Finding a good temp

When your business needs temporary staffing help, you may look
in the phone book or online for a
staffing company — or call a business
colleague for a recommendation or two.
But once you get the staffing provider on
the phone, how do you know if the
agency is right for your business? Before
you pick a staffing provider, remember
that filling positions fast is not a magic
pill to solving your staffing problems.

“The reality is that all staffing companies draw from the same pool of talent;
no one has the monopoly on recruiting,”
says Ray Culver, Regional Vice President
for the Southeast region for Talent Tree,
Inc. of Houston. “Better to base a decision on what the staffing company does
to ensure a quality fit for your organization than one that promises to fill every
job with a warm body.”

Smart Business spoke with Culver
about what you should look for when
selecting a temporary staffing agency
and some red flags to avoid.

What can happen when a business picks a
temporary staffing agency that is not a right

A business simply won’t get what it
needs in terms of staffing. Jobs won’t get
done, and turnover will increase or
remain the same. A staffing provider that
only cares about filling slots — but not
necessarily filling it with the right candidate for a particular business culture —
is not a provider that is listening to its

How can business owners know if a staffing
company is more interested in placing the
right person rather than just a ‘warm body’?

You will know if this is the provider’s
goal because you will not only talk to the
outside salespeople at the staffing firm,
but you will talk to or even meet the
inside team — the people who do the
actual recruiting. A member of this team
should actually come into your office
space to get to know your business, even
if just for one meeting. These are the
people who need to get a feel for the culture of your company so they can send
you the right talent.

Another conversation that needs to
happen between the staffing provider
and client is identifying the client’s ‘pain’
surrounding staffing issues. It could be,
for example, that turnover is high and
that is why there is a need for temporary
help. The staffing company ought to ask
the business why that is happening, and
if it doesn’t know, then lead the discussion in discovering why; it could be
internal management, pay rate or a host
of other reasons. A truly consultative
staffing provider helps to dig in to what
is hurting the company and works to
help ease that pain.

What are some red flags to look out for
when selecting a staffing provider?

  • If the provider is not honest. There
    will always be problems and times when
    a provider can’t find good candidates.

    But a good staffing provider should
    always keep you in the loop about what
    is happening. This honesty needs to go
    both ways.

  • If the provider fails to offer solutions
    to deeper staffing problems. Don’t pick a
    staffing company that throws people at a
    client to see who sticks. This wastes
    time and money. The provider needs to
    take the time upfront to get to know
    your needs and the company’s culture.

  • If the provider is not reachable. The
    level of customer service needs to be
    extremely high for temporary service
    personnel, because, frankly, if one does-n’t work out, there are 15 other ones
    waiting in the wings. If you are not being
    treated like you’re the only client, even if
    you are a small client, if the provider is
    not returning phone calls, not responsive to needs and not taking an active
    approach to sending the best people,
    that is a huge red flag; it’s time to look
    for a new staffing provider that is a better fit.

What are the benefits of having the right

If you have the right fit, it will make
your job easier. That staffing provider
acts as an extension of your HR department. If you have the right staffing
provider, the ‘pain’ your business feels,
in terms of staffing issues, should subside and your business should run
smoother. Whatever your ultimate goal
is — to increase production, phase out
departments or any other goal — using a
temporary staffing provider should
mean your business ought to be moving
in that direction.

RAY CULVER is a Regional Vice President for the Southeast for Talent Tree, Inc.,, a staffing company based in
Houston. Reach him at (205) 444-8733 or [email protected].