Are you looking for good people? That’s a rhetorical question, obviously. Who isn’t? A great recruiting tool and, by extension, retention tool is to host an open house at your office.
Set a date and advertise well in advance. Post flyers with your agenda on your website, social media and LinkedIn. Reach out to your local high schools, colleges and industry professionals (Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP and TCIA staff arborist, has been gracious enough to come to both of our open houses).
Reach out especially to local agriculture and tech schools. If you don’t already have a strong relationship with local schools, this gives you a great reason to develop one. These teachers love this type of event, because they know their students love opportunities to meet industry professionals and be involved in tangible learning experiences.
Involve your key people, especially your younger people who are more relatable to students. This enables your guests to relate to your staff, because they can see how their career track can be similar. “I was really impressed by Gear Guru at Professional Tree Care. All the climbing equipment she showed me was really cool.” Happy-student, hard-worker, high-schooler translation: “I want to work here and learn from her.”
Plan the open house details
Set up learning stations and a live demonstration. The learning stations may include chain-saw maintenance, plant identification, plant health care, knots and climbing gear, etc. Demonstrations could include rigging, pruning and stationary rope systems (SRS). Do what you are best at.
Obviously, safety is the most important thing. So, with the demonstrations, make sure everyone watching has personal protective equipment (PPE). Or, better yet, keep your guests at a safe distance from the action. Bonus: By picking your best and brightest people to run these stations, you are allowing them to feel important, recognized and respected.
Supply swag, as students love gift bags and goodies to take home. Plus, if you hand out T-shirts or hats, you have walking, talking billboards to advocate for you. Have plenty of job applications and a signup sheet available so you can follow up with people. Be sure someone is responsible for following up and reaches out to say, “Thank you for coming.”
You also can add them to an email or text list, so you can stay in touch and add value by sending them your electronic newsletter. This keeps your brand and website on their radar, because even if they don’t need a job now, they may someday.
Be sure to have enough staff on hand to make everyone who shows up feel welcomed, engaged and important. It doesn’t leave a good impression if people wander through and no one speaks with them.
This is another tool in the recruiting and retention tool kit. Yes, an open house is a big investment. But if done well, not only can it potentially provide you with great young help immediately, it creates a lot of good public relations. The teachers and industry leaders you invite will be impressed and grateful for your efforts. When we have done it, the tangible and less tangible benefits have been phenomenal.
David M. Anderson, CTSP and Massachusetts certified arborist, is a manager with Mayer Tree Service Inc., a 29-year TCIA member company based in Essex, Massachusetts. He also is a member of the TCI Magazine Editorial Advisory Committee.