As a general rule, front office work is "people work" and that involves dealing with clients, employees and applicants, either in person, on the phone or at the computer. Your sales staff will usually be out of the office by about 9 a.m. to drum up clients for you, so this section is about the people work those in the office (for instance, recruiters, employment counselors, coordinators, etc.) will be doing.
Most staffing services are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., or some close approximation thereof. During that 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, since clients rarely visit and most employees come in only occasionally (for example, to pick up a paycheck).
Once your staffing service is up and running, you'll no longer be sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. In fact, you (and your employees) can expect to spend a lot of time on the phone, especially in the morning, when staffing services invariably buzz with activity.
So who exactly will be phoning you? Prospective employees, current employees and clients--that's who. They'll be calling you to request information, report availability, place a work order, cancel a work order or report a crisis.
These categories should cover most of the calls your office receives on a typical morning. But incoming calls are only half the picture. Outgoing calls are the other half. Following are some of the types of calls you and your front desk personnel can expect to make: arrival calls, second-day calls, placement calls, replacement calls, courtesy calls, sales calls, follow-up calls and verification calls.
Location, Location, Location
This saying might hail from the real estate industry, but it's equally true for the staffing industry. Office location does matter, and generally speaking, your home is not a good one. You need a professional atmosphere in which to test applicants, interview likely candidates, train employees and hold the occasional business meeting.
Generally speaking, anything from a strip mall location to a street-front location to an office in an industrial park can work for a staffing service. As you scope out possible territory, you should consider all of the following:
- Image. Dyana V. finds that location can be extremely important to image in the legal industry. That's why she and her husband located their company in one of the main bank buildings in downtown Seattle. "We want to let the candidates who come in to interview know that we're professionals--that we're upscale legal placement," she says.
- Client proximity. On the theory that where there are clients, there will also be workers, sometimes choosing your location based on the clientele you'd like to attract is a good plan. For instance, a staffing service in Chicago could support corporate giants such as Ace Hardware, McDonald's, Platinum Technologies and Inland Realty.
- Accessibility: It's important that your location be easy for potential employees to reach. Choose your location with recruiting in mind. "Our biggest concern is being in an area that's good for our employee population, because the clients come into our office very rarely. We go to theirs," says one owner.
- Economic Feasability:You may need to minimize overhead. "One of our competitors has an office outside of the downtown area, under the highway, and he gets away with it," says Dyana V., "his overhead is very low."
- Expansion possibilities: Keep in mind that your business will (you hope) grow. A location that provides room for expansion can be very important, since moving is expensive.
- Lease flexibility: If you're starting small, such that moving wouldn't be an expensive disaster, it's a good idea to consider temporary space for the first few months of your company's life. If you discover you've made a mistake, you don't want to be locked into a long lease. Make sure the landlord will work with you.