Employing vs Outsourcing Engineers: Why Businesses Should Outsource
No matter the industry that requires them, engineers and maintenance staff are in high demand. But, as many operators know, there is a continued pressure to keep key equipment working, as this can be the difference between a failing and flourishing business.
Some industries, such as aviation or energy, may require an advanced and in-depth understanding of the company, demand and equipment, which lends itself better to a salaried team. Many others simply need skilled engineers with a broad experience of the facilities in question to appear on-site quickly, if a problem arises. If you run or manage a business in the catering industry, whether catering is a primary or secondary means of income, your needs will differ greatly to that of more specialised industries and therefore you can afford to be more flexible with your engineering workforce.
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of outsourcing maintenance and engineers, how flexibility and an openness to working with contractors outside of your organisation can help and the reasons why skilled engineers go down the freelance/contract route.
Below is a summary of the benefits, but we’ll go into each one in more detail throughout this article:
- Flexible workforce without the need to hire – Scale up and scale down work without the hassle of employing and firing staff
- Competition keeps skills sharp – Contractors will prize your business, ensuring that they keep up with the latest in tech and skills to keep you as a client
- Local engineers and quick response times – Outsourcing opens up your business to engineers on your doorstep
Flexible workforce without the need to hire
The attitude to outsourcing work that is as business-critical as getting equipment fixed promptly has always been mixed, some swearing by it and others swearing off it. The fact is that flexibility in pretty much all areas of business is a growing trend; more people are working remotely and more UK businesses are offering flexible hours than ever before. Flexibility is here to stay.
When it comes to outsourcing engineering work, the ability to access a wealth of skill and expertise without embarking on a lengthy and costly hiring process is invaluable. Imagine a sudden influx of equipment issues that require urgent attention and not having the manpower to address them. Depending on your business or industry, you may not have the luxury of time to try and employ a new member of staff or even a new team. Consider also what happens to these new members of staff once the panic is over and operational capacity returns to normal? Will there be enough work to keep them on the books?
Catering equipment, in particular, can be business-critical, causing your premises to close temporarily whilst work is carried out. Although you may have contingencies in place already, you should consider taking steps to minimise the risk of closure or reduced operation and avoid emergency contingencies needing to be used. Closure or reduced operations can only result in short-term financial loses, but have long-term effects on customers sentiment too.
A flexible, contracted workforce of skilled engineers, ready to attend at short notice is an asset few businesses can do without nowadays.
On the other hand, as we’ve discussed, if your needs are more complex and you know that there is enough work to support a salaried staff member then the outsourced option may not be for you.
Competition keeps skills sharp
Money makes the world go round, we all have overheads, bills and debtors to pay. Keeping clients and business is as much a priority for a freelance engineer or contractor as it is for you, use this to your advantage to ensure that the engineers who answer your calls are always at the top of their game.
This is where flexibility comes into play again, engineers know that you will move on to someone else if they don’t perform, so they’ve got every reason to ensure that they have up to date training, work with the latest technology and provide the best service in order to keep you on-side. Arguably, a salaried member of staff would eventually lack this motivation without regular pay increases and company benefits.
Local engineers and quick response times
Benefiting from skilled engineers around the country is a big reason why businesses turn to outsourcing. Despite modern transport and connectivity technology making the world seem small, geographically it’s still a huge place. Getting the right people to service your equipment quickly is far simpler when you can dip into a national network of engineers.
If your business includes regional and national outlets then this will be even more important, as hiring permanent staff and expecting them to travel around the country fixing problems will be incredibly costly. Consider travel costs, salary, slow turnaround times and a reduced ability to react quickly to emergencies and you can imagine the negative impact for a company that needs to be operational.
This is a key reason why, at Arolite, we contract engineers all over the UK and Northern Ireland to better support our clients, no matter where they are.
Why engineers go freelance/contract
We’ve discussed the flexibility and benefits for business owners of outsourcing, but what about the people who make it their living?
No doubt at one point or another, we’ve all dreamt of owning our own company and being our own boss. For engineers with the skills, work ethic and know-how, this can be a rewarding reality. Working as and when needed might give some nightmares, but if you build up a client base who are happy with what you do, quiet periods and worries about pay shouldn’t be an issue. Many engineers who follow this career path sign up with maintenance and support experts, like Arolite. Only the best of the best can expect to be placed upon a ‘preferred contractor’ list, expect to be rigorously vetted for qualifications, references and more. Although it might be difficult to achieve, acquiring this type of secure and quality work is highly rewarding and can give engineers a much better chance of making a success out of going it alone.
If you’re interested in working with a catering equipment consultancy who utilise the best engineers in the business to support and maintain your equipment estate, speak to the expert team at Arolite today.