Labor is a pain for most professional landscape companies. Where are good people when you need them? The economy is booming—but finding quality employees to capture the market opportunity has never been so difficult.
“Our game plan now is to get people to see this is an industry where you can have a career and not just a minimum-wage job,” says Frank Mariani Jr., Mariani Landscape, Lake Bluff, Illinois.
Here are strategies green industry companies are deploying to attract and retain people in one of the toughest labor markets. “The average laborer is 57 years old,” Mariani points out, adding that competition among all services industries for labor is tight. “You could lose a guy over a quarter to McDonald’s,” he says.
And with a healthy economy and plenty of construction underway across the country, the industry is losing labor to those job sites. “So many are hanging drywall, doing roofing, painting, building—they are able to demand very high salaries for those jobs,” says Jim McCutcheon, CEO, HighGrove Partners.
In a recent NALP survey, 65 percent of landscape professionals said hiring/recruiting/retaining enough workers to get work done is the No. 1 concern keeping them up at night. Here are some of the recruiting solutions NALP members are implementing to get good people in the door and working.
Recruiting Solutions: Drive-by Ads
“We have advertising on the sides of all of our vehicles that says, ‘We are hiring, all positions.’” —Rob Munn, English Garden Care
Recruiting Solutions: Branding Edge
“We have a marketing partner and are moving our company in a direction where we are more professionally represented. Through that, we believe we can attract really good people and continue driving our lawn care business.” —Jack Moore, Grassperson
Recruiting Solutions: Profit Sharing & Benefits
“Instead of having to continually dole out wage increases—something that sticks with you forever—we are looking at incentivizing employees through profit-sharing. If profits are beyond our expectations, we can potentially provide some of the additional income to our people. And, we find that the best way to attract people at this point is benefits. I can’t afford to pay more for an entry-level worker, so we offer insurance, vacation and sick time for everyone.” —Rob Munn, English Garden Care
Recruiting Solutions: Social Media Recruiting
“We hold a job fair at our office and we share it on social media. We also ask all of our people to share information about it on their personal Facebook pages. Social media has been big for us.” —Keith Hitch, Bella Terra Landscapes
Recruiting Solutions: Connecting with Schools
“We are working with colleges and high schools to make sure students are aware of opportunities in the landscape industry so they realize they can have a career if they work hard.” —Frank Mariani Jr., Mariani Landscape