For Expert Irrigation Owner Craig Zumdick – and plenty others in the industry – finding the right employees to do work has become more taxing than the work itself.
Zumdick purchased the company in 2013 after working some time in the golf industry as a turfgrass specialist. While he's glad he made the switch over, the first thing those in the industry warned him about is recruiting employees. Even now, he says installation opportunities are there as his market demand increases in northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, but he needs more manpower to do it.
"Everybody said, (recruiting) will be the hardest thing you have to do," Zumdick says. "Irrigation will be easy, personnel management and finding the right people will be difficult."
Although they're just coming out of the down season, Zumdick says Expert Irrigation spent the winter trying to find new avenues for recruitment and will continue that into the busy summer. They use various online platforms like Craigslist and Indeed, but he just started advertising on – and found success with – Facebook.
"I've got more hits on Facebook than I have on any other platform," Zumdick says. "I was really surprised on that. It's an easy tool to use."
They also get involved with unemployment offices and meets with trade programs for students who graduate high school but don't necessarily head to college. Zumdick even offers a two-year scholarship program, whereas the student works full time for Expert Irrigation and maintains good standing at their trade school.
The hope is that those students will stick around after their two years at trade school are up.
"You've got to use all resources that are available to you," Zumdick says. "I've gone and spoken there a few times, even this year, to talk to some of the other kids about, 'Hey, there's options out there. If you're not going to college, you don't have to work at McDonald's.' There's so much opportunity out there."
Of course, retaining employees is a whole different ballgame. Although majority of his employees are seasonal, Zumdick says he finds ways to ensure they feel like the company takes care of them. To help boost morale, he often hosts contests like . They may win something like gift cards, a laptop or a cooler, but keeping people engaged is key. If somebody calls and leaves a good review for the company, they'll announce that review to their entire crew.
"A pay check is not always enough of a motivator," Zumdick says.
Zumdick says setting goals for employees is critical. Treat the younger employees who are working in the field well, because they're the ones representing your company to clients. But show them they have a career path at your company so they feel compelled to keep hard at work.
"What you find is that the people you have, you need to treat them well, you need to empower them, you need to listen to them," Zumdick says. "You keep those employees and you always spend money on marketing and recruiting."