Your mowers, trimmers, and other landscaping gear are top-of-the-line. Your marketing efforts are on-point, drawing in scores of new customers. But if you don’t have amazing lawn care and landscape employees, your lawn care business will never grow and thrive.
Hiring lawn care employees can feel like a daunting process. How can you reach the right applicants, and then determine the best hires? While lawn care hiring does pose some unique challenges, finding top-tier talent is easier than you may think.
Here’s everything you need to know about lawn care employment, including finding, interviewing, and hiring landscaping employees
- When is Your Landscaping Business Ready for New Employees?
If you built your business yourself, you were likely the sole employee for a long time. You learned to rely on yourself to get the job done. Understandably, you might feel reluctant to hire others to do the work you’ve been doing on your own.
However, most business owners wait too long before they start looking for help. Don’t wait until you’re already swamped with work. Ideally, you’ll want to start the hiring process while your business is growing, but before you’re overwhelmed with demand.
New employees require time and money to train. Expect a minor hit to your company’s overall efficiency as you onboard new people. Although the exact time frame varies based on your business and the experience level of your hires, expect a slight slowdown in operations for a few weeks or a month during the training period.
- Marketing Your Jobs Online
Landscaping isn’t a digital job. It doesn’t require someone adept at using computers. However, when searching for employees, you’ll want to focus your search online. Over 79% of job seekers use online tools during their job search, even if the job isn’t internet-related.
Social media posts from your company’s accounts often work wonders. Keep it direct and simple. For example, “Here at Smith Bros Lawn Care, we’re looking for new employees. Please share our post with anyone who might be interested. We offer competitive wages and a fun working environment with opportunities for advancement.”
Of course, online isn’t the only way to find potential employees. Referrals are often another effective option. If you already have a great employee, ask them if they have any friends they’d like to recommend.
Additionally, reach out to any local vendors you have a relationship with. They likely know a variety of people in the lawn care industry.
- How to Interview Potential Employees
Your online want ads have resulted in several candidates with promise. Next, it’s time to schedule interviews. Here’s how to interview potential employees:
First, consider the entire process. Does the applicant show up on time? Are they friendly and professional? How they behave when they first meet you is likely how they’ll behave when first meeting customers on your behalf.
Ask them about their experience in lawn care. Aside from general experience, do they have any horticulture knowledge, ability to use specialized tools, or other unique abilities?
Aside from their landscaping skills, new hires should also have excellent customer service abilities. After all, your employees are the public face of your company. Most will have more direct contact with customers than you do.
Your new hires should be:
• Friendly and personable
• Capable of upselling services
• Able to respond to problems with minimal supervision
You want new hires with a proven track record in both lawn care and customer service.
- What Employees Should You Avoid?
Some folks don’t make good hires, even if they seem like nice people.
First, avoid inexperienced applicants. You don’t want to teach someone the basics of lawn care. Although you don’t have to pay an inexperienced hire much, a landscaping newbie requires more of your time for training. Plus, they work slower than someone with more experience. What you save with low wages, you end up paying for in other ways.
Also, don’t hire friends or family members. It’s often difficult to fire them if they underperform. You don’t want to risk personal relationships due to work.
However, there is one exception. If you want to pass your business on to your children, you’ll want to start them early so they can learn the ins and outs.
- Training and On-boarding
Even experienced employees crave direction. Start all new hires off on the right foot with a thorough on-boarding process.
First, announce your new hire to the entire company. Encourage the other employees to make the “new guy” feel welcome. New hires have enough on their minds during the first day; they’re often reluctant to introduce themselves.
Also, create an employee handbook. Include information about the company hierarchy, payroll, scheduling, field software systems used, and more. Although you’ll likely cover much of this information through training, many people appreciate a written reference manual they can refer to as needed.
Stay patient. Even if your new employee knows lawn care, they won’t know the specific ways of your company. Give them time to learn the ropes. Along those same lines, be sure to explain any company-specific jargon you might use.
- How to Build a Positive Company Culture
So far, we’ve focused primarily on how you can find applicants. But let’s turn that around: Why would someone want to work for your company?
You don’t want to take the time and effort to hire and train a new employee only for that person to quit because they don’t like the company. Of the people who quit a new job, 68% do so within the first three months. That’s a huge waste of resources for you!
Positive company culture is created in a few ways:
First, a well-paid employee is often a happy employee. Research average wages for competitors in your area. Your wages don’t have to be the highest, but they should remain competitive. Lawn and Landscape Magazine recommends a salary of about 12% of sales.
Additionally, incentivize your employees with bonuses. Lawn care is often seasonal. You might need more employees in the summer but fewer in the winter. Offer bonuses to encourage good employees to return year after year.
Of course, creating a satisfying work environment is about more than money. Treat your employees with respect. Allow experienced employees the freedom to implement their ideas. Also, try to accommodate their scheduling wishes as much as possible.
Lawn care is hard work, so you’ll want to provide supplies to keep your crew comfortable. Provide plenty of water; your employees shouldn’t have to spend their own money to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun. While you always want to stay professional, your employees aren’t robots. Create an easy-going work environment to help the workday pass faster.
During the early days of your business, you could do it all. But as your business grows, you’ll need to hire help in order to keep up with your increasing workload. The people you hire are truly your most valuable resource.
You can attract great employees with competitive pay and a fun, professional work environment. Take the time to find and hire the best employees, as they’re worth every penny.