2018 Maintenance: Is Your Vendor Prepared?

Low unemployment rates are great news, right?  Not always.

In labor-intensive jobs like in the landscaping industry, low unemployment rates mean that it’s tougher to find people to fill positions.  It can force companies to raise their pay, which means raising prices on their services, take on fewer clients or drop current ones, and can lead to layoffs and even closure.

In the current political landscape, with threats to immigration and VISA programs, companies who rely solely on foreign workers to fill their seasonal positions are struggling to stay afloat.  The fight to prohibit foreign workers from coming to the US to work legally, doing jobs that enough American don’t want to do, is costing companies that rely on it millions.  It’s an age-old fight with no solutions on the table.  The H2B program which allows employers to bring foreign workers to the US to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs is becoming more and more inadequate due to the lack of American workers looking for seasonal work, and because of the current stance on immigration, expanding its current cap to meet the number of open positions seems highly unlikely.  In fact, the H2B Returning Worker program that allowed workers who initially came in under the H2B program to return to the same job the following year without being included in the original cap of 66,000, expired in 2016, and has not been renewed, creating more competition for employers seeking them and contributing to the growing shortage.  While most of the H2B workers are happy to come to the U.S. and work for a season and then return to their country of origin and come back the following year, Americans are looking for year-round work.

When it comes to workforce shortage, the landscaping industry has been among the hardest hit.  If you’re not sure if your vendor has been impacted by the shortage, there are a few telltale signs to watch out for:

  • Your grass is longer.   If there are not enough employees, mowing visits will become further and further apart.
  • Maintenance is not being done.  Fertilizer, weed, and insect control treatments are not being applied, mulch replacement, pruning, and weeding are being neglected.
  • Your property looks shabby.  It loses its “manicured” look.
  • They refuse to sign a contract.  They know they won’t be able to keep up their end of the deal.
  • Their prices go up significantly.  Without enough workers and with the loss of contracts, they have to pay their current employees more in regular wages and in overtime.
  • There are infestations and trash.  These things would’ve been discovered if your landscape professional was taking the time to inspect the property for problems.

At Bluegrass Landscaping and Maintenance, we’ve done a lot of research in how to deal with staffing shortages and our solution is to evenly distribute our workforce from various resources so we always have the crews we need to take care of all of our customers.  Just like you diversify your investments to lessen the risk of losing all your money, we diversify our workforce by paying a competitive wage, hiring locally as well as from other sources, along with using the H2B program.  By doing this, we can adapt to any changes in the employee pool.  Do the other vendors that you’ve been considering do that?

We also hire good people and do what we can to keep them.  We believe that creating a great place to work will attract and keep great employees.

If you’re concerned that your vendor won’t be able to provide you with the consistent service you need, call Bluegrass today a (314) 770-2828.