Society for Human Resource Management Conference, 2015

Society for Human Resource Management 2015

Las Vegas, NV

There were 40+ exhibitors providing background screening in some shape or form with 30 limiting their business primarily to background screens.  Ten of these were new exhibitors (did not exhibit last year), seven did not return from last year and one was acquired.  Below is a list of this year’s exhibiting CRAs.

The exhibitor mood was quite upbeat with most being pleased with the quantity and the quality of traffic to their booths.  In fact when the educational sessions let out, the isles were literally jammed with people.  The paid attendance was preliminary reported by SHRM as 15,617, a record turnout of 9% over last year. Compare this to attendance of 12,000 in 2005 but a low of 6,800 back in the sorry days of 2009.   If you want the final numbers when they are released by SHRM, email me.

NAPBS was not an exhibitor again this year!  I think NAPBS should again exhibit at SHRM and solicit companies/individuals to become members of NAPBS.  It would only take a dozen or so new members to pay the expense.

What We Heard

In addition to visiting with all the screening companies, we were also there representing Vault Verify [the competitor to The Work Number that we offer through CRAs (call me to gift this service to your clients)].  Attendees who came to the booth mistakenly asked “are you a background screener?”

Of course, my immediate response was to ask: “Why? Are you not happy with your current supplier?”  Most said they are looking to make a change.  When asked who they were currently using, we heard almost every CRA name, and not just the big guys.  When we asked for reasons, we got the perennial answer, “we are just not happy with their service”.

I always find this to be an interesting response since every background screener claims they are growing because they provide the best service”.  Anyone see a disconnect here??!!??

When we talk to the exhibiting CRAs we usually ask, “What new product are you offering?”  I didn’t hear anything much, but people did say they were getting increased business from fast turnarounds on ITRV (Income Tax Return Verifications) and CBSV (Consent Based SSN Verifications). [Do you have these services in your arsenal?  If not, call us.]  The other thing we heard quite often was the repeating checks done for existing employees, particularly in healthcare (as mandated by the Feds).  This is very nice business when an employer with 3000 employees runs monthly sanctions and license check plus an annual or even a monthly criminal check.

Once again most screeners said their sales are up nicely.  Several are claiming increases over 30% and one 50%.  These fast growth companies are those that continue to invest in sales personnel, marketing dollars (as in exhibiting at SHRM) and technology, including ATS integrations since it has been reported that 25% of all background checks orders now come via ATS.

They are also investing in improving the quality of their data suppliers to reduce cost and the aggravation of slow turnaround time.  Lastly, they have a commitment to a comprehensive suite of service offerings, fast service and strong customer service departments when issues arise.  How are you doing in these key areas?  Not sure?  Take some time to check out the competition and take some time to check out your own operations (or consult with an expert who can help you benchmark how well you are doing compared to the industry).

Lastly, the issue of compliance was a main topic with a lot of CRAs, but not so much from the HR folks.  CRAs still have a lot of education to do to keep their clients out of legal issues.


Bruce Berg – I was happy to have my wife with me this year as our wedding anniversary always falls during SHRM and she usually stays home.  We had a great time celebrating our 50th (yes, she is quite an amazing partner to stick by me that long)! Of course while I was on the exhibit floor having my fun, she was busy increasing the retail clothing sales in the Forum Shops.

Billy Greenblatt was not there as he is now the Chairman of SterlingBackcheck.  It was nice to meet their CEO, Clare Hart and share industry perspectives with her and President Richard Seldon.

Debbie Klarfeld is no longer with Accurate Background.

A new crew was there from A-Check as Carlos Lacambra and Greg Hassler have parted.

Dave Dickerson of Accurate Background was right there selling in the exhibit booth.

Looks like Joel Goldberg of Aurico is quickly turning leadership over to his capable son, Ben.

Allissa Ditmars was absent this year (I heard she was implementing a $1M new account-no surprises there).  Husband Todd was there, sister Melea is no longer in the industry, brother Shane was there (recently changed from GIS to Talentwise) and aunt Karen was not there.

Perry Morgan and Kim Castellanos were volunteering to help at Barry Nixon’sbooth where they were taking their annual survey.

We interrupted some deep contemplation by Tony D’Orazio (Vertical, BIG, Certiphi) who is always nice to share his growth and his goals.

Talentwise: Darrin Fagan was kind enough to introduce me to Bruce Myers and we had a great chat along with Joe Doyle.

And, never to be forgotten, Camille Gamble of Verified Person was hitting them hard in her booth.

I cannot mention all the nice folks we talked to, but thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy schedule to share with Evan and me.