Home Inside the Industry Inside the Industry – Exploring Business Services

WANTED: Energetic people with can-do attitudes who have a passion for helping others

Casting a wide net, the business services field describes those companies that support and engage in commerce between other companies. Business service companies develop around market demand, and are often the pioneers of new processes and technologies that add value and drive growth for the customers they serve.

We visited with professional staffing and consulting company Robert Half and AVIS/Budget Group, the leader in airport car rentals nationwide.

While the focus and operation of each company differs significantly, the emphasis on relationship building, excellence and service is a constant. If you have an appetite for fast-paced work, the desire to succeed, and love to work with people, business service might be your perfect fit.

                                                                                                           

One of the best things about our business is that our services are consistently in demand.

Robert Half 

Founded in 1948, Robert Half  (NYSE: RHI) is a global leader in professional staffing and consulting services, with a network of 400 offices and about 9,900 employees worldwide. A member of the S&P 500 index, the company is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm, and has been named to the World’s Most Admired Companies list by FORTUNE ® magazine, ranking number one in the temporary help industry. As it has grown, the company has kept its specialized approach – each of its seven professional staffing divisions has a separate focus and separate employee teams.

Liz Hughes

Liz Hughes
Senior Director, Staff Development
Robert Half

Our motto is “Ethics first.” That is very important in this industry. We believe that anyone who works with us must share this philosophy. We are very customer service-oriented, and pride ourselves in helping our clients, who are looking for talented people, as well as the candidates we place.

Our company places individuals on a temporary, consulting or full-time basis. We pioneered the concept of offering specialized services in particular disciplines. We started matching candidates with full-time positions in accounting and finance, then in the ‘70s expanded into offering temporary help in those areas. Today, each of our divisions focuses on a specific industry, including accounting and finance, information technology, legal, administrative, and marketing and creative industries.

One of the best things about our business is that our services are consistently in demand. The staffing industry as a whole is estimated to be worth $250 billion globally. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that staffing will be among the fastest-growing industries in the years to come as baby boomers retire and demand for talent and skilled workers swells to replace them. Even in today’s challenging economy, our services are in demand as companies often seek part-time people and consultants who remain flexible, without having to dedicate all their resources to full-time personnel.

Since we have 360 staffing locations around the world, you can make a difference by working in one of our local branch offices or one of our corporate service centers in a variety of appealing positions:

Recruiting and Staffing Managers: These entry-level positions offer the most day-to-day interaction with candidates and clients. Managers work at branch locations in the hearts of cities throughout the world and serve those markets locally. A staffing manager builds relationships with clients and job candidates by finding out what hiring needs may be, interviewing potential candidates and making the right match between the company and candidate.

Division Director: This leader manages a team of staffing managers and often an additional business, such as an Accountemps location, as well as training and developing people within his or her division. Division Directors also continue to interact with candidates and clients.

Branch Manager: In addition to overseeing multiple divisions, this person is responsible for bringing successful people on board and managing their training and development. No one in leadership ever really steps away from interacting with clients and candidates.

Corporate Service Centers: Primarily located in California (headquarters), Illinois and some international locations, our corporate services teams support all of our business operations including IT, accounting and everything that makes a company run.

If you like helping people, there are few more rewarding careers than one in the staffing industry. Our work is important because we help hundreds of thousands of individuals find employment. We also help businesses grow by providing them with the experienced and skilled professionals they need to succeed.

We generally hire people with a degree and/or experience in one of the disciplines we serve. While we like to hire people who have practical experience in a relevant discipline, it’s not out of the question for us to hire a recent college graduate who illustrates accomplishment above and beyond the average.

This is an industry for someone who likes a fast-paced environment, can handle a lot at once, and likes to be a mentor to others. It’s a very collaborative atmosphere, and we look for highly dedicated, energetic, self-motivated people with compassion and passion for helping others. Good ethics and integrity must come first.

I had a financial planning degree and started more than 15 years ago as a staffing manager for our OfficeTeam division. After half a dozen different roles, today I’m responsible for training, learning and development of employees worldwide. I make sure we have designed development programs that support everyone from our new hires to executives so they can be successful at their jobs. The learning opportunities never stop.

