Four Retention Tips from Lawn Care and Landscape Professionals - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Four Retention Tips from Lawn Care and Landscape Professionals

Photo: Eileen M. Escarda

Once you’ve found new employees to hire at your landscape or lawn care company, that’s only half the battle. Then comes the task of ensuring you retain your new staff members so you are able to grow, rather than constantly fill the same roles time and time again.

As anyone in the industry can tell you, there’s no one perfect way to make sure your team members stay long-term, but offering a mixture of the methods below can definitely help.

Employee Benefits

Aside from paying competitive wages, the various employee benefits your company could provide makes a difference to people.

Photo: Site Structures Landscape

Site Structures Landscape, Inc., based in Kittery, Maine, pays 75 percent of the employee’s health insurance after they have been at the company for a year and they pay 50 percent of the dental and vision insurance. They have a four percent match retirement plan that employees are automatically enrolled in after one year. Team members also receive year-end bonuses based on individual performance and company profitability.

Employees who stay for a year earn a week of paid vacation, those who stay for two years get two weeks and after five years they get three weeks of paid vacation. The company also offers a parental leave policy of six weeks paid for mothers, two weeks paid for fathers, and as much time as needed unpaid.

“As far as I know it hasn’t resulted in any additional kids being born, but anyone who is eligible makes sure to take advantage of it when the time comes and they truly appreciate the time with their families,” says Charlie Bourdages, owner of Site Solutions. “It’s a benefit that employees forget exists, and when we remind expectant parents that they can take advantage they seem relieved.”   

Company Culture

An often-cited retention method is company culture. This will look a little different in every organization but requires intentional effort. At Mullin, based in St. Rose, Louisiana, they make a point to hire people who have the same beliefs and core values.

“Everybody here knows that what we’re doing is special and everybody here wants to be a part of that,” says Chase Mullin, owner of Mullin. “They all make an unconscious effort to make work fun and they work hard.”

Meanwhile, Weller Brothers Landscaping, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, says the key to maintaining their culture is ensuring they have managers who live it out on a daily basis.

“Culture to us isn’t having a company barbecue,” Weller says. “Culture to us is what happens big picture every single day within an organization. What we’ve found is that there is no easy answer. It’s a whole bunch of different things together woven together to really make the fabric that we are at Weller Brothers.”

Provide a Purpose

Photo: Himmel’s Landscape & Garden Center

Another method to consider focusing on is how you message the work to your employees. When Elizabeth Elliott, owner of Himmel’s Landscape and Garden Center based in Pasadena, Maryland, worked for a nonprofit in the past, she learned the importance of being part of something bigger.

Now she shares that message with her employees and how their Bay-friendly practices build a better, healthier, more beautiful world.

“We’re not here to just sell plants and landscape jobs,” Elliott says. “We are working for a greater purpose. Every single employee that I’ve hired, we’ve talked about this mission and our vision, they really buy into it and they feel like their job is special, and that’s why they stay with us.”

Invest in Training

Providing training for your employees shows you care about them and want them to succeed. At Martin Landscape, based in Port Royal, South Carolina, they are always teaching their employees because they don’t want them to feel they are stuck at a dead-end job.

“We want everybody in the company to know what positions we have available and how you get to the next level,” says Wade Martin, owner of Martin Landscape. “Do you need to be certified in pesticides? Are you going to be a spray tech? Great, we’re going to give you the books, and we’re going teach you how to pass the test to get your pesticide license so we can move you out.”

LOVING, based in Gastonia, North Carolina, helps their team reach their full potential through LOVING University, which is a tuition reimbursement and continuing education program they started in 2018.

Training is also important to Aiello Landscape, based in Vero Beach, Florida. Employees have to reach certain knowledge checkpoints after they’ve been with the company for certain periods of time.

“We express to them if they want a career out of this, which is what we’re trying to hire people who want careers, we’ll pay them a very good living,” says Dan Crisafulli, vice president of Aiello. “Every year in addition to showing up and working and all that good stuff at the end of every year in order to be eligible for an evaluation with a raise they have to increase their knowledge and accomplish these modules.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.