Irrigation Business Guide: How to Hire Top Talent
Finding them. Training, managing, and keeping them. It’s the hardest part of your business. You know how to install a system, program a controller, tune up a mower… but people. People are hard.
And your people, your talent, are the most important part too. They generate revenue for you, they make sure things go smoothly, and they are the first and most important part of customer service. If a customer is upset or unhappy with a service, your employees are the first people they speak to. It’s the reason hiring is so important for your business, because your people and their problem-solving skills directly affect how many customers you have, and for how long.
Hiring is hard. It’s something our industry really struggles with. Why? Because most contractors aren’t prepared for the process. Having an airtight hiring process will help to make sure that you hire the right people, and avoid the folks that will cost you customers and money. Let’s get started.
Define the Need
Why do you need people? It’s probably because you have more work than time (always!), but take a moment to understand specifically what this need is. Experienced talent? Temporary work? Office or field? Don’t go rushing in blindly. Take the steps to really understand your need first.
Understand your core values and what kind of person would fit within those values. We get it, “values” can be fluffy. This is just another way to say “culture,” and at the end of the day, good people will find you, and stick with you, because of your culture. Especially with younger generations, culture is #1. Yes, you have to pay people fairly, but it’s not what makes or breaks your crews.
Without core values, there is no base for the company to grow off of. These should be seen as the terms that each employee abides by. By having these in place before hiring, you are creating a base on which to compare a potential hire’s personality, gauging whether they are a good fit or not.
If your company doesn’t have core values, don’t just write any down and call them your values. Take this step seriously and include your employees when creating these values. What’s important to your team? When you think of your core values, they should reflect the goals you have for your business, and how you want to be seen by the world, and your customers. What makes you proud?
This part of the hiring process is the most tedious, but seriously, take the time to do it right. Just like your work in the field, rush it, and people will notice. Or worse, you’ll hire someone who thinks they’re doing a totally different job than you expected them to. And that, friends, is just a waste of time and money. Avoid that, avoid the miscommunication, and write a job description that is clear and concise.
Ask yourself – and more importantly, your managers – these questions (and approach them with how they help define success for you, your team, and your company).
- What will be their job title?
- Do you need a full-time or part-time employee? Year-round or seasonal?
- Who will this person report to?
- What issue is being solved by this new hire?
- What are 5-10 responsibilities in order of importance?
- What skills will lend themselves most to that responsibility?
- How much can you afford to train them?
- Is there a longer-term opportunity?
All of these answers will craft the description, and make sure you’re clear on just who you’re looking for… and then put them down in the same order, in a light structure:
- Job Title: [Question 1: Irrigation Service Tech II]
- This is a [Question 2: Full Time, Seasonal] position reporting to the [Question 3: Irrigation Service Manager]
- This role [Question 4: helps our clients repair irrigation systems, and creates opportunity by providing excellent customer service, increasing awareness and joy from our land through water efficient practice], and is a critical part of our family-owned business.
- This role is responsible for
- [Question 5: list of responsibilities]
- This role requires
- [Question 6: list of skills]
- Our company [Question 7: will provide on-the-job training, about both technical skills and business knowledge]
- [Question 8: For the right person, year-round work and career growth within our company are available]
- We’re excited to add someone to our growing team that shares our values of [list core values].
Now that you’ve clearly written down who you’re looking for, and what the work is, it’s time to find people.
The simple truth is that hiring friends and family brings complications. Sometimes, though, it makes a lot of sense. All we ask, and recommend, is that you’re thorough, fair, and consistent with every applicant, no matter who they are.
You’ve heard the phrase, “ask and ye shall receive?” Same deal. You have to ask for it. You have to tell people who you’re looking for. Ask employees, peers, your distributor… put it out there! This is how you find trusted referrals. It skips a few steps because you have someone already vouching for a candidate. And we know how important that is.
There are a million resources on finding people, but here are a few ways – besides the best way, word of mouth – that we’ve heard about from other contractors:
- Online job postings (e.g. Indeed.com)
- Post on social media (and ask people to share)
- Post on high school and college job boards (both digital and physical)…
- …and if they have a horticulture program, start talking to those teachers!
- Email a local Veterans Association
- Consider temp-to-hire companies, if that’s right for you
Again, the best way to find people is by word of mouth, but don’t limit yourself. Just be mindful of what types of people you may find in each platform or channel (different demographics, audiences, etc.), and of course, watch out for that cost! LinkedIn, for example, is probably not the best tool for you to find an irrigation tech, AND it’s expensive. This cost, and the timing related to it, needs to be a part of your plan.
Yes, timing. You’ll have to provide some level of training, even for an experienced hire (hard to find, we know), so don’t wait until your spring is, well, sprung, to bring people on board.
This is an excerpt from our Irrigation Business Guide: How To Hire Top Talent. To read on, visit: https://info.hindsitesoftware.com/irrigation-business-hiring-guide to learn about reviewing applicants, the interview process, as well as, onboarding and training.
If you’d like to increase your productivity, efficiency, & profit, then it might make sense to look beyond the people, and see how software can help you run your business.
FieldCentral was born out of the irrigation industry, from the pains a contractor endured while growing his business. It’s designed to help you control the chaos, connect with your customers, & maximize your revenue & hard work. We’d love to be a part of your team, too. Take a demo and learn more today