How much do you push your employees before you fire them?

Hiring a new lawn care employee can be a crap shoot. Sometimes you find a good one while other times you find one that just doesn’t work out. You can improve your success rate when hiring a new lawn care employee by improving your interview and training process. Understanding the points where new staff members normally are going to have issues can really help you key in on them early on. As we will see from this discussion in the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, the more you standardize your new employee processes, the happier you and your new employee will be with the outcome.

One lawn care business owner wrote about his hiring experiences “I know the lawn care business is not fast food, but you are paying employees by the hour and if you have a lawn that takes you 1 hour to mow, how much extra time would you allow a new employee to mow it? If they take 1.5 hours do you tell them next time they need to take 15 minutes less. But what then if they are in a such a hurry to complete your request that you start to get complaints about the work? Would you give the new employee a warning or just fire them?”

A second lawn care business owner responded “I have trained many new lawn care employees over the last 30 years. The first thing you have to realize is you can’t just hire the first person that shows up and then expect them to know how to do everything you do. You need to have processes and checklists in place to structure the day for the new employee until they get the hang of things and understand what you require.

I give every new lawn care employee two or three chances, after all, we have trained them and there is a cost to that. Last summer I only had to let one employee go after trying very hard to work with him and he simply would not listen.

To answer your question, if I hire someone to mow a lawn that takes me an hour to do & they take longer, I might at first have them step aside so I can finish it & point out why we are getting different results. I try not to have new employees just jump in and start mowing right away. I usually get them to start with trimming first.

I think on average, it takes my employees a few weeks to start getting used to the work that is required of them at each location. Sometimes I misunderstand why they find it so difficult to cut a lawn, but I have thought long and hard about what rookies have to go through. And here are some of the issues I feel they have to deal with that I try to talk to them up front before they go out into the field.

1. They aren’t used to the heat.

2. They aren’t used to mowing lawn after lawn after lawn.

3. They get blisters on their hands & feet and need to guard against this.

4. They need to learn how to mow the perimeter & then mow lengthwise. Basically they need to be able to know how to do a lawn as soon as they see it.

5. They have to remember to dump the grass from the mower bag.

6. They have to remember to adjust the mowers wheels accordingly.

7. They have to learn how to mow a hill, what angles & height they should be mowing.

8. They have to know what is safe to mow over & what isn’t, such as random debris.

9. They have to know how to start the mower.

10. They have to know how to safely clean/unclog the deck of the mower.

Some of this stuff sounds basic, but when you find a guy fresh off his couch, he’s clueless when it comes to anything. So if your worker is able to remember even half of the things listed above during the first week, I’d keep him on for at least another week and see if he is interested in improving.”

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