Last week I invited three of my top clients to present in the What's Working Now Competition at our third annual Landscaper Summit. They shared really valuable presentations on sales, marketing and recruiting. And in today's podcast, I'm going to share a couple clips from the first two presentations and the full talk from the winner of the What's Working Now Competition. So check out today's podcast to get some great ideas.
Hey everyone. Jack Jostes is here and welcome to The Landscapers Guide. This show is all about helping the green industry grow through sales, marketing, and leadership. And wow, I have some incredible clients who are doing incredible things with their communities, with their businesses, and it was an honor to have them come and speak at the third annual Landscaper Summit.
How To Write Your Commercial Client's RFP
First, Jim Turcan shared some serious wisdom about how to write your commercial client's RFP. Now, Jim goes into great detail, and yes, actually helping clients write a proper RFP. This level's the playing field and eliminates the chuck and the truck contractors who are submitting really skimpy proposals that don't have a lot of detail. The benefit to Turk is that he's then competing against viable competitors where the low ball people are out of the running and now there's legitimate competition, which is always a good thing.
One of the things that he does is he adds definitions to the proposals, leveraging some of the words from SIMA, from the Snow and Ice Management Association. Another thing he does is he removes two very dangerous words from the proposals, as needed.
Jim Turcan :
All that stuff is spelled out and they don't have any clue where to find this stuff on their own accord. So we build this for them to say that, "Hey, no one's going to slip under the radar here and slide a fast one in," and it takes off the table, "Weed beds as needed." "Well, as needed according to who? The property manager, or me, the contractor who was the low bidder who said, 'Ah, they're not that bad. I don't think it needs it.'" It takes out of the equation all snow clear by 6:00 AM when it stops snowing at 5:45 AM you want 14 acres crystal clear by 6:00 AM. So this just really helps in all of this. All of these definitions are not biased.
Sales Process Automation
Next, Kris Nylander, the sales manager from Alpine Gardens shares how working with me and the Ramblin Jackson team helped him automate a significant amount of his sales process using online scheduling, pricing pages and more. And he shared some interesting data one year after implementing this system.
That's just something we're working through as a team. We're able to forecast our sales better. Sales are up 23% from last year, so we think it's working well. That's in the residential division, and we think we are adding some value and credibility, and now we get the question of why don't the other companies do this? So we're continuing to build on this and hoping that we can pull this across to the maintenance and commercials as well and see if this is something that will work well there as well.
And lastly, Casey Hendricks from Tex-Scapes Nursery and Landscape in Ennis, Texas, won the competition with his inspiring presentation of how to create a landscape apprenticeship with your high school. Now, I had the privilege of working with Casey directly. I flew down to Texas this May, and I met the people who are one of the people who went through the apprenticeship program and one of the people from the high school. And I just love this conversation. So let's learn from Casey about how you can do this in your community.
How To Create A High School Landscape Apprenticeship
I'm Casey Hendrix, president Tex-Scapes Nursery and Landscape in Ennis, Texas, and I want to share with you today how we've created a high school apprenticeship program that benefits both the community, the youth in our area and our company greatly. The challenge that we find as industry leaders is it's our mission to inspire the next generation, to not only explore the green industry as a career choice, but to show them that the green industry is the most fulfilling career choice of our lifetime.
And so in essence, we're convincing them to buy into the green industry and to own it in their lifetime. The solution to this challenge is to start early, and we found a way to do that. This is imperative. Many times we wait until people are in their 20s and their 30s and then we try to entice them into our world and it becomes an afterthought for them, a backup plan, or an escape route to some other dead end career path that they're on.
Or maybe it's just many times a stepping stone to greener pasture. I've asked people why they're interested in coming to work for us many times and they say, "I just need to make money." Well, that's not what we're looking for here. We want folks that are going to buy into this as a career choice, not just be simply another paycheck. So we've got to start early.
Proverbs, the book of Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it." So we must find a way to reach the youth of our community and offer them an opportunity to be a part of our organizations. We found a way to do this. We approached our local high school horticulture department a couple of years ago. We had a couple of ideas, a couple of ways that we felt we could impact the youth of our community to get involved more with the youth of our community and the community in general.
