When to take on your first lawn care employee?

Thanks to Clifford from Sideline Property Management for asking the following question:

Question: At what point did you decide to take on your first employee? Was it determined by revenue, time constraint or did you set a specific profit amount that would determine time to add help?

Answer: Good question Clifford, the decision to take on employees is a big one.

I took on a part time helper in my first year and in my second year I took on a full time employee who turned out to be with me for the entire time I operated by business.

On the one hand, employees mean extra work and expenses so the inclination might be to stay small as long as possible. However, the game of landscape maintenance is one best played with two people. In other words a two person team is more effecient that one for most residential settings. So, my advice is that even if you intend to stay small, get big enough to keep you and a helper busy.

The first signal that you may need help is quite simply that you are very busy and your phone is still ringing with new work. If that is your situation then you should calculate the cost of hiring a helper.

1) Look at your profit and loss data. If you are not profiting without an employee, hiring one will not help you.

2) Add up all the monthly costs that go with hiring an employee and don’t forget to included the ‘hidden’ costs like Workers’ Compensation and matching of certain source deductions.

3) Then determine if it is feasable to take on staff based on your current revenue and profit.

It may be that you can only afford a part time helper until you build your business some more. It would also depend on how fast you are able to grow and how difficult it is too find work. You may be pleasantly surprised if you take on a helper that you get enough work to keep you both busy.

For more practical information and useful tips see chapter 8 of my book which deals with how to hire, train and manage your employees.

I hope this helps Clifford. All the best with your business this year!

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