6 Entrepreneurs Share Their Hiring and Employee Engagement Strategies

Image of Clearview Washing team

Hiring, the topic that makes every entrepreneur grimace. We don’t have a silver bullet to make this process foolproof, but we do have proven tips from experienced business owners.

We interviewed business owners across various industries, asking for their takes on hiring, retention, and motivating employees.

This post is part of our #jobbersmallbizmonth series where we interviewed successful business owners and industry experts on the topics that matter most to entrepreneurs in the home services. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop!

Here are 9 areas to consider when hiring that they covered:

1. Ask yourself if now is the time to hire
2. Create security for your employees
3. Build an attractive company culture
4. Motivate employees with incentives and bonuses
5. Read this before you hire a consultant
6. Create a career path
7. Take care of your best employees
8. Be smart about postings and interviews
9. Talk to other entrepreneurs

1. Ask yourself if now is the time to hire

“Is it more valuable of you to go do the work or is it valuable for you to go get more jobs? Or is it more valuable for you to figure out planning for the next year or plan for the month? Where are you going to create the biggest impact in your business? Is it doing the work or is it getting more work? Or is planning the work or scheduling? Or is it maintenance, or what is it?” – Edward Ramsden, Jobber and Enviro Masters Lawn Care

“Like everyone always talks about, you’re working in your business, not on your business. You kind of get sucked into that and you’re not looking at the company as a whole. You’re just worried about that day and that job.

Once I was able to take that step back and I had the right people in place, employees, an operations manager, and the office staff … It’s changed a lot, because now, with someone doing the operations, the guys report to him, and then he reports to me. It weeds out all the day-to-day little things that tie me up that are taking me away from working on a game plan, trying to land this job, working with the sales team, and all that stuff. It was a really big help.” – Fred Hodge, Clearview Washing

“Understand what that person’s roles and responsibilities are and what the value is that they’re going to be bringing in. Is it something where they’re taking on work so that it frees up your time to go and bring in more work? Or is it to service an existing job or future jobs? Understand what that value is and if it makes sense from a dollars perspective that’s when you should pull the trigger.” – Quan Ly, McRally Accounting

READ MORE: How to hire your first employee

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2. Create security for your employees

“Our staff want a consistent paycheck. They don’t want to work two days a week, and then work five days a week and not have consistency of what they’re bringing home for a paycheck. They have bills to pay, as well. So I think about well, can I justify bringing a new employee on? Are they going to have enough work for me to keep them busy? Or can I find someone who wants to work part-time?

Be really honest with people—do you have enough work to keep them busy? You have a responsibility to them, as well.” – Edward Ramsden, Jobber and Enviro Masters Lawn Care

“I think by providing a good job, a secure job, a job that is from 8 to 5, no weekends, with as good a pay as we can pay in the industry—that’s good for our employees, and when those two are clicking, it’s good for us, too, as owners.” – Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid

“We have guys that have been with us six, seven years now. We have a system in place. Obviously, New Jersey, we lose a couple months in the winter, but we’re able to make sure that they’re taken care of throughout the year. They know what they’re coming back to, a steady stream of work, the environment, and they want to be a part of that.” – Fred Hodge, Clearview Washing

“With employees, there’s actually two approaches that you can take. Do you hire when you have the cash flow for it, or do you kind of take a leap of faith and hire them hoping that the cash flow will come in to cover it? We’ve done both. Our clients have done both. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. There’s pros and cons to each.

Obviously ideally if you have the cash flow to hire them. And I say cash flow, not cash, because you need to know that you have a steady stream of income coming in every month to cover that cash out every month as well. You want to make sure that you have a stable revenue base that can generate that cash flow consistently to cover that salary.

