So, you have too many customers for your current crew to handle. What now? Well, you have a good problem. Now it’s time to hire some new employees. If your business is in a position to hire employees, “you’re truly a unique creature in America,” according to Tony Bass, founder of Tony Bass Consulting and Bass Custom Landscapes. “Employees are the ultimate leverage, because they allow you to multiply yourself and your expertise.”
We’ve solved many lawn care business problems with our free lawn care software. We know that running a lawn care business is hard, and hiring is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. And if you don’t have previous experience bringing in outside employees, you’re likely to commit some common hiring mistakes:
1. Hiring Family Members and Friends
Hiring your friends is a mistake almost every time, according to Bass. “I generally advice caution in hiring friends and family,” he says. “When you have to make a financial decision that could be viewed negatively by an employee, and that employee happens to be family, it creates a very tense situation.”
Generally, if you’re a young company, you’ll have a couple of hardworking friends who want to help out. In fact, with the companies with work with, we see that this works out. In the short term. Eventually, when you want to scale, you’re going to want to separate the social and the business side of your life to avoid the tense situations mentioned by Mr. Bass.
2. Being Cheap and Ignoring Expertise
Disregard salary for a minute, and think: would you want to hire an accountant without expertise? A lawyer? Though it can be tempting to hire cheaper labor, it’s best to sacrifice cost for expertise, at least if you’re interested in the longevity of your business.
Clint Waltz, Turfgrass Extension Specialist at The University of Georgia, says “poor agronomic knowledge is a big problem.”
Jeff Ascough, founder of Shore Green Landscape & Design, agrees. “Anyone can cut lawns,” he says. “The landscape business seems to riddled with people trying to find cheap labor. Pay your guys well. They work hard and are the face of your business. Well paid employees are more likely to show up and do the right thing.”
Find employees that know the agronomic aspects of the industry. Start by looking for those educated at Universities that offer Turfgrass programs. Furthermore, look for potential employees who are members of technical and trade associations, such as PLANET or your local state organization.
3. Ignoring Customer Service
Though it’s a wonderful start to find employees that know what they’re doing (and that aren’t your family), it also helps if they’re good with people. Why? “It is very important to be professional and dependable,” according to Ascough. “Although landscaping is blue collar, customers expect a white collar experience.”
Of course, it’s a bit trickier to judge customer service ability in potential talent than it is to judge other traits. The solution? Hire decent, well-spoken and organized individuals, and set high standards in the arena of customer service. Distribute customer surveys frequently and make sure your staff is up to standards.
4. Ignoring College Campuses
So, where’s this secret store filled with knowledgeable and nice workers that aren’t your family or friends? College.
It’s smart to reach out to college grads (and possibly current students for summer work) for so many reasons. Young people, college graduates, are the most likely age group to be underemployed. That means they want to work and work hard. College grads are educated (see #2), they’re energetic, fit, and tend to have great attitudes towards work. It’s especially beneficial to find a college with any type of agricultural program, according to Bass. This ensures your new staff will be armed and ready to handle the inundation of new customers your new business will be getting!