A Day in the Life of a Staffing Agency Owner
This excerpt is part of Entrepreneur.com's Second-Quarter Startup Kit which explores the fundamentals of starting up in a wide range of industries.
In Start Your Own Staffing Service, the staff at Entrepreneur Press and writer Krista Thoren Turner explain how to start and run a successful staffing service. In this edited excerpt, the authors offer details on the kinds of tasks you'll be doing on a daily basis when you're running a staffing service.
Most staffing services are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., or some close approximation thereof. During this time, you should always have someone at the front desk, ready to greet those who walk in. The majority of people coming through your doors will be applicants, because clients rarely visit and most employees come in only occasionally. When prospective employees come into your staffing service, you should do the following:
Ask what kind of job the candidate is looking for.
Ask for a resume. Take a look at the education and job experience sections, at the very least. Few things are more off-putting to a job seeker than handing out painstakingly assembled resumes, only to have them immediately tossed aside.
Ask for identification. You need to see either proof of U.S. citizenship or a green card, because you can't employ illegal aliens. Get two forms of identification, at least one with a photo (e.g., a driver's license).
Collect paperwork. All prospective employees should complete at least part of an application (the part that doesn't duplicate information already on a resume), a questionnaire, and a reference release form that allows their former employers to provide you with information.
Test likely candidates. Depending on the job sought, prospective employees might be required to take a typing test, a spelling and grammar test, a math test, a computer knowledge test, and a special knowledge test (e.g., legal, medical, etc.). You can do all this testing on computers, though some are done on paper.
Interview successful applicants. Someone who does well on all the tests is a good bet as a prospective employee. If possible, don't let such a person walk out the door without being interviewed. In these days of fierce competition for labor, your goal should be to get successful candidates signed up with your service the very day they walk in.
Call employment references, and perform other necessary checks. Front-desk personnel who aren't involved with the interview should be calling the applicant's references and performing other checks (background checks, educational checks, etc.).
Provide some orientation. Successful candidates who become new employees should be given orientation. At the very least, you should hand employees a stack of time sheets, a business card, and an orientation packet. The latter doesn't need to be complicated, but you should have material that outlines what time they should call in their availability (usually first thing in the morning), explains how the time sheet system works, and informs them of any other special office procedures, including how and when they'll be paid. You should provide a list of legal dos and don'ts Your material should also list your responsibilities to your employees--as well as theirs to you.
Once your staffing service is up and running, you can expect to spend a lot of time on the phone, especially in the morning, when staffing services invariably buzz with activity. These are the type of incoming and outgoing calls you'll be handling:
Request information. New candidates call about signing on as temporary workers. Encourage them to come in and apply.
Report availability. Temporary employees call to let you know they're available for assignment. All names should be put onto your availability list, also known as a "hot list."
Call in a time sheet. Some temporary employees call in their time sheets, especially if they're running late on a payroll deadline. Take down the information, but let employees know you need a hard copy with the client company signature before issuing a paycheck.
Place or cancel a work order. Clients call to request temporary employees. When a client cancels an assignment, some staffing services charge a four-hour minimum fee. The employee may get two-hour time-and-trouble pay.
Report a crisis. Both clients and temporary employees call to report problems. Client problems include no-show workers, billing questions or dissatisfaction with workers. Temporary employee problems include dissatisfaction with a job and inability to report to an assignment (e.g., employee is sick or has another emergency).
Arrival calls. Most owners call clients to make sure temporary employees have arrived.
Placement calls. Once you've made a match, call the employee and offer the temporary position.
Replacement calls. If an employee calls in sick or is unable to take an assigned position, inform the client and then quickly find a replacement for that employee.
Courtesy calls. Most staffing services call clients weekly to touch base.
Sales calls. You'll call both prospective and existing clients to generate new business.
Follow-up calls. Call your temporary employees several days into their assignments to determine if the job was as quoted; if for some reason it's not, you can then call the customer.
Back-office work falls into the following categories:
Accounts payable. All your company expenses, including employee paychecks, utility bills, and other expenses, are handled through accounts payable.
Accounts receivable. You'll need to generate invoices, bill clients and keep a close eye on overdue payments. Expect to make phone calls and write letters to remind clients they need to pay you.
Benefits. This involves keeping track of employee insurance, vacations, retirement plans, etc.
Payroll. As the employer, you must figure out all federal, state, local and employee tax deductions. Most staffing services do payroll the first half of the week and distribute checks on Fridays.
Reports. You'll gather a lot of information and generate reports (e.g., markup, number of job orders, fill ratio, etc.) to see how your business is doing.
Supplies. Simply put, you need to make sure your business doesn't run out of office supplies.