At the end of the day, it’s really not all that difficult to fire an employee. Sure, there’s general unpleasantness and bad, even sympathetic feelings involved, but if the person really deserves it, the termination process can be, at the very least, satisfying, if not to some degree cathartic. It’s certainly not our favorite task, but staffing professionals will easily terminate both internal and external staff when necessary. It sounds callous, but sometimes pruning the dead wood from a tree is the exact thing it needs to really flourish.
Firing a client, however, is an altogether different and far scarier matter. A client, you ask? Now you’re talking bread and butter, and our clients are both. Given that competitors in the staffing industry will literally tear each other apart over even the smallest client--like two island castaways fighting over the last coconut--why on God’s green earth would any of us EVER fire a client?
Well, it happens, and more often than you might think. Here are a few reasons why we’ve fired clients in the past and why we’ll continue to fire them in the future regardless of how it affects the bottom line. It may cost some profit in the short term, but pruning clients that behave like this will definitely make any staffing business model healthier over the long haul!
1.) ‘Temp abuse’
Granted, some temps will complain if the TP is ‘scratchy’ or the caviar in the break room isn’t quite up to snuff, but if we hear too many specific complaints from too many of our associates, it could be indicative of an organizational pattern of ‘temp abuse.’ If the complaints seem valid, we investigate them. If it’s a rogue supervisor and that supervisor is dealt with properly, fine, but if the client is constantly making excuses, covering up for its supervisors, and/or blaming us for sending that ‘hot chick’ that had the nerve to get harassed, our business relationship is about to come to an unpleasant end. It’s not worth the reputation, it’s not worth the hassle, and it’s certainly not worth the lawsuits!
2.) Work environment
Please understand, we’ll put up with a LOT here. After all, someone’s got to do the ‘dirty jobs’ out there, right? In a way, those jobs and the people willing and able to do them are what make the world turn ‘round, and we have nothing but mucho respect for the associates we send on these assignments. As an office with a significant pool of light industrial and labor-type clients, we’ve certainly got more than our share of ‘dirty jobs,’ jobs that would send Mike Rowe screaming home to mommy after the first day, jobs that make Bridge Over the River Kwai seem like kiddie summer camp (although yeah, depending on who they put in there we might consider the punishment hut ‘temp abuse!’).
[caption id="attachment_35054" align="aligncenter" width="580"] 'Break?! You'll get a BREAK when you finish my bridge!'[/caption]
So yes, we’ll put up with a lot, but we do draw the line at a couple of areas:
A.) Safety – Sure, a freak accident can happen anywhere and at any time, but if a client shows a willful lack of regard for the safety of our temps and they aren’t willing to fix it in a demonstrable, determined, and very, very hasty way, our business relationship isn’t likely to last very long.
B.) Pay – We could TRY to get people to shovel cow dung for minimum wage, but unless you’ve got some pretty sweet on-the-job benefits going on down on the farm (free hay rides anyone?), we’re unlikely to succeed. Companies that try to use staffing agencies to defy fair labor-market prices are unlikely to be happy with the results. If we don’t fire them, they’ll probably fire us (and be back in a few months asking us to try again).
3.) Impossible expectations
That last point segues well into the third part of our ‘bad client behavior’ trifecta, because, sadly, some clients don’t stop at asking for $8 per hour chief bottle washers and rocket scientists. They want more, oh so much more, and more, and more, until doing business with them literally costs us money instead of the other way around. Whether some clients believe it or not, we have to keep our doors open and pay our employees too! At that point, it becomes a smart business move to part ways.
So, there you have it – three ‘bad client behaviors’ that can cause a staffing agency to fire a client. Sure, we hate to do it, and it’s certainly a last resort, but if the time comes to pull the plug we won’t hesitate to jerk it right on out of there, even if it hurts. Are there any other situations where you staffing professionals out there would consider firing a client? Have you fired a client for any of these in the past?