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How to Hire Lawn Care Employees for Your Landscape Company

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Business Advice

You’re a business owner. Having enough bodies on staff to get jobs done and keep customers happy is critical. But 93% of landscape company owners are stressed about finding enough hires. Unless you’re among the lucky 7% who aren’t, here’s a step-by-step guide for how to hire lawn care employees.

The Lawn Care Hiring Challenge

Unemployment rates in Canada and the U.S. are at near record lows. When that’s the case, job seekers have the upper hand. And companies who need to fill jobs don’t.

That lopsided nature of hiring leads to the challenges that landscape and lawn care company owners shared with LMN in the Hiring Trends in the Landscaping Industry 2023 survey. Notably too few candidates and even fewer applicants with enough experience.

And while there’s no one approach that fits every company, in this article, we offer a step-by-step approach to tackling landscape and lawn care hiring challenges, including:

  1. Start Your Hiring Process Internally
  2. Make Hiring a Part of Your Job
  3. Assess Your Obvious and Less-Obvious Needs
  4. Be Prepared to Pay for It
  5. Consider Training for It
  6. Create the Right Job Description
  7. Hire Your New Lawn Care Employees
  8. Promote Your Openings
  9. Interview with Purpose
  10. What Not to Do
  11. More Resources on How to Hire Landscape Employees

Start Your Hiring Process Internally

You need workers. The default response to that is to rush start hiring. But before you do anything, look inside to uncover what you have to offer. In a competitive job market, what you offer is as, if not more, important than what you need.

Figure out what makes your company different. Ask existing employees what they like or don’t like about their jobs. Ask them what they would say if someone asked about working for your company.

Give your employees a safe space to share. A tool like SurkeyMonkey lets you do free, quick, anonymous online employee surveys.

What you learn will help you sell your company to prospective candidates just as you sell your services to prospective customers. (It may also give you a take on a few things that might need fixed.)

LMN Founder and CEO Mark Bradley selling your company to potential hires.

Make Hiring Part of Your Job

Recruiting takes time and effort. LinkedIn reports that the hiring process usually takes 3 to 6 weeks.

While you may be able to hire faster, consider the cost of having to do it over again if you don’t give the process the planning, time and attention it needs. You don’t want to get stuck in analysis paralysis, but you also want to invest the time needed to make hiring a part of your company’s regular workload.

Whether you have human resources (HR) or not, make hiring a part of your regular workload. Give it the investment in time and resources it needs, so you get a decent return on your efforts.

Assess Your Obvious and Less-Obvious Needs

An important part of the hiring process is to figure out what you need in workers. If you’re hiring for your lawn care maintenance team, that might include the ability to run and maintain a lawnmower and/or trimmer or use a drop spreader.

It likely also includes less-tangible skills.

Think of customer complaints you’ve had or of your own past frustrations. What skills — hard or soft — do you need to help prevent those problems in the future. Examples of skills beyond handling equipment include attention to detail, customer service, follow-through and time management.

Be Prepared to Pay for It

In an employees’ market, you can’t skimp on pay. Landscape and lawn care workers can make between $28,000 to $50,000 a year.

Know what the going rate for similar roles in your area is. You can find that by asking other local business owners or using an online tool like the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Indeed, Glassdoor or Salary.com.

Be prepared, if you can, to pay a little more than average. It sounds backward, but that can save you money in the long run. The average cost to replace an employee is estimated at one-half to two times their annual pay. At an annual pay rate of $28,000, that means replacing someone who leaves for greener pastures will cost you between $14,000 and $56,000.

Not all Pay Equals Money

Consider that pay doesn’t have to be take-home money. Pay can take the form of training opportunities, sign-on bonuses, other bonuses or profit sharing, or basic benefits – whether health care insurance and/or paid time off or holidays.

It can also be less tangible thins like a sense of purpose, autonomy, communication, the chance to advance and other things.

It doesn’t have to be a lot, a little can go a long way.

Did you know you can outsource employees. Companies know as professional employer organizations (PEOs) offer co-employment. Basically, your employees work for the PEO. The PEO does payroll and offers benefits. You use the PEO’s larger, combined workforce to offer your employees health and other benefits.

Consider Training for It

Every employer wants the perfect employee who can hit the ground running. But perfectly skilled and/or educated employees cost more and have more options. According to Zippia, a lawn care worker with a Bachelor’s degree can make almost $4,000 more than one without.

