Building the ground water brand
By Colleen Cross
Are you having trouble finding a few good people? It’s no secret that many of Canada’s trades need an injection of qualified and motivated workers. The ground water industry is no different.
Water-well contractors, pump installers, geotechnical and geothermal drillers, and hydrogeology firms alike all need good, committed employees with can-do attitudes.
Where is the next generation coming from? Many of you employ your children and other family members. It’s easy to see this is very much a family-focused industry – and all the richer for it.
The next logical place to look is to the schools that feed the industry such as Fleming College’s resources drilling and blasting program in Ontario and Red Deer College’s water well driller apprenticeship program in Alberta.
It’s also becoming more and more important to look outside your circle for good candidates, for example, to make a concerted effort to hire more female and Indigenous candidates or mid-career workers who are mulling options for retraining.
Too often, Canadian water-well drilling businesses compete with oil and gas or with U.S. companies for drilling prospects. In the larger picture, they compete for talent with a host of other better-known trades and professions – among them construction, plumbing and fire fighting.
What the ground water industry does is very specialized and not widely known among the general public. That’s why it is vital to raise awareness of the essential services you provide.
That is no small task. It’s a hurdle we in trade publications share to some degree: we too provide a specialized service to customers – in our case, our readers, who require information, resources and industry connections. We are writing for the industry but we keep in mind the wider public by doing things like making our website easy to find and reaching out to related industries. It’s part of what we call branding, which is just a fancy word for making sure people know who we are, what we do and where to find us.
Water-well drillers need to do this too – and then some! You already educate well owners about their responsibilities, about what contractors do and what cost pressures are behind the prices they set.
The time has come for ground water to get out there in the public eye. It’s important to pay competitive wages, provide great benefits packages, earn a reputation for safety, be a committed mentor and help new recruits develop their skills. But in the long run, the only way to grow your talent pool is to build the ground water brand.
Finding good staff is not only a labour but also a public relations problem to solve. And if there’s one thing well drillers excel at, it’s solving problems!
As a service business, you know your stuff. But do you know how to market yourself and your industry? There are many ways to get out there in the community. Contact high school guidance counsellors and offer to visit a classroom to talk about your work, help with a children’s festival, provide education on your website and attend job fairs in your community.
Here’s another one: Craft an effective press release – perhaps during Ground Water Awareness Week in March – that tells people what your company does, how the ground water industry is unlike any other, the differences between town and rural well systems and how they can help protect the ground water. (A template is available on our website’s Ground Water Awareness Week page.)
Go one step further and send that release to your local newspaper, radio or TV station, and community magazine. Trust me, editors love an announcement that tells a good story – a tricky job or an overly exuberant artesian well you got under control – and gets to the point.
Above all, support your provincial association, attend the events they plan for your benefit and stay informed about the national association now under development. Only with your support can these organizations amplify your voice to the public, to the government, and beyond.