We’ve been working side-by-side with owners of landscaping companies since 1998. We’ve been an employer since 1987. We believe this data to be useful for our readers, listeners, followers, clients and friends. We want you to know that our opinions and recommendations are based on the in-the-trenches experience of life in business.
Data is a very useful tool to business owners. When you have the right data, your business decisions tend to be better. You may have heard the old saying, “know your numbers”. This is good advice.
For example, if you look at your financial data revealed within an up-to-date profit and loss statement, you will know what your sales have been over the period of time reflected on the report. You can instantly look to the “bottom line” of the profit and loss statement to determine your net profit. Based on the data, you can quickly determine if you are meeting your net profit goals.
If your net profit is too low and you know this data to be true, it’s a no-brainer to make an informed business decision to raise your prices. Get it?
Far too often, business owners ignore their numbers. Unfortunately, many stay so busy-busy-busy working in the field, they just don’t get around to organizing and looking at the data. That’s too bad. Data can help you make better business decisions.
Which brings me back to our topic at hand: Getting Better Landscaping Employees.
You might find this next statement a little weird. But, we are here to inform and tell the truth. This author is in love with data. Yep, we like numbers so much, we read monthly reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics including the Employment Situation Report (also known as the Unemployment Report). This report reveals the big-picture of what’s going on in the world of business hiring and employment trends.
Consider this. If you read your profit and loss statement one time, how well do you know what the trend is? I’ll answer this for you – you don’t spot a trend by looking at data one time. Until you look at your financial data over several months or several years, it’s hard to determine if there is a trend OR if it’s good or bad.
So, when we reveal that we read the monthly Employment Situation report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we really mean that we read this report every month! This has become a habit over the years. We admit, it’s pretty boring stuff to read. But we’ve found this habit to be quite valuable.
Just like the data from your profit and loss, over a few months, you can begin to spot details in the data that were not clear after reading the report the first time. Over time, one line of data on the monthly Employment Situation Report started to stick out like the proverbial “sore thumb”.
The unemployment rate for teenagers is always much higher than the unemployment rate for every other demographic group in the monthly Employment Situation Report. Whites, blacks, latino, male or female…they all have much lower unemployment rates than teenagers.
As we write this book, the unemployment rate for the US workforce is around 3.5% – a fifty year low. But the unemployment rate for teenagers is about 11%. Why in the world would the unemployment rate be 300% higher for teenagers than the rest of the workforce?
We believe there are two big reasons.
First, many teenagers are in school and have yet to enter the workforce. Think back to your teenage years. Many of us were involved with sports or focused on making good grades, not working. This will always be true about teenagers. It’s not going to change!
Second, many employers ignore the opportunity to hire teenagers. There’s lots of good reasons to ignore hiring teenagers. These reasons include:
- They have no experience
- They may be immature
- They only are available part-time
- Our insurance provider won’t let us
- We don’t want to get into trouble with the department of labor
- We hired a kid one time and it was a pain in the rear
- They are only available in the summer
- We don’t have a good training program
- We don’t have a good safety program
- And on and on
We get it. There’s some challenges. But we would like for you to consider the big picture here.
Do you really want to Get Better Landscaping Employees or would you prefer to just complain about how hard it is to find good help for the rest of your career as a business owner? We want you to realize that there are HUGE benefits to hiring youth. And even better, YOU can learn how to build a superstar workforce with this strategy.
Everything we have shared in this book prepares you for this next recommendation. We believe this to be the ultimate strategic advantage in today’s business environment. And if you implement what we have shared up to this point, you will be well prepared to solve the employee problem once and for all.
People come and people go. Face it. Plan for it. Here’s your future superstar workforce plan.
An Internship Program
We want you to embrace the idea of an Internship Program. What’s an Internship Program? Can your small business really do this? Can you really do this inside a landscaping company? Yes you can. We will show you. Here is the Internship Program summary:
- Recruit youth, students and learners
- Teaching new workers lowers wage rates
- Your company & future energy level grows
Let’s explain these key points in detail. Perhaps you’ll take our advice and capitalize on this idea.
Recruit youth, students and learners
It’s a pretty simple concept. Statistically, it’s easier to find an unemployed teenager than an unemployed adult. That makes your job as an employer easier if you go to the market looking to hire youth.
Next, you need to understand that many of the youth you are looking for are currently attending a school. When you realize this, it gets easier for you to find them. How many high schools, technical colleges, universities or church youth groups are located within a 30-minute drive of your business? There’s probably more than you realize.
We took inventory of high schools, technical colleges and university campuses within a 30 minute drive to our business. We were surprised to find fifteen such schools within our local market. That’s right, fifteen unique places to shop for youth and students were literally right down the road.
Now here’s something that may surprise you. When you consider the fact that students enrolled in technical colleges and universities are included in our list of places to “shop for employees”, you learn that not all students are teenagers. That’s right. Some are beyond the teen years. That’s why we include the description “learners”.
Perhaps you’ve heard that some adults decide to go back to school to prepare themselves for a new career. It’s true. So once you adopt the strategy we recommend here, you too may find the occasional adult who we identify as a “learner”. In all cases described above, you find prospective employees who come to you looking for a chance to gain experience, make some money and discover how they can fit into your organization.
We attended an education event at one of the national trade shows recently. The subject of the education event was “workforce development”. The panel discussion included two recognized industry influencers, a book author and the president of a publicly traded insurance underwriting company. We won’t share their names. But here’s the summary of their message. “You must treat these new young people special. You must meet them on their preferred social media platform. You’re going to need to listen carefully to their needs if you want to hire them.”