Even if you can afford a perfectly skilled employee, consider giving someone without all the needed skills, but all the needed enthusiasm, a chance for appropriate roles. Greenius offers courses on aerator safety, blade sharpening, edger safety, and more that are perfect for training new lawn care hires.

Offering on-the-job training (OJT) and/or job shadowing has two benefits.

  1. You train an employee to do the job the way you want it done.
  2. You create a loyal employee who’s grateful for your investment in them.

Next: Create the Right Job Description

A good job description is important. You want to give creating one the time it deserves. Take your assessed needs, what you plan to pay, any added perks (including training opportunities), and what sets your company apart and put it in writing.

The ideal lawn care employee job description includes:

  1. A good title. Forget lawn care peon or laborer and think lawn care technician or professional.
  2. What you need in the form of responsibilities, duties and requirements. Be specific without writing an encyclopedia.
  3. Pay rate or a pay range — 86% of owners surveyed in LMN hiring trends survey got more and higher quality applicants when including pay in their job description.
  4. Who your company is and why they want to work for you. This is where figuring out what sets your company apart and asking your staff what they enjoy about working for you comes into play. It’s also where added can perks make a difference.

Not a writer? Check out these landscape job description templates for ideas. Or borrow from a competitor or two — assuming their descriptions are compelling.

How to Hire Your New Lawn Care Employees

Once you’re done with the internal work, it’s time to start the hiring process.

Note: The hiring process takes time and effort. More than a third of landscapers who responded to the LMN hiring trends survey spend 7 to 10 hours a week reviewing applications.

Promote Your Openings

Hiring new employees is no different than finding new customers. You have to make your opportunity (or services) known.

There’s no perfect place to pitch your job openings. In the LMN hiring trends survey:

  1. 51% of companies successfully recruit through job boards like Indeed.com, LinkedIn and Glassdoor.
  2. 22% find traditional ads most effective — fliers, billboards and good old newspaper ads.

To find the most candidates, use a mix.

Get a little creative too. Consider local job boards or classifieds through a local news station. Hit up your local community college or high school or college and technical education (CTE) program. Many offer certifications in landscaping.

And don’t discount word of mouth. Happy employees are likely to have friends who want to be happy to. You can even consider a referral program that rewards employees for introducing new ones to your company.

Need ideas to create your job ad, find some in these landscaping job advertisement templates.

Interview with Purpose

By the time you’re interviewing actual candidates, you may be sick of the whole process and want it to go away. But don’t let that lead to taking short cuts.

Unless the short cut you take is to prescreen candidates. 94% of companies surveyed for the LMN hiring trends use pre-interview questionnaires to reduce candidate pools. Check out this pre-interview checklist and reference check form template for a ready-to-use solution.

Do be honest, up-front and transparent with candidates. Don’t be too shy to ask tough questions and be clear about what you need, including someone who’ll stick around. Also answer any questions the candidate has.

Consider talking about a potential career path with your candidate. Career paths create stickiness. And your ultimate goal is to find a good fit who meets – or exceeds – your needs and who’s in it for the long haul.

What Not to Do When Hiring Landscape Employees

All the to-dos when hiring include a few don’t dos. Don’t post jobs you don’t intend to fill just to collect resumes or applications. Applicants will figure you out before too long and your company will get branded in the worst possible way.

Don’t Forget That Candidates Are Customers Too

You wouldn’t ghost a customer or be dismissive to them. Don’t do it to candidates either.

Don’t Stop Recruiting After You Hire

Existing employees need recruited too. To keep your new hires onboard follow through on promised perks. And train your new hires. Training not only nurtures loyalty and a sense of belonging, it helps protect your company from accidents, work delays, poor work and liability.

Consider Greenius to train your landscape crews. It offers hundreds of courses on everything from basic techniques to using equipment to safety for both crew and crew leads.

And don’t forget company culture – it’s not just the stuff of white-collar corporations. Build a culture by empowering your employees.

Last Words

The hiring process is a process. It takes time, but like any other process, practice makes perfect. If you need added, check out the resources below.

More Resources on How to Hire Landscape Employees

Looking for more information and ideas on how to hire and retain your next landscape or lawn care rock star?  Find it these resources:

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