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View Full Version : Ever let your employees know what you charge?


pjslawncare/landscap
11-01-2006, 10:40 AM
Sometimes one of my guys will start asking what I charge for a lawn. I dont know about u, but if they arent a leadperson, I usually tell them something like "enough to have a little left over after all my business expenses are paid".
I dont mean to be rude or snooty, but a lot of guys think Im putting it all in my pocket and only paying them their $10 hr. How do u handle this?

MOW PRO LAWN SERVICE
11-01-2006, 10:48 AM
Never let your price out.

DFW Area Landscaper
11-01-2006, 11:00 AM
We print the price of the job on the schedule. Our workers are paid a set percentage of each job. They need to know how much they are getting paid on a lawn the first time or two they mow it. That way, we don't charge too little.

Occassionally, they will tell us we need to raise the price on a new client because the lawn was larger or more time consuming than we expected.

Additionally, when we pay our workers at the end of the week, they get a print out from Quickbooks that shows each address they mowed and what we charged.

In our market, you can pretty much assume that if someone is mowing a lawn, they are charging $25 or so. If my workers want to undercut someone on price and run their own business, they'd have just as much ability to steal my clients as they would someone elses.

If your workers are going to steal your customers there is little you can do about it. Either they are honest or they aren't. In our situation, a worker can go to the storage unit any time they want, punch in the gate code, drive off with an F-150 and trailer full of equipment never to be seen again. We have to trust our workers and we do.

Generally, I think people are trustworthy if you just give them a chance. If you treat people like thieves, they are liable to act like thieves.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

fearthedeere
11-01-2006, 11:07 AM
for me, it's the inevitable fact is that my helper will be around during client interactions, and he'll find out my rates. Lucky for me he's very trustworthy. I went over the situation with him a couple years ago, and told him that since he's going to know a lot of my pricing, that it is an honor and responsibility to him. It's an honor because I trust him, and resposibility because he doesn't need to be talking about my prices to anyone else...And he doesn't...not even his closest family that he may talk a lot about work with.

scott's turf
11-01-2006, 11:39 AM
We print the price of the job on the schedule. Our workers are paid a set percentage of each job. They need to know how much they are getting paid on a lawn the first time or two they mow it. That way, we don't charge too little.

Occassionally, they will tell us we need to raise the price on a new client because the lawn was larger or more time consuming than we expected.

Additionally, when we pay our workers at the end of the week, they get a print out from Quickbooks that shows each address they mowed and what we charged.

In our market, you can pretty much assume that if someone is mowing a lawn, they are charging $25 or so. If my workers want to undercut someone on price and run their own business, they'd have just as much ability to steal my clients as they would someone elses.

If your workers are going to steal your customers there is little you can do about it. Either they are honest or they aren't. In our situation, a worker can go to the storage unit any time they want, punch in the gate code, drive off with an F-150 and trailer full of equipment never to be seen again. We have to trust our workers and we do.

Generally, I think people are trustworthy if you just give them a chance. If you treat people like thieves, they are liable to act like thieves.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

How do you handle paying your employees if there are breakdowns, a job that you grossly misquoted, or jobs that you have to go back and fix because of quality issues? I could see where the employees may get **** for wages with this method. Don't get me wrong, I think it works out good for you but I am not sure if legally the labor laws allow such a method. Anyone else know more about this?

DBL
11-01-2006, 11:48 AM
sometimes they know sometimes they ask and we tell them but sometimes they dont and i dont really care they still get their hourly wage no matter what the job price is

nobagger
11-01-2006, 12:07 PM
I had a guy at the beginning of this season keep asking me how much for this,that, and everything else. I finally asked him "do ya want to start your own lawn care service or what?" He said no, so I told him quite asking! His mind frame was, well I'm mowing this lawn and your mowing that lawn (side-byside customer's) why am I not getting half of the total price. I asked him if he was nukinfuts! I then said ok if you want to split down the middle I'll give you half of every stink'in expense,bill and whatever else comes along for my business and you'll be responsible for paying half of everything! He never asked again!:hammerhead:

DFW Area Landscaper
11-01-2006, 12:09 PM
As for break downs, we have a spare truck, spare mowers, spare everything. Break downs are a non-issue for us. The only time loss is driving time to swap machines and our crews are never more than 10 or 15 minutes away, at most. The only thing we don't have a spare of is the trailer but we keep the leaf springs and lighting components on hand, which is about the only thing that ever causes a trailer to be non-functional. So even if a trailer breaks down, we can have it back in operation within an hour or two.

