Firms Dial Up S.C. For Call Centers
May 01, 2017 08:24PM
By Makayla Gay
By John McCurry
South Carolina has been an attractive location for siting call centers over the past few years. Greenville has participated in this success and is home to about 40 call centers of various sizes.
King White, CEO of Dallas-based Site Selection Group, a company whose expertise includes assisting firms in their search for call center locations, says the Southeast overall has been attractive.
“The Southeast has been one of the hottest areas due to its low cost of living, lower wages and positive business climate,” White says. He notes that Texas probably has the most robust call center activity, but South Carolina has “pretty fair” activity based on its population. Call center wages average about $12 per hour in South Carolina, he says.
The largest recent call center announcement in the Greenville area was by Anyone Home, a company that provides customer relationship management services for the rental housing market. The company announced last August that it would create 570 jobs over five years.
Todd Katler, Anyone Home’s CEO, says state and city officials made it easy to choose Greenville for its second call center location. The company’s other call center is at its headquarters in Lake Forest, Calif. The city is just the right size, he said.
“Greenville is good from a recruiting perspective. If you get into big cities, recruiting can be challenging. If they are too small, there’s not a broad enough recruiting based. Greenville is just the right size. It’s enough of a real city and is diverse, but it’s not so big that you can’t get a lot of good, caring people who are engaged.”
Anyone Home is in the early stages of ramping up at its site at the Brookfield Corporate Center in Mauldin. By early April, the company had hired about 80 people.
Verizon Wireless has been the most prolific job creator in the Greenville area over the past several years. Its most recent announced expansion involves 260 jobs at its facility in Mauldin. Another major expansion was announced last June by Concentix, a subsidiary of Synnex Corp. The company added 300 jobs and expanded office space at its facility in Wade Hampton Office Park.
Companies often are in a hurry to establish operations and generally prefer to locate call centers in existing facilities, White says, because it saves time and a lot of money.
“They will look at facilities that were previously a call center, but they always want to know why it closed,” White explains.
Site Selection Group maintains a database of call center real estate. There are currently at least two former call center sites being marketing in the Greenville area.
Regions with fast-growing populations are also attractive for call centers. White says Greenville has seen some healthy growth in recent years. Columbia, and the metro areas of Charlotte and Augusta, which draw employees living in South Carolina, have also had robust growth, but he notes that Charlotte and Columbia have about reached the saturation point for call centers.
Areas with an abundance of youthful workers also are appealing. White says the age range for most call center works is usually 18 to 35. Regions with a military base and/or a university are appealing because companies can recruit military spouses or students. That’s one of the reasons Columbia has been attractive, he says. There are currently about 40 call centers in the Columbia area.
In general, call centers employ 200 to 400 people, but larger ones can range from 500 workers to more than 1,000. Companies prefer larger communities because call centers typically have high attrition rates and need a large pool of potential workers.
White, whose company works on more than 60 call center projects a year, both domestic and international, says there is a trend, fueled in part by political pressure, toward bringing some call centers back to the U.S. from countries such as the Philippines and India.