Training & Retaining

How to set up a culture to keep quality employees at your rental business.

What keeps an employee from jumping ship to a competitor or to another occupation? An employee who attended one of my seminars told me with a huge smile on his face about how much he and his fellow employees enjoy an annual ‘surf & turf' steak and lobster feast that his employer hosts for the company. Everyone looks forward to the employee appreciation feast all year, and they think about it often. If an employee thought about leaving that company, they would factor in much more than the hourly wage and their actual job duties — they would also have to consider that it's unlikely they would receive a benefit like this anywhere else.

Effective training, including meaningful incentives, is another benefit that an employee would miss out on if they left employment with your company. They would have to consider leaving the culture of rewards and the system that set them up for success. When putting together retention strategies, think in terms of what can be done to have employees think of working for your company as a career — not just a temporary job.

Since this is such an enormous topic, here are just a few key points to remember:

  • Hire enthusiastic people. Think of training and retaining efforts beginning before employees start working for you.
  • Put together a "job analysis." It's important to clarify the important functions and responsibilities for each position.
  • Diagnose training needs. You don't have to know the solution immediately, first recognize the shortcomings.
  • Develop training programs. Use on-site training and train everyone at once so everybody is working from the same playbook.
  • Develop and implement a true performance appraisal system. This is a vital ingredient to maximizing employee productivity. Most training and retaining strategies will not produce the huge dividends you desire without an effective performance appraisal system in place. In fact, your employee training and retaining initiatives are doomed to failure if you are not measuring employee progress and communicating progress to each employee. Employees need to know how they're doing very specifically. It's also important that management be trained in how to properly conduct these performance reviews.
  • Don't put up with the counterproductive. I've written in the past about the importance of not settling for mediocrity in your business. Having one or more counterproductive employees in your organization can be even worse. Counterproductive employee behavior severely damages a business in many ways. Don't tolerate it.
  • Be a "coach" not a nit-picking, fault-finder. Don't make your employee guess what you want. Spell out your expectations and talk your employee through the steps to success.
  • Use incentives. Like the surf & turf feast, sometimes unique, thoughtful rewards are valued far more than you know.
  • Use far more positive reinforcement than corrections. Look for ways to make working for your company more satisfying.

Training and retaining are so interconnected. Employees tend to stay and are greater assets when you make use the above recipe. Like steak and lobster, solid training and special incentives make a delicious combination.

Dick Detmer is a nationally recognized consultant, lecturer and writer and has 35 years of experience in the equipment rental industry. He is the author of "The Guide to Great Customer Service" as well as "A Practical Guide to Working in an Equipment Business." For consulting, on-site employee training or to order books, visit Dick can be contacted at or (309) 781-3451.