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A wealth habit that’s worth repeating

Tony Bass

By Tony Bass

Most contractors agree that having “better employees” would make their company work better. But with unemployment rates at an 18-year low, an expanding economy that creates job openings on every street corner and an unreliable guest worker program, many of us feel “stuck” when the thought of “better” employees crosses our mind. Should we simply be satisfied with the team we have?

Finding and keeping employees should be easier. As an employer, you should get respect, loyalty and quality work without having to beg, plead and eventually threaten the folks on your payroll.

I understand how frustrating it can be as an employer. You give someone a job and you pay them while you help develop their skills. You give them a chance to find joy in serving others. And then BOOM – a no show or a text message with “I quit.” What can you do?

As an employer for 31 years, I’ve had the blessed opportunity to write over 25,000 payroll checks. And, I smile each time I sign those checks. Writing payroll checks gives you an opportunity to establish a “behavior agreement.” When employees follow the behavior you desire, they help you serve customers and you write them a check. If these employees help you serve enough customers, your ability to become wealthy from contracting gets easier. The more payroll checks you write, the more likely you’ll become wealthy, or so it seems.

Unfortunately, many contractors ignore or misunderstand the fast and easy way to acquire wealth. It’s a fairly simple concept: “Train your employees.” If you want their behavior to match your needs – they must be trained! Training is NOT easy to do. It takes the same level of discipline required to lose weight or to become a professional athlete. Practice, practice, practice.

A world class training program has 3 essential parts:

  1. A place – almost every wealthy contractor creates a dedicated training space.
  2. A time – almost every wealthy contractor follows a well-planned training schedule.
  3. Training materials – adult education success requires that all training materials include auditory, visual, kinesthetic and repetition in its delivery to employees.

To improve your company training program, it might help to look at a poor example of training. It’s when you bring on a new person and say, “Get in the truck. Jose’ will show you what to do when you get there.”

Working with over 300 landscape business owners since 1998, I’ve seen what works when it comes to the wealth habit called “training.” To get consistent and compliant behavior from your employees, start your training system with the basics.

For example, behavior training must include written instructions covered in your company handbook. Work hours, record keeping, how to behave when the weather gets bad, your uniform policy, the proper way to talk to a customer, how to report mistakes and how to follow safety procedures are a great place to start. This type of detailed instruction is best delivered seated inside a climate-controlled environment with an attentive instructor and written process to follow.

Many contractors miss the mark with their training program because they look at training as a “cost.” They try to get by with covering basic topics like behavior or uniform training 1 time. This rarely works. Exceptional companies look at training as an “investment.” They allocate time for training on a repetitive, daily or weekly basis.

If you question the need for repetitive training on a topic like “uniform,” then I invite you to study the winningest coach of all time, John Wooden. His coaching program began with detailed verbal instruction on putting on “socks.” Each player had the chance to listen and watch the proper way to put on socks. Then each player had to practice putting on socks with the instructor watching. They were coached on improving and perfecting “sock.” This process was repeated over and over.

Coach Wooden explained to his players, “You can’t play your best game with blisters.” Even superstar players like Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar repeated this training year after year, even after they had won championships.

If you’re frustrated with employees and falling short of your wealth goals, then you should revisit your approach to training. If you would like further instructions on how to build your own training materials following the 4 adult education techniques described above, then use this link to access an on-demand webinar: SuperLawnToolKit.com/tye-replay/.


Tony Bass is the founder of Super Lawn Technologies. He is the co-author of The E-Myth Landscape Contractor: Why Most Landscape Companies Don’t Work and What To Do About It. Email Tony@TonyBassConsulting.com or call (478) 822-9706.