Enterprise Services Outlook Logo

Blue print for Site Selection

By Stacy J.Sprading, PHR, Senior Vice President Human Resource, Radius Global Solution

content-image

Stacy J.Sprading, PHR, Senior Vice President Human Resource, Radius Global Solution

As a business process  outsourcer, contracting    with a new client or   earning additional business with an existing one is   considered a win. However, the win    can quickly become a challenge if  your current capacity, along with the  new business headcount demands  or necessitates a new location (site). “Organizations that   fail to research   the implications  state and local  employment laws  may end up with   pricing models   that are not sustainable over  time”  Throughout my career I have   been exposed to a number of   site selection processes. All were established and vetted out of an    immediate need for a new site. We   made it work, but new site selection   Plans should be established and   regularly reviewed as a normal   business practice, instead of out of   compulsion during a growth spurt.   In fact, in most cases, having a   documented site selection process    is a differentiator that should be   boasted to potential clients. In   other words, a potential client’s   confidence in your organization’s    ability to take on their business  starts with a fully vetted site    selection plan.    What should a site selection   plan look like? All are not created  equal because of the varying lines  of business, clients and industries  served. Yet, there are tenets that    should be applied across the   board and used as the foundation   for building a business, client and   industry specific blueprint.     People Information  If not the first step, learning about    those that make up the population   of an area, should be one of the first   to discovering an area’s aptitude  for supporting the business. The   Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)   provides data that includes the   population of the area, the median  wages, the ages of those accounted    for in the population, the highest    level of education received by  the occupants of the community  and the diversity that exists in the  populace. This information is useful  in determining at a primitive level    whether or not an area will support  your initial and ongoing hiring   requirements.  

  Taken a step further, gathering   information on the local schools’  absenteeism rates will provide  a nice data point that should   be considered especially in   cases where the absenteeism is  extraordinary as compared to   state and national averages. Also   crime rates in the area should be a  decisive factor.    Location Information  Gathering information about the  location is critical to determining   whether the location meets  the logistic and economic   preferences of an organization. There are some uncomplicated, yet vital questions   to be answered.  

 1. Is there advanced tech nology readily available to  bolster the organization’s  internet and telephony needs?  2. How far away from the   site is the nearest, major air port?  3. In what time zone is the location?   4. Does the local   government(s) encourage new   business with tax incentives or  incubator facilities?  5. If in the city limits, does the city  provide local utilities that will be  discounted as an incentive to the   organization for bringing jobs to   the area? 6. Are nearby health care  practitioners and medical   facilities in the organization’s   benefit network?   7. Does the area offer public transportation? If so, how far from  the site are the terminals?  8. What are the road and traffic          

conditions during anticipated shift    start and end times? The answer to this  question will assist in determining a  Reasonable commutable distance.  This list is not inclusive, nor should an   unfavorable finding in just one of these  areas completely disqualify a location.  However, an organization may, after  coming up with their own comprehensive  list of location factors wish to give a   weighting by which to measure the   importance of each factor which may   cause a sole factor to heavily influence   moving forward or discontinuing interest  in a location. Certainly, not being able   to acquire the appropriate telephony    needs should limit an  organization’s interest in  pursuing a location.                            State and Local  Statutes    Organizations that fail to  research the implications   state and local employment   laws may end up with   pricing models that are    not sustainable over   time. A thorough review   of current regulations is  compulsory; organizations   should not forget to  investigate any bills that  are being circulating at  the legislative levels.  Specifically, anything that   may be more restrictive to an employer than federal    regulations. Bear in mind  budding minimum wage  hikes, family medical leave    acts, definitions of willful  misconduct by the state,  overtime provisions, required disability  coverage and maternity time.   Redundancy   Clients who are deliberating giving you   the lion’s share of their business will  likely want to examine your plans for   redundancy. When you have the luxury of doing so, building a good ancillary   plan starts with site selection. Of   course, having a secondary location   and a procedure for re routing   work is normally a preferred   option. Nonetheless, having a      historical perspective, as well as an  understanding of the area’s ability  to and sense of urgency around   recovery will also be of importance   to your client. Below are a few basic  questions to start the conversation.  1. Is the area prone to inclement   weather? If so, do local agencies   have a documented plan for restoring and maintaining roads   and services?   2. Do published down time reports  for power, water and internet   indicate rapid responses in the  community times of crisis? 3. Are power lines buried or above   ground? Buried lines often mean  less down time. 4. If installing a generator, will   fuel and maintainence services be  available in a reasonable amount of   time during outages?   Potential Employees  Arguably, one of the most time consuming parts of the site   selection process is exploring     the attitudes and dispositions   of potential employees in the    community. With the right people   on the ground, you can gather   objective, measurable evidence    about the personality of an area in  a relatively short amount of time.  There are two core tendencies that    I look for. Are people helpful and    do they have a problem solving   mindset?   It is easier to measure these  tendencies than one might think.  Step one, get on a plane. Step  two, become a consumer in the    community. Step three, observe     and take good notes.  • Walk along the street and ask  people to stop and help you with directions.    • Go to grocery stores and ask the   clerk to assist you with reaching a   top shelf item.  • Observe the servers at restaurants.  Do they greet customers? Are they  smiling? Would you consider them   friendly?   • Go to a high school sporting   event. Ask for information about   the best places to live.  • Go to retail stores. Ask for  Organizations that   fail to research  the implications   state and local  employment laws   may end up with   pricing models   that are not  sustainable over    time     something that may be hard to  find. (Scotch tape, thermometer,   binoculars)  If they are doing their jobs correctly,   the economic development director,    mayor and chamber of commerce   president will tell you that their   area hosts the brightest, friendliest    and most employable people. Due   diligence requires an organization to   send leaders to kick the tires despite  how desirable a location appears on   BLS reports and industry and tourism   websites. To fully understand the   fabric of a community it is imperative  to embed into the culture if only for a  week or two.

 A good site selection blueprint  should be used as a guide to compare   competing locations or to determine  the viability of a single location. The   plan should be developed during   static times and continually evolve    as new business as the sales pipeline   grows. Clients will likely consider   the thoughtful development of a   formal plan as a differentiator when  comparing your organizations to   your competitors.