How to Find Employees for your Lawn Care Business

The question is, “I’ve been in business for six years now. I had an employee in the past, but he did not work out, because he was not interested in working by himself, in other words, without me in the truck. Now I have been solo for two years.” Yeah, you want to get out of that. “I am wanting to get out of the field so that I can grow my business. I am planning on raising my prices on some of my low paying customers and picking up some new higher paying customers.” Good plan. “To compensate for the cost of the employee.”

Right there, a great example of what happens to us in our markets and what, a lot of times, we do to ourselves, but we also then, in turn, do it to the market. We price our work based just on us. We don’t price in overhead. We don’t price in potential growth, meaning we’re going to have employees eventually that we have to pay and mark them up to cover overhead, to cover marketing expenses, and all these other, insurance. We price our work initially just covering us, and we’re not acting like a real business.

As an example, maybe you were working previously on a crew, and you were making $14 an hour. You’re like, “Dude, I could charge $20, and it would be so much better.” You go out, and you’re charging $20 an hour, and yeah, you just got a $6 an hour raise, but you can never grow a business at $20 an hour. There’s no money to buy trucks. There’s money to buy equipment. You’re going to be in perpetual debt. There’s no money to get the right insurance. There’s no money for marketing. There’s no money for anything. Then you hit a wall, and you’re like, “I don’t know, this business sucks. I don’t know what’s wrong with it. I can’t grow it. I have no money.”

It’s because you’re pricing under the incorrect mindset. You’re pricing as thinking of yourself as a former employee and just marking yourself up a little bit. That’s not how it works. If you’re a company owner, if I have to pay an employee $14 an hour, I probably need pretty close to three times whatever I’m paying them on an hourly basis to be profitable. That’s not a permanent or an all the time rule of thumb, but there is truth in what I just said.
If you were $14 an hour before, and now you’re charging $20, there’s no chance you’re ever going to build a business around you. It’s absolutely impossible. Usually for someone to grow their company, to fix their problems, to hire people, to do all the things they need to do to get legit, they got to get their pricing right first. If you don’t get the pricing right, there’s nothing I can ever say to you in a video, there’s no consultant you can hire, there’s no magical anything that’s going to happen that will ever fix your business or make you have a good business. It all starts at pricing, got to get that pricing right.
Great thinking in terms of what you’re saying here that you’re working on. That’s exactly what you should be doing.
My question is, “How can I find an employee who is willing to work by themselves, and how can I most effectively get out of the field? I turn 30 this year, and it has been a goal of mine to do so.” Awesome. “Thanks for the videos. I’ve been watching since I started my business and rewatch all your videos every season.” Cool.

Alright, so let’s go with the … I guess the main question is, how do I find this individual? Again, kudos, you’re thinking about this correctly. You get your pricing up. Let’s go look for a person.

I’d start looking for a person on running some Craigslist ads. I’d talk to vendors. Granted, you’re really small, so you probably don’t have a lot of vendors. But let’s say you have a little bit of a relationship with a chemical provider, or a lawn care shop where you buy equipment, maybe even at Home Depot or Lowe’s, or whoever you buy trash bags and small tools from. Maybe you know somebody there, maybe … I don’t know what your situation is. The point here is that what you’re going to have to do is, you’re going to have to start looking for referrals. You’re going to have to start, in a sense, networking. You’re going to have to start asking around. You’re going to need to let it be known that I’m looking for this kind of person.

When you find this person, they’re going to ride in the truck with you, and you’re going to be the lead on the truck. They’re going to ride with you, and you’re going to train them. Eventually, you’re going to switch seats, and you’re going to keep working with them. Now you’re the assistant with them, and then they’re going to gain confidence. You’re going to gain confidence, and then you’ll release them. That’s the general way this is going to work, but first, you got to find this person.

I’d be running ads on Craigslist. It’s really cheap, $25 an ad. I’d be talking to vendors, again. I made a few notes for you here. I’d be asking everybody, telling everybody, what you’re looking for. You can go to apartment complexes, you can go to check cashing places, you can go to Walmart. What I mean by this is, do you have an idea of the type of person you’re looking for? Or if you look around at other companies, where do most of the guys and gals that work for these companies, where might they live? Where might they frequent? Where might they cash their paychecks? You want to go hang out in those places, and you want to look for people.

If you have a truck, I’d put some advertising on your truck. One thing I just said about going out and looking for these people, I’d recommend you be careful. You don’t want to be seen as poaching. I wouldn’t, for example, get in my truck and follow around a competitor’s truck and try to pick off all their people. That’s how you start a war. I personally wouldn’t just let you do it. I think a lot of companies wouldn’t just let you do that. They’re going to make you feel some pain so you don’t continue to do that to them. I’d be careful to do that, but at the end of the day, there might be a guy that you cross paths within a gas station. If you’re out looking for an apartment complex, it’s very different than following trucks around. I am not for that. I would not do that.

But you need to go out and look for people, and you need to run ads. Those are some things I’d be thinking about.
I think the last thing I’d say is I’d really encourage you to be diligent with this. Do whatever it takes. Solve this problem. Don’t put a little effort into it and say, “I don’t know that there’s a solution.” There’s a solution, because you can look around, and everybody else is solving this problem, at least to some degree. Stick with this one, because your goals are exactly what they should be. You should really get out of the truck, and I think you’ll have a lot more fun when you do get off the truck. It gives you a backup plan. It gives you … You’re building something of interest, and something that will last, and something that if you want to take a vacation, you can do it.

Stick with this. See it through. Once you get your first couple people, they’ll help you find your next people, and it’ll just get so much easier. But you’re at the really difficult moment right now. It gets easier from here.

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