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View Full Version : what do you think of my new goal?


bobbygedd
10-14-2004, 09:18 AM
i'm looking to make a change. this being my first full time year, i more than met my goals, i didn't have to kill myself, and i consider the season a great success. goal for next season: i already have an employee who has proven himself trustworthy, honest, and more than capable of being a lead man. i will promote him to crew leader, send him out with a helper. they will have 80 lawns a week to mow. they will be paid salary. if they want to hustle, and get the 80 done in 3-4 days, fine. if they want to drag it out over 5 days, that's ok too. i will personally handle all the ferts/chemical apps, and have a small route of 15 lawns a week that i cut alone. any trimming /landscaping i will do alone or utilize the crew on saturdays at an hourly rate of pay, separate from thier lawn cutting salary. any rain or setbacks....tough crap, they have to finish thier 80 lawn grasscutting route to be paid thier weekly salary. this will cut my already low hrs down to about 15-20 a week, and provide an excellent paycheck. i have worked with the crewleader for over 2 yrs now, i'm sure i will not sacrifice quality by sending him out without me there. any input?

Mark McC
10-14-2004, 09:40 AM
I'm nowhere close to having a crew go out unsupervised, but one thing I'll do when I get there is to check on the crew's work after they're done, at least in the early going. I'll discuss any problems with them before the customer calls me. I'm sure there are other ways of conducting quality control, but I don't know what they'd be.

Once it seems they're running pretty tight, I'll be more likely to wait until I hear a complaint, but from time to time, just to keep things on the up-and-up, I'll still do the occasional checkup.

Aproct
10-14-2004, 09:52 AM
Bobby,

I am getting to that point myself. I have been training my one employee and training him to what I expect from the service that we proved to the customers. Things have worked out really well. He knows how to use all the equipment and recently started to learn the proper techinques to driving the Z-rider. I have told him that he will be running a crew next year and good things will work in his favor. I have been kicking around the salary or hourly rate myself. He is a hard worker and will drive the crew to get the jobs done asap. I just think there are pros and cons as to which one will keep overhead low. It would kill me to be paying him for not working when it is raining.

I dont' know, that's a tough one.....

tonygreek
10-14-2004, 10:06 AM
Bobby, if there is a week of rain, do your guys go without a paycheck? You may want to check on how your state handles salaried people and the possibility of week(s) without pay. The reason I ask is that people are often salaried for a reason. Hourly seems to be more of what you want to have the benefits of, but I could be wrong. States very and I'm just playing the devil's advocate.

Tony,
Dayton, Ohio

walker-talker
10-14-2004, 10:17 AM
Sounds like a do-able plan to me. You could also put it on a percentage basis also. This way they only make money if you make money....but that would be a tough call and probably not a good way.

bobbygedd
10-14-2004, 10:22 AM
based on the 80 lawns a week plan, i could write myself a paycheck of $1000 a week, only on that end of the business. then there is all the additional income ....my 15 lawns, all the ferts, trimming, etc. looks like a check of roughly $1600 a week, for working 15-20 hrs.

Mo Green
10-14-2004, 10:27 AM
It sounds like a good plan to me. If I were your employee, I think that I would be thrilled with that idea. But as an owner, I would be checking behind them to make sure that they are not rushing through the jobs just to get done and providing bad service and poor quality. That is the only downfall that I see.

stizostedion_vitreum
10-14-2004, 10:33 AM
My family and I recently started in this business....I work a fulltime and a part-time job outside the LC industry. Our/my goal was to only manage and market the business for my wife and two employees to handle all the labor/jobs.

I'm not asking how to handle the quality control aspect... however, my plan on paying everyone including my wife (supervisor) is to pay everyone on a per job basis. This way I can bid the jobs based upon time and then setup the payscale based upon efficiently maintaining the contract. I want the opportunity to be lucrative for all employees, but I also want the peace of mind that the work is being performed efficiently and I believe this style would promote that. As long as supervisor is able to insure quality work. I haven't been able to check the regulations yet, but I really don't see why it wouldn't work or be legal as long as this scale amounts to more then minimum and is a suitable wage.

