How to Run a Better Tree Service: Delegating to Your Employees
TRUST THAT YOUR EMPLOYEES CAN DO THE WORK
Owning a tree service is a lot of work? Am I right or am I right?!?! For all of the business owners who read our blog and our articles, hopefully, this one will help you with one of the biggest steps and biggest milestones a company owner can achieve. So am I referring to buying your first chipper? Nope. Perhaps buying your first bucket truck? Nope. Maybe it's buying a crane?!?! Not even close! The first major step that an owner can take to bring their tree service company to a whole new level is effectively delegating to employees the work that needs done and trusting your employees to take control and be responsible for the work site. Your company can only make it so far if you don't start placing that trust and responsibility with your employees!
YOUR EQUIPMENT IS EXPENSIVE, BUT SO IS YOUR TIME
Personally, delegating to employees was a really hard thing to do when I first started my company, which I'm sure plenty of you can relate to! I've spent hours and days working to build my company'more like my baby'into what it is today. Looking back, I had spent over $1,000,000 on equipment and the work was coming in like crazy, which is great' right? Sure, it's amazing to have two months worth of work on the docket, but sooner or later you are going to become burned out if you are the only one climbing the tree and then you are also running the mini skid steer when you get down and then you are the one coming back to grind the stump'you get the picture. And then, just for good measure, you have five jobs to go provide a quote for at after the job is done! This all adds up to valuable hours that are being spent to benefit your business, but not necessarily being spent wisely.
WHEN I SAW THE LIGHT
Reflecting on this scenario, early on in my business I would honestly climb the tree and my ground guy wouldn't touch the mini. Why's that you ask? Because I had just spent $30,000 on that piece of equipment and I didn't trust that delegating to employees wouldn't get my expensive equipment messed up! So I would climb the tree and no one would load any wood until I got down on the ground drive the mini and direct it! This is a waste of time and a huge error on my part because I was too scared to delegate running the piece of equipment to one of my employees. This error in management brought our production down and made each job last longer than needed. Now, after training my employee on how to properly run the mini and how best to load the trailer using it, the wood is almost always loaded by the time I have my gear packed up. All it took was an understanding that my employees were capable of doing the task, and doing it correctly!
Once you've started delegating to your employees new jobs and tasks, it's a good idea to let the process play out until the task is complete. By this I mean that everyone does a task a little differently than the next person. If you tell them what task needs to be completed and then constantly come back and micro manage what they are doing, a few things could happen, both of them bad: 1. They are going to feel that you don't think they are capable of completing the task; and/or 2. They won't be learning any responsibility. Both of these things can create a bad morale, which will slowly drag your entire company down.
FOSTER EMPLOYEE GROWTH AND A BETTER WORK ENVIRONMENT
Once I relinquished the reins and began confidently delegating to employees, I found that I could easily send my guys out to grind stumps and fully trust them to do the job as I would have done myself. This included my crew conducting an almost OCD type of cleanup to guarantee that my clients were very happy, giving me peace of mind that I don't to go back to check for quality control. This attention to detail also helps us land new clients because our cleanup speaks for itself! The most important thing I can convey is trying to foster a sense of responsibility in each employee so they have pride in their job and understand what a job site should look like when the job is done.
Being able to trust my employees to grind stumps was a small step that led me to further delegating responsibility. By utilizing and trusting them to go out and start doing small pruning jobs, it helped me realize that I didn't need to be on every single job to oversee the work. Why? Because my employees had watched me do this exact same thing hundreds of times, as well as heard me explain to them, new hires, friends, and clients exactly what I was doing and why I was doing it. They were certainly more than capable of doing it as well, but I was initially too scared to transfer that responsibility to them! Sure, it's scary at first and your employees are not as fast as you are'at first! However, I soon found that by opening up this new door with my company and with my employees, it has helped me run two crews on some days, as well as helped my employees with furthering their careers as well.
If you hire your employees and expect them to drag brush and rake for the next 30 years, you are going to be continually looking for new employees. Sure, there are those occasional few who are happy doing the most basic amount of ground work for the rest of their lives, but most of the time they are looking to expand their horizons just as you are looking to expand your business! We humans love to learn new things and, even more, we love to feel a sense of accomplishment. By effectively delegating to your employees, you are giving them a newfound sense of worth and growing their worth to you as a company owner as well!