Gas cans and hiring

Departments - Ask the Experts

ASK THE EXPERTS is presented in partnership with PLANET’s Trailblazers On Call program. Trailblazers are industry leaders who volunteer their time and expertise to give back to the industry. Have a question for the experts? Send it to

April 11, 2011

Q. We are a small maintenance company (four employees). Currently, our crews take two gas cans into the field – a 2.5-gallon mix can and a 1-gallon regular gas can. I am looking at purchasing metal safety cans. Should we get the gas cans with a roll cage or, since we are required to strap them down, just get the regular ones? Any light you can shed on regulation and safety would help.

A. When it comes to  a secure gas can system for his trucks and utility trailers, if your employees are always aware of the need to strap down both of the gas cans in question, you don’t need to spend the extra money on gas can roll or protective cages.

Gas cans become more expensive when you add the cages, and if you purchases good quality safety cans, you should be fine.

It is not a matter of training the workers on the strap requirement; it is important that crew members are constantly reminded about this important safety consideration every day they are out on the job and moving from site to site.

You should monitor the gas cans whenever you visit job sites and provide the constant safety reminder to the crew members.

Sam Steel, PLANET Safety Consultant


Q. How can I stay competitive when hiring new employees? I’m having a hard time finding employees – specifically because the oil fields in this area offer jobs at great starting salaries. I am facing competition from startup, one-man operations.

A. The key to successful recruiting is using as many avenues to find the people you need. There is no “best way,” just a lot of different approaches. There are good people out there, but it will take time and creativity to find them.

Your challenge is finding competent people who will be able to deliver commendable service to your customers – a task easier said than done. Here are some basic recruiting tips:

Staff referrals.
Your current staff is a great source for finding new people. Statistics have shown that referrals have the lowest turnover rate. Offer cash incentives for referring people. One word of caution: Do not blame the referring employee if the new employee does not work out. It was your decision to hire that person.

Newspaper ads.
Newspaper ads can be a hit or miss. It is a good idea to have several different ads put together. Try placing a darker border around the ad or change its size and placement. Have the ad placed under different headings.

Instead of using “landscaping,” try “general labor” or “driver.” Newspaper ads have their place, but do not rely on them as your only source of new employees. You will be sadly under-staffed if you do.

Never stop recruiting.
Look for recruiting opportunities during your normal day-to-day activities. Always keep a supply of business cards with you and hand them out when you happen upon an individual that impresses you. Retail businesses, convenience stores or restaurants usually hire people that like to work with the general public. If you come across someone who appears bright, energetic, and enthusiastic, hand out your business card and say, “Give me a call if you are looking for a change.”

Be creative.
Local junior colleges often have help wanted bulletin boards. Make up a small poster and put it up. Talk with the financial aid office and see if it keeps a list of employers that offer jobs to students who have a financial need. Create a “Help Wanted” poster and put it up in churches, on community bulletin boards or any place that people gather. Put it on your truck so people will see it as you drive around your community.

Talk with vendors, suppliers, bankers, friends, insurance agents or anyone else you meet on a regular basis and tell them you are looking for employees. You want to get the information to a person who meets with many other people. Use these people as your own “private” recruiting company. Good recruiting is just the first step. Then comes interviewing, hiring and, finally, training the new employee.

It is critical to the success of the process that professionalism and image be addressed 100 percent of the time. Is your office neat and clean, or is it a mess with papers piled all over the desk? If your ad states that your company is a premier place to work and the office looks like a tornado just hit, it will not project a good image for the recruit.

Turnover will occur on a regular basis. Be prepared for this and plan accordingly. If possible, overstaff at the beginning of the year. Never stop looking for new people who may be as good, if not better, as those who you currently have on staff.
Do not wait until you are short of people to start recruiting. You know it will happen, and it will happen at the worst possible time, so take time now to get your recruiting process in place.

Harold A. Enger, Spring-Green Lawn Care Corp.