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Help Wanted: Tips for Recruiting the Best Employees

There’s no denying the importance of your crew. In addition to creating landscapes, they build your public image. And yet, so often we hear the same complaints from owners: it’s hard to attract and retain good labor.

When U.S. Lawns opened in 1986, this wasn’t as difficult. Entry level workers typically made around $3 an hour—far less than today. Landscaping jobs paid more, giving workers an incentive to toil in the heat and/or snow. Unfortunately, today’s gardener can make just as much in “cushy” jobs like retail or data entry.

But as we all know, landscaping is an incredible industry. Nothing compares to working in nature, shaping grass and planting flowers; transforming drab commercial buildings into something beautiful that the community can be proud of. Every job can be tough, but ours has plenty of rewards. You just have to find the right people.

So, how do you recruit the best employees and build a dynamite crew? For that matter, how do you assemble an entire team, all the way up to your managers, who share the U.S. Lawns vision? Here are some practical recruiting tips you can use the next time you’re looking for an addition to your payroll:

• Don’t hire: recruit. Hiring means filling in spots on your team when needed. Recruiting is a philosophy that views the securing of new talent as an ongoing part of every healthy business. So, why should you always be looking for new employees? Because it gives you a much larger pool, and shows that you’re serious about creating the right team. Sure, recruiting costs money; but turnover costs even more. Creating a recruiting program will ensure you have enough of the right people to choose from, rather than having to settle.

• Advertise … everywhere. One of the most important parts of any recruiting program is advertising. People need to know you’re hiring in order to apply. But don’t just limit yourself to the typical online job boards, like Monster or Career Builder. Use all your social media tools, including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Put ads on CraigsList, Landscaping chat forums, and any site you contribute to. Get the word out at church, local community colleges, the Chamber of Commerce, or any organization you’re involved with. And of course, don’t forget to request an update to your personal U.S. Lawns web page if you’d like to hire for a particular position.

• Keep your current employees happy. Eighty percent of employees say they found their job through networking. That means it’s likely they knew someone at a company who told them about a position. Your employees can be your best recruiters. If they love where they work, they’ll spread the word. And if they’re good employees, chances are their friends will also be a good fit.

• Live your values. Have you ever gone to work for someone, only to find they weren’t who you thought? Recruiting the best employees means being very honest about what your company stands for—even though some might not agree. Those who share your vision will want to join your team. And they’ll probably stay for the long haul, because they’re committed at a deeper level. That’s how you really change communities and change lives.

• Hire, don’t fire. Let’s pretend that terminating employees isn’t an option. How much more carefully would you look for the right person? While we can’t tolerate underperformance, the solution is getting the right people in the right roles—not waiting until someone’s already miserable and doing a terrible job. At U.S. Lawns Home Office, we use personality profiling as a tool to help better understand our people and job candidates. As many of you know, this helps us avoid the mistake of putting someone in a position where they’re likely to fail. Whatever methods you use, it’s important to be absolutely sure before offering someone a job. An unhappy or incompetent employee will cost you far more down the road.

• Offer benefits. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about making your business the “best place to work.” Some of that is as plain and simple as offering benefits and incentives for your staff. Some U.S. Lawns owners have historically offered health insurance to all workers, including seasonal. Others have implemented high-paying incentive programs for staff who meet monthly goals. Although these “extras” might seem insignificant to an owner, people do gravitate toward employers with robust benefits packages. It’s just one way to show that you care about creating a great internal culture.

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