Anyone else paying by the job?

tj

AL Inc
10-14-2004, 11:12 AM
Bob- it does sound possible to me. But I will say this. I've been sending out two crews for almost 5 years now. I sub out chemical apps and most of my time is spent doing estimates, meeting with clients, collecting money, and making sure all the equipment is up and running for the guys (O.K. maybe some Lawnsite in between lol).
I've learned that even the best workers will not do the quality work or respect your equipment the same way as if you are there with them. This means more broken sprinklers, fences, windows, corners of patios, gates, and even car accidents. Not only will you have to deal with more client complaints, you will be running back to the dealer for parts and repairs because your equipment gets beat up more. This is a real problem when you have lawns to do or other projects to take care of. You can blow off your phone calls until the evening, but that means spending more time at night.

I'm not saying not to do it, Bob. I know you have a no BS attitude and that's a big plus. I, like you never planned on being behind a mower for years and years. I hire people to do the work for me. But that opened up a whole new group of problems and stress that I didn't have when I drove the truck and had two workers with me. Honestly, I hope this move can allow you to cut back on hours and make more money. But I work just as many hours now as i did 5 years ago. I do make more money, though. Good luck, Mike

tonygreek
10-14-2004, 02:34 PM
Al Inc, et al....

with regard to damages, etc that occur when you are not with a crew and the possible lack of respect show, howabout tying in a monthly/every 6/yearly bonus to crews based on lack of damages? yes, it shouldn't have to come to this, but it would keep it in the forefront of their minds but it gives them a stronger sense of ownership in their work. similar to bonuses i pay my window and siding crews for no injuries and no property/equip damages and it definitely works. i do it as a 5-10% bonus dependent upon category.

Tony

AL Inc
10-14-2004, 04:37 PM
I think that is a good idea, Tony. Can you go into a little more detail? Is it in writing or do you just have an understanding with the men?

Evergreenpros
10-14-2004, 04:49 PM
they will be paid salary. if they want to hustle, and get the 80 done in 3-4 days, fine. if they want to drag it out over 5 days, that's ok too.

You should be mindful that according to federal law you have to pay overtime to those workers, whether they're on salary or not. Contact your state Dept of Labor, they are helpful.

But yes, you have a good plan, farm out the low profit work and concentrate on the high value services.

bobbygedd
10-14-2004, 05:29 PM
i was thinking more along the lines of concentrating on fishing and drinking beer. i did check the local laws: hourly employees must be paid at minimum 1.5 times thier hourly pay for all hours worked over 40 in a single work week. salaried employees.....whatever the agreement is

rodfather
10-14-2004, 05:55 PM
My take on all this bg is that I have taught ya well...you're now really thinking, planning, and acting as a businessman and not a grunt lawnboy. Kudos to ya and wishing you continued business $ucce$$.

bobbygedd
10-14-2004, 06:13 PM
thanks rodfather

all ferris
10-14-2004, 06:42 PM
Bobby, sounds like a good thing to me. I'm a worry wart though myself. I have to be there to make sure everything is done correctly. I wish I could have the trust to do the same thing you're doing. Maybe someday?

launboy
10-14-2004, 06:55 PM
Don't know about Jersey but in Indiana cutting grass is considered "seasonal work" and technically you don't have to pay them overtime. Only the tight-A$$es get away with this. Over where im at there was one company that i know of who didn't pay o.t.

Kelly's Landscaping
10-14-2004, 07:34 PM
Quality may slip a bit but if your any good at what you do and you have told us you are bobby. Then you should know where they take the short cuts before they even think of them and be able to catch them and make them aware they cannot get away with anything with you. You do that and I see no problem with your plan as long as you can keep your crew leader.

I have had this debate with my partners brother over and over to me employees do not mean much I have been screwed over so many times its not funny. It is leadership that matters equipment would be number two accounts number three on my list. If I have all that going for me then employees are replaceable. Obviously If I want to grow out of 3 crews then I will need to find some one trustworthy but for the next year not even a concern when I find him I will know. Atm I am running things lean to put as much cash away for winter as I can so there is only 3 of us full time but all 3 of us are crew leaders or better.

tonygreek
10-14-2004, 07:55 PM
Al, I have no formal agreement with the crews. It is a part of our culture, but like any other bonuses in most of the world, there's nothing set in stone. In the warehouse we have a tote board of sorts that features both letters of thanks/recommendations, as well as supporting documentation for any damage claims, letters indicating poor service, etc. It let's people see where they stand and who needs to pick up their efforts.

