For small owner/operators in the lawn care industry the thought of hiring your first employee seems a bit daunting... hard...scary...uncharted territory...anything but easy!
Up until this point you probably were like me when I first started. You were as Dave Ramsey says the C. E. O. “Chief Everything Officer”. You’re used to handling every aspect of your business from marketing, customer relations, providing service, planning routes, equipment repairs, you name it. This isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s just simply because you do not have the funds or the luxury to hire someone else in the early stages of your business. It’s normal to experience this.
Now it’s time to hire an employee (Congrats!) and here are some things to consider when doing so.
For starters, the whole reason you’re deciding to hire an employee is because you can’t continue to get all of the work done in your business by yourself. When I first started my company I would easily put in 40-45 hours of actual mowing time per week and then I would have another 25-30 hours in front/back end work, follow ups, estimates, customer relations, and marketing just to name a few. It. Was. Nuts. Most of my weeks I would easily put in 70-80 hours.
When hiring a team member you want to ensure that you put them work right away to start relieving some of the chaos from your busy schedule. **If you’re not at the 60-80 hours per week mark yet I would advise you to not hire an employee for multiple reasons. It will be harder to pay for an employee if you yourself have not filled up your pipeline with work so you can in turn make more money which in turn pays you a decent salary, and allows you the ability to actually afford your employee.**
There’s nothing worse than hiring an employee and then having to lay them off just weeks later because you didn’t continue to bring in jobs which allowed you to keep them paid.
The first position you want to hire for is a “lawn technician”. This person is someone that simply comes alongside you on your mowing route and helps you complete each lawn by weed eating, edging, and blowing. (I would recommend that you(the owner) mow the lawns so you lower any risk for injury or damage to property). This extra team member will make you feel like you’ve won the lotto! Not only will you be able to get your lawns done in a more efficient time throughout the week, but it will put less strain on you physically and mentally because you’re now sharing your work load, and now that your time to service each property is lowered, you will have more hours opened up to grow your business, catch up on paper work, do estimates etc.
Now that we know when to hire and what position to hire for we need to determine if you can afford an employee. A good rule of thumb is if you’re doing $80,000-$100,000 in gross revenue per year its time to hire your first employee.
Please Note: This is an opinion, and it may or may not be ideal for your company.... so check your own numbers and decide for yourself!
Simply put, you want to ensure that the business’ gross revenue is able to sustain your pay, the business expenses (gas, maintenance, materials, etc.) and also have enough left over to pay an employee and have money for taxes and retained earnings. If you’re like me and want to grow as fast as possible you can cut your pay to a next to nothing small “reasonable” salary so you’re able to afford all of these extra expenses earlier in the life of your business.
LDM Lawn Service