Top 12 Hiring Mistakes Most Lawn Care Companies Make

Published on December 9, 2015

Your employees can really mess up your life...

...or, they can make it 10X easier.

More than 90% of Lawn Care Companies don't have a hiring process. They don't know how to find people, nor how to pick the right ones out of the crowd. They shoot from the hip, and more often than not, they miss.

There are at least 12 hiring mistakes even the largest lawn care and landscaping companies make. Read this to avoid what every other lawn care business gets wrong:

The Top 12 Hiring Mistakes Most Lawn Care Companies Make

1. They Don't Sell Themselves 

Most lawn care and landscaping owners are great salesmen.

They promise the world to clients: "Our prices are the best, and our service is even better. We guarantee you will be 100% satisfied. We will beat any estimate by any competitor. Call us and we will be there for you."

But when they look for employees, they drop the ball. They say, "Come work for me. I'll pay you..."

And that's it.

"When hiring, why do most owners forget how to advertise?"

If you know how to market and sell your services to clients, you might as well use your marketing knowledge to grab new employees.

Talk about your strengths:

  • work outdoors
  • great incentives for advancement
  • a work environment and culture no big corporation can match

Potential new employees want to see the advantages of working for you. They want to know that they will be treated with respect, and not just as another body for labor.

2. They Sell a Job that Doesn't Exist

On the other hand, some owners promise too much.

"You get to sit on your ass all day, work at your own pace, AND you'll make hundreds of dollars a day."

Experienced employees will never fall for this.

And the green, inexperienced people - well - do you really want someone who showed up because they thought this job would be easy?

Be honest with your employment ads. Set the right expectations, and you'll get the right employees.

Related: The Ultimate Lawn Care Guide to Find and Hire the Best Employees

3. Lawn Care Owners Hire Cheap

There are a number of people in this world who will take any job for a quick buck.

These people do not make good employees.

They lack experience, they don't care about their work, and they will bolt at the first chance - leaving you with a bunch of work you have to do yourself.

If you won't pay a competitive wage, you won't build a competitive workforce. Check your local market: 

To avoid high turnover, you need to do two things:

  1. Pay a competitive wage
  2. Incentivize your employees to remain loyal (time-locked pay increases, bonuses, etc.)

4. They Don't 'Butter the Whole Slice of Bread'

If you want to find the right employees, you can't just put out one Craigslist ad and expect a hundred phone calls the next day.

You need to butter every corner. Spread your ads all over the place and let the people KNOW that you are hiring! Here are some more ideas:

  • LinkedIn
  • Your Website
  • Facebook Groups
  • Friends and family
  • Fliers in all the right places
  • Local establishments, like churches or hardware stores

If you want to read more about getting the word out there, check out this post on finding employees for your lawn care business.

5. They Don't Make the Phone Call

Five people sent you an application. Don't get excited.

Most of them won't make the cut.

Your time is worth too much to jump straight into in-person interviews. Better screen them all with a 15-minute phone call first.

Prepare a script of interview questions:

  • What is your work history?
  • How much experience do you have in this industry?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • etc.

For some prospective employees, you will know in 30 seconds if they are wrong. Congratulations, you just saved hours of wasted time.

Bonus: if you're hiring office staff, this is the perfect time to test their phone skills. Do they speak clearly? Are they polite? They might fit right in.

6. Some Owners Love the Sound of Their Own Voice

Now, I ain't saying you don't have a great set of pipes on you.

But the only reason you hold an interview is to learn about the prospective employee.

Yet, so many lawn and landscaping owners end up doing most of the talking.

Your job as an interviewer is to LISTEN TO THE ANSWERS.  You want to discover the employee's personality and make sure he is a good fit for your culture.

Sometimes, it can be hard to break the ice. Ask him (or her) about his resume or job application, and let him do the talking.

7. They Don't Ask for References

There are two sides to every story.

Prospective employees can lie. It's important to ask for references where possible.

You might be surprised what kinds of things previous employers will say - or what problems they might bring up.

Trained techs, experienced field workers, and office staff will more frequently have a few employers in their history whom you can grill for information.

8. They Don't Do Background Checks

Seriously. Do them. Background checks are not only important for the health and well-being of your company, they're also a great marketing tool.

Clients and leads feel much safer when you advertise that you do background checks on your employees.

Here's a decent resource for background checks.

9. They Don't Listen to their Gut

Every now and again, you're going to get an awesome resume. You'll invite the guy in for an interview, and he'll tell you everything you want to hear.

But a tiny voice in your ear will whisper, "Something is wrong."

If your gut is trying to tell you something, listen to it. Dig deeper.

Don't be afraid to give the guy another interview before you hire. It could save you months of problems down the road.

10. Landscaping Owners Hire Too Fast

Are you desperate to hire anyone, as fast as you can?

Stop. Take a breather.

Desperation leads to rushed decisions (a.k.a. BAD EMPLOYEES).

This is how you build a team that doesn't work well.

Hire some part-time help to get you through your busy season. Part-time is much lower risk, and you can always flex their hours down if they are doing a poor job.

11. They Don't Communicate With New Employees

Remember back to when you first started working? A lot of the time you felt like you didn't really know what you were doing.

Now, imagine you are a new employee. You don't know what you're doing AND your boss is breathing down your neck.

Not a great work environment, is it?

Talk to your employees when they start:

  • Welcome them aboard.
  • Introduce them to your employees and your culture.
  • Give them a more experienced employee to follow around and learn from.

Training and communication are key to creating the best lawn care team you can.

12. They Ignore Past Mistakes

The most terrible mistake you can make is to not learn from your other mistakes.

Look back on your past hiring experiences - when did things go wrong? How did you overcome your problems?

Get a sheet of paper out, and write down all the mistakes you can think of. Write down how you can improve your own hiring process, and order the mistakes you think you need to work on, from most important to least.

  • What went wrong?
  • How can you fix it?
  • What went right and how can you duplicate that?

Do not be afraid of putting it on paper - when you're brainstorming, there are no wrong words.

Late in the game, your goal should be to document THE ENTIRE HIRING PROCESS. This way, when you scale your business, you can hand off the hiring process to someone else.

On that day, you could take a vacation, and not have to worry about a damn thing for once.

Related: The Ultimate Lawn Care Guide to Find and Hire the Best Employees

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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