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Recruiting in the landscape industry is often cited as being one of the biggest challenges landscape business owners face. How many times have you heard an industry peer say (or maybe you’ve even said it yourself), “I just can’t find good people!”
There’s no question that it’s become increasingly challenging to find capable people who are willing to put in the hard work. But they are out there. There are plenty of landscaping companies that are proving to be successful, even in challenging markets, and it’s largely due to the fact that they’ve found a landscape industry recruiting strategy that works for them. Some of these companies are even thinking outside of the box and recruiting in unique ways.
Let’s take a look at three innovative recruitment strategies for landscaping companies that are changing the way businesses find new recruits.
Strategy #1: Development of a “Career Center” Space
At Level Green Landscaping, Chief Technical Officer, Michael Mayberry, says that they’re focused on “constantly recruiting.” In fact, he says the biggest landscape industry recruiting mistake most businesses make is to only recruit in the spring.
“You simply can’t build a great team if you get pigeonholed into only looking for people in the spring,” Mayberry says. “Great people become available throughout the year. If you find the right person, it’s worth bringing them on board even if you don’t actually have an opening at that time because you want to be growing for your future.”
The Upper Marlboro, MD-based company has made a concerted effort to focus much more heavily on recruiting by developing a “Career Center,” which is essentially a space on their website designed to be for potential hires. But this resource goes way beyond what you’ll typically find.
It not only has job opening information with clear job descriptions, internship opportunities, and a lot of quality information about the company and its people, including professionally-produced video. The Career Center even has access to a separate blog, a “culture blog,” which is different from Level Green’s blog where they post content for prospective clients.
“The culture blog is a space where we share a lot of internal information,” Mayberry says. “We talk about our people and we celebrate things we are doing as a company. We also post helpful content for recruits. It gives more of an inside look at what it’s really like to work here at Level Green.”
Mayberry says that research shows Millennials want to join a company where they feel “part of something greater,” and the Career Center page helps them to see how they might fit into life at Level Green. It also includes “career track” information which he says is incredibly important.
“We have found that in our industry, nobody is laying out the path for what a career can look like,” Mayberry says. “For that reason, it’s been really hard to attract young people to the profession. They have no clue where they could end up or what kind of opportunity this could be for them. We’re trying to give them all of that information so they can make an informed decision, knowing what the future could hold.”
Strategy #2: Developing a Strategic (and Comprehensive) Plan
Level Green knew the importance of developing a comprehensive and strategic plan to recruit new people. That’s why they chose to work with Landscape Leadership to developing their Career Center page.
Chad Diller, an account manager with Landscape Leadership, says that inbound recruiting should be a multi-pronged marketing approach using a website’s career center and other forms of online recruitment tools. It’s all about laying the proper foundation.
When it comes to landscape industry recruiting, you can’t expect to just post an ad and generate a big response if you haven’t put in any behind-the-scenes legwork. Like every other aspect of your business that you run successfully, you need a plan.
“When recruiting, many of the same principles you enlist to attract customers to your brand, to buy your services, can be used to attract people to come work for you,” Diller explains. “While your target customer, in this case, is someone that you are going to pay, not someone that will be paying you, a lead is a lead. Your goal is the same in both cases—attracting them to your brand and compelling them to work for you, over other career options.”
But herein lies the problem for many. A lot of landscape business companies have not put a lot of thought into the development of their brand. Who are you as a company and why would someone want to come work for you? If you look like every other landscape company out there, then you can’t expect to attract an exceptional workforce, Diller says.
Landscape Leadership is working with green industry clients in a variety of capacities to help them differentiate their brands. For one, they are doing this through companies’ websites.
“Your website is something you own and that makes it quite different from placing an ad on a recruitment site,” Diller says. “In an ad, you pay to be seen and then it goes away. But with your website, you own that asset and you should make it robust with tools like video, online job applications, job updates, and more.”
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t also place ads. Diller says ads serve a valuable function, too. You just want to make sure that when a potential hire finds you (perhaps via an ad) that when they further research your company on your website, they are happy with what they find.
Of course, who sees your ad is also important in your landscape industry recruiting efforts. Landscape Leadership is working to help their clients create targeted ads that are reaching the potential job pool they really want to hire from. With the right tools, you can really narrow the segment of the population that your ad reaches, right down to talented team members already working within the industry.
Diller says landscape companies can take all of these efforts even farther with their ability to profile job recruits Creating ideal candidate profiles and use them as part of the screening process, can help to really identify red flags in a hurry.
After all, Diller adds, you don’t want to just find people—you want to find the right people for that position. Not everyone is going to be the right fit for certain roles (even if they don’t know it themselves) and that’s a lot easier to recognize at the onset before problems can develop months or years down the line.
Strategy #3: Going Directly to the Source
If you have ever tried to use the H2B program for recruiting in the landscaping industry, then you are familiar with the headaches that can be involved. We’ve heard all the horror stories of companies that were promised workers only to have busy season roll around and for one reason or another, they never show up. There’s a lot involved, logistically, with getting visas and workers here via H2B and some might say it’s not worth all the hassle.
Clay Martin, founder, and president of Martin Recruiting & Consulting, knew there had to be a better way. Several years ago, while managing multiple dairy farms for a small company in upstate New York, he had some workers that came from Puerto Rico. It sparked a brilliant idea.
Since Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, no visa is needed for workers to come here. Martin now runs a successful recruiting business in which he handles all for the vetting and the logistics for bringing workers into the United States to work for landscape companies.
Of course, you might be wondering why you didn’t think of this yourself and might have already decided you’re going to try to put up an ad and recruit workers on your own. Martin warns that it’s not quite as easy as business owners think and that working with a recruiting firm means a lot less red tape.
“I am physically going there on a regular basis, and also have team members established there that I am in constant communication with,” Martin says. “There is so much behind-the-scenes relationship building that has been going on for years. Many of these workers are leaving their families behind and they’re not going to do it just because they saw an ad. They know me, and they know my team, and there’s a lot of trust involved there.”
While Martin says some of the workers are seasonal, some have also taken long-term positions and moved their families to the US.
“While we don’t manage workers once they’ve gone to work for a company, I do check in with them,” Martin says. “I often keep in touch with their families and want to know how things are going. I want this to be sustainable for both parties—the worker and the employer. My goal isn’t to be the biggest recruiting agency in Puerto Rico, it is to be the most trusted.”
Making Innovative Recruiting in the Landscaping Industry Work for You
At Include, we are always interested in ways that we can help our clients to be better. For that reason, we are dedicated to keeping up with the latest innovative green industry strategies out there. Hopefully one, or maybe even all, of these ideas has sparked some inspiration for your own recruiting strategies.
We find that the companies that are the most successful with recruiting tend to be those that are willing to try new things and to go after a solution. Many of them are already our clients as they know landscape business software can also help them better run their business and make them a stronger company for recruitment. In the end, it all comes down to how you present your company brand. The behind-the-scenes efforts you are putting in can really pay off in the long run.
If you want to talk more about innovation or about Asset and what it can do to improve your company’s brand, then give us a call at 800-475-0311 or contact us for a free demo.