#Hiring in the Field
“In our field you need someone who is honest and hardworking. It’s a field job, you need someone who will get a call from a farmer and will go knowing he’s not sure he’ll get the client”
Anyone working in Agriculture knows that hiring in this field can be very different than hiring for office work. This is a critical element of scalability. You might have a great product or service, but if you don’t have the right team representing you in the fields and rural areas, you can’t function and you certainly can’t grow.
##Hiring the Right People
Brian Bett’s company Illuminum Greenhouses Kenya has developed a business around not just manufacturing greenhouses, drip irrigation systems, and the sensor arrays which go along with them, but on servicing those farmers with agronomists in the field. Doing that requires hiring both the agronomists and the technicians required to build greenhouses and irrigation systems.
These people are the face of the business and their performance makes or breaks it. Here’s how Bett hires them:
###1: Ask your partners for introductions and references.
This is going to get you your first, and likely best, people to start off in the hiring process. Bett also used facebook ads to supplement that list and find good people.
###2: Interview to test their knowledge.
Bett and his co-founder quickly learned that a person’s degrees, or knowledge on paper, didn’t necessarily translate into a good hire. The interviews he conducted focused on their experiences, how they respond to specific questions about materials or farming practices. Some of Bett’s best hires had no high school education but performed better than their peers.
“He had done his homework, he had researched, we have a procedure, he did everything as we do but he was not a current employee”
###3: Give them a paid trial.
Once you’re happy with someone based on their interviews, it’s time to get them into the field and see how their experience works in practice. At this stage you need to pair them with a more experienced employee. They might work with your head technician for 6 months, so it’s absolutely essential that technician is satisfied with their work. Still, paying them for this trial period helps ensure they take this trial period seriously.
###4: Do random checks.
“Most important, get the clients to rate your staff, so [you] have customer feedback which lets farmers rate the technician on a scale of 1-10. You only stick to those rated 9 and above.”
Always keep them accountable and aware that you won’t accept anything but the best when it comes to customer interactions. If those farmers lose faith in your business, that’s the end. If you show them reliable quality and follow through, they will become loyal customers.
Can you relate to the stories we told here? How is your experience different? We’d love to hear from you. Your questions and comments are what will help us make better lessons in the future.