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Things Are Looking Up

The end of the year is here. We hope you were able to minimize any losses that might have occurred in 2010 and are putting together a sound strategy for 2011. By most predictions, next year should be a lot better for businesses than this year, as the economy continues on a slow but seemingly steady uptick. Let’s take a look at some of the facts and predictions that are in place, which should make doing business in 2011 less stressful than it was in 2010.

2011 Positive Outlook

  • The WSJ Economist Survey predicts a 3% increase in GDP (sum of all goods and services produced within the United States) in 2011.
  • The survey also indicates a reduced prediction that a double digit recession will occur to 15%; the number was at 22% in September.
  • Economists polled in the survey also estimate Increases to be experienced especially by those businesses that operate in retail sales and manufacturing.
  • 80% of CEO’s involved in the Business Roundtable predict sales increases in first half of 2011.
  • 59% of CEO’s involved in the Business Roundtable expect to increase their spending on equipment (great for the manufacturing industry).
  • A payroll tax cut pertinent to Social Security taxes will be granted to employees (employers will not experience a reduction in the amount that they match), which puts more disposable income in consumers’ hands, which should be immediately felt by the hospitality and retail industries

These predictions provide a basis for a lot of optimism for business people in 2011. The economy should be growing, which will present more opportunities and hopefully in the long run, more customers. To be fair there are some predictions for cost increases that will directly affect business owners.

Potential Cost Increases for 2011

  • Materials- As the economy rebounds, basic supplies and resources are expected to become more costly. This could especially impact commodities, which include everything from oil to copper.
  • Health care- While health care reform is still not set in stone, it would be unwise to not calculate a cost increase here.
  • Labor- Hiring is expected to increase, so with it comes more salaries, payroll expenses, taxation matching, etc.

As you can see, economists and CEO’s alike seem to be predicting more good than bad on the horizon. While that is great news, 2011 will still require a steady hand and a carefully prepared plan for business owners. Two of the anticipated cost increases are pertinent to labor and health care. Both of those increases will directly affect your bottom line and will be financially measurable the first quarter that you start bringing on new people. There is no reason to be too pessimistic; after all bringing on additional staff means that you are growing and on your way to increased profits.

Taking a cautious approach to hiring will be the best way to grow while reigning in your company’s spending. Using temporary labor might be just the answer you are looking for. Think about the advantages of temps when you need to be cautious with spending.

  • No money spent on recruiting-Save yourself from paying for job listings, paying to interview, and paying current staff to take time to perform both of those functions.
  • Predetermined expenses- Temps come with a set fee and we take care of all of the extrinsic costs like payroll and taxation matching.
  • Simple to terminate unnecessary employees- If your predictions are a bit optimistic and you decide that you don’t need that much staff, it is easy to reduce payroll costs by simply using fewer temps, as opposed to laying off a new hire.

We wish everyone the best in their financial endeavors in 2011. If you are looking for ways to save money and time while you grow, feel free to give us a call at 1-877-522-7797. We can tell you how to save on staffing throughout Arizona, from Phoenix to Flagstaff.

Sources:

Bloomberg Businessweek

Wall Street Journal

Bloomberg

Arizona Central

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Effective Temps

Every business is different, even those that compete in the same industry and go after the same customers. The nuances that exist make for a different set of processes and company culture. As each business is run differently, many managers think that their business is completely individual and that having practices that differ from standards will lead to success. While thinking outside of the box does make you an innovator, it does not mean that you must ignore standards that can and do work for many businesses.

When it comes to getting things done, you have many options. You can:

  • staff your own employees
  • outsource to an expert
  • bring in temporary employees whom you can oversee to ensure quality, without requiring time to hande payroll or compliance issues

Many managers and business owners will use a combination of all three of these tactics in order to accomplish what they need to get done. Using a combination of methods can be a good way to get the job done while remaining cost effective and flexible. Achieving both of those traits will ensure that your business can please customers, continue to grow, and weather financial and situational storms.

Use Temporary Workers to Back up Skilled Staff

Temporary workers can be a valuable resource to any business. They are:

  • Available immediately- Temps are a phone call away, so they can be dispatched almost as quickly as a problem in your business might arise.
  • Cost effective- Temporary workers don’t require payroll expenses, benefits, or insurance costs, which means their total calculated cost can easily be less than that of a full-time worker.

It is understandable that every business would need a certain number of full-time employees who have knowledge of business processes, regular customers and the specific characteristics of the business as an entity. By all means, bring on full-time staff who can provide structure, especially for highly skilled positions. Do not discount the value of using temporary workers to staff your lesser skilled positions. Your skilled positions can be staffed by your full-time people, who are in turn supported by temporary workers. This way you have the peace of mind that full-time employees bring, along with the flexibility and financial benefits that temporary labor can easily provide.

