Building a new contact center in today’s global economy offers a world of location options that come with overwhelming amounts of data points for each country and city. So, how do you effectively evaluate call center locations and select the right destination to achieve your business goals? Here are some final steps in the process that can help you drive to the final site selection.
There is no better way to determine which city is the right fit than going out and conducting on-the-ground research. Your site selection team should conduct tours to gain a thorough understanding of what each community has to offer. Here are some tips for making your site visit a success:
- Time Investments: Invest one to two days per community in the U.S. and up to a week in nearshore and offshore locations.
- Scheduled Meetings: Meet with economic development officials, community leaders, workforce training representatives, staffing agencies, local call center employers, fiber and technology providers, university officials and real estate leaders.
The anecdotal evidence uncovered during the tours will be crucial to the success of the site selection process and enable the team to truly understand the qualitative differences of each finalist community. The ultimate goal of each tour is to eliminate any problem markets, develop a list of additional due diligence items and identify the finalist cities and facilities.
Due Diligence: Drive Out Risk
The odds are that you came away from site visit tours with answers that will drive yet more questions. There are generally three areas that need extensive due diligence.
- Test the Talent Market: First, the labor market may need to be tested for success. Run test ads to help judge applicant flow. You may even want to send a follow-up human resources team to conduct live interviews of applicants.
- Get Technology Timelines and Costs: Second, you will need to contact the fiber providers and technology vendors to find out how long and how much it will take to get the capability and redundancy you need at each building.
- Understand Facilities and Operational Limitations: Lastly, you need to carefully conduct due diligence on the shortlisted real estate options. Some of the key call center real estate items to uncover will include parking ratio (seven or more parking spaces per 1,000 square feet), HVAC capacity, electrical capacity, building hours of operation, ownership stability and history, permitting time/process, zoning and build-out cost estimations. You may need to bring in additional outside resources to help such as architects, general contractors, construction managers and furniture vendors.
Once the community tours are complete and due diligence is under way, the project team will initiate the simultaneous negotiation of economic incentive and real estate terms. It is critical to carefully control the negotiation process to maximum leverage and make sure commitments for real estate don’t conflict with a company’s ability to secure the economic incentives.
The economic incentives negotiations will typically be managed by someone from the tax department or the site selection consultant who will initiate formal discussions with local and state leaders to confirm the availability of economic incentives such as tax credits, tax abatements, cash grants, training subsidies and other related incentives. It is critical to understand the financial benefit of operating in each site by forecasting the net benefit of incentives and evaluating clawbacks and compliance implications for the various jurisdictions.
Real estate terms will be negotiated at the same time as economic incentives by the real estate director or site selection consultant. If hiring a local commercial real estate broker, make sure to enlist a firm that only represents tenants, not owners, to ensure there are no conflicts of interest. You will also want to make sure they understand call centers. The negotiations will revolve around finalizing the deal terms such as amount of space, rental rate or purchase price, concessions, improvements, parking, generator rights, non-compete rights, renewals, expansion and contraction rights.
With the preparation steps, city evaluations, and due diligence complete, you should now be able to make an informed decision. Want to put contact center industry veterans on your site selection team? EPIC Connections has the experience and expertise you need to accelerate your decision-making process and breathe confidence into your investment.