A Dozen and One Tips For Finding Great Rental People

July 1, 2007
Cash out, hire in RER 100 companies such as Greenwich, Conn.-based United Rentals and Fort Mill, S.C.-based Sunbelt Rentals have had great success with
  1. Cash out, hire in

    RER 100 companies such as Greenwich, Conn.-based United Rentals and Fort Mill, S.C.-based Sunbelt Rentals have had great success with employee referral programs, and smaller companies can too. It's logical that many rental employees will have friends and relatives with similar interests and good work ethics who could also be an asset to a rental company. And employees are easily motivated by a monetary incentive.

    Sunbelt Rentals' basic referral program offers employees a $1,000 referral bonus, paid in installments, to employees who bring in a successful candidate. At the time of the referral, the current company employee receives $250. Six months later, the employee receives another $250 if both employees are still employed, and after a year the referring employee receives the remaining $500 if both are still employed.

    “Your employees are your best recruiters,” says Kenny May, director of recruitment and career development for Fort Mill, S.C.-based Sunbelt Rentals.

    Jim Duke of Target Rental, Durango, Colo., offers a finder's fee of $100 to $300 to anyone referring a new employee if the person that they found lasts more than six months. Duke's policy is extended to employees as well as friends and acquaintances outside of the store.

  2. Broadcast network

    Tim Johnson, president of Janesville Rental in Janesville, Wis., runs a small rental company with his wife and one other full-time employee, but relies on part-time help as well.

    “We hire part-time teenage help through our friends and church,” Johnson says. “This has worked wonders because we know their backgrounds.”

    Target Rental's Duke talks with people outside his business who he thinks have the skills and personality that his company promotes. He then asks them to send any friends or acquaintances who are similar to them to his store if they are looking for employment.

    “This way, I do not outright try to steal an employee, but let them know that they are the type of employee we are looking for,” says Duke. “I also use e-mail to send to trusted business people in my community a job description, and ask them to forward it on to anyone they think may fit the bill.”

    Following the same path is Lance Sorenson, president of Burbank, Calif.-based 24/7 Studio Equipment, who has e-mailed trusted friends and customers with information detailing what the company is looking for in a driver or mechanic.

    “We have had great results from the recommendations of friends and customers that we work with,” says Sorenson. “They, more than most, truly understand the unique demands of our industry and have made some great recommendations.”

  3. Brighten your searchlight

    The days of just posting a job opening in the local newspaper are long gone. Scottsdale, Ariz.-based RSC Equipment Rentals understands this trend. Experienced job seekers now search for career opportunities in all areas of their busy lives, which includes online, through their colleagues, social networks, as well as organizations such as alumni and military groups.

    “Our recruiting efforts at RSC focus on those avenues; but also large online job boards — Monster, Careerbuilder, Hotjobs — as well as very targeted job boards for sales professionals and drivers,” says Linda Luman, director of staffing and employee relations for RSC. “Affiliated online websites, such as military, diversity and college sites are also effective places to get the message out about the opportunities at RSC.”

    Some examples of organizations and job boards for rental companies that are striving to increase diversity in their organizations are: Advancing Women, the National Association of Female Executives, Women in Business, National Association of Women in Construction, and Latpro.com, a job board for Hispanics.

    Sunbelt's May suggests targeting the membership of current employees' associations. Job postings can be added to the associations' websites and also promoted at meetings.

  4. Be creative with job fairs

    Participating in general career fairs, college career fairs and diversity fairs can yield good employment candidates, but targeting students and recent graduates at trade schools can too, particularly service and maintenance candidates.

    “Anytime we partner with a college we also try to partner with the alumni group and get on their website because it just kind of diversifies what you're looking at,” says May. “It gives you a different group of individuals, but with the same interests.”

  5. Generation today meet generation tomorrow

    The rental industry isn't well known to a lot of young college students, but Sunbelt Rentals is working to change that. According to May, Sunbelt takes a creative approach to finding good employees at colleges and universities that bypasses the traditional career fair route. Representatives from the company give presentations to the students to talk about who Sunbelt Rentals is as an organization and what the rental industry is all about.

    “Kids don't graduate from school and say, ‘I want to go work in rental,’” May says. “We've got to find ways to No. 1: Raise awareness out in the marketplace about the opportunities of the rental industry, and No. 2: Let people know that Sunbelt is a big player. Our industry needs to do a better job of marketing rental — it's a $30 billion industry that many people don't know about.”

  6. Recruit the troops

    Another venue to try for potential employees is to look to the troops. According to Houston-based Aggreko, the United States military offers a good source of employees who have been given good training. Former military personnel are also used to working within standard operating processes.

    United Rentals recruits recently transitioning military veterans at Salute our Heroes career fairs. The company is signed up to participate in at least 10 such job fairs in 2007.

