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How to Hire Lawn Care Employees: Your First Hires

Published on January 24, 2017

There are 100+ reasons why you should hire a field worker...

... but you only need this ONE:

You will make more money if you hire the right lawn care employee.

Hired right, a new employee will make you money and put your business on a path for GROWTH that other owners can only dream of:

When to Hire Your First Lawn Care Employee

Time is money.

The best time to hire a new employee is when you have too much work. At this time, a new employee will maximize your profit-making potential.

Quick example: Let’s say you generate $20 in profit per hour. When you hire your first employee, you double your work output. Your company will now generate $40 in profit per hour.

You pay your worker $12 an hour. With this new employee, you will now earn $28 in profit, per hour - without doing extra work!

...however, there is another bonus to hiring your first employee ASAP.

When you hire a new lawn care worker, you gain free time. You no longer have to do all of the work.

Eventually, with enough employees working for you, you will get out of the field. It will be more valuable and time-effective for you to work on other things - sales, marketing, growing.

Want to get out of the field … this year? Take our free lawn care software tour now and see how you can fast-track your growth with Service Autopilot. 

Do I Need to Hire Employees?

I was talking to a business owner the other day who was excited to tell me about his life. He said his service business allowed him to live out all of his dreams:

  • A summer home...
  • Free time to spend with his family...
  • Two expensive racing cars (one had a pair of angry eyes painted on the pop-up headlights)

All this was possible because he hired the right employees. This allowed him to spend his time growing his business into the millions, instead of working on low-dollar tasks every day.

"Employees free you up to work ON your business, instead of IN your business."

But, finding and hiring employees for your landscaping or lawn care business is careful work.

...and there are guys out there who will shout until they are blue in the face. “When I work alone, I work better. An employee would just drag me down.”

They brag about being a one-man team, a solo operation.

Usually, there are two reasons for this:

  1. Either - They don’t want to deal with employees. Good for them, and good for you. They will stay small, which means less competition for you.
  2. Or - They tried to hire employees before, and got burned. Problem was they hired the wrong people.

What to Look for in Your First Lawn Care Employee

The health of your business relies on YOU to hire the right people.

You do not need “the perfect superstar.” But you can’t take any guy off the street either.

Consider these 4 things when hiring your first employee:

 1. Hire for experience, not potential.

Mike Smith is the owner of Elite Lawncare in Crystal Lake, Ilinois. Today, he is a leader in his market, but Mike still remembers his first years in lawn care.

Elite Lawncare quickly learned that hiring new, inexperienced employees held them back.

“For us, we found that hiring newer employees was a mistake while our company was small,” Mike says.

Inexperienced labor may be cheaper, but it also slows down the growth of a business. So, Mike's company looked for experience:

“We found employees who had worked for other large companies came trained, knew how to complete the work on their own, could be trusted, and came to us with good ideas of their own.”

Experienced professionals, Mike explained, might have insider info on your competitors or advanced knowledge on business processes that will help you grow.

 2. Do NOT Hire a friend or family member.

Today, Mike has dozens of employees. It's safe to say he has seen hundreds of hiring mistakes.

This is one he warns others not to repeat.

“I think it is quite common for new companies and new owners to hire friends or people whom they get along with, even though those people may not have sufficient experience in the industry … it was a common trap that many of us fall into.”

One simple rule: if you can’t afford to ruin your relationship with someone, you shouldn’t hire them.

No family members, no neighbors, no friends. These people will not work as hard for your business as you do.

They will feel entitled to special treatment. Entitelment is toxic. When you hire a friend or a family member, you risk hurting your business and destroying your relationship with that person.

3. Balance Your Workload and New Hires.

Most owners “over hire.” You are better off with too many employees, instead of too many clients.


When you are small, hiring can be unpredictable. Some people don’t work out. Some people drop out at exactly the wrong time.

You get backed up. Your clients get impatient. And then they get angry…

As Mike Smith puts it, “One bad review can cause people reading that review to not hire your service, and that is bad for growth.” All it takes is one.

When you hire, plan on growth. Be realistic. Be strategic.

Make sure you can always offer the highest quality service to your clients.

 4. Part-Time vs. Full-Time Employees.

Part-time is the great “in between.”

It is a stepping stone for Owners who still have concerns about bringing on full-time employees.

One strategy for new owners:

  1. Hire one part-time field worker for 15-25 hours per week.
  2. Market and get more jobs to fill up your schedule.
  3. When you have enough hours, go hire a second part-time field worker. Flex their hours based on need, from 30-50 hours per week.
  4. Repeat this until you consistently have enough hours to fill a full-time position.

The key to this strategy is to track your goals. You should know what you want to accomplish with each employee every week, month, and year.

How many hours do you want them to work by next week? Next month? When do you want to move them to full time?

5 Steps for an Official Hiring Process

  • The Interview - Take your prospective employee to neutral ground. A coffee shop works well. Ask them questions about their work history, experience, etc. Only you can judge if they fit in your company.
  • Background Checks - Protect yourself. Try Crimcheck.com for background checks. You might also want Motor Vehicle Reports if this new employee will drive a truck.
  • The Offer Letter - Make your decision official by sending your employee an Offer Letter. This is a two-sided letter. It sets expectations for your employee and protects your company if that employee fails to meet these expectations.
  • Payroll - Use a payroll tool. Service Autopilot integrates with Quickbooks, a payroll software that is practically industry standard at this point.
  • Legal Paperwork - Taxes, hiring forms, payroll deductions, etc.. The requirements are different for employment in the United States and hiring in Canada.

Guarantee Your Profits & Track Your Employee’s Performance

Did you start your business to make money?

If you answered yes, then you want to read this part.

The only way to guarantee that you make money on every employee is to track their performance. Service Autopilot is the perfect tool for this job.

Our lawn care software does three things to track performance and ensure you make a profit on every job:

  • Mobile Time Tracking: Allows your crew members to keep track of how long it takes them to do jobs.
  • Job Costing: See how much money you make per job, and per hours worked. Also, ensures your services are always profitable.
  • Advanced Reporting: Discover the areas where your employees need to improve, and find out how healthy your business is. Perfect for long-term planning.

Get a clear view on your goals and performance - and eliminate hours of tedious office work.

Take our free lawn care software tour now to see how Service Autopilot will instantly upgrade your lawn care business.

Good luck and grow fast!

Special thanks to Mike Smith from Elite Lawncare. Without his help, this article would not have been possible.

Related: 5 Steps to Find the Right Employees for Your Landscaping Business

Lisa Marino

Lisa Marino is the Sr. Marketing Director for Service Autopilot. She uses her 17+ years in direct marketing, sales, and product development to push entrepreneurs beyond their limits. She's passionate about helping others grow their businesses through time-tested marketing techniques. When not writing, you can find her belting out a mean Stevie Nicks at a local karaoke night.


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