In this industry, it can be difficult to stand out from the competition. But becoming Landscape Industry Certified is a great way to separate your business from the rest. Of course, there are other benefits to achieving certifications, as well. It’s great for helping employees to advance their careers — and ultimately helps them better serve your clients. We spoke to a few landscape business leaders who believe certification is crucial to the betterment of our industry.
Pam Berrios, director of multicultural training and development for Ruppert Landscape, headquartered in Laytonsville, Maryland, says that the company has always encouraged certification because it helps inspire team members to achieve more from themselves.
“It’s a way to showcase their skills and expertise on a national level,” Berrios says. “We take pride in our people and know they are our greatest asset. We will always continue to empower them and elevate their careers through all resources available to us.”
Palmer Higgins, CEO of Mainely Grass, Inc., in Portland, Maine, says that ongoing education is part of the company’s three core values — and pursuing certifications naturally fulfills that goal. He admits that investing in education can be substantial both in terms of time and money — but he also feels that companies who want to be the “best at what they do,” can’t afford not to.
“When clients hire us, they hire us to be subject matter experts and it’s a major disappointment when that’s not what they get,” Higgins says. “Traditionally, the industry has a bad reputation for not investing in education because of high turnover. But I think that a big part of those high turnover rates is due to the fact that companies are not investing in their employees.”
Rob Reindl, owner of Oasis Turf & Tree in Loveland, Ohio, wholeheartedly agrees. He also puts a tremendous emphasis on education and encourages team members to become Landscape Industry Certified. In fact, he values it so much that he offers incentives in the form of a pay raise for earning certifications. He says the company wants to set these employees up for success, so they ensure there is a quiet space in the office to study — and plenty of resources available to team members who want extra help in preparing.
“We even have practice tests that we can administer so that team members can gauge whether they feel ready to take the test,” Reindl says. “While they pay for the test out of pocket, we reimburse them when they pass.”
Reindl says the company even has employees’ certification plaques printed on glass and mounted on a wall in the office so that they can proudly show them off. In turn, this inspires other employees to want to earn these certifications. Reindl says that it’s benefitted his team by helping them to advance their career — but it’s also benefitted the company’s clients.
“We’re in the business of solving homeowners’ problems and the best way that our lawn and tree care technicians can do that is by being fully trained and educated,” he says. “Going through the certification program does just that.”
There’s no question that becoming Landscape Industry Certified comes with a lot of benefits. As companies look to pursue these opportunities in the future, Berrios advises that it makes sense to plan ahead.
“Every company out there should have a yearly training plan and budget,” she says. “Make certification part of that. The more certified people that you have on your team, the better your company will stand against the competition. Our training, development, and certification efforts are definitely a major advantage point here at Ruppert.”