This author needs a barf bag. We are sick and tired of being offered advice from “influencers” or “authors” who don’t even have employees. With all due respect to the president of the publicly traded company, they play with a different set of rules when it comes to employees and money.
There is very little chance they can relate to the employee challenges faced by small business owners. When the publicly traded company is held accountable to actually turn a profit…and they do it consistently, then we will consider their advice. But not when they lose money year after year after year.
There is a reason the big companies are able to become BIG. They have developed methods for finding, recruiting, hiring, training and retaining employees. Further, they have teams of people working ON this part of the business every single hour of every single day.
Here’s one thing we can learn from the publicly traded companies. Every single publicly traded company we have researched has this as part of their employee recruiting plan: An Internship Program. And you should include this in your small business. Here’s a BIG reason why…
Teaching new workers lowers wage rates
The McDonald brothers were one of the first businesses to work so hard on simplifying their business, even a group of teenagers could make it work in a predictable fashion. That’s right. Hiring youth became part of their business model. You don’t have to hire people with lots of experience if the work is well organized and workers can be trained in a fast and effective manner.
If you follow the story of the McDonald brothers, you’ll learn that they sold their hamburger business to Ray Kroc. It was Ray Kroc who developed the franchise system that spread across the USA and eventually the entire world. And the business model has remained a profitable one to this day.
Think about your first job. What was your starting pay? I’ll bet your pay started low and increased over time as you gained experience. I’d also bet you that once you found a company that created an atmosphere that showed you respect, made you feel good about your progress working there and recognized you with higher pay over time, you stayed there a while.
Here’s your future employee gameplan. You want you to find young people who have yet to realize they are going to be a superstar. You can employ them at an affordable price. They gain experience. You increase their pay. They feel good and stay a while longer. If they continue to grow with you, you keep increasing their pay…little by little. It’s a win-win arrangement.
Sure, you’re going to have to provide flexible work hours if they are enrolled in school. Sure, you’re going to have to give them time off when their family goes on vacation. Knowing this, you may have to hire two or three part-time youth to fill the role of a full-time worker. We look at this as an advantage. You gain the privilege of hiring MORE workers and increasing the speed you will find your next future superstar.
When you begin to think of your company as a place that grows people instead of a place that grows turfgrass, you’re making serious progress. Stick with me here. The story of building an Internship program and hiring youth is about to get even brighter!
Your company and future energy level grows
Here’s what we have learned about being an employer for over three decades. Every single time you hire a new worker, YOU have the chance to learn. Every time a worker leaves your company, YOU have the chance to learn. The more people you hire and the more practice you get, the better you get at the job of being an employer.
When you hire youth, students and learners you will bring a new level of energy to your company. Yes…they behave a little differently than you did at their age. But that’s true with every generation. Don’t let the differences get in the way of your needs for affordable employees.
When was the last time you attended a high school graduation ceremony? What was the energy level like? You already know the answer. There was excitement! There was positive energy! There was hope for the future! Everyone involved…from the parents and grandparents to the kids graduating from high school, there was so much joy, some were in tears!
We see a number of concrete benefits to hiring youth including:
- They don’t carry the baggage of life’s heavy responsibilities like a house payment and kids
- They can live on lower wages
- They are open to learning new things
- They are well suited for outdoor physical activity
- You get to become a teacher
- You get to help them grow in skills and responsibilities
- You can be a positive influence in their life
- And much more
As you can see, we believe in the idea of hiring youth, students and learners. We also know that without a few “experienced” folks in your company, the role of teaching could become burdensome. So we want you to follow the recommendations outlined in our Getting Better Landscaping Employees Plan.
Look. We have been kicked in the groin by employees in the past. So we understand you may have a healthy dose of skepticism about our strong recommendation to hire youth, students and learners. Our education system is a slow moving creature. It takes more than a decade, sometimes two decades, for a person to transform from youth to an educated adult.
Unfortunately, as employers, we tend to be impatient. We tend to want results today, not one or two years from today. But if YOU really want Better Landscaping Employees, we need you to buy these ideas we are selling right here.
There’s no silver bullet. There’s no easy button. We still believe that being an employer is the toughest job in America today. But we have presented a detailed plan…in fact a well written formula to help you solve your employee problem. We believe your future is very bright! We are glad you have made the choice to become an employer.
We’ve enjoyed the time we’ve spent together. We’ve discussed a lot. So let’s review.
Here’s the outline of the seven parts (in order) of the Getting Better Landscaping Employees Plan:
- Right Employer Mindset
- Employee Management System
- Automatic Hiring Machine
- Employee Training System
- Reward and Retention System
- Creating Opportunities for Employee Growth
- An Internship Program
Our recommendation is that you begin with number one and work your way down this outline to number seven. It may take you a few months or a few years to grow your skills to become a confident employer. But the journey is a worthy one.
The Employer Challenge
We’d like to close this chapter with a challenge to the employers who read, listen or watch our message. We want you to consider what a powerful responsibility it is to be an employer. We want you to become a better employer over time. So think about your role in our society as an employer. We think it’s the single greatest responsibility available today.
Will you promise:
- To become a lifelong teacher?
- To give youth, students and learners a chance even though they have no experience?
- To help your employees grow personally and professionally while they work with you?
- That each person who joins your team will be more employable the day they leave you than the day they started with you?
- That YOU will not be offended nor your spirit be broken when employees disappoint, disappear or disqualify themselves from continuing on your team?
- To follow these principles to the best of your ability as long as you are an employer?
Seriously, will you promise?
If you will, we bet that you’ll become the Wealthy Landscaper in your town.
Tony Bass, founder