The downside with waiting until you have the cash flow to do it is your need might have been six months ago when you needed that help. And it always takes time to train people up just with your internal processes…

So if you know you’re going to be making an extra 20 grand in August, and you know you have the cash now [in May] to cover the salary for the next three months, you can make that decision to hire. And by August, by the time that work comes in, they’re already trained up and good to go to deliver for you.” – Quan Ly, McRally Accounting

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3. Build an attractive company culture

“We have Clearview Day, in August, where we go to the pool. I rent out a place at the pool, let them order all the food. We play some volleyball, some basketball, go swimming. The guys have a great time.

… We pick a day to clean the shop. We blast music. Everyone’s assigned to different jobs. These guys are cleaning the trucks. These guys are doing inventory. These guys are fixing stuff that’s broken. Afterward, we’ll all go grab pizza, and they appreciate that. It really goes a long way with the morale.” – Fred Hodge, Clearview Washing

“If they see a bunch of smiling faces and a well-stocked refrigerator full of Gatorades, waters, and snacks, they’ll like that a lot. Also, the education side of it. If they see that we’re traveling for education, or we’re doing weekly meetings every Monday that host education, I think they like to think that they could go somewhere and become better at their craft.

Being transparent through social media, and showing what your company represents, I think looks really enticing to a lot of future employees.” – Greg Villafana, Pool Chasers

“We all have the same goal in mind. Everyone wants success. Everyone wants efficiency. Everyone wants an easier work day. Everyone fights a process, but there’s actually a study out there that shows that happy employees have a process. Unhappy employees do not have a process. They don’t have direction. So, you fight the process, but you’re actually happier with it.” – Christine Hodge, Clearview Washing

“The parts that I think that we have done well on is systematizing the kind of rewards and promotions and things that our employees care about, and it’s all part of our corporate culture. Everything is based on three factors: one is that this job is bigger than just cleaning someone’s home. I mean, we really help make people’s lives better, and that’s what we want to always encourage.” – Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid

READ MORE: Learn how to build a business where employees want to work

“From an operations standpoint, you’re only as good as your weakest link. We learned, and I stress that when I meet the guys, we want team players. I used to get, back five or six years ago, ‘I don’t want to work with this guy. I don’t want to work with that guy,’ and I refuse to do that anymore. We set certain standards. I will not tolerate not showing up, not calling. That’s not even an option anymore. We set the standards that we need for things and stuck to it.” – Fred Hodge, Clearview Washing

“If you have things that you need to do, we have time off for you to do that, but it needs to be scheduled, because our life is all scheduled. Our business is all about schedules. So, as long as you schedule things, we can work with just about anything that you need.

… We don’t see this a lot in the cleaning business, that people offer paid time off; although, I will tell you, every business that I would say is really successful offers paid time off.” – Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid

Image of My Amazing Maid Employees
The My Amazing Maid team.

4. Motivate employees with incentives and bonuses

“We offer a 50 cent per hour bonus to our senior house cleaners, and it’s 100 per cent determined by customer complaints. You don’t have any customer complaints? You get the 50 cents per hour.” – Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid

“We actually had day sheets for them, so they would have to fill out, ‘I checked the oil in the truck. I checked the tire pressure. At the end of the day I took all the garbage out of the vehicle.’

The vehicle was cleaned once a week. Those sort of things, and we would have a checklist for them. We gave them a point system for a bonus. We paid them more if they got more jobs done.” – Edward Ramsden, Jobber and Enviro Masters Lawn Care

“You need some rewards that aren’t money. It doesn’t actually have to be like a prize. It can be an event, or it can be an experience.” [Editor’s note: Most recently, Royce and his wife and co-owner, Tamara, took their top cleaning staff to New York City for the weekend] – Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid

“We started using NiceJob [a review app that integrates with Jobber], and all the reviews that come in, you basically make sure that the guys are getting rewarded for that. We’re getting tons, and tons, and tons of five-star reviews.

