Hiring new employees may seem exciting for rental business owners, but it’s actually terrifying. If you hire the wrong person to represent your brand, you can seriously damage your reputation. Particularly in the event rental business, your reputation is everything. How can people trust you with important milestones and parties if you aren’t known for delivering the quality of product and service they expect?
While there is no magic formula to hiring the right people, there are certainly things you can do as a business owner to try and weed out the bad eggs. It’s much easier to take the extra time in hiring the right people, rather than having to fire and rehire for a position. In order to learn how to select the best employees, try learning from these common mistakes party rental companies make in hiring:
1) Not Screening for Event Experience
A lot of the work that event rental employees do has seemingly nothing to do with the event itself. You may argue that somebody who is able to drive, lift heavy objects, stake a tent, etc. is perfectly fit for the job and you could also be right. However, a person who has experience loading heavy items and dropping them at some warehouse may have never experienced the urgency of the event world.
There’s a big difference between dropping a sack of potatoes at a grocery store one hour behind scheduled delivery time and setting up a moon bounce an hour into a 2-hour birthday party for a child. Anyone who has worked events understands the extreme importance of timeliness and the high-level service expected of them. If you’ve never dealt with a stressed bride, a micromanaging corporate event planner, or a helicopter parent on their first kid’s first birthday, you may not be prepared for the level of customer service expected in the events business.
2) Trusting Listed References
No job applicant is going to give you a list of people to call who will say negative things. Assume that every person on their reference list has been told to say positive things even if they're not true. In some cases, folks have even listed friends who they’ve never even worked for! It can be pretty tough to track down legitimate references, but there are ways to dig up the real dirt.
First of all, you should always try to find the applicant on social media. In addition to gaining insight into them as a person, social media can also show you their past jobs (especially LinkedIn and Facebook) which may give you a place to call that they didn’t provide. This should also show you if they have a track record of leaving jobs quickly, which could indicate that they’re regularly getting fired.
Secondly, you can ask the people you’re calling from their list for names of other people they both worked with. This should weed out some of the folks who are phonies (if they can’t list names of other workers-red flag!) and provide you some additional former co-workers to track down for honest feedback.
Finally, you should have a list of specific questions to ask the references. If you just say “Tell me about Jane” you’re bound to hear a list of compliments. Instead, try “Can you tell me about a time Jane made an error and fixed it?” Putting them on the spot will side step any rehearsed answers and asking for examples will give you a better idea of whether or not the compliments are genuine.
3) Leading the Applicant
You’ve heard of a lawyer “leading the witness” during trial, but you may not realize that we often do the same thing when we’re interviewing someone! Sometimes we do this because we get a good vibe from someone, or even feel sorry for them, and our nature is to coax them into saying the right answer. We also do this out of desperation when we really need a job filled. Whatever the reason, you’ll notice it happening in a few different ways.
One way this manifests is filling a silence. In order to fill an awkward pause, we often will expand on the last thing that was said. For example, if you ask for them to provide a list of times they did something good for business and there is a pause afterward, you may expand with, “such as helping your manager or comforting a client.” By giving these examples, you’ve provided someone who may have never done anything good with examples they can use to create made-up stories.
Another form of leading an applicant is asking guiding questions. This is more common when we’re dying to fill a position. You might ask things like “Do you like working with people?” or “Are you comfortable lifting heavy objects?” to which they are clearly expected to reply “Yes”. Better questions would be “Do you prefer working on a team or following your own process?” or “What jobs in your past involved manual labor?”
Avoiding these hiring mistakes could save you thousands of dollars. One nightmare employee can lead to a landslide of unhappy customers, killing your word-of-mouth marketing. Not to mention, happier employees lead to more productive employees. For more tips on a more effective team, check out our post on improving part-time employee performance.