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vtscaper
07-30-2012, 10:19 PM
How do you guys compensate your top guys?

I have traditionally given my two forman a $1 to a 1.50 raise a year until this spring when I gave them a benifit package. 401 k match, vacation time, spanking new truck which is "theirs" and they take home every night. These guys have an awesome work environment, working on the top jobs around, great coworkers, a boss that labors right along side them at least a few days a week, end of the year bonuses, parties, nice equipment the list goes on and on...

one of them is now coming to me for more. He is my install foreman. very skilled installer.. in 4 years he has learned a ton. is very detail oriented and FAST. He does still have A LOT to learn about running a job though. small jobs with just him and one or maybe two guys and not too much complicated layout he aces.. customers love him.. But when it comes to thinking two or three steps ahead of everything, not just 3 or more guys but work flow in general he has big improving to do..

this is a guys that has allowed me to grow my business in a BIG way, and I would not want to lose him and he would be very hard to replace...

I live in vermont and we take about three months off. Another issue is that our unemployment rate we pay keeps moving up its at 7% now!!. we work a TON of overtime in the 9 months..we average 50 a week. in the winter its just a little plowing and shop maintenance etc. I am thinking of offering him a salary which would accomplish more for both he and I.

How much is enough? how do you get them to realize the true value of their employment. how do you keep them long term and control payroll??

I know its a lot but want to hear what some of the guys have to say hear on any or all of it..

muddywater
07-30-2012, 10:51 PM
How much is it worth to you to go through another 4 years of training?

I usually get away with saying, "lets revisit this in 6 months and see if you can become more efficient and handle 2 more steps, if you can run bigger jobs we will compensate you more. You make me more money, you earn more money." Then hopefully you see some improvements or he forgets about the raise. I told one of my guys that is at top tier of the pay scale that 4 months ago, and I haven't heard a peep since... I think its due in August, but I honestly think he is going to forget the conversation.

AztlanLC
07-31-2012, 01:03 AM
Honestly for me it sounds like this guy talked to another person the usual "oh on my job I run the company, I can do any task, run crews, bla bla bla, then the other peson tells him I'd give you a dollar more if you come work for me, he leaves then both realize things aren't so good for neither one.
Sorry but it sounds you are already giving them so much more than any company out there, unless you are paying them $10.00 per hour or less they are making a decent salary taking into account they don't have to pay for car maintenance, insurance.
I would say to him you are pretty much to the top show me how can we give you a raise, what can we do to compensate you enough and at the same time you are making money for me.

SVA_Concrete
07-31-2012, 07:27 AM
Maybe he is short sighted. Can you work out a bonus per sucessfully completed job? Like 1% of the net profit. Show him how when he stays 2 steps ahead things are efficient the cash grows. It may be a carrott to keep himfor running
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DVS Hardscaper
08-01-2012, 05:18 PM
Let's go in a whole different direction.

50 hrs of overtime is way way way too much. This means you need more crews. The money you're spending on time and a half is money you could be spending on outfitting another crew with tools and equipment. Just the company's share of FICA taxes in that overtime is insane.

Next, take this guy's new company truck away. Not a wise expense. That's money that could have gone towards the truck for the new crew.

After following my steps to success, then put the dude on annual salary.
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FLCthes4:11-12
08-01-2012, 05:39 PM
Most all foreman or supervisors are on salary because of the overtime. If they are making you that much money during the busy season then you should be able to keep them during the off months. I get the truck idea its like a raise to them yet you are able to right off interest, espenses and depreciation. Just sounds like you maybe jumped the gun with the judge of character. If they are that good and comprehend business be honest with them on the numbers. example. Here are the budget hours get it done in less with quality you get x percent job bonus. So when you win they win. When you lose they are salaried (sucks to be the owner lol)

vtscaper
08-01-2012, 06:31 PM
Let's go in a whole different direction.

50 hrs of overtime is way way way too much. This means you need more crews. The money you're spending on time and a half is money you could be spending on outfitting another crew with tools and equipment. Just the company's share of FICA taxes in that overtime is insane.

Next, take this guy's new company truck away. Not a wise expense. That's money that could have gone towards the truck for the new crew.

After following my steps to success, then put the dude on annual salary.
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Good advice. However there is company strategy behind the trucks. We live in Vt most of our jobs are FAR from the shop. Both of my foreman live in the city which we do most of our work. So once the job is set up, they hit the ground running at 6 am picking up materials, equip, at the job earlier, i save big on fuel and the time i would pay them to drive back and forth to the shop everyday an hr each way. They feel good about having something thats theirs, they save on fuel etc.

In terms of overtime we HAVE identified that the overtime doesn't make a ton of sense for some of the hourly guys. Thats why i am trying to figure something else out aside from just hiring more. I am big on the commitment i make to my full time guys that during the season they will ALWAYS have at least 40 hrs. So unlike most contractors who hire heavy and cut hrs when needed we tend to run too lean on help. I know its a problem...

I would be really like to talk to any of you who have a salaried employee to see what has and hasn't worked. PM me.

Thanks

muddywater
08-01-2012, 09:11 PM
I know one landscaper in Atlanta that did not pay overtime because his business license was landscaping that falls under agricultural. Dep of labor went after him for not paying overtime, he got a lawyer and won because his business license fell under agricultural. Agricultural guys are not required to pay overtime.

I think the trick is finding a way to avoid overtime. That way you maximize your investment. Your employs make real money. Salary pay, per job, pay per day... I dunno. This overtime bullsh!t is nuts. It is really an antiquated law that keeps employees from making good money.

