Clients are the lifeblood of our business. They are hard to get, and given the intense competition between staffing agencies these days, often just as hard to keep. Given such a state, it’s no wonder some staffing offices fail to do their due diligence when it comes to bringing on new customers.
In our industry, there’s no greater triumph than adding a bright, shiny, medium to large client to your client roster. And after the salespeople beat the pavement trying to reel them in, staffers and managers do cartwheels trying to meet and exceed their every expectation.
Conversely, there is perhaps no greater disappointment than losing a client to the competition, particularly if it could have been avoided. If heads roll for anything at all around our company, they roll for that.
We may like your go-getter attitude, great coffee-making skills, and uncanny ability to leave the restroom just as you found it, but if you start habitually losing clients, we’ll lose you. Fast.
Now, let's get back to that process you may, or may not have, for bringing in new work.
Some staffing offices may screen applicants like they’re getting NSA security clearances, but let a potential client bat an eye in their direction, and they fall all over themselves trying to send someone, anyone, to work before they’ve done any client screening at all.
For a multitude of reasons, of course, this is a bad idea. We should screen our clients just as thoroughly, if not more, than we do our applicants. Clients can make us, to be sure, but they can also just as easily put us out of business.
Here are a few key ways we should all pre-screen each new client that desires to avail themselves of our top-notch services.
Do a walkthrough
Would you buy a car without driving it, or a couch without sitting on it? Would you start a job without seeing it first? Then why would you ever consider sending someone to a work site where you have absolutely zero control over YOUR employee’s duties, yet all of the responsibility when something goes wrong?
We aren’t safety experts, to be sure, but walking through a facility can tell us a lot, especially once we have a few walkthroughs under our belt and know what to look for. Is it clean and orderly? Is there an emphasis on safety? Are the workers wearing PPE? Do they seem happy? What tasks will your employees perform? What do other temps at the plant do versus full-time employees? Do the job(s) look dangerous and, if so, how do they make sure their workers are safe? Will temps receive the same safety training as full-time employees?
If you don’t do the walkthrough, you are flying completely blind. Not only will you not be aware of the kinds of dangers your people could face, but your staffers won’t be able to properly describe the job to prospects.
Check their OSHA log
Upon request, any potential client should be able to immediately locate their OSHA log and they shouldn’t mind showing it to you. The first red flag should pop up if they can’t produce the log, or certainly if they ask what an OSHA log is. If that happens you should stand up, politely say your goodbyes, then turn around and hightail it out of there cartoon-style, like you’re being chased by a pack of hungry wild hogs.
This step is easiest performed in conjunction with the site walkthrough. Most will, undoubtedly, be able to show you their OSHA log when you ask. You can then discuss the manner and frequency of injuries and ensure they include temp injuries on their log. If they don’t or won’t, that’s another red flag.
Talk to someone
Is the potential client considered a “good place to work?” What reputation do they have in the community? Do you know someone who works or used to work there, or someone who could point you in the direction of a knowledgeable source to talk to besides your “official” point of contact? What information can you find out about your potential client “through the grapevine” that you wouldn’t have otherwise known?
You won’t always be able to do this, of course, but if you can it will be worth your time.
It’s amazing what one can find out about a company online. From employee reviews on Glassdoor to client and customer reviews on Yelp and other sites and even the potential client’s own website, the wealth of information at our fingertips these days is astonishing.
This is by far the easiest and most anonymous way to research a potential client, and there’s absolutely no excuse for not doing it. Remember, Google is your friend!
Perform a credit check
You can fill order after order at a plant full of blooming daisies and romping puppies, where your workers sit on soft couches and sample pies in between sips of ice-cold water to cleanse their delicate palates, where the only risk is over-stimulation of the mind from the scintillating conversations between co-workers. You can send one or 100 people to a place where you’ve done every other aspect of due diligence, but if you don’t get paid you’re not just doing all that work for nothing, you’re actually going deeper and deeper into the hole every hour that you have to pay employees money you’ll never get back.
It’s not an insult to ask for a credit application and credit references and perform a thorough credit check on EVERY client before that first employee sets foot on their premises. It’s common sense!
Just as the employees we send to work are a reflection of ourselves, so too are the clients we choose to do business with. Do your due diligence, and don’t settle for less than the best!