  7. If you've got it, flaunt it

    Rental is a competitive market, often with multiple rental companies located within a tight radius. Potential employees interviewing for multiple positions will likely compare benefit packages before choosing a company to work for. Even small companies can offer competitive benefits packages.

    Janesville Rental's Johnson says his company offers medical insurance, 3-weeks of paid vacation and a simple IRA with 3-percent matching funds.

    Aggreko makes sure it offers a competitive compensation and benefits program by regularly conducting externally resourced studies and making changes accordingly.

    Sunbelt's May suggests showing potential employees your company's benefits beyond just compensation, but also in terms of a career path, career growth and what they can learn.

    “One of the things about our company in general is that we have an extremely young core of managers, and I think that's inviting to a lot of people,” says May. “It's a very young group of executives that run a $1.5 billion company. I think that says a lot about our company in that if you're good, you'll move up.”

  8. Market your niche

    If your company caters to a specific industry, use it to your advantage by going after those individuals that are also interested in that industry. For example, 24/7 Studio Equipment caters to the entertainment industry in California.

    “The fact that we are working in a niche market makes our business an attractive and exciting career choice for some,” says Sorenson. “We offer the best wages and benefits in the area, a result of our being a union shop (Hollywood Teamsters-Local 399). We are also the only equipment rental company catering to the entertainment industry that is starting with a fleet of all brand-new equipment, hand-picked especially for the entertainment industry.”

  9. Higher education

    Another sure way to attract potential employees to your company is to advertise continued education through certification and training programs.

    “Our technician certification program has been a big plus for us as employees enjoy learning more about their existing jobs as well as developing new skill sets,” says Terry Dressel, vice president, national operations, for Aggreko.

    United Rentals offers about 115 E-learning courses that its employees can complete online. In addition, the company offers formal, in-person training programs for branch managers and service managers, as well as a recently developed program for inside sales representatives on customer service and other skills designed to make them better at their jobs.

    According to Sunbelt's May, hiring entry-level people into a 6-month development or training program allows them to continue their education instead of hitting the ground running without much direction at a new unfamiliar job — a good fit for recent graduates just beginning their careers.

    Sunbelt recently implemented this strategy for candidates hired into outside sales positions. During the program individuals are evaluated on their performance and their individual skillsets. Candidates who may not fit well into an outside sales role will then be moved into a different sales role within the company, which gives the company the benefit of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of its entry-level employees firsthand.

  10. Didn't call us? We'll call you

    With so many opportunities for employees and employers to find each other, there is a lot of competition to land the best job and the best employees. One thing that RSC does to ensure that they are securing the most talented workers is to seek them out.

    “We no longer wait for job seekers to find us,” says Luman. “We target not only those who are actively looking for a new role in a new company, but also those who may not be looking to move.” Luman says that if those already employed persons are presented with the RSC story, they may want to seize the opportunity to work for RSC instead.

  11. Potential trumps experience

    Sunbelt Rentals builds out competencies to each of its job positions, then tries to recruit new employees who fit the set of competencies rather than just people with a certain amount of rental experience.

    “For example, if somebody has the skillsets, the behaviors and the attitudes to work in sales, they don't necessarily need to know how to operate all the rental tools available to be able to rent them,” says May. “We can teach them the product, but you can't teach the individual sales skills that are innate with personality. So why can't we hire a cell phone guy? He's got experience selling cell phones, and we can teach him about the rental equipment.”

  12. A-list

    A broad way to find potential employees is to pay an outside vendor for a list of names of individuals who might already be working in the rental industry or to blast out e-mails from a database of resumes to a list of candidates with the word “construction” anywhere in them, and then send them a job opportunity.

    There are companies, according to May, that will guarantee 10 qualified individuals in 30 days for a small fee, if the hiring company is having trouble filling a specific position in a determined geographic area. Then, the hiring company can hire as many of those 10 individuals as they want for that small fee.

    “It's a little bit different than using an agency, but it's the same kind of concept in that they're all qualified and that they're interested in the job,” May says.

  13. Employ an automated recruitment solution

    United Rentals recently implemented an applicant tracking system to improve its overall recruitment efforts. The ATS system serves as the portal through which all applications are taken, from both internal and external candidates, eliminating paper applications completely.

    Using this system, candidates can complete an online job application, fill in a profile and attach themselves to a job requisition to apply for a specific position. Using ATS, the hiring manager can review the applicants, select qualified candidates to interview, choose their new employee, then bring that person onto payroll — a process all streamlined by the system, which is designed to be user friendly for both job applicants and company management.

Latest from Features

Photo by kzenon_Getty images; Design by Deja Hsu, RER
November 2211 Rer Cvr 1540x800
Photo by Finning Canada
Finning Labour 3
Graphic by Joshua Bourland, rer
Rermag 7450 Feb2019fc