3 questions to prepare you for your first hire


September 28, 2023

Illustration: OksanaOO/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Illustration: OksanaOO/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

So, you’re ready to expand and hire that first employee. Good for you!

If you are like me, taking this step is exciting and scary all at the same time. You’ve worked hard to get to this point, and a decision like this can be a bit overwhelming. Questions arise, such as: What if I can’t pay him or her? What if I don’t get enough business to sustain two incomes? What if my customers reject my choice?

I’ve been there and done that. But I knew that if wanted to grow, I just couldn’t be in two places at one time. If that sounds like you, there is only one solution: Make the move, and work even harder and smarter than you ever have before.

Seek answers to three questions

There I was, some 30 years ago. It was time to duplicate myself and grow my fledgling business. The questions I had then should be the same you face now:

1. What is the position your firm needs to fill first? For me, it was a technician so I could focus more on the business at hand. You, however, may need a customer service representative (CSR) or a salesperson, if you’re fine staying alone out in the field. Not all situations are the same, so taking the time to identify what your biggest need is will be a critical step forward.

Jerry Schappert

Jerry Schappert, ACE

2. When should it happen? Choosing the wrong time will bring you all the same results you’re dealing with now. Do you wait until you’re exhausted, doing the work of two people? Do you take your new hire on Day One and just go for it? I’ve seen it done successfully. Are you waiting to hit a magic number where — at least on paper — hiring another person looks feasible? Is your family on board with this extra business expense? You must reach inside yourself and be honest: Are you ready and willing to work it like at no other time?

3. Whom should it be? Once someone drives off with your vehicle wearing a shirt with your logo, it can be nerve wracking. My best advice is: Don’t overthink it and don’t micromanage them. Doing so will only add to your angst, often creates tension or resentment, and it will all flow down to your customers eventually. Vet the choices you have. When enough boxes are checked, that’s the one to hire. Things will not be perfect and they will not end up doing everything exactly like you. All in all, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as labels are followed and your clients are satisfied. Take the time to conduct interviews, take them on a ride-along for a day, and, as best you can, see whether they’re a good fit.

Adding an employee is a big step, and you don’t want to strike out. So, get your game plan in order when it’s time to step up to the plate.

The Pest Cemetery Crew

“Before you decide to hire, you better be honest with yourself. Can you be a good boss? Are you disciplined in paying your bills? If not, you won’t be disciplined in making payroll. I have seen plenty of small businesses fail because they did not train themselves to be a good administrator.”
— Brent Towle, Master Technician and Owner, Spectrum Pest Control Eco-Tech, Kenosha, Wis.

“With automation and advanced customer relationship management (CRM) tools, a technician should be hired first. You need control of that first interaction with customers because you are the company at that level. Most administrative stuff is easy and accessible on mobile.”
— Aaron Veal, ACE, Owner, Phoenix Pest Control, Maryville, Tenn.

“It’s not a ‘financial hit’ if you’re growing. That would be called an investment.”
— Geffry Gorman, Owner, Green Flag Services, Orlando, Fla.

“When you hire, you should be in a financial position to pay a living wage. Having said that, it would go hand-in-hand that you probably are extremely overworked to the point the business is starting to suffer stunted growth.”
— Kenny Vance, Owner, Pest Control Excellence, Bryan, Ohio

About the Author

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SCHAPPERT is owner of The Bug Doctor, Ocala, Fla., and administrator for Facebook industry discussion group Pest Cemetery. He may be reached at bugdoctor@embarqmail.com.

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