I can say the only negative letter is one I told the customer to write. I had a siding crew (subs, and also eligible for the bonus) leave approx. 100 cigarette butts on the lawn. Homeowner picked them up and the crew lead tried to tell me that they didn't want pick them up and offend the owner in case they were his. I said, "Gosh, I can't count the number of half-million dollar homes where the owners litter all over the property." I reduced their pay by a buck a butt, kicked it back to the homeowner, and we never had that problem again. Had the customer right the letter so that crews understand the gravity of presentation.

Tony

proenterprises
10-14-2004, 08:30 PM
Bobby-your plan sound like its solid. The Company I worked for this season did the same thing. Many days we would go out without the head boss (who was also a builder) We had 80 lawns to do a week as well, we could hussle and be done in 4 days, or work 5.

However, your figure that you are only going to be working 15-20 hours a week may be a little off. You are always going to be "on call", repairs, surprises that may come up, and other biz related work.

Also, if their is a breakdown or 3 days of rain, will you be helping them cut for that week, or will they be on their own to work the weekend? Their are vairable in this like in anything. Good Luck to you :waving:

SodKing
10-14-2004, 08:43 PM
Bobby,

Your employees, by IRS guidelines, do NOT qualify for a salaried position. According to them the only employees who are allowed a salary are secretaries, on the road sales people, and upper management. You will have to pay overtime. The bonus idea for damages, or lack thereof, sounds like a good idea But even the bonuses would factor into their average hourly wage and you would have to pay overtime based on the wages earned including bonus, by IRS rules.

Cutters Lawn Care
10-14-2004, 09:05 PM
I checked into paying my employees salary also BG. In Georgia they would need to supervise a crew of 3 or more and have the ability to hire and fire people within the company.

Evergreenpros
10-14-2004, 09:08 PM
You can pay people however you want. But there are 2 tests in which you have to satisfy:
1. Overtime test. Very very few positions will qualify for an OT exemption. Nothing in the lawncare industry qualifies(except management), just to let you know. If you work 50 hours in a week, no matter how you get paid, you are entitiled to 10 hours of overtime at 1.5x your hourly rate. You may not get paid on a per hour basis, this makes no difference. It's easy to figure out your hourly rate (total compensation/Total hours=hourly rate)

2. Minimum wage test. Same formula as OT test, in Washington it has to be equal or greater than $7.16 per hour. There are NO exceptions to this unless it's migratory agriculture labor or labor by a minor.

These 2 tests are FEDERAL tests, not state or local. Just because the LCO down the street doesn't pay OT doesn't mean they are operating legally.

You can pay somebody $100 for the first minute of work and require them to be there another 7 hours and 59 minutes for free, this is legal. As long as it satisfies the two tests. There are numerous Supreme Court cases outlining that the Labor Law of 1938 did not force employeers to pay on an hourly rate.

Anywho, I went round and round with a State Dept of Labor guy for hours, jockeying back and forth Federal and State regulations. I lost. Just trying to save you the headache.

bobbygedd
10-14-2004, 09:09 PM
crew leader/supervisor is upper management. he's one step below the president (me). but the flunkie may need to be hourly. i'll have to ask my accountant. what i got from the department of labor is just as i said. however, they didn't tell me who qualifies for a "salary position"

Mo Green
10-14-2004, 09:23 PM
Then make the agreement with your crew leader only, and pay his helper by the hour. Give him a cool title like general manager. This may help him feel like he is more a part of the company and he will make sure the jobs are done right. Sometimes something as small as a title can make a big difference in someones attitude.

lawnman_scott
10-14-2004, 09:33 PM
Bobby,

Your employees, by IRS guidelines, do NOT qualify for a salaried position. According to them the only employees who are allowed a salary are secretaries, on the road sales people, and upper management. You will have to pay overtime. The bonus idea for damages, or lack thereof, sounds like a good idea But even the bonuses would factor into their average hourly wage and you would have to pay overtime based on the wages earned including bonus, by IRS rules.
Is John Madden or any other football announcer paid salary? I would say so, and although they are not secretaries, management or sales people the network gets away with this. Dont worry about the IRS rules/guidelines so much because most employees couldnt figure out where to call to complain anyway.

