Friday, 4 March 2011

How The Hire Industry is its own worst enemy

Plant hire is,it has to be said , an extraordinary business . It began out of a real need to make the best use of what was available , it never seemed to develop any particular career structure , instead being driven by people who gained ' Hands on ' experience and then it seems they progressed thro' various levels until they  reached the level just above their competence ! Anyone in the industry will know of MDs Directors and other senior personnel who are just not able enough,really, to carry out the job they are supposed to .
Fairly recently there have been attempts to create training and development pathways thro the industry , with a view to getting some sort of qualification system , this works very well for the technical end of the game , plant hire  managers are still , in the main,untrained in any specific skill,the main requirement being able to juggle any number of jobs and retain in memory a vast amount of information for instant recall , coupled with the ability to think of novel , believable excuses at a seconds notice ( bullsh*t beats brains anyday) .
In the early 1970s plant hire , in UK , was probably at its best.Big construction jobs were starting all over the country , (and overseas ) , gas pipelines were being built , times were good .Despite the fact that companies often had large in house fleets hire companies grew and expanded , and , a decent rate of return could be made , it was worth doing the job , and , I think it was the last time sales managers would stick to the rate list,with few exemptions . Unfortunately this is the very thing that attracts the quick profit merchants who thought that the easy way to making money was to provide the same equipment but just do it cheaper, the new sort of hire rep. had only one shot in his locker and that was "I'll do it cheaper..." , and so the rot started to set in and has continued ever since . 

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Plant Hire - How it got to where it is today!

The plant Hire Industry seems to have developed into what it is after the second world war . Bomb damage had devastated  vast areas of our cities and there was a desperate shortage of machinery and other quipment to repair it - as a result of this what machines we did have were at a premium - the halcyon days of hire , I would think but things were never that simple. The upshot was that because there was lots of work , construction companies were able to grow into large Corporations fairly easily,picking up work they wanted at prices that made sense , many of them also aquired large holdings or fleets of machines and developed 'Plant Departments' , staffed by skilled people whose job it was to look after the cars,trucks excavators,cranes - anything the company aquired to carry out the jobs . This model worked well until jobs big enough to support these monoliths started to get more difficult to find , then many of the more massive companies needed to look for economies , and for most of them the Plant Department was something they could easily divest themselves of , so , the rationale was to close them down and use outside hire to provide the equipment they needed , thus saving the cost of purchasing kit , maintaining it , employing all the people needed to run the Department . By this time Plant Hire had attracted all sorts of 'Players' into the field , so there were companies ready to take up the challenge and provide a first rate service ( in most cases) .Vehicle hire had also come of age and any type of car , lorry ,truck or van could be aquired from allsorts of enterprising companies using various equally enterprising methods of financing fleets!
For a time there was good business to be had, efficient, well run organisations were able to make good money providing a premium service, but,alas,this would not last. Plant Hire , at first look , is a great business to be in , the essence of it being people borrow the kit,pay you for it and then give it back! , Companies of all sorts had little dabbles in hire,threw money at it,cut rates to get business , then , not liking the reality , sold up and got out. The intervention of ' instant hire ' organisations wasn't the only cause of the plant hire industry woes , the overriding problem is the willingness of people in the industry to cut rates , and hence,cut their own throats! It always amazes me that when you talk to hire people they all decry rate slashing but they all do it!