides with the seasonal hiring of major retailers across the country. Seasonal hiring is challenging for most businesses, but with TaxSlayer we recognized an opportunity to position their open customer support roles differently. Our team worked to redefine the context of the roles candidates were accepting through us at TaxSlayer. In job postings, career fairs, and interviews, we emphasized that customer service and technical support with TaxSlayer was a great way for candidates to begin acareer in technology. This was particularly appealing to recent college graduates and Augusta’s stable population of retired military personnel and military spouses. This made the position at TaxSlayer significantly more appealing than a seasonal retail position of similar duration and pay because it could lead to a career beyond temporary employment.
3 - Retention
Tax season officially starts on January 1st and ends around April 15th, and TaxSlayer has to maintain its highest levels of support up to the very end of its season. This often results in over-hiring and consequently over-spending on the front end to ensure an adequate number of employees remain engaged for the duration of the season. When addressing this particular challenge, we considered how best to mitigate excess spend while keeping the call center fully staffed for the entire season. After analyzing several options, we advised TaxSlayer to bring on a full-time internal resource to manage the seasonal hiring efforts, while retaining our services to accommodate for ebbs and flows in qualified contingent labor. Following this recommendation, TaxSlayer was able to achieve significant payroll savings by reducing the volume of hires on the front end of the project. Our staffing team served as a contingent backup to those internal efforts and was on demand to supply additional contractors throughout the season in the event of a major fall-off.
“For hard to fill positions, it’s nice to turn the process over to LOOP. They've now filled key roles in our Software Development, Marketing, and IT departments and we've been very pleased by their approach to finding talent.”
Brian Rhodes, TaxSlayer.com
Over the last three years, Loop’s relationship with TaxSlayer has developed into a true partnership that is no longer exclusive to seasonal hiring. In 2017, Loop’s recruiting team built out TaxSlayer’s executive leadership group, recruiting candidates from all over the country to lead the company’s marketing, product, and software development departments. We signed an RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) contract in 2018 and began to manage all recruiting and hiring for full-time employees across the organization. We renewed the RPO agreement in 2019 after a year of successful hiring, and our partnership continues in this capacity today.