Determining the optimal size for your call center can be challenging and critical to making the right site selection decisions. Companies often struggle to figure out how big of a call center they should open. There are traditional factors such as call volume; however, there are also site selection factors to consider. What is important to realize is that the call center size will impact the size of labor market, facility design, capital expenditures, economic incentives and your ability to operate a high performing call center operation. To help you understand these implications, the following will help you develop some guidelines to consider before going through the site selection process.

1. Square footage per workstation

The rule of thumb when estimating how many square feet you need is by allocating 100 to 130 square feet per workstation. For example, if you need to set-up a 500-seat call center then you will want a facility of 50,000 to 65,000 usable square feet. This estimate includes common areas such as interior walkways, break rooms, training rooms and other site amenities.

2. Labor market size

The size of a call center needs to correlate to the size of the labor market you select. The rule of thumb is you don’t want to employ more than roughly 1 to 2% of the labor force. This becomes very important to monitor especially for larger call centers that can quickly churn through labor in a small labor market. This is often why you see so many large call centers in small, rural labor markets close down. 

3. Call center saturation 

It is critical to calculate and understand the call center saturation rate of the labor market you pick. Avoid markets with greater than 2 to 3% saturation and calculate how many jobs are remaining in the labor market before it reaches those critical call center saturation thresholds. Keep in mind that small labor markets can become quickly saturated with just one call center entering the market. 

4. Availability of economic incentives

Economic incentives will vary greatly based on the size of your call center. The more jobs you create, the more leverage you’ll have during negotiations with economic development organizations. Many cities and states have minimum job creation thresholds before you are eligible to receive valuable economic incentives such as cash grants, payroll rebates, training grants and other job creation type incentives.

5. Economies of scale

Large call centers are more efficient to build-out. If you had the option to build one 500-seat call center versus two 250-seat call centers, and the labor market would support it, then you would only need one site director, one generator, one break room and so forth. There are clearly significant efficiencies gained by building larger centers.

6. Employee attrition

Call center attrition is probably the No. 1 challenge in the call center industry. Employers continually try to battle the attrition problem with compensation, bonuses, work-at-home and employee amenities. The best way to fix it is to pick the right labor market. It is most often the labor market outside of the call center causing the attrition problem versus what is going on inside the call center.

7. Call center facility design

How you design your call center can be greatly influenced by the labor market you select. If you are entering a highly competitive If you are considering a tier-one city like a Dallas, Atlanta, Tampa or Phoenix then you need to be prepared to build a state-of-the-art call center facility to effectively compete for talent. You need to consider investing in anything from stand-up desks, employee amenities, enhanced lighting to the other employee-friendly design options outlined below.   

8. Employee amenities

The size of your call center and the competitiveness of the labor market will often dictate the type of employee amenities you provide employees. I recently saw a large call center with over 1,000 seats that had a walking path inside the facility. It was basically mall walking inside the call center which was a very creative use of space. Another more recent amenity I have heard about is healthcare centers staffed with nurses. There are also the more traditional amenities such as game rooms, media rooms, quiet rooms and nursing stations. 

9. Operational efficiencies

If you are trying to control your cost then clearly a large call center is the most efficient model. Small call centers operate less efficiently due to support staff expenses, duplication of amenities and overall real estate inefficiencies. As a result, you will most likely be forced into larger labor markets if you want the operational efficiencies of a large call center.

Conclusions

Determining the size and location of your call center is not an easy endeavor. Hopefully these eight tips provide you some valuable ideas when trying to figure out where to locate your next call center and how big it should be. Utilizing some of the call center site selection best practices will hopefully make it a little easier for you in the future.

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