Talking with business owners across the country, I'm always interested in hearing about the biggest challenges they've faced in growing their business.
The category that comes up the most, by far, is related to finding or keeping good employees.
I constantly hear things like:
- I can’t find good help.
- There is no labor pool out here.
- My best employees always leave.
- No one wants to work.
- I can’t trust my employees to do the work correctly.
To which I ask things like:
- Are you looking in the right places?
- Do you have a plan and a network to help you tap into the labor pool?
- Are you providing your best employees opportunities for professional growth?
- Are you providing a strong enough incentive? Would you want to work in the situation you’re offering?
- Are you giving your employees chances to learn and improve, or are you pulling the plug on them at the first sign of trouble?
Here are three tips for finding and keeping good employees
1. Talk to People
You know some people – suppliers & industry contacts, customers, friends and family.
Talk about your business, show them how passionate you are about building your business, and let them know you are always looking for good help. You don’t have to be annoying about it, but let people know that you’re always on the lookout, in case they know anybody who is looking to make a change. For people in the industry, you can even offer a small incentive for their leads.
You should always be hiring, 365 days a year. You don’t have to be advertising for it, but if you come across the right person, find a spot for them. Make it work. If you’re only willing to put someone on the payroll two weeks before the busy season begins, you’re going to be severely limiting your options.
And if you come across someone who you know would be a good employee, pursue them. Even if they’re not interested, stay in touch. I have one team member I pursued for four years. When he was finally ready to make a move, he called me. And now he’s one of my top managers.
An ugly truth in this industry is that people move around a lot. There are a lot of landscape business owners who, frankly, aren’t very good leaders. They treat their employees badly and it’s only a matter of time until those employees are looking for a new opportunity.
You want to be the company they call, NOT the company they leave.
2. Grow Your Business So Your Employees Can Grow
Nobody wants to feel like they’re working for a stagnant company. It’s boring and it makes employees feel like they’re going nowhere.
Your best employees are not going to feel any sense of accomplishment or progress if they work hard to prove themselves, but continue just mowing lawns and pruning shrubs each year.
And it’s not just about pay. Offering $1 or $2 more per hour may not be enough to attract and retain hardworking, ambitious employees. Employees want to learn, they want to be challenged, and they want to feel like they’re going somewhere.
With meaningful and consistent business growth, you’ll keep more of your best employees. And, you may find that when experienced landscapers from other companies are looking for a change, they might come looking for you.
3. Treat Your Employees Well
Treat all your employees with respect. If you happen to have an employee who you feel doesn’t deserve your respect, it’s time to let that one go and get someone you CAN respect.
Don’t treat them like they’re below you. Don’t act like they’re replaceable parts. If you’re doing it right, they’re not just a bunch of laborers – they’re your team.
Continue to challenge them, teach them, and empower them. Show them that you’re committed to their success and they’ll commit to the company’s success.
Give them the tools they need to succeed, then sit back and watch them impress. You and your business will be better for it.
What are your tips and tricks for finding and keeping good talent?