The first thing that we thought of, because our school here in Ennis is a larger district and they have a horticulture program with a couple of greenhouses. And so we thought, what better way to approach this than with a grower partnership program? And so we approached the horticulture department, the director of the Career technologies with Ennis High School, and we approached them with a grower program, a partnership where the students literally from start to finish a crop of really nice hanging baskets and then we're able to market them, through our garden center, to the community. And this has been hugely successful, because I won't talk a lot about that program, but we pick the plants, we provide the materials, and we are involved in the instruction of that growing process.
Now, what that did for us is it opened the door. It opened the door for us to talk about the next program, and it opened our mind to the possibility of these students doing more with our organization. And so then the high school apprenticeship program was born and how exciting it's been.
I have this awesome video that this awesome company, Ramblin Jackson did for us, and I'd like to play that video. It's just a few short minutes and then after it's over, I'd like to explain a few details so that you can get started on your own apprenticeship program.
I'm Hank Hollywood. I'm a Ennis horticulture teacher and high school football and track coach. My background is I went to Texas A&M University and I graduated with an ag science degree and I minored in agronomy, which is turf grass. But I got into coaching, I was teaching history and health and PE, and then two years ago the school approached me and said, "Hey, would you be interested in taking over the horticulture department?" The Tex Scapes Nursery apprenticeship program came about two years ago with the young lady by the name of Abigail Woodard. She was a student in my class, and I've got her again this year, but she expressed an interest when we were talking about careers and working in the nursery and landscape industry. So naturally we had already had a partnership with Tex Scapes, I came and spoke with Casey and we talked about it and Casey said, "Bring her up here, let her interview with me and let's see."
So she came up, interviewed, they hired her. It turned out great. She's now a full-time employee and will go on to work for Tex Scapes after she graduates, and that's what we're looking for. We're looking for a school to help train students to go into industry like this where they can have a good career, have good benefits, and do something they like and make it their passion. Their passion becomes their purpose. I'm just trying to get our kids in the programs in the community that they can have future jobs in and it's really is an apprenticeship.
My name is Abigail Woodard and I'm about to graduate Ennis High school, and I'm going to go into starting a full-time job at Tex-Scapes Nursery. I first got interested in horticulture was I was in the FFA program at my high school, and one day I just joined the horticulture program and found out that I actually really loved it. What I love most about plants is that there's always something new to learn, and it's so awesome to see all your hard work put into something and you can actually see it grow and you can see your work. The Tex-Scape Nursery Apprenticeship program was actually offered to me through my horticulture teacher. The reason I'm choosing to pursue a career in horticulture, is because ever since I was a little kid, I've known that I wanted to work outside. I wanted to get dirty. I never wanted an office job. That never sounded fun to me. And when I found horticulture in Plant Nurseries, I was like, "This was it. This is what I want to do," and I love it every single day that I'm here.
In the future, my goal is to learn and just absorb as much information as I possibly can from Tex-Scapes and hopefully, one day, open up some type of nursery of my own and see where that takes me. But at the end of the day, I really love it here, and these are great people. I'll keep working for them if they'll let me. The Tex-Scapes Nursery Apprenticeship program is an amazing program. They're always willing to work with you, because they're on your schedule. Because they need you to be here and they want you to be here. And every single day you will learn something new. And it is always fun.
70% of high school graduates will not go to college. Of the 30% that go to college, 15 won't graduate from college. In my mind, that's 85% of kids that graduate from high school are going to need jobs, real world jobs. Trade schools opportunities in my horticulture classes and other CTE classes at the high school give these kids opportunity to learn skills that they can go into a job such as Tex-Scapes and carry real life skills with them and become employable. The reason that I push Tex-Scapes so hard in my class and for my kids, the ones that want to be growers and nursery workers and landscapers, is because of people like Casey and Tiffany and Rusty. I have felt nothing but at home when I come up here. I feel like I'm dealing with people who are honest, who have integrity, who when they can shake your hand and they give you their word, this is what we're going to do, that's what we do, because that's the way I was raised.
If you are thinking about doing the Tex-Scapes Apprenticeship program, I wholeheartedly believe that you should go for it. It is worth it. They are great people, and you'll learn everything you need to know.
