What Are Tailgate Talks And How They Can Help Your Business

Landscaping team meeting at tailgate

Great businesses are built on great communication. Creating a strong foundation of communication contributes to a positive company culture of trust, and landscapers need to trust each other in order to get the job done. Tailgate Talks are one way of aligning your landscape business to make sure the standards of safety are being met across the board, allowing crew members to hold each other accountable for their safety and well-being on site. We’ll check out what Tailgate Talks are, how they can help your landscape business, and ways to run quick and easy Tailgate Talk sessions.

What Is A Tailgate Talk?

A Tailgate Talk (sometimes called a toolbox talk) is a quick, face-to-face stand-up meeting with crew members. Tailgate Talks are usually held at the beginning of the workday and are used to communicate goals, project details, and safety messages. While they don’t always happen this way, the name refers to the practice of meeting by the back of a pickup truck on a job site.

Tailgate Talks are used by crew leaders or managers to:

• Set goals and objectives for a project or job.

• Outline scope of work and expectations on site.

• Inform crew members of any safety concerns or hazards associated with a job.

• Act as team-building opportunities.

• Provide crew leaders or managers the opportunity to have face-to-face time with landscape crew members.

• Review elements of policy and procedure (e.g. your emergency action plan).

• Establish a crew leader or manager as a safety authority.

Tailgate talks are an important piece of any landscape training program. Used correctly, they can reduce the risk of workplace injuries, increase productivity, and strongly contribute to a positive team environment. Make sure to keep it engaging as tailgate talks may be seen as little more than a distraction or waste of time. Safety training and conversations are a tough sell to a crew, but keeping your crew’s health and wellbeing in mind helps attract top talent.

Here are some tips that you can use to make the most of your Tailgate Talks.

Tip #1: Prepare Your Tailgate Talks

Nobody wants to sit through a weak presentation, especially one about safety and expectations. Ummms and awkward long pauses can lose your audience, and knowing what you’re talking about beforehand can reduce the chances of losing your audience.

Have a brief agenda of what you need to communicate to your team or crew, even if you’re the only one that sees it. Having something written down (or at least planned) will help you communicate efficiently and effectively. It will also help ensure you don’t miss anything important, particularly if you’re like the 75% of people who have anxiety about speaking in public.

Tip #2: Know The Safety Hazards Around Your Job Site

Knowing your job site hazards is a general safety procedure crew leads and landscape business owners should complete, and this exercise naturally transfers to prepping Tailgate Talks. The safety of your landscaping crew should be your top priority, and communicating those hazards can lower the chances of hospital visits, insurance claims, and overall preventable mistakes on every landscaping job. 

Take the time to know the job site yourself, including how the natural terrain and the particular job being performed may contribute to safety risks. If there’s a particularly steep embankment that your crew needs to be aware of, make sure you know exactly where it is and how it will affect their work. Jot them all down and share the info with the rest of the crew.

Bonus tip: When it comes to safety risks associated with hot weather, Tailgate Talks can be the perfect time to hand out an extra water bottle and squirt of sunscreen.

Tip #3: Keep Your Tailgate Talks Short

Nothing can crush morale quite like a long meeting. Make sure that you keep things moving in your Tailgate Talks and communicate with purpose only the things your crew needs to know. While there are occasionally times when you want to run things fast and loose, be aware that jokes and side commentary can quickly derail a meeting. If your meetings continue to get away from you, consider leaving a couple of minutes at the end of a tailgate talk for a joke, special announcement, or to open up for questions from the crew. Tailgate Talks are supposed to help improve productivity, not waste valuable time at the beginning of the day.

Tip #4: Limit Public Speaking Opportunities

The person leading the talk should be in control of any crew participation. Questions and clarifications are fine, but make sure you limit the opportunity for a chatty crew member to run away with your meeting or for bored participants to speak out of turn. Encourage questions, but ask that people save them for the end of the Tailgate Talk. Keep the Q&A short as well. If anyone has a particular question that isn’t relevant to your agenda, ask that they discuss it with you in private or add it to a future talk.

Tip #5: Share The Role

If you’re stressing about coming prepared to every Tailgate Talk, let someone else help you prepare for the next one. Nothing boosts culture quite like collaboration. Ask a crew member to pay special attention to potential safety risks. Ask another team member to help you identify goals and objectives for a project. Assigning responsibility to different crew members can give them the sense that they have a special role in the completion of a job and can help you identify who has the leadership qualities your landscaping business needs.

Tip #5: Give Positive Feedback And Praise

Everyone likes to know they’re doing a good job. Providing positive feedback and rewarding crew members with praise are great ways to create a positive working environment. Giving positive employee performance reviews also lets people know that you’re paying attention and that the work a crew member is doing has a purpose. There’s a big difference between praise and flattery, so be genuine about the praise you give. Even if a mistake is worth highlighting, spin it positively as a lesson learned for the entire crew. 

Tip #6: Let Greenius Help Your Tailgate Talks

Greenius has a comprehensive library of Tailgate Talks to provide your crew leaders with content on more than 100 topics that will improve your crew’s safety, productivity, and knowledge. Use the Greenius program to keep your talk on track, record site notes, and get crew members to sign off on the content. You can also use the Greenius platform to create your own Tailgate Talks using an easy step-by-step process.

Tailgate Talks are just the start. Develop your crew’s skills and grow your business with Greenius landscaping training software. Sign up now for your very own FREE Greenius account.