Like A Boss: Making Time For Employee Training


Finding the time to properly train a new employee is never easy — but during the busy season it’s almost impossible. The management at Snow & Sons Tree & Landscaping, headquartered in Greenfield, Massachusettes, found themselves in a conundrum. When work was at its busiest, they needed more employees. But they were too busy to put in the time to properly train them. That’s when the idea for creating training videos was born.

“When busy season was upon us, it would become very difficult to find time to train new employees properly,” says Abby Gilbert, gardening division manager for the company. “We would do our best to take the time with new employees and show them what they would be doing — but it was a challenge.”

Two years ago, the company began to make training videos that provided a “visual demonstration,” says Gilbert. This has included proper ways to park and unload a truck, how to hook up a truck and trailer, or even the proper way to mulch a garden from start to finish. Gilbert says that using this visual training procedure has been a great way for new employees to learn techniques even if there wasn’t a lot of time to spend with them for field training.

Gilbert says the videos have absolutely helped improve their training efforts and have been relatively easy to make. The biggest thing is that the videos take time, so they work on them in the off-season and during unexpected down time. Gilbert and another manager are in charge of producing the videos, which typically feature employees performing a task in the field. After recording employees working, Gilbert uses a program called Movie Maker to edit the film. This allows her to add text or pause certain areas of the film to emphasize a point.

“Once completed, we copy it to a flash drive which we can play through a television that is set up in our training room,” Gilbert explains. “We have every new employee watch these training videos. We’ve gotten good feedback about them being helpful.”

Going forward, Gilbert says the company hopes to have more employees get involved as the idea has really taken off. In fact, they’re even considering using a GoPro in the field so that the videos could show work being done from a more personal perspective.

“It’s a work in progress,” Gilbert admits. “But we feel we’re off to good start considering we have never done anything like this before.”

Our Like a Boss series highlights some common business challenges landscape professionals face and how they conquer them.