Mark McC
10-15-2004, 09:15 AM
Dont worry about the IRS rules/guidelines so much because most employees couldnt figure out where to call to complain anyway.

Interesting point, but an IRS tax audit might bring this to light. I won't advocate anything one way or the other, but the dilemma is this: What are the odds of getting nailed for inappropriate payment and what is the penalty? If the odds are low and the penalty low, many will go for it. If odds of getting busted are low and the penalty is kinda harsh...well, you have to think about that one a bit longer.

P.S. I like Tony's idea of bonuses for not damaging equipment, am wondering if the same idea can be applied to customer complaints. Two things an LCO can do to keep crews on the up-and-up.

JustMowIt
10-15-2004, 09:40 AM
My family and I recently started in this business....I work a fulltime and a part-time job outside the LC industry. Our/my goal was to only manage and market the business for my wife and two employees to handle all the labor/jobs.

I'm not asking how to handle the quality control aspect... however, my plan on paying everyone including my wife (supervisor) is to pay everyone on a per job basis. This way I can bid the jobs based upon time and then setup the payscale based upon efficiently maintaining the contract. I want the opportunity to be lucrative for all employees, but I also want the peace of mind that the work is being performed efficiently and I believe this style would promote that. As long as supervisor is able to insure quality work. I haven't been able to check the regulations yet, but I really don't see why it wouldn't work or be legal as long as this scale amounts to more then minimum and is a suitable wage.

Anyone else paying by the job?

tj

Several years ago, we changed from weekly pay to $10.00 per mow paid to the 3 man crew. $4.75 to the driver & $2.75 to the helpers. Previously, They were always whining about anything above 26 mows per day per truck. Now they complain if we give them less than 35. In season, each truck completes 180 mows in a 5 day week, so they are making a lot more money & we have to buy less trucks!

Regarding quality, if we receive a complaint from a customer, (we have a 24 hour redo policy) they have to redo on their own time, so customer complaints are very low, & no need to check on the work.

Regarding damage, they must repair sprinkler heads, value covers, etc. out of their pocket so they are careful. If they break a window in the back yard it is usually from using a weedeater instead of an edger & they pay 1/2.

Using this method, our business runs smoothly.
MJ

fga
10-15-2004, 10:20 AM
Bob,
we talked about this i think, but if you're paying X amount of dollars to a salaried guy, to cut 80 accounts, how will you go about picking up a bundle of houses in a short time, adding to his load? i know you cut some on your own, which would cover you if you pick up only a couple. but its not uncommon with neighbor hoods like ours are laid out, that you can pick up 20 within a month. Are you going to have "fine print" that states you have the freedom to add X amount of accounts on the based salary? if not, he might throw a fit if you add 10 accounts to his list without mentioning more money for him. Work out this small detail and you've got yourself a great plan. I would love to do that, you know i have 80 accounts as well. i just don't have the trust in someone yet to do it.I know they would not touch the weeds in the beds, or a weed growing in a crack on a front walkway.
good luck, and keep me informed of the situation, cuz i might be carzy enough to give it trial run. thanks again for the email.

Lux Lawn
10-15-2004, 11:46 AM
Bobby
Good luck with your plan I hope it works out for you,sounds like you have a good man to make your crew leader but I would double check his work from time to time to see that it is being done the way you want it done and nothing is being skipped to get done a little early.Maybe offer an incentive like a complaint free week from the customers and the leader gets a couple extra bucks.