As for grossly misquoting a job, that isn't usually an issue. We don't do any shrub trimming or clean-ups on a firm price quote. Everything is done on an hourly charge. Our shrub-man gets paid the same way. We bill $36/man-hour for his labor. We buy mulch for $2.65 per bag and retail it for $4 per bag, plus a $60 delivery fee. Our shrub man gets a percentage of the markup and the delivery, same as he gets for his labor. Same thing for chemical treatments. The $60 delivery fee works well (actually a little too well) for a one-man operation but when we expand this to a two-man crew next year, the formula may need to be tweaked.

If our mowing crew shows up to mow the lawn and it's extremely overgrown they call on their cell, I call the client on their cell and get an ok to charge an hourly rate the first time. If the property should be $40 per cut, weekly, and we have quoted $25, weekly, we take the hit on the first cut, the crew tells us to raise the price, they come off the schedule until the client ok's the price hike. This happens very rarely. 95% of the lawns in my market are essentially $25 lawns.

From what I understand, most of the larger lawn mowing companies in my area are doing things this way, that is, the piece rate pay structure. The workers don't loaf with this arrangement and there is no need to micro-manage them. If they do poor quality work and the client complains, they go back for a free re-cut the next day, or, if a re-mow won't help, we issue a credit for the cut that was butchered.

Our workers seem to be happy with this arrangement. Turnover at the crew leader position is minimal and we have never had a crew leader quit (it's always been the other way around).

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Scag413
11-01-2006, 02:09 PM
I think that employees shouldn't know the prices you charge. Maybe the foreman of each crew who has earned your respect but nobody else. If I ever truely run my own business, I am 16, then I will include in the contract that they if they quit and run their own business, then they can't comeback to an of my accounts and underbid for like 2 years. If this is not in tact then they can take a hit for the first year by charging dirt cheap to build their business and then once it is built they raise their prices back up to what is reasonable.

rodfather
11-01-2006, 05:43 PM
I discuss my prices with only 2 people...myself when I am talking to myself and my CPA brother accountant.

Surf'n'Turf
11-01-2006, 05:48 PM
Mexicans generally don't ask such questions!

MOW PRO LAWN SERVICE
11-01-2006, 06:25 PM
LOL, that's funny what ever works for you but for me never let the price out and if you do you will always regret it,

muddstopper
11-01-2006, 07:06 PM
Just so everybody has something to think about. Last year I hired a couple of guys that used to work for a Lco. They knew all his pricing and all of his customers. On several different occassions they tried to get me to buy mowers and such so they could steal their old boss's customers. I have been thinking about starting a mowing company for a few years now, just never gotten around to it. But, what if??????.

By the way, these guys dont work for me anymore.

scott's turf
11-01-2006, 09:22 PM
As for break downs, we have a spare truck, spare mowers, spare everything. Break downs are a non-issue for us. The only time loss is driving time to swap machines and our crews are never more than 10 or 15 minutes away, at most. The only thing we don't have a spare of is the trailer but we keep the leaf springs and lighting components on hand, which is about the only thing that ever causes a trailer to be non-functional. So even if a trailer breaks down, we can have it back in operation within an hour or two.

As for grossly misquoting a job, that isn't usually an issue. We don't do any shrub trimming or clean-ups on a firm price quote. Everything is done on an hourly charge. Our shrub-man gets paid the same way. We bill $36/man-hour for his labor. We buy mulch for $2.65 per bag and retail it for $4 per bag, plus a $60 delivery fee. Our shrub man gets a percentage of the markup and the delivery, same as he gets for his labor. Same thing for chemical treatments. The $60 delivery fee works well (actually a little too well) for a one-man operation but when we expand this to a two-man crew next year, the formula may need to be tweaked.

If our mowing crew shows up to mow the lawn and it's extremely overgrown they call on their cell, I call the client on their cell and get an ok to charge an hourly rate the first time. If the property should be $40 per cut, weekly, and we have quoted $25, weekly, we take the hit on the first cut, the crew tells us to raise the price, they come off the schedule until the client ok's the price hike. This happens very rarely. 95% of the lawns in my market are essentially $25 lawns.

From what I understand, most of the larger lawn mowing companies in my area are doing things this way, that is, the piece rate pay structure. The workers don't loaf with this arrangement and there is no need to micro-manage them. If they do poor quality work and the client complains, they go back for a free re-cut the next day, or, if a re-mow won't help, we issue a credit for the cut that was butchered.

Our workers seem to be happy with this arrangement. Turnover at the crew leader position is minimal and we have never had a crew leader quit (it's always been the other way around).

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Do you pay time and a half past 40 hours? Do you have time cards for your employees? I paid my foreman a set salary this year because I knew that I was going to be short 40 hrs of work for him late in the year and I want a good guy. He has work a few weeks that totaled over 40 hrs but he was paid the same thing. I am hoping this is legal myself but I am not sure.