I know from my experience in the recruiting industry that once you get into it, you can find an incredibly rewarding career. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

 

Avis Budget Group

Operating two of the most recognized brands in the global vehicle rental industry, the Avis Budget Group generated total revenues of $5.1 billion in 2009. Avis is a leading rental car supplier to the premium commercial and leisure segments of the travel industry, and Budget is a leading rental car supplier to the value-conscious segments of the industry. The company is a leading vehicle rental operator in North America, Australia, New Zealand and certain other regions they serve. The company’s global reach includes approximately 6,500 car and truck rental locations in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, the Caribbean and parts of Asia. With an average global rental fleet totaling more than 350,000 vehicles, the company completed more than 23 million vehicle rental transactions worldwide in 2009.

Mark Servodidio EVP, Chief Administration Officer AVIS/Budget Group

Mark Servodidio
EVP, Chief Administration Officer
AVIS/Budget Group

“When we merged Avis and Budget Rent A Car in 2003, we worked hard to keep the operational efficiency strengths of Avis and the entrepreneurial spirit from Budget,” says Mark Servodidio, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. Avis is the leader for airport market share and is a premium brand. About 70% of its business is derived from commercial accounts comprising large companies that contract with car rental providers to serve business travelers. Budget has a consumer (leisure) orientation with about 40% represented by commercial customers.

“Our commercial, or business-to-business, relationships comprise large deals with corporations to provide rental cars for their employees worldwide,” says Mark. “That may include federal, state and local government contracts, organizations such as the American Red Cross and major corporations.”

The company has about 22,000 associates globally and hundreds of thousands of cars on the road at any time. “Many people rightfully consider us a service business, but we are also a logistics business,” says Mark. “Our inventory is on wheels. When you have a $30K asset and charge a low price for someone to drive it off the lot, you must know where that asset is at all times. We have systems in place and train teams of people how to position the fleet to make sure we have the right car in the right place at the right time.

“We move cars daily to assure the right mix of fleet – for instance, minivans in Florida and SUVs in Colorado. If a car is sitting idle, you can lose money. So as much as serving the customer with a consistent experience is important, the logistics of how we keep vehicles on the road to meet customer demand matters, too.

“For a lot of students coming out of school, there’s a feeling that if they are not working in a big corporate office, they aren’t getting the biggest bang for their buck. When you look at successful people at our company and other companies, many started at the ground level and gained the trust of frontline employees. They weren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves, work hard and learn the business. Our COO, who will be retiring after more than 30 years in our industry, started as a entry level manager  and grew through the management ranks. Three of four senior operations leaders have about 30 years with the company and all started at the front line. It’s important not to shortcut learning a business. Work locally from the ground level, and then move up the ranks.

“We have hiring opportunities in a variety of positions including operations, local market managers, shift managers at the airport, rental sales agents at the counter and internships. For airport operations, a new recruit would come in through our six-month management training program and be assigned a shift of employees. They would learn the business by rotating through frontline work at counters, work behind the scenes with the folks who move cars and clean cars, and gain an understanding of the mechanical side and bussing operations. Ultimately those who gravitate toward operations and logistics can pursue a career that leads them to operations management. Some follow the sales track and manage counter sales for multiple cities. Those paths are each grounded in management training through ABG University and guidance from a mentor.

“We also offer opportunities to manage local stores independently or as a corporate employee. Each year, we bring in dozens of interns to our headquarters with the hope of transitioning them into positions in HR, finance, accounting or marketing. There also are positions as commercial sales representatives who secure business with travel agencies, airlines, tour businesses or commercial accounts.

“People come here, grow through lots of different jobs and stay. They have a lot of pride and loyalty about the product and service we provide. It’s a fast-paced business because the climate is always changing depending on things like travel habits, airline demands and fuel prices. To succeed, you have to love to serve customers and be comfortable dealing with pressure situations.

“We look for people who love customer service and are comfortable with pressure situations and the complexities associated with an inventory that constantly rotates. They must have the aptitude and desire to succeed, a strong work ethic and enjoy working as a member of a team. We want candidates who aren’t afraid of hard work, or of doing what it takes to get the job done right. Our people develop a family feeling working together so we like to hire people who also enjoy having fun.”

 

The Rewards of the Service Industry

“The service business is rewarding but tough,” says Mark. “If you do it well, you develop long-term relationships because you create the right tools and products that meet the needs of customers. That takes a few years to build. You have to get to know the culture of clients and learn what they want by finding ways to add value, and design services that your customers desire.

“There is a quote we use in our company: Listen hard to what you don’t want to hear. That’s the key to success in the service business. You really have to pay attention to what customers want. It’s creating an environment and culture where everyone who interacts with a customer at any level meets or exceeds their demands and helps the company get smarter about how to do that. It’s not just about trying to sell more product but listening to customers.”

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