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Archive for the ‘recruiting’ tag

Would you like fries with that?

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In the nine-minute video above, a bright, ambitious young woman takes an entry-level job at McDonald’s. Her mother is not impressed, and thinks her daughter has thrown her life away and resigned herself to a career as a sweaty fry cook.

Watch it all the way through, and, unless you have no soul, you’ll be touched and realize a few things about the value of work, forgiveness and the love of your family.

Now, I don’t think McDonald’s is a company deserving of sainthood. Ray Kroc’s system of franchises has cluttered the American landscape and fattened millions of Americans (myself included). But the company does something amazing and nearly impossible: They make the exact same things the exact same way, every day.

You can go into a McDonald’s in Cleveland or Houston or London and the fries will taste the same. The milkshake will taste the same. There’s a comfort in that expectation, and that consistency is part of the reason those golden arches are a symbol not just of fast food, but of America itself.

It’s easy to make a hamburger taste sort of the same every day. Heck, it’s easy to do most anything almost the same way – cook a burger, publish a magazine or mow a lawn. But to do it the exact same way thousands of times a day in locations spread across the world is very, very difficult.

Any company should strive to have that same sort of consistency – in its production, in its interviews, in its customer interactions. Doing so makes it easier for your employees to execute, but also makes it easier for your customers to do business with you. There’s no question about what they’ll get in return.

And, more broadly, the landscape industry needs a video like this. Just as there’s more to working at McDonald’s than being “just a fry cook,” you know there’s a lot more to your work than being “just a landscaper.”

Chances are your company has – or tries to have – the same things our heroine wants: friendly employees, opportunities for improvement and advancement, programs to give back to your community. What you do is valuable and helps others. It’s time to start telling people that.


December 12th, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Job creation

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When I worked in newspapers, our seasoned managing editor used to tell me she got into the business for three reasons: You could take two-hour lunches, you could curse in the newsroom and a newspaper would hire just about anybody who had a pulse.

In my experience, the second two items were very true.

We’re working on our State of the Industry Report, which comes out in October, and I called up Kurt Bland, a senior vice president at Bland Landscaping Co. in Apex, N.C., to see what’s going on in his market.

Kurt’s a former Leadership Award winner and runs a good company. I asked him what his biggest challenge was this year and – without hesitating – he didn’t say the market or customer confidence or anything like that. He said he couldn’t find enough talented people to fill the jobs he has.

I hear this a lot from companies across the country – that they’ve got excess capacity or opportunity for more work, but have trouble finding reliable foremen and laborers.

“As a small business owner, I’ve got jobs,” Bland told me. “I’ve got jobs for people who are willing to work.”

So Bland tried something new – paying more for his key positions and actively recruiting talented people who could be trained and developed to become great foremen, account managers and client reps.

Instead of what might typically happen – running around and hiring anyone who walks in the door with a pulse, for example – he’s taken a proactive approach and loading up his company with talent. It’s not an easy task, certainly, but it’s better than the alternative.

As the future of the H-2B program becomes ever more uncertain and American unemployment continues to founder, I wonder how many landscapers will take Bland’s tack and start a dedicated, intentional recruiting process. I hope a lot.


September 1st, 2011 at 12:51 pm