If you’ve been running your own small, landscaping business, you know that finding the right fit for your landscaping team is no small task. Recent changes in labor laws (e.g. minimum wage), have substantially shrunk the labor pool. Furthermore, the recession saw an uptick in the number of small, independent landscaping companies, drawing even more labor from the pool, while simultaneously creating more competition. In addition to those factors, recruiting employees can feel like a monumental task. Where will you find the time to search for and train a team suited to your specific needs? After all, you do have a business to run.
At U.S. Lawns, we place a strong emphasis on building the right teams. Our franchise owners want their landscape businesses to be the best possible places to work. Because we’ve made employee retention a top initiative in an industry beset by labor challenges, we know a few things about how to succeed–and fail–in building the right team. Here are a few tips we can offer:
Always be recruiting. You never know when the right person will walk in the door. Or, other times, when your best employee will leave for a new career. Collecting a database of qualified candidates is a best practice even for small businesses. That’s why all of our franchises have digital recruiting portals on their personal websites, complete with job descriptions and pre-employment application forms.
Create the right culture. You want to work with people who fit with you, and the rest of your team. It’s important to be honest about what kind of internal culture you have. It’s equally important to celebrate it. Make sure your employees actually enjoy their jobs, because that’s the only way they’ll give 100% to your customers. We’ve made culture a leading initiative at U.S. Lawns, and we train our franchisees in both recruiting and retention techniques.
Focus on the crew leader. This is a position that can easily get overlooked; but that’s a huge mistake. Your crew leader is not only the head of your crew, but a liaison to the clients you serve. He’s the one who has to explain when something goes wrong, and the one customers talk to when something goes right. At U.S. Lawns, we train our owners that a crew leader is a customer service position, and then they hire accordingly. Don’t look for a traditional laborer.
Network with your business community. With so many people looking for jobs, business organizations are a great place to learn about and maybe meet new talent. Your next office manager could be in-between gigs and spending her time volunteering for your favorite charity. Your next sales professional could be shaking hands at the Rotary club. At U.S. Lawns, we encourage all our franchisees to stay active in their local business organizations. It’s a great way to find business partners, in the form of employees and clients!
At U.S. Lawns, we always say we’re not in the landscaping industry, but the service industry. We know that happy workers equal happy customers, and we’re committed to improving the quality of our operation by improving the quality of our teams. We work with our owners to take hiring hurdles out of the picture, so they can stay off the truck, delegate their tasks, and spend time doing the things that matter most.