Using a Temp? How to Choose the Best Temp Service
for Your Needs
For many companies, bringing in a temporary employee to fill
an open position makes good business sense. There’s no need to wade
through hundreds of resumes; no payroll taxes, unemployment
insurance, or benefits to pay; and no hard feelings if the person
doesn’t work out or the position gets eliminated. But before you
randomly call a temporary placement agency from the phone book or an
online listing, you need to know how to work with a temp service so
you get the best talent possible.
The fact is that working with the wrong temp firm can be
costly. If you have to go through numerous temps before finding the
right one or waste a lot of time with an inexperienced placement
professional, you’re going to spend more money and experience more
frustrations than you’d like.
Whether you’ve worked with a temp service in the past or are
considering trying one, the following guidelines will ensure that
you not only find the best service for your needs, but that you also
work with the company effectively so you can build a long-term
relationship with them and save time in the future.
Know the company
you’re working with:
If possible, choose
a temp service based on a referral from another business
professional you trust. If you can’t get a referral, then you have
to do your own due diligence. Generally speaking, the internal
workings of a temporary placement firm vary from place to place.
Unless you are working with a franchise, the only way to find out
how the firm works is to ask. Therefore, contact some local
temporary help companies and ask them such questions as:
How long have
you been doing business in the local market?
Do you belong
to any national associations?
What kind of
testing do your temps go through?
What kind of
reference checking do you do?
firm’s area of specialization?
Be honest with the company. If you have called other temp
services or have had a bad experience in the past, let them know.
Also, take into consideration the specialist
you speak with. Does the person seem knowledgeable and
caring, or is the person just trying to sell you on the idea of
working with them? Remember, the person needs to be listening twice
as much as they talk. True professionals are as interested in
getting a feel for your credibility as you are theirs. Since the
goal is to create a long-term relationship, you want to feel
comfortable with your main point of contact.
Beware of pushy
Some temp companies
may not give you the initial information you request via phone or
email and will instead want to send a salesperson to your office.
While this is not always a red flag, it is something to take note
of. If the sales meeting goes smoothly, with the salesperson asking
you many questions about your needs and not being pushy, that’s
fine. However, if the salesperson spends the entire time telling you
all the reasons why you should choose them and doesn’t seem
interested in your needs, you’ll want to find another service.
After that initial sales meeting, you’ll often never see the
salesperson again and will instead be talking with the internal
specialist who interviews and screens the candidates. This is the
person you want to build the relationship with. Some companies have
their branch manager doing the outside sales, providing ongoing
customer service, and directly supervising the person who does the
screening and placement. Some smaller companies have one person
doing sales, screenings, and placements. Unfortunately, some
companies pay more for the pushy salesperson than they do the person
doing the placements. If any salesperson makes you feel pressured or
rushed to use their services, call another service.
Don’t make a
decision based solely on price:
All temp agencies have a markup, which is the difference between what the
temp actually earns and what you pay the firm for the temp’s
services. In general, markups run anywhere from 30-60%. That’s a
huge spread. But as with all things in life, you get what you pay
for. The companies with the lower markup generally don’t do the same
kind of rigorous screening as the companies with the higher markup.
So rather than choose a temp agency based on price, choose
based on your need. If you’re filling a job that would only require
you to invest four hours or so to train the person, then the lower
markup company is fine. You simply need someone to do a specific
task. However, if the job you’re filling requires discretion and
critical thinking skills, then seriously consider a higher markup
company. After all, if you go with a lower markup company and then
have to replace the temp three times before you get the right
person, you might as well have paid the higher markup to get a
better screened person and avoid all that frustration.
Each temp agency
will have different policies, and it’s important that you find out
these details before you decide to work with one. In addition to the
current markup you pay for the temp, what’s the fee if you decide
you want to hire the temp full-time? Some companies will simply
transfer the person to your payroll after a certain timeframe, while
others will require that you pay an additional transfer fee.
Also, ask about a guarantee. How long do you have to decide
if the temp they send you is working out? If the person is not
working out, what’s their policy for replacement? If the temp agency
doesn’t offer any kind of guarantee, that’s a red flag, so find out
why. Additionally, find out the level of experience and education of
the person who is actually doing the selection. The more education
and experience, the better.
Notice how the
first temp order goes:
Once you decide on
a temp agency to use, your decision process is not 100% complete
yet. Use your first temp request as the final test to the agency’s
professionalism. If you call in a temp request and the person only
spends 10 minutes on the phone with you, they don’t have enough
information to give you a quality temp. Any temp request
conversation should take 20 to 30 minutes, unless the salesperson
has already obtained key information. The person should ask you such
Who will the
temp report to and what is that person’s personality like?
What will be
the temp’s main duties?
How will you
know if the temp is successful?
How will you
measure the temp’s performance?
Why is this
culture of the department the temp will be working in?
Will this role
go to direct hire, or do you want a long-term temp?
Additionally, if you call in a temp request and the agency
doesn’t respond within a day to tell you the progress on that order,
that’s not a responsive temp service and you may want to look
for Great Results:
employees is a great solution for many companies. Fortunately, temps
can be just as skilled as your full-time employees. The good ones,
though, are in high demand. To ensure that you get the best of the
unemployed, you want to find a service that targets and attracts the
top 20% of the unemployed talent out there. Such temp firms are
usually staffed by referrals and do very little advertising to
recruit their temps; they are so effective that people tell their
friends to go apply, and therefore they get the very best of the
temp service is only as good as the people it places. If you have a
job to be done, not only do you want someone technically qualified,
but you also want someone who has a positive outlook, someone who
works well with others, and someone who is a self-starter. So do
your due diligence before working with any temp agency. When you do,
you’ll find great people to work with who will help your work go
smoothly and add to your company’s success.
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