For years, the biggest challenge landscaping companies faced has been labor. The market is tight, and finding and keeping talented people is hard.
We're fortunate to have started this season fully staffed at Grunder Landscaping Co., and we're working hard to keep it that way. I wish I had a silver bullet solution to share with you how we did it, but the truth is it's the combination of a lot of little things. This week I'm going to share a few ideas that I hope can help you:
Step one is always dedicating time to the challenge at hand. We can't solve a problem by brushing it under the rug, and if finding and keeping team members is your biggest challenge, then it needs to be a conversation your team is having. As our coach Jim Cali always reminds us, you have to dedicate time to your priorities. Someone in the organization needs to own the problem and dedicate time to working to solve it each week.
Take care of the team you have. Make sure your existing team knows that you care; deliver snacks and lunch to job sites, write handwritten notes, shout them out when they do a great job, and most importantly, keep them informed and follow through on promises you make to them. Engaged teams, who trust their leadership team and understand the direction the company is headed, are the best-performing ones.
Often short-staffed teams fall into a cycle where the remaining team members feel overworked and underappreciated. You may not be able to reduce their hours, but you can make sure that they're supported and know that their hard work will pay off for them.
Conduct exit interviews. When team members leave, do an exit interview to see if there's something you could've done better to get them to stay. Approach the feedback you get with the mindset of "What did we as leaders do or not do that caused this?" Having this growth mindset can make your company a better place to work, even if the feedback may sting a little at first. Use common sense. You won't be able to make every change they suggest, but maybe you can address the root issue for your remaining team.
Train for the skills you need. We can no longer expect team members to join our team with experience. We have to hire for attitude and train for skill. We have to invest time in training new team members to set them up for success in their roles.
I spoke with the team at R.P. Marzilli, hosts of our Field Trip in partnership with NALP next month, on this recently. They're known for high-quality and highly detailed work, and they rely on their experienced team members to pass knowledge down to others on the team. They believe the best learning for their teams is hands-on, and so they've structured their company to allow for on-the-job mentoring and teaching. I have to say I agree with them, and we make sure our experienced team members have time in their schedule to teach other team members new skills.
Keep chipping away at this issue, and take good care of the people you do have. I'll talk to you next week!
President & CEO
Grunder Landscaping & The Grow Group