How Foodstuffs Saved Over $1M in Agency Fees


Finding and hiring the right talent is tough enough these days. Add in the complexity of filling high volume retail roles alongside cutting edge corporate roles — from the top to the bottom of the country no less — and it gets a whole lot tougher.

Just ask grocery retailer Foodstuffs North Island, or Foodies as it’s known, whose 350+ stores, regional support centers, warehouses, and transport hubs employ around 22,000 people across the North Island of New Zealand in a wide variety of roles, ranging from front line, customer-centric positions to every type of corporate and distribution role/s you can imagine.

Being a Co-Operative, they run a decentralized recruitment model, with each store handling their own recruitment. That left the support center and warehouse units turning to recruiting agencies for help — at the cost of approximately NZD $1.6M in fees annually. Looking for a better way, Foodies decided it was time to change up their talent acquisition process.

One of the first places they started? Their ATS. Here’s how Foodstuffs leveraged Lever to reduce their agency fees and create a better candidate and recruiter experience all with one platform.

Making the switch to a new ATS

Foodstuffs already had an an applicant tracking system in place, but the software was set up primarily for the retail stores to use. Since each store runs its own recruiting process, the recruiters felt the pain of the system that was not optimized to support office hiring.

Very early on, the team decided they didn’t want a procurement-led process to choose their new ATS, so they prioritized three key things: candidate experience, recruiter experience, and the hiring manager experience. They then embarked on demo after demo to compare a number of ATS solutions. After seeing how Lever worked in nine or ten different use cases, the company decided it was the right ATS for them and made the switch.

David Gordon, Talent Programmes Manager at Foodstuffs, says, “It’s not very often you hear people wax lyrically about their ATS, but Lever’s implementation process was enough to persuade the team it was possible to love your ATS. The usability, room for customization, and support from the Lever team made the whole process not only smooth, but also enjoyable.”

Putting the candidate in the driver’s seat

Foodies knew the research about candidate drop-off rates, and they knew to attract the best talent, they needed to put the candidate in the driver’s seat — including applying as a guest, rather than requiring interested people to create a profile.

Recruiters and hiring managers now get to have more ownership over the process. Recruiters manage job requisitions, with a focus on the entire experience being candidate-centric. And hiring managers can now provide feedback and approval from their smartphones and schedule interviews painlessly, thanks to Lever’s automation.

Another factor in the decision to go with Lever was that the system enabled recruiters to do what they do best… recruit! The team now performs far less admin, they are not scheduling interviews, and now hiring teams have insight into what’s working and what’s not, with easy-to-access data right there in the Lever dashboard.

“Too often, recruiters are bogged down with too many things; compliance checks, admin, workforce planning, scheduling… everything but the true art and science of recruitment. Lever enables my team to do what they do best; find the best talent for our business,” says Gordon.

Reducing agency fees 87%

One of the main goals for Foodies was to reduce its spend on recruiting agencies. The team set a savings target of NZ $500,000 in the first year, which they blew out of the water, reducing their spend to approx NZ $200,000, an 87% reduction in agency fees from the original NZ $1.6M, while actually hiring 10% more people than the previous year.

The cause for this drastic improvement? Equal parts process and automation. Now, recruiting teams get to use a better system that helps them find candidates more quickly. Candidates are also moving through the funnel faster, too. And, because recruiters now get to approach recruiting like sales people approach customers, using Lever like sales teams use a CRM, they’re better able to build relationships and nurture strong candidates over time.

“We were ecstatic when we smashed our cost saving target, and we capped off 2018 by winning Large Retail Employer of the year in New Zealand. I’m convinced Lever played a part in both achievements. Now in 2019, one of our big focuses is internal hiring. We’ve set some audacious goals and we’re excited that one of Lever’s latest updates is an internal hiring portal. It just keeps getting better and feels in tune with our talent acquisition strategies,” says Gordon

Ready to choose and implement the right recruitment and automation platform for your company? Start with our guide, How to Choose the Best Applicant Tracking System.