We have an employee of the month, we bring out a crisp $100 bill, put it in front of everyone, and basically say to everyone who it is for the month. Everyone starts applauding the guy that wins, and we go through the reason of why they won. We just, overall, develop a really good culture.” – Fred Hodge, Clearview Washing

5. Read this before you hire a consultant

“[When hiring business advisors such as a Google Adwords consultants] you need to understand all those things that you’re asking other people to do at a basic level. How they work—so you can have an educated discussion, and you actually get the value out of them. So you’re doing more than just paying them to do a task. You’re actually paying them for advice at this point.” – Edward Ramsden, Jobber and Enviro Masters Lawn Care

“If you’ve never gone out to hire someone to help you out before it can be scary, and you kind of have to do it at some point. Whether it’s hiring out a bookkeeper, getting a marketing person, or a sales person on your team.

Keep in mind that a lot of times when you’re hiring someone it’s an investment. You hire the sales person, they’re going to generate more sales. The question is how long can you afford to hire or keep them on your payroll before that sale starts to come in?

With bookkeeping, something that seems so simple, it could take like 10 hours of your time a month, but if you pay someone $20, $50 an hour that costs you $200 to $500 a month. But that 10 hours a month that you free up for yourself you can go out and maybe sell 10 grand worth of work. And that pays for the bookkeeper 20 times over.” -Quan Ly, McRally Accounting

6. Create a Career Path

“We need to give folks a career path, because there are plenty of people who make housecleaning a career. It can be a very good career if you need a flexible schedule: you need to be working eight to five, Monday through Friday, not working the evenings, not working on weekends.” – Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid

“We also take into account, based on the interviews, if we see potential in someone moving up from a field crew member to a team leader. Each crew has a team leader, and those are the ones that may start a little bit higher [in terms of compensation]. We really take into account, during the interview process, where their skill sets are. That’s where we determine this is someone we want to be with us long term, this is where we’re going to start [their pay], and everyone has the opportunity to grow in our company.” – Christine Hodge, Clearview Washing

7. Take care of your best employees

“You probably are not going to be able to roll a comprehensive program out to all of your employees at one time. What we did is we put our employees in groups and we said, ‘Which are the employees that absolutely we don’t want to leave?’ And we rolled this out to them first: We raised their pay. We gave them all the benefits. And we’re gradually rolling that down through the company.

… That’s worked out really well, and it does allow us to give some extra benefits to the people at the top; but again, if you look at any organization — I don’t care if you have five people or 20 people — there’s some folks in there that you absolutely want to take care of, and I would just recommend that you take care of the people that you can afford to take care of now, and then over time, you just try to shift that through your whole organization.” – Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid

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8. Be smart about postings and interviews

“We use an online software that’s like Jobber is to scheduling, to the human resource profession. And the nice thing about that is it advertises all of our jobs through Indeed and Glassdoor, and I think that leads to most of our quality employees that aren’t referrals. Obviously, someone who’s recommended by an employee… those tend to be some of the better ones, but we don’t get a lot of that.” – Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid

“We said, ‘let’s try and weed out the people who aren’t going to be a good fit.’ Now we take resumes. We have an initial phone meeting with me, where I ask them a set of questions. We have a script of questions. If they get past me, then I schedule a face-to-face with Freddy.

That would be the face-to-face meeting, just a few questions. From there, we go into an employee manual training as well as a field training, then they’re out with the crews. This is something we did not do before, but it’s very surprising to see how much success we’ve had now finding the right people for us. I think 60% are great on the phone and then just never even show up to the face-to-face interview. That right there just tells us, ‘Okay. Good. That one just wasn’t a good fit.’” – Christine Hodge, Clearview Washing

9. Talk to other entrepreneurs

“Getting crews to do timecards is a universal problem. I don’t care if you’re a home cleaner or if you’re a contracting company, your crews are not probably going to enjoy doing time entry.

You have similar struggles, so go out and find industries you don’t think are related to yours and talk shop with business owners. People are very friendly, I find. Go find those common pain points. They may not have the exact same solution, but everybody’s hiring people and people also have the same psychological needs, right? They want to be good at their job. They want to have mastery, they want to have autonomy. That’s the same, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. People have the same motivation to work for you.” – Edward Ramsden, Jobber and Enviro Masters Lawn Care

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