Employees – Backbone of your business
When you start your lawn care business, you may be able to handle a handful of customers yourself. But if you plan to grow and to see your business prosper, you will have to take on lawn care workers as employees. And the quality of those employees will be what makes you a great success or causes you to lose customers and flounder as a business.
Management of employees is a real art when you are trying to grow a business. To be a success, you need just enough workers to handle the yards you have to care for and no more. If you have too many employees on the payroll, your costs will eat up all your profits which will hurt the company. But you may be hesitant to lay off good employees while you build the business because good employees are hard to find and sure as you cut staff, you will get more work in and you may need those employees.
Similarly, it is a disaster if you have a surge of business and you don’t have the staff to handle all the work. That means you, the boss, have to get out and work on lawns when you should be doing the work of running the company. It also means overtime for the employees you have which cuts into profits and wears out your crews as well.
On top of these challenges, lawn care employees are rarely highly educated or looking at their jobs as careers. That means high turn over. So on any given day you can start out thinking you have enough people to fill out the crews you need to put on the road only to find holes in those crews because some employees suddenly quit, never showed up or called in sick.
These are the headaches of management. But the upside of management is when you do find some great employees who know the work and work hard. If they also know how to dress, how to behave with customers and how to take ownership over their work, those are the employees you should guard for all your life and nurture and develop those crew members because they will make you a success.
Too often, there is an antagonistic relationship between management and crews on a lawn care staff. It is important for you to see your employees as partners with you in your quest for success for the business. One way to do that is to allow your employees to take ownership over the success of the company. You can give bonuses or prizes for employees who have good attendance records or who interact well with customers and help build strong relationship with the clients of the business.
Get to know your crew. Even if the turn over is so high that you meet new crew members every day. If you manage many job sites, make it a point to get around to each one each day. Stop the work and meet the new employees and greet the ones you already know. Just that little bit of recognition will go a long way to help employees feel part of a great company and give them a want to help you succeed. For example if you have pizza waiting for them when they return from a long work day, your lawn care workers will become your best friends for life.
It is important to step back and review your attitude toward the people who do the real work of your lawn care business. Resist the natural urge to resent them. This is a natural reaction when your employee costs are the largest cost item in the budget. That is as it should be in a lawn care business.
You are a service business and you have no product except for the work these employees do for your customers. If you make it a point to value them, to treat them like family and even to “like them”, they will notice your attitude. They will come to like you and like the company. And that simple relationship building step is the most powerful way to build retention and to make sure that when you finally build a crew of trained and talented lawn care workers, you are more likely to keep them.