Temporary staff will be supervised by your full-time employees. This way the standards and practices that make your business successful will never be eliminated. They have the skill sets to guide work flow and ensure that your final product is what you intend it to be. They can also maintain customer and supplier relationships, as they will have more time now that they are being supported by temps. You need a chef to source food and design a menu, but a temporary worker can set tables, wash dishes and even prepare food. The same works in an office environment where your full-time account managers meet with customers, while temps file paperwork, schedule meetings with your clients’ assistants, and organize and deliver mail or internal communications.

This marriage of full-time staff and temporary labor can make for a very well organized and well budgeted business. It is obviously appealing to businesses that compete in seasonal industries but can become a seamless part of any organizational structure.

Sources:

National Restaurant Association

The College Grad.com

infoTech

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Making Emergencies Easy

Running or managing a business can be a very rewarding experience, especially if you are the type of person who thrives on change. Management can provide opportunities to showcase your flexibility and ability to think on your feet. While overcoming obstacles can be very rewarding, sometimes business presents us with opportunities that are double-edged swords. Yes, they might be an opportunity to grow and develop, but they might also be coupled with hurdles that must be bested in order to take advantage of the opportunity.

In many cases staffing is a hurdle that must be jumped. Think about what can happen to your staffing situation, literally overnight, if:

  • You suddenly gain a large customer or an existing customer suddenly places a huge order
  • You are presented with a time sensitive opportunity
  • A large number of staff defect to a competitor simultaneously

In any and all of these cases a reliable staffing agency is your best means of fixing the situation. They will allow you to remedy your staffing problem in a very short amount of time, usually the amount of time it takes to make a phone call. Staffing agencies pre-screen candidates and have a list of capable employees who can work on short notice. This is their whole business model. If they could not sufficiently supply this service then they would not be in business; it is as simple as that.

What to Look For in a Staffing Agency

It is understandable that you might be a little apprehensive about bringing in temporary workers for certain assignments. If you ask around, colleagues who have used temporary labor to their advantage will likely be able to tell you about the benefits and assuage your fears about trusting a temporary agency. Be sure to ask them to recommend a company that has:

  • A solid history in the staffing industry
  • A variety of temporary workers that will allow you a little more flexibility in choosing your new staff members
  • The ability to send staff over the very next day if needed. Even if this isn’t what you need, it shows that you are choosing a company that has superior customer service and is prepared to fill any overnight gaps that might arise in the future
  • Will allow you trade out workers hassle free if you feel that a different temp might be a better fit for you
  • Enough reach to help you at all of your geographic locations. If you have offices in Phoenix and Scottsdale, it is beneficial to select a temporary service that can help you in both cities.

Tips for Using a Staffing Agency

Now that you are comfortable using a temporary service to fill your emergency staffing needs, take a couple of tips that will help you to effectively work with a staffing agency and use their services.

  • Know what you are looking for. The staffing agency will be far more likely to set you up with the right workers if you can be specific about what you need from the standpoint of workload to be accomplished and skill set necessary to do the work.
  • Build a relationship early. Emergencies develop very quickly and it will be helpful to have a relationship with an agency that you like. Maybe start out by using an agency to cover a vacation or to send over a couple of temps to help you decide whether hiring on full-timers is worthwhile.
  • Expand your relationship. Talk to your representative at your staffing agency about your current and prospective needs. They will be able to help you to determine what it will take to cover your temporary staffing needs and get a better idea of which temps will work out best for you.

Sources:

Entrepreneur

New York Times

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On-the-Job Safety

We understand that as an employer you care about the safety of your workers. Workplaces can present employees with danger on a regular basis if they are not prepared and planning for safety. While some work places present more dangers to workers than others–the construction industry accounts for more job related fatalities, 22%, than any other industry–every workplace needs to think about safety.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration oversees on-the-job safety on a national level. Locally the Industrial Commission of Arizona is the governing body that actually inspects our businesses and enforces national and local laws. Arizona is the only state with an independent group that performs inspections and enforces regulation. While their main offices are in Phoenix and Tucson, we all know that they have a presence throughout the entire state. They are responsible for evaluating workplaces. You may have been subject to an inspection in the past. They concentrate inspections on businesses that operate in industries that are traditionally and statistically considered to be more dangerous than others. Outside of those industries they target businesses that they feel have a high number of workers’ compensation claims. Their inspection will ensure that you are in compliance and will help you get on the right track if need be. (This link will lead you to printable versions of safety posters that you need to display in your business–we must all focus on compliance)

How Do I Increase On-the-Job Safety?

