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Machine vs. Employee - which is better?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by topsites, May 23, 2005.

  1. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    This is likely to be another hot topic (lol) as I begin the discussion with a tough claim: For increasing production, machines are my pick of choice as they are cheaper and better than employees.

    The cost of my machines average a few to several hundred dollars, and can easily cost a few thousand (the most expensive is the fixdeck toro + velke, at $3300). With a brand-new Toro, production increased by 25%.

    Now to train an employee also costs about 3 thousand dollars. Really, you first need to interview 10 people in order to make sure you have ONE worker after all is said and done, but buying a Toro involves a fair hassle as well, so I think we're about even here.

    With an employee, once the training is over you SHOULD be able to increase your productivity by maybe 50% (don't even dream 100%, it never works that way), but you're lucky if you get 25.

    With a machine, once you make the modifications that allow you to run it above and beyond manufacturing specs, you will get at least 25% every time (Of course this also shortens its useful lifetime, violates the warranty and your insurance as well - another reason I don't carry it - I'm in violation of their policies anyhow). Cost-wise, we're about even - Employee is trained, machine has been purchased.

    Now comes the fun part.
    - Run free of labor, taxes (well, almost) and insurance. The maintenance cost of the machine is way lower than hourly wages, thou you need to do most of it yourself so you can fully benefit from this.
    - Never Call in sick, especially when they're not (or once/2 weeks).
    - Always show up on time, and work up to their full potential.
    - Always work the whole day, are never tired, never want to quit, never give you any lip. Some are a bit temperamental, but other than that...
    - Do not lie, steal, or scam - Watch out for that, employee uses your equipment to do a quick job on the side for cash but wait
    - Do not fall for scams - Yeah don't that s*ck, you finally find an honest employee and one your customers skru's'm - Customers are TWICE as likely to try and scam an employee vs. an owner, did you know that?
    - Do not drink alcohol or do drugs - Not even on their own time.
    - Do not openly lust after your female customers, or their daughters (guys).
    - Don't get pregnant (ladies).
    - Do not curse, or swear.
    - Don't need bathroom, smoke, coke, or lunch breaks every 15 minutes...
    - Do not pretend to know how to do something.
    - Do not try to 'cover up' bad jobs. That they do a bad job somedays, ok.
    - Are precise, predictable, fast, and accurate - everytime.
    - Never lack motivation, their power motivates You!

    Machines DO:
    - Break, and need maintenance, are very heavy when not running.
    - Need oil, fuel, filters and parts. Consumable, and finite resources.

    However, one can, for a cost of about 1000 dollars, replace a lawn-mower every year with a brand-new one, reducing down-time and maintenance considerably as MOST things don't even wear out the first year.

    Peace out.
  2. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,547

    I think your underestimating employees. I had a great dane once that called in sick alot, and the doctor could never make it better. It in turn made me swear.
  3. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,563

    equipment all the way...
    we spent $22K on a dingo this year. it replaces 2-3 people.
    it doesn't go out the night before and call in sick.
    it doesn't put straight gas in my weedeaters.
    i don't find it sleeping in the corner of a large commercial property.
  4. Itsgottobegreen

    Itsgottobegreen LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,177

    While I was reading this. One thing came to mine. The toro dingo and kanga mini loader. Well I guest you beat me to it. :)
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    The worst isn't that it puts straight gas in your weedeater, the worst is when it does it in order to make the equipment break, so as to have an excuse to get out of work :)

    Reminds me of the time when I had a blade/spindle belt hanging by a thread. Now I run belts until they break, no matter what. Sometimes it breaks in the next 5 seconds, sometimes it lasts another 50 - 100 yards, you never know.
    When I have a belt like that, I know not to push it harder than I need to ... Meanwhile, an unreliable employee ALSO knows about pushing it and may do so in order to break the belt.
    Dumb thing is I got the spare in the truckbox and it hardly takes 5-10 minutes to replace, but the belt costs 50 dollars and the pisser of it all is that it was done because the employee didn't feel like working ...

    Truthfully, if it wasn't for the constant foot-stabbing / back-stabbing (trying to get over on you or someone else / trying to get out of work), employees WOULD be better than machines AND could be more profitable for you and your company. Alas, my experience has been it doesn't work like that.
    It is sad, because I'm to the point where I'm running peak every day and I really COULD use the help, but unfortunately all it does is slow me down.

    There is one more thing: Configure the machine to work beyond mfg specs, and your employee can not use it because of Insurance regs.
  6. Triple R

    Triple R LawnSite Member
    Posts: 244

    Machines win hands down. Just fired my last employee last week and plan on dropping over $10k for a couple of mowers to increases my production. I figured I can make more money and work less without any workers by just upgrading my mowers. I plan on mowing 3 days a week solo and make more $ than working 4 days with hired help. Life is pleasent without employees.
  7. txlawnking

    txlawnking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,905

    And to all of ya'll posting these horror storied about employee's, Did you do your due dilligence when you hired these Turds?? Do some homework on the people BEFORE they ever get a chance to do you wrong..

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