Your next hardworking employee is out there, you just need to know where to look
A recent job posting for a portable sanitation company offered a $1,000 sign-on bonus for a qualified route driver.
That may get people in the door for an interview, but is it too big of a risk? Hiring and training a new employee is already a costly investment, and you could be wasting even more money on someone who ends up not being a good fit. Then you’ll be left dangling out another $1,000 carrot to try to land a good driver.
We hear time and again that it’s difficult to find quality employees in a service industry that unfortunately has a reputation for being undesirable — however undeserved that perception may be. This is a job that could become a rewarding career, but often it isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when someone is looking for work.
One option could be taking a page from Scott Hallman’s playbook. When the owner of Hallman Portable Toilets in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, looks for part-time workers to supplement the full-time staff at his portable restroom and septic company during busy weekends and summers, he taps a familiar source — the local fire department. That’s where he spent the first 20 years of his working life after graduating from college. His father, Dave Hallman, had also been a firefighter and, in fact, stepped aside from the job in 1992 when Hallman’s number came up. “My father retired to make my spot, which was actually kind of cool,” he says.
Hallman plugs into his network of firefighters for his summer help because it’s a group of people he knows are responsible and have good work habits. “They know how to drive big trucks. They’re looking for part-time work. And they already have their benefits,” he says. “It’s a great catch.”
In the beginning, Hallman hired anyone who needed a job. Now, the company considers the fit more carefully. Driving record is huge, he says, as is drug testing. “Today, our employees are smarter, brighter and more mechanically inclined.”
During the summer, high school and college students are always looking for work, but school bus drivers become available, too. Their time off — summers and weekends — happily coincides with the busiest season for restroom rentals.
BBB Septic in Bentonville, Arkansas, which derives a third of its business from its portable sanitation division, found several qualified workers in the local school district. Co-owner Jon Jouvenaux tapped a couple school bus drivers to become portable restroom technicians — they already had commercial licenses and have hours free in the middle of the day. And if a driver can handle a busload of noisy kids on a daily basis, they can probably handle a restroom route.
Recent retirees are also sometimes willing to jump back into the labor force, especially if the work is part-time.
Robb Harter of Harter’s Custom Pumping in Dyersville, Iowa, says good help is hard to find, but he’s managed to surround himself with people he can trust to do good work, including two former farmers.
“You can’t find better help than retired farmers,” Harter says. They know machinery, know farms and wastewater, and understand hard work.
So next time you’re looking for some part-time help, don't immediately grab the calculator to see what kind of sign-on bonus you can afford. The right worker may be letting your kids off the bus right now.