I also agree with ADAM about the part if you pick up new lawns on his route.

stxkyboy
10-15-2004, 12:04 PM
I could be wrong but if the guy is salaried you have to pay him or fire him. If he only completes60 jobs or if he does 300 jobs he still gets the same salary. Also wouldnt you be required to pay him year round?

tonygreek
10-15-2004, 01:26 PM
JustMowIt, obviously situations vary from state to state, but I can't think of one where it's legal to make an employee either re-mow on their own time at no pay or pay for any damages out of pocket, unless of course they are subs.

I know of one local sleazeball LCO that has his "subs" use all of the LCO's equip, trucks, shirts, pays them crap, and docks them retail price if a blower is stolen off the trailer (they typically quit instead of dealing with him). Needless to say, he's been punched alot and he's 5 seconds away from someone destroying his biz with a phonecall to the IRS.

Tony

Branchland
10-15-2004, 02:15 PM
I think your plan sounds good. I'm hoping next year to do about the same thing. Best of luck.

mastercare
10-15-2004, 04:09 PM
Alright,
After reading 4 pages of posts, I'm shocked that nobody brought this up:

In my situation, you wouldn't believe the percentage of new business we get out of referrals and neighbors. Here's my point. We pick up lawns from April all the way through September, in fact I picked one up yesterday. As I am always looking for extra $$, I take all that I can get....as long as I'm getting paid well.

So, finally to the question: What are you going to do when your 80 lawns turns into 90 over the course of the season? Are you going to pay them extra for every additional lawn, and keep adjusting their salary? Or, are you going to just make them work harder for the same amount of money each week? If I were an employee, and had a certain number of jobs to do, for a certain pay; you wouldn't get me to do ANY extra lawns without a pay raise... even if it still comes out better than my hourly!

Besides the quality issue, you may also want to see how much "shop work" you have. when I was in school and working for someone else, we dedicated one evening a week....we changed oil, sharpened blades, and cleaned equipment. But, being hourly,,,,it didn't matter. Are your employees going to help out around the shop at the end of the day....or drop off their dirty equipment as close to the door, and run for home? Just another thought.

On the positive note: Good for you, finding employees who are willing to work and have integrity.

fga
10-15-2004, 05:39 PM
[QUOTE=mastercare]Alright,
After reading 4 pages of posts, I'm shocked that nobody brought this up:

So, finally to the question: What are you going to do when your 80 lawns turns into 90 over the course of the season? Are you going to pay them extra for every additional lawn, and keep adjusting their salary? Or, are you going to just make them work harder for the same amount of money each week? If I were an employee, and had a certain number of jobs to do, for a certain pay; you wouldn't get me to do ANY extra lawns without a pay raise... even if it still comes out better than my hourly!

QUOTE]
i did state about the situation of adding more lawns... i guess your one of those "browsers", instead of reader. :)

bobbygedd
10-15-2004, 07:07 PM
i have to think this one over. as the load increases, i may just personally do the extra ones alone, when i get 30 or so over the 80, i'll just hire another guy, change the route around, whatever. i'll figure it out

Flex-Deck
10-15-2004, 07:58 PM
bobbygedd - I think you have a great plan, and if you are willing to put up with the lack of incentive when crews are out on thier own it will work, but you may want to scale in the "less done than I thought that crew would do"

Good luck - It can work. Personally I love being solo - I Know what is being done, and I know how the machines are being taken care of. Gross less cost = Profit.

Thanks, Brad

bobbygedd
10-15-2004, 08:07 PM
brad my man, my goals aint all about the money. you see, i spent 21 miserable years working in a printshop, nights, weekends, it consumed my entire life. i finally said enough is enough. the wife makes her own hours and is pulling in some serious cash. my business is doing better than i thought. i've found a way to get , seemingly, as many customers as i want. the fruits of my efforts will be not a great deal of money, but enough, and time, time is what i want. something you can't ever get back, once it's gone. by boat, my boys, my beer, is that too much to ask for?

Flex-Deck
10-15-2004, 08:31 PM
bobbygedd - that is really cool - it seems most on this site only think money....... As far as I am concerned, it is being out in the open dealing with Gods green earth. I have been locked up in a dentist office for way toooooooooooooo long and and going to work into the outdoors in the next 3 years. Already started this year. It is greattttttt. Thanks