View Full Version : Good help?

07-14-2002, 07:55 PM
I am a solo operator, but would love to have some good help. My problem is; I have gone through 5 people this year. Some could not do the job correctly and some just quit showing up. I may be a poor manager/teacher, but I am very laid back and easy to get along with. I am however, very picky about quality of work. I show them how I want the job done, and they never do it right. I have a high schooler who has worked with me temp. for the past 3 years and I have to show him how to use the trimmer every time he helps. He works very hard, but he does not have the "Eye" you must have in this business. If there is long grass cut it. I spend more time inspecting their work than it would take to do the work myself. Anyway, does anyone else have this problem? If so, how do you combat it. Am I missing something in my way of thinking. Do not hold back lay it on me.

07-14-2002, 11:06 PM
I have no help for you, but a question to sorta help me out with something.

Are these full time or part time helpers you're talking about?

robert payer
07-14-2002, 11:23 PM
Let new workers know that the first three weeks are only a trial. They will need to work harder. Higher wages are not the answer either. Raises only after 30 days. When interviewing ask prospect what motivates them. This might also help a great deal.

07-15-2002, 12:05 AM
i dont really agree robert, ask them in the interview what motovates them??? money...

07-15-2002, 12:12 AM
wattsup it sounds like my experience with workers. Pretty much impossible to find good help. I can tell you a higher wage aint the only answer. Last year I paid $10 for help that was worth $5.50. This year it is $8 for help that is not worth more than that.

Good luck man. I too am laid back and easy going most of the time, but anal about the look of my lawns. Help will never get it, that is for sure.

Shady Brook
07-15-2002, 08:38 AM
Jim Lewis has written some stuff in the past on this subject that is just great. Maybe someone could find the link, or you could just do some searching.

The good help I find never prove reliable in the long run. Just had the two best guys ever (Mexican fellas), and they have not flown the coupe.

This business is very hard to find and keep good workers, it is the nature of the beast.


AL Inc
07-15-2002, 12:20 PM
Shady Brook-I've had this problem since I started hiring people 7 years ago. I am also picky about details and I couldn't understand why my employees weren't. The bottom line is-It's not their business. Employees will not do as good a job as the owner will. They go home after work with a clear head. We go home to an answering machine full of messages. Unfortunately, I've just learned to live with this reality and deal with the complaints as they come. Unless you want to stay as a solo operator, you will have to live with this. I'm really not proud of it, but I have had to drop customers because of their constant complaining, some of which were legitimate. I read years ago in a trade mag that it was easier to replace a good customer than a good employee. I believe this is true. My men are nice, hardworking people who are as reliable as the sun. They try hard, but their work isn't always the best. I choose to live with it. I think your last statement sums it up, it is a hard business to find and keep good employees-it is the nature of the beast. Good luck to you. Mike

07-15-2002, 02:02 PM
Good help and the lack thereof is the reason why my partner and I haven't added another crew, although our demand warrants it. I have yet to find a good part time worker, let alone someone I would hire full time to run a crew. All I have to pick from is drunks, pot heads, and college kids that don't want to work. Just not a good business to be in for workers.


Shady Brook
07-16-2002, 01:00 AM

Yeah, I wish it were not so, but with this type of business, and they way families are being raised it is to be expected. If a guy is real good, your situation has to be ideal in order to give him full time year round work. With the difference in weather, it can be difficult to even be consistant with hours from week to week with draughts and things to deal with. Lawn care can be pretty hard work, and requires more skill then many would believe to operate effectively, and yet it is difficult to give pay that is comenserate with the work. I usually pay experienced guys $10/hr to start. To some this seems like pretty good money, but what does that get ya? Can I support a family on that? Not hardly. So in a sense I am frustrated, but in a sense I can understand as well.

You are right, it is not their business, and we can not expect them to see things as do we. I like your point about replacing a good customer being easier then and employee, so true. You just have to deal with the hastles, stay so small that you kill yourself and make little, or find another line of work. That's how I see it.

Oh and by the way, I wrote that my good workers had not flown the coupe, that should have read "have now flown the coupe" :confused:

Take care fellas

dr grass
07-16-2002, 03:18 AM
training your help should always include making sure that they have good common sense. lets face it guys, were not doing brain surgery or building space ships for n.a.s.a. and thats what i tell my help. this is a very common sense oriented field. just moved a part timer up to a full time status this week. greatest decision ive made in a while. he the best employee ive ever had to date. hes 14 years old.....

Shep :blob4:

07-16-2002, 07:27 AM
Unless the 14 year old has your last name that could be illegal. At least for my state you cannot hire under 18 to run power equipment. They could do all the weed pulling they want, but not run power equip unless they are your kid.

Shady Brook
07-16-2002, 08:14 AM
Exactly Brickman! I think that applys nationwide under the child labor laws. Shep, better check into that, could be some heavy penalties if anyone finds out.


The Mowerdude
07-17-2002, 03:05 AM
Hey Wattsup,

I've been using Latinos for over a decade now. Have you tried them? The Mexicans are the best. The Hondurans, Salvadorans and Guatemalens don't have quite the same work ethic as the Mexicans. But I have had some really good Hondurans, too.

Here, in Tennesse, we're all eat up with 'em. They're everywhere. And I see you're right up the road in Springfield. Over off of Maxey Rd near Adams are a couple of sawmills that are using Mexicans. Ask around. Most Mexicans are always keeping an eye open of opportunities for their brothers, cousins etc.

07-17-2002, 01:39 PM
you called? available from 1pm untill what ever.
12 an hr.time starts at first job site ,ends at end of last job.

