Insights on hiring employees for your lawn care business.

This is a great discussion I wanted to share with you about hiring lawn care employees form this post at the Gopher Lawn Care Forum.

Steve: “What is tougher, hiring your first employee or having to hire and manage a second crew?

Which was the bigger jump for you, do you feel?

A lot of small business owners get stuck at both points and I was wondering what advice you had on this.”

Rich: “I do not really think that I struggled with either. If I had to pick one I would say it would have been probably, hiring and managing the second crew. Although, even hiring your first employee can be somewhat difficult. The best advise I can give is first off you will never find an employee that is going to have the standards that you personally as the owner of the business would have, the common interest is not the same. You will however find a few great employees.

The hardest thing for me as I am sure with many is the hiring and managing of the second crew, primarily this is because the loss that you feel of being able to provide your customers with the superior level of service that you would personally provide. This however is going to be difficult, (a necessary evil that you must overcome) in order for you to grow the business you will have to (trust your employees, at least to some degree) and learn to be a good delegator.

The other common mistakes that I have made is never hire for an immediate spot out of pure necessity. Be cautious of hiring immediate friends, and especially family members. Sometimes those can be the worst mistakes for you to make. The key to finding good employees is to always be looking and to always be interviewing because you never know when that (perfect) employee may come around.”

Steve: “How do you suggest doing this? Should you always be advertising that you are hiring?

If you found someone you thought would be good and didn’t really have a spot for them at the moment, would you hire them anyway and make a spot? ”

Rich: “Steve, about advertising, for hiring or open positions. If you have a shop (store front) you could always have a sign up to draw in potential applicants, you could also have a referral program for your employees (refer a friend). I don’t mean to necessarily advertise in news papers that obviously can be expensive. The other thing is when out and about in my day if I see someone anywhere working that I feel would possibly be a good fit maybe offer them a business card and ask them to call you if they ever consider a different type of work field. ( I am not saying go to your competitors) go to the gas stations, convenience stores, pharmacy stores, restaurants like Wendy’s, McDonalds, etc, you would be surprised.

In the past some of my best workers came from restaurants and have never done lawn care ever before. Also, when I used to be in Management Retail chain and Big Box stores I personally was recruited this way for some of the top companies in the world (ex) one store offered me a co-store manager position to start, my own store within 6 months and I was working at a competitor at the time. Recruited by a District Manager and Super Center Manager price comping and Head Hunting.

I don’t think that I would hire just to get that person if I already had a great crew, but if I did not have that great of a crew you bet, I would make a spot and move into when someone else cut their own throat and dropped the ball and I would have a trained replacement on staff already.”

Steve: “That is pretty fascinating stuff! So you actually were offered a job while you were at work! Were you blown away by that? It makes you wonder how often this goes on!

In the past when you hired someone that was working at a restaurant, were they your waiter? And then maybe you asked them if they ever considered working in lawn care? Or how would you suggest approaching the topic? ”

Rich: “Yes I was working when I was approached by the competitor’s management and said that they would really like to discuss opportunities with me. They said they had been in a few times and were very impressed with my overall work ethic and management style. I told them I would not discuss any opportunities with them while I was working they proceeded with giving me their card and they called me the next day and were persistent for me to come in so my next off day I did go in to speak with the district manager at his office. They offered me a great position, however I declined to accept the job do to a serious family medical situation. This was one of three head hunters that approached me just while I worked at this store for a short period of time.

To answer your other question, when I would ask people, they could have been the waiter, waitress, cashier, host, anybody who I thought may have had the overall customer service qualities that I would look for. You can teach almost anybody a trade or a skill, However obvious customer service skills and the way one presents themselves is a talent they must master on their own. Conversation would just be brought up in a general friendly talk, no pressure by any means, maybe a compliment on their quality of work or by the way they presented themselves.”

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