5 Painful Signs it’s Time to Hire More Lawn Care Employees

Published on December 12, 2017

When it comes time to hire more lawn care employees, most lawn care owners would rather run away from the truth. They say things like:

“I’ll just work more hours.”

“Why hire? They’ll just quit in a week anyway.”

“Sure we’re growing. But do we have enough money to hire?”

STUCK. That’s what happens to people who think like this. They get stuck in a rut. They spin their wheels and get nowhere.

If you want to grow your business, you’re going to have to feel some pain. But if you look for these five signs ahead of time…

...you’ll know exactly when to hire more lawn care employees, and you’ll grow faster than you thought possible.

5 Painful Signs You Need Hire More Employees

Your business will go through the same cycle over and over. You’ve already seen it.

You were your first employee. You sold the work then you went and did it.

Eventually, you sold more work than you could personally do. So you hired an employee.

This freed up some of your time and you sold more work.

Then you sold too much work for you and the one employee to do together, so you hired another employee.

The central tug-of-war in the industry is:

Marketing vs. Labor

When marketing pulls harder, there’s too much work, not enough labor.

When labor pulls harder, there’s not enough work.

If either side tugs so hard that the other actually loses (picture the other team just dropping the rope or getting pulled the ground and dragged), your business becomes unhealthy.

If marketing “wins,” you’re never hiring, you’re overworked, your employees are overworked. This doesn’t happen very frequently because the owner gets too busy picking up slack to continue selling.

The real danger is when labor “wins” the tug-of-war. Here’s what happens: you have too much work, you start picking up the labor slack. The team is still overworked, but you lose a couple clients from cut-corners. Your employees are still overworked. Morale plummets. You start losing employees, you’re still losing clients because quality has suffered.

Because you’re losing clients and employees at the same time, you don’t get to come up to breathe. You have fewer clients and more work on your plate.

The biggest problem with this scenario: no one is selling your services. You’re dropping clients like flies and not replacing them.

Hiring is about balance:

  • Don’t hire enough, and you will lose jobs (and money)
  • Hire too many, and you won’t have enough work for them

That brings you to the first sign you need to hire:

1. You’re About to “Outsell” Your Labor

You’ve put the finishing touches on your latest marketing campaign. You’re ready to send it out.

It’s got solid upsells. You’re hoping it makes a lot of money.

The Question to Ask Yourself: “If I’m successful with this campaign, what would the strain on my business look like?”

Two answers:
a. Wouldn’t hurt us at all. Crews have room to add jobs, even if I’m wildly successful.
b. Would strain the crews they were added to. Their schedules are close to full already.

If new jobs would push crews too hard, it’s time to get more labor.

You should always be selling. You don’t want to stagnate! You’re right to run that marketing campaign.Lawn care customers have an average life of 2 years. That means a stagnant company will be a dead company within 24 months.

Counting on a static customer base because you can’t sell anymore work without hiring anyone is the best way to sign the death certificate for your business.


Similarly dangerous is running a marketing campaign, especially a good one, and not having any idea if your company can keep up with the growth.

Jonathan Pototschnik's two most effective marketing strategies

2. You Have to Say “No” to Good Work

You’ve looked at the schedule for an hour.

You’ve reorganized it three or four times now.

You can’t make it fit.

And it sucks because Mrs. Robinson would be an ideal client. She’s willing to have her card on-file and charged every month, she expressed interest in a splash of color next spring.


When you’re saying “no” to clients who seem like great fits for your company because you can’t make them fit in your schedule. The problem is with the number of employees on that schedule.

You need more.

Don’t “spin your wheels” and waste your money on sales and marketing only to have labor be the bottleneck in your business. It's time to hire more lawn care employees.

3.Your Most Valuable Employee Can’t Work on Important Tasks

You’ve taught him to estimate. You’ve helped her become a proficient bookkeeper.

Neither of them is able to do the high-level tasks you’ve spent time training them to do because they’re stuck doing menial work, entry-level stuff they’ve been doing since day one.

It’s dangerous to hold up a good employee’s progression, especially if you’ve trained them in or promised more challenging, higher-level work to them. That employee could take those skills somewhere else, potentially to a competitor. Hire more lawn care employees to replace seasoned, skilled employees. They'll make you more money when you let them spread their wings.

4. You’re Missing Calls (and it’s costing you $$$$)

You’re busy. Everyone just wants a few more minutes of your time.

It’s the middle of Spring. Sprinkler turn-ons are in full swing and you’re helping a crew because their crew leader is out sick. You’re covered in dirt, sweat, and something you hope is water.

You’re flushing a line when you feel your phone buzzing in your pocket.

Maybe it’s just a couple of text messages? Nope, it’s definitely ringing.

You let it roll to voicemail.

It was a potential client. They didn’t leave a message. They called a competitor. They got someone on the phone and scheduled a quote.

The average lifetime value of a lawn care client is $4800. When you “just let one call” go to voicemail, you could be costing your business almost $5000.

Too many missed calls is your business asking you to hire an office assistant.

Here’s how to determine how many missed calls is too many: how much money are you willing to throw away? $15,000? $50,000?

Someone needs to answer the phone. If you’re too busy, it’s time to pass that responsibility to a new employee.

Hire more lawn care employees before you lose more money

5. You’re Stuck Doing Low-Level Work

To scale your business, to work on it, instead of in it, you have to get yourself out of the field.

But you’re a workhorse. That’s how entrepreneurs are built. They see something that needs doing and they get it done.

Here’s the problem: when you’re constantly going from low-level project to low-level project, you don’t have time to focus on the important challenges in your business.

You’re doing $10/hr work instead of $100/hr work. Every minute you spend has an opportunity cost: what are you giving up so that you can do that $10/hr work?

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of the truck. Don’t do it.

Replace yourself. Get unstuck. Hire more lawn care employees so you can get off the truck and work on your business.

Get the Ultimate Hiring Guide for Lawn Care Owners

Figure Out If You Need to Hire More Lawn Care Employees NOW

Now is the time (whenever you’re reading this), as I write it’s winter, which is the slow season for a lot of lawn care companies. You have a whole season of experience in the rear view mirror.

Where were your pain-points? What slowed your business down?

Consider if the problems of the past season would have been improved by more staff.

Once you identify the places where lawn care hiring are necessary, get out there and hire more lawn care employees (easier said than done, but we can help)!

Cody Owen

Cody is a copywriter with Service Autopilot. He was writing before he could read, dictating stories to his mom. Of late, he distills business principles and practices learned from his ever-increasing trove of books and his year with SA Support into digestible blog posts designed to provide maximum value to service industry business owners.


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