Number one, build the program details. And this needs to include a few things. It needs to include the timeframe of the apprenticeship. Here at Tex- Scapes. Ours is March, April, May, with an opportunity to apply to stay on through the summer. And the program details include the requirements and the responsibilities of the individual. It includes pay and benefits that the individual might receive. We treat this person as if they're just going to be a team member from now on, and we welcome in, into our family once they get through this process. And we create an application for this program that interested students can fill out. You get creative with this to find out why students are interested. We consider offering multiple spots, this has worked well for us and help with the end goal.
Remember what the end goal is, is to inspire the next generation of green industry leaders.
The second thing you're going to do is contact your local high school, your career technologies director, the horticulture department teacher. If your school doesn't have a horticulture department, the ag teacher. If you're familiar with FFA, Future Farmers of America, this is a great group of kids to plug into your organization. They like to get dirty, they like to work with animals, dirt, plants, outdoors in general, FFA students are wonderful. The work program at our school, we work with them as well.
We try to find kids that are in the work program. They're looking to find a paying job, and most likely, a lot of those kids are the ones that are looking for this as a career path. Then we go and we pitch the program to the school director for approval. Once it's approved, we schedule a few times to give a short presentation to the students.
We work with the teacher, let us come into the classroom, bring that video you just watched and let it speak. This is a student now that graduated back in the spring that you saw in the video. She's a full-time employee. She's going through, right now, the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association's Nursery Professional Program so that she can further her knowledge and gain a certification there. Again, we're assisting her with that, and she's amazing, but she's plugged in. So you take that presentation to the school and then leave the applications there for the students to fill out where the timeline for them to return them to your business. You're going to review the applications just like you would any other new hire. You're going to screen, you're going to disqualify, and then you're going to notify those three things. Not everybody that fills out an application is going to get the internship, even though we offer it to multiple people.
Last year we brought in three interns, and at the end of the internship, we offered one of them a position to stay on with us, and that young lady is still with us now. She works every day after school and wanted to work every Saturday. So we're seeing continual success with this program.
After they return the applications, you review them, you're going to screen disqualify, notify. You're going to set up short interviews and offer the apprenticeships to as many as you can effectively utilize. And the sixth thing, you're going to set goals for your new apprentices and put someone on your team as their supervisor. It's not me. I don't like to be involved in the process, but I'm actually not the one that's over them. I've got our nursery managers over the ones that are there at the nursery. If I just had a landscape company, I would still do this and find a way to put these kids to work and teach them about the green industry. I tried to get everyone on our team as involved and on board with these apprentices as possible, because remember, we're inspiring and training future generations.
The last thing that I'd suggest is use their time wisely. Treat them well, use them, use your company environment to help them see that the green industry is a great career. We've had great success with the apprenticeship program, and I hope you can find a way to implement it into your company and inspire the next generation of green industry leaders.
So thank you again to Kris, Turk and Casey for presenting. You each delivered really valuable talks and congratulations, Casey, on winning the $250 Butcher Box kit. So can't wait to see what you grill up with that. And more importantly, Casey, thank you for inspiring all of us in the green industry to get involved with our local high schools. You can do this in some way. You could create an apprenticeship like Casey did, or you could even go and speak at a high school, because there's an abundance of career opportunity in the green industry, but many people in high school don't know about it.
They're not hearing about it, and this is an opportunity to... You might get some employees like Casey did, but more importantly, serve your community, serve the industry. So thank you Casey, for showing us how you've done that.
Now, I love hosting these events because of all the networking that happens and all the stories and technology that I learned about, it was a total blast. I hope to see you at one of our next events at landscapersguide.com/events. And hey, if you miss the summit and you want to take advantage of it was excellent. We had presentations on leadership, we had commercial sales process, residential sales process, breakout sessions, and we had an incredible software panel. So thanks so much to LMN, Service Autopilot, Aspire, Attentive, and SingleOps for coming and sharing about your programs and how they can help people. Check out the replay at landscapersummit.com.
Hey, we even have our pizza lunch in there, so if you buy the replay at landscapersummit.com, you can earn free pizza, but you got to get it to find out how. All right, thanks so much. I'm Jack Jostes, and I look forward to talking with you next week on The Landscaper's Guide.