AintNoFun
11-01-2006, 09:25 PM
i dont think it matters... if they are gonna start there own business anyway chances are they will be underbidding you. i've had 3 or 4 guys over the years start there own biz's. two came back within a year and the others didn't make it into their second year. my guys know my pricing, it saves me from driving out if a neighbor wants price on cutting.....

glllc
11-01-2006, 09:29 PM
I NEVER let them know prices.

SodKing
11-01-2006, 09:32 PM
The general manager gets a full financial breakdown whenever he wants, generally at teh end of the year. He also sets the pricing for the services his divisions offers and rates of pay for his staff.

BareFeet
11-01-2006, 09:35 PM
its none of thier business

scott's turf
11-01-2006, 09:41 PM
I think it depends on the type of employee you have. My employee performs quotes for me so he has to know how I charge to make an informed bid.

BareFeet
11-01-2006, 10:04 PM
you have a good man..take care of him

dwlah
11-01-2006, 11:16 PM
I guess Im just wierd
When a customer hands me a check I just fold it in half and give it to my neighbor I work with when we finish the yard
when I started working with him it didnt matter to me what he charged this or that customer Now it still doesnt matter
But he has told me what he charges on the ones Im taking over next year after he retires
He volunteered the info I didnt ask
We have discussed pricing on some of my yards some Im low and some im about right and I was asking if I was too high/low(I call it a learning curve)

Gatewayuser
11-01-2006, 11:43 PM
I once saw one of my employees looking over at my job cost spread sheet and I told him it's non of his business his job is to do good work not to do the book keeping! He said sorry and I never had another problem again.

Richard Martin
11-02-2006, 08:11 AM
It's my opinion that the prices I charge are no-one's business but my own. I recently had 13 trees taken down. The guys who actually did the work inquired as to how much I was paying and offered up a figure that was about twice as much as I actually paid. I said "Sure, that's what Billy (the company owner) charged me." A couple of days later Billy said that his guys were giving him a hard time over pay and wanted a bigger cut of the money. I told him that I was partially to blame for that and told him about my conversation with his employees. I then told him the reason I didn't tell them the truth is that I thought it was none of their business how much I was being charged. They work by the day and get paid accordingly. Billy agreed and said he was going to take care of the "inquiring minds" and agreed that no customer should ever be questioned about billing by an employee.

This whole employee wanting to know the bosses business thing really ticks me off. I see it a lot. The one thing that really gets me mad is when the employees cry that the boss doesn't do enough work. I don't want to hear it. If the employees are jealous that the boss gets to take it easy (only in their own minds) then they should just put the time, effort, money and personal sacrifice forward to become an owner or boss themselves. You wanna be a peone, get paid like a peone.

scott's turf
11-02-2006, 08:35 AM
In my FT job as an engineer everyone knows the hourly rate that we are billed out at, which happens to be about 4X what we are paid. I think it is a bit of paranoia on our part to feel like if our employees know what we charge they will demand more or try to start up their own company. Does it happen? Of course but most employees are just that, employees. They don't have the ability or funds to start up a company.

georgiagrass
11-14-2006, 08:53 PM
How do you handle paying your employees if there are breakdowns, a job that you grossly misquoted, or jobs that you have to go back and fix because of quality issues? I could see where the employees may get **** for wages with this method. Don't get me wrong, I think it works out good for you but I am not sure if legally the labor laws allow such a method. Anyone else know more about this?


There is nothing illegal about a compensation system like the one described, provided that three conditions are met. First, the employer must keep accurate records of what hours were worked by each employee. Second, the total compensation must exceed the mininum wage for each hour worked on a per week basis. Third, the employer must pay one and one-half times the regular rate for each hour worked over forty hours in a work week. In this case, the regular rate is the total compensation paid in a week divided by the total hours worked in the week. Then calculate the overtime rate based on one and one-half times that rate. Evaluate the compensation based on these formulas then compare them to what the employee actually got paid. So long as the actual pay equals or exceeds the formula, your system is legal under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Of course, the analysis is slightly different in some states that have more stringent requirements than the federal rules. For instance, some states require that an employee get paid one and one-half the regular rate for all hours over eight in a day.

Hope this helps.

TNT LawnCare Inc.
11-14-2006, 09:53 PM
Yea sure i tell them so they can under bid me for next year:hammerhead: Ialso tell them how much i'am making off them per hour:nono:

S man
11-14-2006, 09:58 PM
My off and on employees and competitors ask me what I charge. I feel like telling them to get f...ed.

RICHIE K
11-15-2006, 06:51 AM
NEVER only my wife who runs the office

YardPro
11-15-2006, 08:15 AM
we are pretty open about our pricing with our long term employees...

we are also very open about our bills also....
if i get a guy that is asking about pricing, a always will start throwing out expenses first....