I know this isn't right, but you could pay 40 hrs and after 40 pay cash. They are still covered under your workmans comp, still paying some taxes etc.

xtreem3d
08-01-2012, 09:46 PM
I'm not familiar with VT winters but could you take on more snow work to offset any additional wage increase? Do you think it's possible that he could go to a competitor of yours and recieve the same package? I almost want to come work for you :laugh:
Steve

SVA_Concrete
08-01-2012, 11:40 PM
In virginia employees that do manual labor texhnixally can not be salaried.
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DVS Hardscaper
08-02-2012, 08:03 AM
Good advice. However there is company strategy behind the trucks. We live in Vt most of our jobs are FAR from the shop. Both of my foreman live in the city which we do most of our work. So once the job is set up, they hit the ground running at 6 am picking up materials, equip, at the job earlier, i save big on fuel and the time i would pay them to drive back and forth to the shop everyday an hr each way. They feel good about having something thats theirs, they save on fuel etc.

In terms of overtime we HAVE identified that the overtime doesn't make a ton of sense for some of the hourly guys. Thats why i am trying to figure something else out aside from just hiring more. I am big on the commitment i make to my full time guys that during the season they will ALWAYS have at least 40 hrs. So unlike most contractors who hire heavy and cut hrs when needed we tend to run too lean on help. I know its a problem...

I would be really like to talk to any of you who have a salaried employee to see what has and hasn't worked. PM me.

Thanks

Ok, in that case, no more brand new trucks, except for the one you drive.

Buy only used.

All that money on new is nothing more than you working for the banks.
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Gilmore.Landscaping
08-02-2012, 09:02 AM
I know one landscaper in Atlanta that did not pay overtime because his business license was landscaping that falls under agricultural. Dep of labor went after him for not paying overtime, he got a lawyer and won because his business license fell under agricultural. Agricultural guys are not required to pay overtime.

I company around us was trying to pull that scam for a while. They ended up having to pay huge fines and various back charges because according to agricultural rules they were required to work only on agricultural properties. I don't know the details but there quotes are much more on par with the rest of us now...

I know the nurseries around us are registered agricultural (and so they should be) but a few guys were pretty upset when they found out they weren't going to get overtime hours.

SDLandscapes VT
08-04-2012, 09:29 PM
Great post Chris

To your defense--99% of people on here cannot possibly begin to imagine the fragmentation and distances involved in what we do--the big money homes are all scattered apart--with a few exceptions. To put numbers to it in Minneapolis during graduate school our vehicles logged roughly 6000 miles per calendar year (landscaping/snow) I ve put 47000 on one truck in three years with little to no winter work/driving--And I have a shop that is somewhat centrally located. Anything to reduce mileage

To the unemployment Chris--how many of your guys collect during the winter?

The system here is so abused with people paying unreported cash for snow work so workers can still collect--as a result snow rates are well lower than other markets--to a point where you have to have exactly the right accounts and equipment combinations in conjunction with an incredible client relationship--there are some very very interesting plow/seasonal maintenance pricing schemes here.

I am developing a salary style system for everyone--probably will take a back burner till winter and I need to find at least 2-3 more people.....

cecilmac
08-05-2012, 09:43 PM
Really 401 k matching brand new truck free fuel, and still wants more... there has to be a point where it stops .. btw a salaried here in nj is not aloud to wrk in the feild.. but look at it this way no more raises.... pay them a bonus such as 10 cash for every hr they beat the target job hrs .. some ppl do not know how good they have it ...
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SDLandscapes VT
08-05-2012, 10:47 PM
True salary is not allowed in the field--however you can take and estimate labor hours for the season

and then divide evenly for 52 weeks--gets paid weekly all year works for 30ish weeks. Overtime must be added to the weekly check and the checks must reflect more than minimum wage for hours worked not including overtime

SDLandscapes VT
08-05-2012, 10:49 PM
A true salaried employee cannot be performing the same tasks of those he manages over a certain percentage of the work week.

muddywater
08-05-2012, 11:06 PM
A true salaried employee cannot be performing the same tasks of those he manages over a certain percentage of the work week.

is that enforceable?

SDLandscapes VT
08-06-2012, 07:38 AM
yes...my grad school employer paid all crew leads true salary and they received a fine and had to restructure the pay

Meredithrjc
08-09-2012, 12:39 PM
Here are a few items from the HR point of view and remember these are NC laws...you might have to look into it for your individual state.

Re: businesses being agriculture...we have a nursery and landscaping business all under the same roof. We can technically NOT pay our nursery workers overtime because they are working in a single location, on a farm so to speak and they are working with products that are 100% propagated and raised on OUR "farm". If any materials coming in from another nursery or farm, you have to pay OT...thats the way I understand it. The landscapers do NOT fall under that same umbrella.

Re: Salaried vs non-salaried...somewhere on your states dept of labor website you should be able to find info on "tests for exemption." Simply put, this is a list of guidelines your employee would have to fall under in order to qualify as an exempt employee. NC says the following for Executive Employee Exemption:
#1 compensated on a salary basis at a rate of at least $455 per week
#2 Primary duty is management of the enterprise in which the employee is employed or of a customarily recognized department or subdivision thereof
#3 Customarily and regularly directs the work of two or more other employees
#4 has the authority to hire or fire other employees or whose suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion or any other change of status of other employees are given particular weight.

I know thats all very wordy but I hope it helps...

vtscaper
08-09-2012, 09:13 PM
Thanks guys!

there seems to be some grey with the law around salaried employees here in VT.. Ill have to do some more reading..

Does anyone pay there guys throughout the winter no matter what. Say 40 hrs a week wether it snows or not??