For the last two years, B. Rushing Lawn & Landscaping, Inc., has been an EBSCO Research Best Pick. The recognition gets the Lorton, Virginia, landscape contractor in the publication's "recommended" listing of service providers.
"Service providers send EBSCO their client list and its research team conducts a survey," explained company president Brandon Rushing, Landscape Industry Certified Manager. "If they score high enough on the survey, EBSCO includes them in its Best Picks Home Report."
The report also provides hiring tips. Among them for homeowners looking for a landscape contractor is to find one with either a Landscape Industry Certified Manager or Landscape Industry Certified Technician appellation after his or her name. The report notes that the terms indicate "professionals who have passed a rigorous exam of their professional and technical knowledge."
"It was neat having the plug for certification in the report," says Rushing, who passed the Manager (CLP) exam in 2004. "As every year goes by, our customers become more aware of what certification means-that those who have earned it show a different level of professionalism and commitment to the industry. They have definitely noticed and are making comments."
Becoming a requisite
Rushing founded his company 17 years ago and joined PLANET a few years later. From the start, his company has targeted the residential market, providing both landscape management and design/build services. The company currently has two Landscape Industry Certified Managers on board. Cara Delaney, the other certified employee, is an account manager who passed the Manager exam in 2010, six months after being hired.
"When we hired Cara, it was understood that she would eventually take the exam," Rushing added. "We paid for the study materials and allowed her to read them on company time. Our intent was to have her study over the winter months. Since we don't remove snow, this is usually our slow season."
The plan worked out well because the area received record snowfall that year. Rushing admits, however, that other winters, like the mild one this year, may not be so favorable for spending time studying. But it won't dissuade him from encouraging more employees to become certified, even if Mother Nature doesn't cooperate.
"Becoming a Landscape Industry Certified Manager will be a requisite for any new manager," Rushing emphasized. "I think it's especially important for account managers and sales people who interact closely with clients. We would also like to institute a similar program for our technicians, maybe not make it a requisite, but certainly encourage them in other ways to participate."
The certifications will not go unnoticed. The company vigorously promotes its current ones on business cards, presentation materials, and company literature, as well as on other marketing materials. As more of the general public becomes aware of its significance through vehicles such as EBSCO's Best Picks Home Report, keeping certification front and center becomes even more important, and valuable.
"Changing from CLP and CLT to using the terms Landscape Industry Certified Manager and Technician has made a difference," says Rushing. "Previously, customers really didn't know what the letters meant and most weren't curious enough to find out. Spelling it out for them piques their interest and gives them a reason to ask." This Landscape Industry Certified Manager is more than happy to answer their questions and fill them in on what it means to be PLANET certified.