Manpower for ‘RS Lite’

Cary F. McGovern Comments
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It's easy to implement “records storage lite” along with small-business packages in self-storage without adding to your core employees. Nontraditional staffing is the key. What is this, and how does it add to service revenues without adding to overhead? There are four ways to staff any task or work activity: full-time employees, part-time employees, outsourced or contract staff, and temporary staff. Each has pros and cons.

  • Full-time employees add to your general overhead and tend to cost the most in long-term expense dollars. In this era of doing more with less, you should have only a core of full-time employees who provide the focus for your primary business. Full-timers should be kept to the minimum since benefits, taxes, workers’ compensation, health insurance and vacation time are costly.
  • Part-time employees are beneficial because they add value where you need it and do not require as much by way of benefits.
  • Outsourced or contract staff may be the best way to staff projects and additional services.
  • Temporary staff is by far the least optimum way to staffing, since they generally come with little or no skill. As a result, the need for training and supervision is increased.

Those who implement records storage lite in self-storage may find they can enhance their margins by using outsourced or contract labor to offer services that would ordinarily require full-time staff. These resources fall into several categories that are widely available in just about any marketplace.

‘Soccer’ Parents

There is a valuable supply of potential staff to be found in parents who stay at home to raise their children instead working full time. Most want to be home when the kids leave for school and back when they return in the afternoon. In many cases, they have highly prized training and education. It is not difficult to find former administrative assistants, paralegals, legal secretaries and others in your neighborhood. Generally, they like to work from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. These people are ideal for taking new-account inventories, data entry, special projects and billing assistance.

Two Men and a Truck

Although there is an actual franchise by this name, what I’m referring to is the small moving companies that are plentiful in most communities. They are typically made up of a couple of guys who have gone into business with very little capital and are “bootstrap” entrepreneurs. They may have nothing more than a truck, some moving equipment, a cell phone and two strong backs. They are willing to work hard for their money and are used to moving heavy materials.

Furthermore, they are looking for recurring revenue. You can offer this, since you will often be doing pick-ups for new clients. They can handle your moves on their slow days. Since most household moves occur on the weekends, this leaves the moving company several days each week to perform work for you. As you grow your business, they grow theirs.

Of course, they must follow your procedures and use your uniform. They must sign a contract that requires them to behave in certain ways and reflect the image you desire. In effect, they become “invisible” to your clients, meaning clients believe they are part of your organization. There will be more on the subcontracting agreement later. Small moving companies can be ideal subcontractors that can be used for new account and regular weekly pick-ups from existing clients.

Courier-Subcontractors

Rather than refer to outsourced or contract workers as couriers, I prefer to use the term “courier-subcontractors.” “Couriers” refers to delivery companies you generally find listed in the phone directory, many of which do not have their own vehicles. They usually contract out to independent drivers who own trucks. These subcontractors can work for multiple courier companies on the same day, so you can hire them directly rather than going through a third party.

The business model includes a parent company that handles sales and dispatching and subcontractors that make deliveries. The most common revenue split is 60/40. The actual delivery agent gets 60 percent and pays his own insurance, fuel and maintenance. The dispatcher receives 40 percent and owns the client relationship while connecting the courier-sub-contactor to the “gig” (specific pick-up or delivery engagement).

Subcontractor Agreements

If you choose to use this model for hiring employees, pay careful attention to detail when creating the agreement both parties will sign. You should have a contract with any subcontractor with whom you do business. The following are some rules of thumb:

1. Always have a written agreement signed and dated by both parties.
2. Specify written roles and responsibilities of the subcontractor.
3. Build measurement, benchmarks and expectations into the agreement.
4. Consider performance bonuses and penalties.
5. Have an exit strategy to release the subcontractor if he does not comply with your rules.
6. Develop a training program and materials for each subcontractor.
7. Ensure the subcontractor becomes invisible to your client. (He should look, dress and act like your own employees.) 8. Select only individuals you would consider hiring for your own staff.

The most important part of outsourcing and subcontracting labor is control. You should never give up management of the subcontractor, just as you would never give up management of an employee.

Regular columnist Cary McGovern, CRM, is the principal of FileMan Records Management, which offers full-service records-management assistance for commercial records storage startups, marketing assistance, and sales training in commercial records-management operations. For assistance in feasibility determination, operational implementation or marketing support, call 877.FILEMAN; e-mail fileman@fileman.com; www.fileman.com.

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