If there’s one silver lining from the pandemic, it’s that growth has come more easily for many lawn and landscaping companies. However, the recruiting problem has gone from bad to plain ugly. Recruits are hard to find. Employer competition is fierce. Applicants don’t show up for their interviews. New hires quit. As you look upward, the tower of revenue now casts a looming shadow. If recruiting can’t be fixed, your potential for growth will decline. This reality compromises the foundation of your business.
Staffing a green industry company isn’t for the faint of heart. For the past 22 years, I’ve seen the revolving door of recruiting. My former employers, industry clients, and LinkedIn connections all seem to be searching for missing pieces to their recruiting strategy.
Over the past decade, our company, Landscape Leadership, has been fortunate to work with lawn and landscape companies that have not only focused on revenue growth, but also positioned their organizations as employer “brands of choice.” These green industry companies understand that job seekers want to work for winners.
An effective part of this strategy is creating websites that reveal their positive company cultures and unique positions in the industry. Their websites market not only to prospective clients, but also potential team members.
According to LinkedIn’s Ultimate List of Employer Brand Statistics, 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job. What would potential recruits discover about your company’s brand and culture when they visit your web- site? They should clearly see meaningful company values, compelling benefits and perks, and generous compensation. Does your website communicate these things clearly or are you providing superficial points about the available roles and company benefits provided?
Each year, I get to visit some impressive landscape companies. I’m often intrigued by their company cultures and notice some unique team perks. Mullin, a landscape company in New Orleans, LA, provides CrossFit classes for team members. RainMaster Lawn Systems in Eau Claire, WI offered free smoking cessation assistance to a crew leader and his spouse. Oasis Turf & Tree near Cincinnati, OH has a workplace that also became a favorite hang-out after work hours. Level Green Landscaping , in Washington D.C., MD, and VA, offers tuition reimbursement and paid management training programs. Many are doing amazing things to build great company cultures. Where is that evidence on websites?
Are you seen as being unique in your market, or just another landscaper? Positioning is how you differentiate your company from competitors in the minds of prospects and customers, but also potential employees. Potential team members want to work for your company when they see something unique and exciting. You don’t just mow grass and do landscaping. Your team makes a meaningful impact. They change lives and the community around them. Your website should reinforce this unique position. Potential employees should see an opportunity and an organization that is truly something special.
In order to have an easier and more predictable recruiting process, one that provides a steady stream of the best possible candidates, it’s critical you build your company upon the aforementioned keystone—your website. Just adding a “careers” page isn’t enough. One or two paragraphs about your company culture aren’t going to cut it. Simply listing general benefits and open positions is going to fall short. You have to do more.
You market to prospective customers to get them to buy your services, right? Recruiting is closely related to marketing, you’re just targeting a different customer. Recruits need to be convinced to buy the “great career opportunity” that you’re selling.
According to LinkedIn’s Ultimate List of Employer Brand Statistics, the #1 obstacle candidates experience when searching for a job is not knowing what it’s like to work at an organization. Great recruiting uses your website to validate your brand’s claims. Let recruits see what it’s like to work there. Let them hear the stories of your happy team members. Addressing common concerns and questions of job seekers is also a key component.
In order for your website to properly communicate your culture, reinforce your company’s positioning, and market effectively to recruits, I recommend the following approach.
Create a career center. First, the typical careers page needs to be transformed into a “career center,” a hub where the journey begins. Within this one page, keep the information useful but concise. There is a lot of information to share. This is often the place a job seeker’s adventure starts. (For a great example of how to do this, check out Level Green Landscaping’s career center.)Make sure your career center is easily accessible in your website’s navigation menus.
Film a culture video. Give careful consideration to what makes your organization so unique. Less is more. I recommend not trying to communicate more than three main points. Invest in quality, professional video production. (For a video Landscape Leadership created for Turfscape, in Cleveland, OH, check out their “Staff” page. They also have another video on their “Careers” page.)
Show career paths. I have personally seen how you can go from being a spray technician 20+ years ago to one promotion after another. Many job seekers want something more than a job-for-now. Creating interactive graphics, such as the one on Level Green’s career center, can help ambitious recruits visualize their future.
Tease open positions. Help job seekers take the journey that is most valuable to them. On your career center hub, “tease” your open positions with a thumbnail image and job title. When they click the job position link, redirect them to a position page robust with information about that specific job. The page should include professional images of real, happy team members in that role in addition to the job description and details.
Provide real-world examples. Open position pages could even feature in-depth stories about certain team members in these roles. (For great examples of articles spotlighting employees, check out Michael Hatcher & Associate’s blog. And for great examples of professional photography featuring team members, visit Yellowstone Landscape or Oasis Turf & Tree.
Besides communicating company culture, videos can also be a great medium for exploring a “day-in-the-life” of different employee roles. Want to know more about being a crew member versus an operations manager versus an account manager? At Level Green Landscaping, it’s all there on its career videos page.
Offer career articles. There are dozens of common questions job seekers have. From industry transitions, explanation of compensation and benefits, to training program details, creating insightful resources will help recruits get their answers. Feature these article links on your career center hub. (For some great examples, such as what millennials look for in career options and more, check out some of the articles on Oasis Turf & Tree’s News blog.)
Use Spanish. For some clients, we’ve completely translated careers content and videos done in English to Spanish. It can be a special touch that communicates your dedication to this important demographic in our industry. (For great examples of Spanish recruiting content, check out Kingstowne Lawn & Landscape’s Spanish Career Center.)
Turn visitors into candidates. All of these ideas are well and good but if you can’t turn website visitors into interviews, it’s all for naught. So utilize a prominent call to action. Most common is the “Apply Now” button and a brief form that serves as an applicant pre-screener. These pages are also great places to explain what the next steps are in the process. You can do that in both text and video. (Check out the “What it’s Like to Be a New Team Member” video on Yellowstone Landscape’s Video page.) When applicants complete the form, you could even send a series of emails with more helpful info or provide a calendar link where they choose a time for their interview. The point is to make it easy for them.
As you read this article, there may now be a lot of action steps on your to-do list. Start exploring the best web developers, writers, photographers, and videographers now to assist you with creating an effective career center that’s ready for Spring hiring. Your recruiting strategy needs a firm foundation. Your website can be the instrumental keystone that holds up your success. Make a plan, build it well, and your website—and recruitment—will withstand the test of time.
Diller is a green industry professional with 20+ years of practical experience in operations, sales, and marketing. He currently serves as Vice President of Landscape Leadership, a digital marketing and sales agency exclusively serving the lawn and landscape industry.
Want to learn more about recruiting employees for your lawn care or landscaping business? Read Why Recruiting Women Is Your Next Power Move
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