09-09-2002, 11:43 PM
If I was to hire a Mexican what do most expect to be paid. Do you offer insurance to them or any benifits? How can you prove they are legal to work? Any other help would be appreciated. I need some good help and I see them work their butts off around here. I need a hard worker and not a cry baby that cant take the heat.:)

09-09-2002, 11:48 PM
Around here they are tickled pink with $6 to $8. And all the over time you want to give them.

09-10-2002, 12:01 AM
I believe all good working people should get atleast $10 an hour.
You dont pay them as much as you pay yourself and
they are usually not experienced professionals.

You must create and incentive or inspiration for them to
take pride in their work and receive compliments when done good
which should out way the negs 2 to 1.

09-10-2002, 12:04 AM
OK, sounds good...Now where do you go to find the ones that want to work. I know a lot of places they hang out but it makes me think that if they are just standing on the corners that maybe they dont want to work.:( :confused:

09-10-2002, 12:13 AM
The best employee Ive ever had was a friend from H.S. thast lived right down the road from me . I saw him one night and asked him what he was doing at the time he told he was looking for a job .He went to work for us and let me tell you this guy was a natural ( hes probaly gonna read this ,I just turned him onto this site ,Hey Mike )This guy could line trim better and faster than anything ive ever seen .He had the eye for it ,he would just look at it and know what needed to be done .Me and him spent many ,many hours working together ,not only was he the best employee Ive ever had but also one of my best friends . He worked with me 4 years and learned the business pretty well .He left me about 2weeks ago .Him and his father bought a Hustler Z (that i turned him onto ) enclosed trailor,truck and all the necessary 2cycl equipment needed. Spoke to him today ,he has ten accounts already. Moral of the story "Train your people well ,but watch out one day they may be your competition.

09-10-2002, 12:26 AM
Employees are like babies. If they screw up, and you yell at them too much, they turn it around to make it your fault for hiring them. "It's not my fault!" they always whine. "Your the one who told me to drive that truck to the other side of the house!"

"Yes" I would answer, "I did tell you that." While thinking patience is a virtue. "However, I was thinking that you would go AROUND the house, not THROUGH IT!"

You know what I mean...

robert payer
09-10-2002, 09:17 PM
It is quite simple. Do not tolerate bad help. Let them know this policy. Three strikes and they loose. Strikes in time can be removed by good deeds.

When a worker is having problems ask "How can I help you"
or "How can I make this easier for you" Do not put the work relationship in trouble by treating them like an idiot or by showing anger. No one wants to do badly at work. Some people have just never pushed them selves at anything in life. These people are often very poor performers and must be allowed to move on to some other career like __________? I don't know, just some where.

Fact, people will come and go. Except it. Fill positions, train help, do the work. Do not expect to have people stay to long. Create a work enviroment that people like and you might keep some one for a few years.

Final thought of great importance:
Treat people well. Treat them as a professional. Refer to them as your coworker. Work hard your self, and you will be amazed at what others can help to accomplish.

You do not do not fire people. They work their way out of a job and you as the boss are the messenger that they must now move on. Never re-hire a person who has had poor performance or left on bad terms.

Often we create our own problems. I know that I have made some mistakes.

Ax Man
09-10-2002, 10:22 PM
Iv'e been around the block on this one and I can honestly say the only good employee I had was my wife.
And I ruined that.
Got to wait another 12 years before I dare let my 4 year old pilot a mower.
This summer I had some college girls help with weeding, though and they were good, though they don't want full days.
The ladys do great on the detail stuff but it's easy to over work them.
All the guys I've hired have been a PITA.
No shows, slow, tree girldlers you name it .
So I think I'll stay solo.

09-10-2002, 10:25 PM
I agree that Mexicans are the best. I have for years tried to hire Americans, but never can get anyone worth while. I would gladly hire Americans over Mexicans if I could find ones willing to work as hard as they do, but it is always the same. Bottom line is I can get alot more work out of Mexicans which means more money for me and a better life for my family (3 kids and a wife). They are the reason I get up every morning and bust my hump at this business.

The Mowerdude
09-10-2002, 11:33 PM
Robert Payer, You Da Man!!

I agree with everything you said. And I've found every bit of it to be true.

I really think one of the biggest problems in our biz, is that the owners don't know how to make the workers feel like everone is on the same team. And way too many owners get cranking mad when things don't go just the way they think it should and then the employees become easy targets.

I found out that when I was in a bad mood, everyone on the crew was in a bad mood, but if I psyched myself into a good mood, everybody else got into a good mood as well. So I started pysching myself every morning, before everyone showed up and by doing this, we'd go for months on end without ever having a bad day. I once heard this expression: " There is no such thing as a bad situation, only how we react to it." And when it comes to this type of thing, the employees really are sheep. They just follow and follow.

09-11-2002, 12:00 AM
OK, I still need to know where you find the Mexicans that are good for the job. I have never hired one but might if I feel they are the right one. They still have to fit my requirements.:(

09-11-2002, 05:07 PM
I can say for your area. If you don't have somewhere that they congregate, try construction areas. Ask as many that you come in contact with. Like it was said earlier, they usually have friends or family looking for work or more money. A tough thing about it, is keeping good workers. Many are more loyal to the dollar than anything else. Do things to have them feel loyalty. BBQ's, movie tickets, employee of the month etc......

Good luck.

09-11-2002, 05:51 PM
Great ideas Turfguy TX! I will try that. Keeping them would be great so I like your ideas. Thanks:blob4:

The Lawn Choupique
09-11-2002, 07:00 PM
It is not unusual for other low paying business such as conveience stores or fast food places to have 200% or 300% turn over each year. After all at $9 or $10 what else would anyone expect. It is not like anyone with a lick of sense can't stumble up the street and trip over a half dozen of those type jobs on a regular basis.