Help still wanted: Trying to hire people isn't easy
By Wayne Walley
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Help still wanted: Trying to hire people isn't easy

Tales from the front lines at rental stores

Finding people to hire for available jobs today is a struggle for employers in almost every industry, including equipment and event rental.

That is why Rental Management recently asked readers through an email request to share their best tips and advice about how they have been able to hire people. We received seven responses, which can mean a couple of things.

First, people have not been able to find people to hire or they are so busy working in their business because of the lack of employees there was no time to respond.

Of those responding, not all had positive news to share.

Shelly Sheffield, controller, Sheffield Rentals, Vicksburg, Miss., for example, simply said, “Nothing is working. It has gotten so bad that we’ve been forced to hire whoever will walk through our doors. We are not getting quality employees at all. They do not want to actually work. They just want a paycheck.”

Kitty Thompson, owner, Downey Party Rentals, Downey, Calif., also said nothing has worked for her in her area.

“We ask everyone who comes into our showroom if they know anyone looking for work. We have posted on our Facebook business page and on our city groups. We have posted jobs on CalJobs, the Employment Development Department. Still, no one wants to come in for an interview,” Thompson said.

David Peoples, branch manager, A Tool Shed, Morgan Hill, Calif., said his company also has struggled all year attempting to find anyone to hire.

“We have been using social media and help wanted signs. We use Indeed. Once we filter through trying to find people that are hopefully interested in working, and then after the no-show interviews, we may hire a few applicants. But at our location we have not had one Indeed applicant stick. We are currently using temp agencies. We have one regular who worked for us for two months and that has helped us a great deal,” Peoples said.

On a more positive note, Jerry Kortesmaki, owner, London Road Rental Center, Duluth, Minn., said his company has found employees this year exclusively through other employees.

“We seem to get a lot of compliments on how good it is to work here, so our employees refer their friends. We do have an opening for a full-time person that I have not had any luck finding, but we seem to be able to find the general labor kind of people. We also get a great return of employees. We have most of our crew back from last year that was available. Some of them moved on after college, but the ones who have stayed came back. So, the secret is to be a good employer. It pays off,” Kortesmaki said.

Greg Knight, manager, San Diego Kids Party Rentals, San Diego, said his best tactic has been calling former employees who had worked there before the pandemic.

“We also are using any ‘friend’ suggestions or referrals. All former ways of getting employees, including Indeed, have been a complete waste of time,” Knight said.

What has worked, he said is “decreasing operating hours and increasing customer prices to pay for current staff. We have added a ‘tip’ option on our website for online checkout that many customers are using, giving my staff more money.”

Mark Clawson, president, Diamond Event & Tent, Salt Lake City, said his company has used all the “traditional” ways to recruit employees, including an experiment with higher levels of referral bonuses, up to $500, tied to a “stay period,” which means the bonus is paid only when the new employee stays for a fixed period of time.

In addition, Clawson has turned to hiring the teenage kids of employees. “We’ve staffed a bunch of warehouse, kitchen, laundry, and loading and unloading of cars positions. It’s been a way to find employees in a crazy time, but obviously you can’t find tent installers that way,” he said.

Myla Tebbutt, owner, Bounce N More, Rockwall, Texas, also offers current employees a $500 referral fee if someone they refer stays six months or longer. What she also has found to be helpful are NextDoor and Facebook groups online.

“The staffing company we had booked had us down for the wrong date. We found out 48 hours before the event, so we had to find people fast. We found 27 people the day before on NextDoor to staff a large inflatable event,” Tebbutt said. 

Wayne Walley

Wayne WalleyWayne Walley

Wayne Walley is the editor-in-chief for Rental Management and American Rental Association (ARA) vice president, publishing. He provides strategic direction for the editorial content of all Rental Management publications and products. In his career, he has profiled hundreds of celebrities and business leaders. Outside of his work, he is an avid long-time collector of breweriana and pop culture items that he sells through his wife’s retail gift shop in LeClaire, Iowa.

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