Plan carefully and communicate well to retain key employees during growth
Staffing a pest management service is always a challenge, and the challenges multiply when the business is growing. Determining at what point more employees are needed is both an art and a science.
There’s the science of cost: Does the amount of new business cover the cost of a new employee? And then there is the art of balancing workloads before new employees are hired: Am I overwhelming current employees to the point that they will leave for a more manageable job?
Although the most obvious staffing strategy is to look for new employees when there is enough work to justify the cost, Jim Swayne, owner of Safer Home Services, a Clearwater, Florida-based pest management firm, has a different philosophy. “I am in the talent acquisition and people development business, and my people just happen to work for a pest management firm,” he says. “I am always recruiting, even when I don’t have a position open.”
For example, Swayne met the person who is now his office manager six years ago – long before he needed an office manager. Working for another company at the time, Swayne told her that he liked the way she did business and may need her skills in the future. Years later, after his company began growing, he offered her a position.
“I have worked with and trained a lot of people in my 30 years in the industry, and I never burn any bridges so my pool of potential employees is large,” says Swayne. He has also been known to hire someone before the workload justifies it because the person is available. “Good employees don’t look for a new position for long so sometimes it makes good sense to hire them when they are available if you know your business is growing.”
Swayne’s business has been continuously growing since he started it three years ago with himself as the only employee to today with 15 employees. His goal is to build a multiple-location, regional company so he will continue looking to retain the staff he has while he adds new employees.
By Sheryl S. Jackson