If you are a recruitment agency and you supply temporary staff to larger companies - how are they assessing you? Here are a few key points that we think you should keep in mind when organizing your business.
Initial agency questions
There are a few classic questions that temporary agencies face quite often and that you should be used to or prepared for, including:
- What experience and expertise do you have recruiting in the industry we are in?
- Are there any specific industry recruiting or legislative trends or issues I should be aware of?
- Do you measure your client satisfaction and if so, how, and what was your latest score?
- How do you compare with other agencies in terms of price?
- What is your internal rate of staff turnover?
- If we go forward to a business relationship, how easy will it be to deal with you?
- How can you add value to my business over and above the temporary staff member that you are providing me?
Now, let's go through all of these a bit more thoroughly, shall we?
Experience and expertise
With permanent staff, a temporary candidate’s technical skills and culture fit are the most important factors. However, the fit will be greatly enhanced or improved if the agency has knowledge of the industry and people the client is working in. As an agency, you should be asked if you have filled similar positions within the industry and whether you have worked for your potential client’s competitors.
Industry trends or new legislation
This is an important question, as the agency should have alerts regarding new legislation not only regarding temporary staff, pay rates and working hours in general, but also those new laws and trends specific to the clients industry such as in the case of railway workers and the rail staff fatigue or the lone worker provisions covered by BS8484. Remember, as an agency, your client wants to consider you a trusted and strategic work advisor to his company. The more he feels this is the case, the more likely they will be to keep coming to you for staff, permanent or temporary.
You need a better measure of client satisfaction than three testimonials. Almost any company, unless they are dreadful, will be able to provide three good testimonials - and they will almost always be the three best you can find, instead of the average or the three most recent. Equally a website blog testimonial from a customer isn’t going to be representative, otherwise the agency wouldn’t have put it up there. Check out this article about how to effectively use client testimonials.
So, as an agency, you need to work out of have handy a satisfaction score or measure - check your current response and service levels - do you have a standard service level agreement? Are there any particular response times that are industry or job specific or standard? Some industries will be relaxed about a temp not turning up due to sickness whereas in some industries or if the temp is doing a time critical task they will be an expectation of an immediate response or replacement. Do you offer guarantees in terms of replacement staff or money back upon service delivery failure? And so on.
How do you compare on price?
Your potential client won’t just make a decision based on the cheapest price or lowest margin. From a client’s point of view, a bad recruitment decision can cost a lot more than just the margin you make for a month for that temp. If you are expensive, you should be able to explain why and justify the extra with added value, points of difference, extra candidate training or client support. Even if you aren’t asked the question, make sure you explain the costs and charges involved if your client becomes so delighted with his temporary worker that they wish to hire him permanently. At least it’ll be clear and it may just put the seed in your clients mind that you are suitably confident of your client that this is a real possibility.
What is your internal staff turnover rate?
If you are portraying that you want a good, long term relationship with your client it helps that as an agency you value, support and can retain your staff. This will be reflected in your own internal staff turnover. Your client doesn’t want to ring up and have to explain the company history and needs because he is speaking to someone different each time he rings in.
If we enter a business relationship - how easy will it be to deal with you?
You need to be upfront with your client in terms of response time, time to replace a disappearing temp if this occurred in the worst case scenario. Make sure if you do background checks they are thorough with back up evidence. At a company I used to work for, we once hired a temp driver who wrote off a van and it turned out his driving licence was invalid. It was a very costly mistake.
The ease with which your client deals with you starts with his needs, so go ahead and ask questions like:
- How do you want to approve the work or hours of the staff I provide?
- How do you want to check that the hours billed equal those worked?
- How quick is the whole approval, authorisation, invoice paying process?
- Do you want a staff portal to go in and check and authorise the timesheets whenever you want?
The easier you make it to deal with you the better experience your client will have of dealing with your company. If through the process you save him time, money and resource (paper) you are on to a winner!
How can you add value to my business over and above the temporary staff member that you are providing me?
With your company’s ability to answer all of the questions and issues above couple with a forward thinking approach to technology, visibility and customer services your clients should recognise you as a strategic adviser adding value and saving costs for them. If they don’t see this or you feel they don’t, then be sure and tell them.