Despite the view out of most windows, the calendar claims that spring is upon us.
This means that commercial landscapers are gearing up for their busy season and need to properly prepare for the challenges ahead. Whether you are in Florida or Minnesota, certain elements and practices should be in place to ensure your successful summer.
Ideally, you’ll have started hiring your seasonal help about eight to 10 weeks before your region’s growing season begins and employee training should be underway.
Advertise your company’s culture
If you’ve ever looked at job boards, one of the first things you’ll notice is that most of the employment ads look the same. They advertise a list of duties or qualifications but don’t entice the reader with any information about the company. But you’re not like everyone else, so don’t sound like everyone else.
Why not paint a picture of your company’s culture? Money and benefits are important and should be listed, but you should also let your applicants know what it’s like to work there. If you have growth opportunities or own the latest and greatest equipment, let the applicant know.
And don’t limit your advertising to job boards. Try social media – both organic and paid. This is where most people spend their time online and where they develop many of their perceptions of the companies they see on these mediums.
Take the time to onboard
The goal of hiring the right employees doesn’t end when they show up to work the first day.
Remember that it’s important to provide training and correctly onboard your new employees, particularly if you want them to stay throughout the season.
Write down your company’s vision, your safety practices, your expectations and your concept of what success looks like. Have these available to employees on their first day and take the time to go over them with your new workers.
Don’t just hand them a weed trimmer or a lawnmower and turn them loose. You have supervisors for a reason and part of their job duties should be to check in with new employees daily – or at least weekly – to see how the new hire feels about the position and if they have the tools necessary to succeed.
Provide feedback after the first week and continue to check in on your new hires for eight to 12 weeks until you’re certain that they understand their role and have the confidence to do their jobs correctly.
This is a great help in retaining employees. The better your employees are trained, the more confident they are about their role and the more they will enjoy working for you.
Retaining employees isn’t just about money and benefits, but you should ensure you are paying your employees the market rate or more. In addition, if you provide them with sharp, comfortable uniforms, newer vehicles and the latest equipment, you’re certain to retain employees for longer periods of time.
Technology also plays a major role in both employee satisfaction and profitability. New autonomous mowers will hit the market this season. With these mowers, you will have the ability for a single well-trained operator to deploy three machines.
This means that one worker can do the work it used to take three people to do. This isn’t eliminating jobs – this just means you don’t have to find bodies to fill positions that are already open. It’s kind of a big deal and something well worth considering for your operation.
Don’t forget recruiting
In today’s tight labor market, the employee has the upper hand. We’re seeing a wage inflation of about 5 to 10% and it doesn’t take much for an employee to find another job if he or she doesn’t feel your company is providing them with all the resources they need to properly perform their job.
That’s why I advise commercial landscapers to hire an in-house recruiter. You want someone who is dedicated to developing relationships at high schools and colleges and who is always working to educate younger workers on the benefits of a career in landscaping.
This role shouldn’t be limited to a human resources position that only kicks in gear when you’re actively looking to hire a specific number of people. Your recruiter should be a marketer who is always selling your brand.
Once you’ve gotten your employees on board, you can concentrate on customers. You should consider who your best customers are and work your hardest to maintain them. Don’t be afraid to turn down business or get rid of customers who don’t pay or are difficult to work with. Not all business is good business and you should ensure your work is profitable and fulfilling.
Have a great season!
Editor's Note: This article was written by Tim Kubista of RC Mowers
As vice president of sales and marketing for RC Mowers, Tim Kubista specializes in revenue growth, acquisition, sales training and building dealer networks for the company. He has had two companies on the Inc. 5000 list and came to RC Mowers with a vast knowledge of the commercial mowing industry. For more information about RC Mowers, visit www.rcmowersusa.com.