The best way to maintain a safe work place and limit employee accidents is to plan to be safe. There are many factors that you should consider. Begin by focusing on:

  • Employee training and education- It is vital to make your employees aware of the dangers that may be present in their work place. Every industry is different; however everyone can benefit from training.
    • Fully train staff who use heavy equipment or even lighter duty equipment that may be able to cause injury.
    • Don’t just focus on new staff. Have follow-up safety training sessions at least annually to stress how important it is.
    • Stress the importance of safety equipment–whether it is eye protection on a construction site or cut gloves in a kitchen–to every employee and make safety equipment readily available.
  • Workplace design- The physical layout of your business can have a lot to do with safety. Organize your work environment so that it accommodates safety and accommodates back-up plans in the event of an accident. OSHA mandates that any general industry employer incorporate:
    • Hazard communication standards that inform employees of chemicals in the workplace. If you have dangerous chemicals around, you are required to have a written Hazard Communication program, among other compliance necessities.
    • An emergency action plan that tells your employees what specific actions they must take in the event of a fire or other accident or emergency. You will communicate this to your staff during training sessions.
    • A plan for exit routes. Decide upon the safest way for employees to file out of the building. Post the plan in writing and communicate it verbally.
    • Safe walking/working surfaces. Slips and falls account for more on-the-job injuries than any other type of accident. Use non-slippery surfaces to cover floors and keep them clean, dry and clear of clutter that might cause a fall.
    • Medical and first aid supplies and planning are a must. The extent of the supplies you must have on hand depends upon your specific industry, but everyone needs a general first aid kit and easy access to a telephone to alert emergency services. It might also be helpful to officially assign one or several employees the responsibility of contacting emergency services and helping injured staff until they arrive.

Hopefully you are accident free. Nothing bothers an employer more than knowing that their staff has been injured on the job. If you would like to bring on some staff who have already completed some general safety training, visit us online and find out more about what we can offer.

Sources:

United States Department of Labor

CDC

Industrial Commission of Arizona

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What Makes a Good Hospitality Employee?

If you took a random poll on the street, many people would probably tell you that working in the hospitality industry is easy. They might think that the responsibility is low and that the tasks that must be completed are relatively simple. As a result of this, many people wrongly believe that all you need to staff the hospitality industry is a group of warm bodies. In practice, this could not be further from the truth. Quality hospitality employees have some characteristics that allow them to perform their jobs well. The truth is, not everyone is cut out for the hospitality industry, whether they are full time or temporary employees.

So what should a hiring manager be looking for? How do you identify good hospitality employees in an interview when candidates are putting their best foot forward?

  • Communication-This is one of the first things that you should be on the lookout for. Many hospitality employees deal directly with your guests; without the ability to communicate effectively your guests will not receive proper customer service–crucial in this industry–and will likely be unhappy. Even back of house and support staff must be able to communicate well. Although they might not constantly deal with customers, they might at some point, not to mention that the hospitality industry is fast paced. Whether cooks need to get food prepared for a catered party of 100 or your maids need to turn over twelve rooms for waiting guests, an inability to communicate will surely lead to disaster.
    • Look For: eye contact, well formed answers to interview questions and alert body language
  • Multi-Tasking- Every position in the hospitality industry must be able to do several things simultaneously. This is where those unfamiliar with the industry seem to get confused. Although the tasks might be relatively simple, the ability to work on several things at once and get everything done correctly is a must. Servers must pay attention to multiple guests at the same time; hotel clerks must greet and answer telephones. Without multi-tasking, the job simply does not get done.
    • Look For: examples from their past work that indicate an ability to multi-task; try asking two- or three-pronged questions that relate to slightly different topics.
  • Attitude- Different personalities tend to excel at different jobs. While a higher strung, aggressive personality might perform exceptionally on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, those traits will quickly become a problem in the hospitality industry. You need staff who are able to remain calm and deal with customers and potential problems in a straightforward yet relaxed manner. Without the right personality, your employees will not do well with your guests.
    • Look For: a candidate who smiles, answers to questions that hint at optimism
  • Flexibility- This is another crucial trait for quality hospitality workers. For a temporary agency, it is an absolute must, as our temps will be changing assignments frequently. In the hospitality industry in general, an employee must be open and adaptable to changes. While doing business, things can happen quickly and employees must be able to react to the changes in order to best serve customers. Without flexibility even the most confident and intelligent people will not be effective workers in the hospitality industry at any level.
    • Look For: open-minded candidates who can explain to you why flexibility is important

Quality hospitality employees often make the difference between success and failure in the industry. If a business traveler gets superior service at a hotel while meeting with clients in Phoenix, he is likely to remember that and book a room at the same hotel next time he’s in town. He might even tell co-workers about that chain when gets back home to Scottsdale. Realistically your customers don’t know whether they received that great service from a temporary worker or a permanent staffer; they just remember that they would spend money with you again.

Sources:

Jobspitality

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