SHRM 2014 Annual Conference

SHRM 2014 Annual Conference

With 620 exhibiting companies, the SHRM eXpo is the largest trade show dedicated to human resource management products and services and is always a centerpiece of the SHRM Annual Conference. There were 40+ exhibitors selling background screening; 32 limited their business primarily to background screens.

I apologize up front for this report being a bit more brief than previous reports as this year I was so busy in our booth exhibiting our latest product, Vault Verify, that I literally could only peel off about two hours in total to visit my friends in the background screening booths.  Bad news is I didn’t get around to everyone; good news is Vault Verify got a bigger and better acceptance than I could have ever dreamed.  Since 2005, I have been roaming the exhibit hall to garner the news for you. But, I have not been “in the booth” since 1999 and I had a blast selling Vault Verify.

The exhibitor mood was pretty upbeat with most pleased with the quantity and the quality of traffic to their booths (but there were some not so pleased).  Seems about 1/3 of the screeners were all located near each other.  Not sure if this is good or bad but some expressed their concern.  They each try to position their exhibit to the “best” space (as you come in the main door).

During one 15 minute period when I was in one of these beautiful brand new, expensive exhibit booths, literally no one came in to talk (albeit this was during educational sessions).  The paid attendance was reported by SHRM as 13,068 plus the exhibitor personnel with the 620 exhibitors or a total of 18,300.

NAPBS was not an exhibitor this year!  I think NAPBS should again exhibit at SHRM and solicit companies/individuals to be members of NAPBS!!!  At our new membership fees, it would only take a dozen or so new members to pay the expenses.

Our estimate was about 50% of attendees were decision makers, 25% were sent to gather information, 10% were just curious and the rest just wanted the schwag.  (note: I guess since NAPBS is in Colorado this fall, we will have be careful to recognize the alternative meanings of ‘schwag’.)

What the Attendees are Saying

Since we were there in our booth selling Vault Verify, many who came to talk to us mistakenly thought we were selling background checks.  Of course, my inbred response was “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 name (and not just the big guys).

When we asked why, we got the standard answer, “we are just not happy with their service”.   Interesting response since someone I know who was working the floor marketing their service to the background screening companies, asked each, “what makes you better than the competition?”, she got the answer “we are better because of how well we service our clients”.  Anyone see a disconnect??!!??   And look at this comment pulled directly from my SHRM 2012 report:

Now, a key point: Warning: this is a repeated message:

-The issue of HR being dissatisfied with their current CRA was a common theme expressed by everyone I talked with at the conference.  Pay attention now:  I have been doing the SHRM conference for 17 years and I cannot remember any such conference where this was not the theme!  If you own your company, are a CEO, COO or Chief Sales Officer, you have to ask yourself: “Why are so many HR people unhappy with their current vendor?”  Better yet, ask your existing customers.

– People were not shopping price, they were shopping service and turnaround time.  Satisfying these needs is how I built my background screening company in the ‘90s and is exactly what drives growth in successful companies today.  You have to think of yourself as being in a service industry.  Sure, you sell data; sure, you sell information; sure, you have to be (reasonably) price competitive; but when all is said and done, if you have the accuracy and you have fast turnaround time, the customer is satisfied.  If your customer has an issue and calls your customer service department, they should be able to get an answer right then (not tomorrow) from someone who is empowered to satisfy them.  This is no different than how you would want to be served by your vendors.

– Here is a good exercise: check out the service at Symantec or ATT or Dell or the Social Security Administration, and then do the opposite.  Mystery shop your own company, even for the basics.  How well does it work when you call in?  Is the phone system easy to navigate? Do you have to wait on hold?  If you don’t have the proper extension for someone, how easy is it to get to him or her?  Once you get to them, do they know how to resolve your issue?  Then, pretend you are a prospective client.  How easy is it to get to someone by phone that can sell you and get you signed up?  How easy is to do this from your website?  Don’t let these basics stand in the way of turning a prospect into a customer.

In addition to good service, I was asked if could point them to some company that could help them manage their FMLA (frankly, I don’t know who does this; if you do, let me know and I will pass on the lead).  I didn’t hear anything about social media, but people did ask about IRS income verification and CBSV (Consent Based SSN Verifications). Do you have these services in your arsenal?  If not, call us.

We also saw a lot of people from other countries. South America, Central America, the Mideast, Southeast Asia and a lot from Nigeria (what’s up with Nigeria?—goodness, I just googled it and Nigeria is 1/3 larger than Texas with 152M people. 11M in Lagos, official language is English, 68% literate, $2400 per capita income, labor force 50M.—it is a big world out there).

Once again most screeners said their sales are up nicely.  What else would they say??  Several are claiming increases over 30%.  These fast growth companies are those that invested in sales personnel, marketing dollars (as in exhibiting at SHRM), technology, improved quality of their data suppliers to reduce cost and the aggravation of slow turnaround time and a commitment to a comprehensive suite of service offerings, fast service and strong customer service departments.

For us at Vault Verify it was a most exciting and successful exhibit.  Dollars well spent.  If you are interested in taking advantage of the Vault Verify opportunity by marketing it to your clients, please contact us at 561-712-1277.