The Best Body Shops’ Tips: Enterprise Shares Company’s Successful Recruitment Strategies

Pam Webster of Enterprise
Pam Webster, AVP talent acquisition for Enterprise Holdings

Just over 60 years ago, Jack Taylor founded Enterprise Rent-A-Car in St. Louis, Missouri.

He opened the small business in the basement of a Cadillac dealership with just seven vehicles. A decorated naval pilot, Taylor named the company after the WWII aircraft carrier on which he had served---the USS Enterprise. Since then, the company has grown to include 100,000 employees and nearly 10,000 locations in more than 90 countries worldwide. The Taylor family acquired National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car in 2007 and fully integrated all three car rental brands two years later under the corporate parent name Enterprise Holdings, which is still privately held.

Taylor’s philosophy was to take care of employees and customers first, and profits and growth would follow. Pam Webster, AVP talent acquisition for Enterprise Holdings, said Taylor’s philosophy still holds true today.

“He never intended for Enterprise to be the largest; he wanted us to be the best,” said Webster. “Jack always said we’re in the people business---not the car business.”

Webster said an important aspect of the company’s success has always been a focus on building a talent strategy. With an extensive background in recruiting, Webster shared Enterprise’s successful approach during an AkzoNobel Acoat Selected performance group meeting held in San Diego, CA. This included the recruitment process, employee engagement, training and development.

The following information is based on Webster’s presentation, “Building a Talent Strategy — Enterprise’s Approach to Solving Our HR Opportunities,” which was part of AkzoNobel’s early bird training sessions held prior to the performance group meeting.

Q: How would you define today’s typical job seeker?

A: The largest workforce we have today---estimated to be about 77.2 million---is Gen-Y, millennials. Ranging in age from 16--38 (depending on the source), the millennial generation wants to make a contribution to the company they work for and understand why they are doing what they are doing and how it has an impact. At the same time, learning new things is a priority as well as having access to additional development and training.

According to a study conducted by LinkedIn and Snagajob, an online employment website specializing in the hourly marketplace, 71 percent of the hourly workforce is under the age of 30. The majority of those who were part of the study said they value scheduled flexibility in a job; 59 percent felt that flexibility would result in higher job productivity. Over half said that learning new things or having access to professional development opportunities would encourage them to stay at their job.

Close to 90 percent of millennials said that a reward system during their training would boost their engagement, and half said that having friends in the workplace would motivate them and increase productivity. They also value regular feedback from their employer about how they are performing, and 33 percent prefer recognition over higher pay.

Q: What are some of the issues companies are facing in terms of recruiting?

A: Recruiting is not easy, and can be challenging in the collision repair industry due to a shortage of skilled labor and an aging workforce. New vehicle technologies are driving significant changes in vehicle repairs, which ultimately requires more extensive training for technicians. Currently, more people are leaving the workforce than entering it. Whether you are a large or small company, not having the talent you need to grow and support the business you are running can make a big impact.

Job seekers today want to work where they want, when they want and how they want. This is often referred to as the “free agent” mentality. It’s a challenge, especially for brick-and-mortar types of businesses, such as collision repair shops that don’t offer that flexibility.

For many job seekers, it is now socially acceptable to change jobs. According to a study by Monster, 70 percent of the workforce is willing to do this. Typically, a 20-year-old will have seven different jobs during their twenties. That makes it tough for employers because turnover is expensive. It costs you money and time, and it impacts your ability to deliver on the services you provide---namely, getting cars repaired and back to their owners. Work/life balance has been found to be more important to today’s job seekers than how much they earn. Employers are finding that workers prefer more flexibility, fewer hours and to make less money. That can be a big challenge.

Q: Where are job seekers looking for employment?

A: As a business owner trying to find a new hire, sometimes you have to step back and put the candidate hat on. Think about how job seekers who want to work in the collision industry search for jobs. The largest job board today is Google. It’s where most people start their job search. Google is based on keyword relevancy. This determines how information about your company shows up in the search results. Therefore, when you’re posting a job on a job board or aggregator, take time to think about what keywords job seekers will search for.

Glassdoor and Indeed are two of the top online sources for potential hires. The majority of job seekers go to these sites to do their research. Glassdoor started as a job review site and expanded to become a job aggregator, while Indeed started as an aggregator and is now a job review site.

Q: You mentioned that Enterprise is in the “people” business. How do you ensure your company hires the right individual for the job?

A: Everything we do starts with hiring the right people and making sure we are committed to the long-term when we make a selection. Sometimes, it’s hard to think this way when you have an immediate need in your business, but we’ve always focused on the long-term. We don’t want to just hire somebody and fill a seat on the bus. Instead, we want to ensure we are hiring the right people because it really does impact the culture if you have constant turnover. We’ve found that it will impact morale and engagement of the other employees.

When our business started to grow in the 1980s, we built a formal talent strategy that focused on the entire lifecycle of an employee: selection, onboarding, training and development, performance management and career progression. We knew that if we dropped the ball on any one of these stages, it would impact the business and the bottom line. Because our philosophy is to promote from within, we have a commitment to grow our talent.

We asked employees about why they work here, what they like/don’t like, what they are looking for in a company that we don’t offer, as well as what our competitors are offering. Then we defined our employee value proposition. That is what makes us unique as an employer. We built that into our brand and incorporated it into all of our communication, including recruitment marketing and messaging.

Once somebody is hired, we focus on their learning path, regardless of the job position. We look at their skills and how we measure them, ensure there is a clear understanding of expectations and what they should deliver each day, build in mentoring and coaching, and have a rewards/recognition program in place.

The bottom line is employee performance. If we hire the right people, engage them, and offer training and development, we’ll have better sales, service and growth.

10 best practices for hiring and retaining employees based on the Enterprise model:

  • Build consistent interview guidelines and questions
  • Set clear expectations and be transparent about your company
  • Know what your competitors are doing and what they are offering to their employees
  • Create a recognition program for workers where they can be recognized by leadership
  • Foster a team-building culture, whether that’s internally with work-related contests or a friendly competition outside of the workplace, such as forming a sports team
  • Empower employees, regardless of their role, and give them autonomy to make decisions
  • Look at the core competencies for all jobs, such as empathy, resilience, good communication, work ethic and flexibility
  • Devise a consistent process across the company
  • Set up a mentoring program and teach managers how to manage and motivate employees
  • Continually measure the effectiveness of your hiring process, as well as training and development programs

For more information, message Pam Webster at

Stacey Phillips Ronak

Stacey Phillips Ronak is an award-winning writer for the automotive industry and a regular columnist for Autobody News based in Southern California.

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