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Grow with Grunder: Don’t lose good team members

September 9, 2020 -  By
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Marty Grunder

Marty Grunder

For the last several years, if you asked landscaping business owners what their greatest challenge was, most would say finding good team members. I know I did. But, at Grunder Landscaping Co. (GLC), we’ve gradually gotten smarter — and more patient — about recruiting and hiring, enabling us to find and bring on more of the men and women who fit our ideal team member profile. The challenge we face now is continuing to retain the strong team we’ve built.

How are we going about that? We’ve learned it’s an ongoing effort to create and evolve a company people really want to be a part of. You can’t just “set it and forget it.” These are the steps we’ve taken that are having the greatest impact.

1. We raised our pay rates and established clear career paths.

Paying well allows you to attract hard workers, but it’s not enough. Talented employees want to know what opportunities there are in their futures and see a path forward if they stay with your company.

This summer, we’ve been fortunate to have several capable young people with degrees in horticulture working for us. Most started in a position we call “team leader entry,” which sets them on a path to becoming a full team leader if they take the steps necessary to get there. We make those steps crystal clear to them, delineating the knowledge, skills and certifications they need to obtain, and we discuss their progress during regular one-on-one meetings and performance reviews. If team members want to move up at GLC and are willing to work for it, it’s our leadership team’s job to support them in their efforts. After all, their advancement is our company’s advancement, too.

2. We’re continually adapting with the times.

We’re in our 38th year of business at GLC, and like a lot of companies that have been around for a while, it’s easy to become set in our ways. But, our COO Seth Pflum has done a great job challenging all of us to resist clinging to old habits and routines and to continually be open to and seek out new and better ways of doing things. Good team members do not want to stay at a stagnant company or have their recommendations ignored because everything is already set in stone. To that end, we’ve fully embraced technology and are reconfiguring our workspace to enable our sales team to work more collaboratively and sell remotely through Zoom. More important, our team knows we are always looking to get better as a company, and, regardless of where they sit on the org chart, their ideas matter.

3. We invest in training.

At GLC, we believe training is an investment, not an expense. When your team stops learning, they stop growing and so does your company. We have built an onboarding process that ensures new hires learn the knowledge and skills they need to succeed, and we devote an hour every week for the ongoing training of our team leaders, who, in turn, train their team members in what they’ve just learned. And while the coronavirus pandemic has put many in-person industry events on hold, we’ve found online training can be just as effective — and sometimes more efficient — if you approach it right.

Your company’s success rides on your team. What are you doing to keep your star players?

I’m leading one virtual training event a month for owners and their teams through the end of the year. Check out what I have on tap on The Grow Group’s website and join in!

Marty Grunder

About the Author:

Marty Grunder is president and CEO of Grunder Landscaping Co. and The Grow Group, based in Dayton, Ohio.

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