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Need some advice from guys with several crews.

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Evan528, Apr 16, 2005.

  1. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,144

    Heres the situation. Up untill this year I have always been with the guys on every job. Now with a back that seems to be getting worse by the week from all the hard work over the years I have hired a foreman to run a seperate crew this year while I do odds and ends myself. My problem is now the quality of the work is just not what is used to be when I was at every job and I am started to get complaints. Im just curious how you guys with larger companys deal with quality control when it becomes impossible for you to be on every job site? Its been very frustrating trying to grow a company that dosnt rely on myself to do all the grunt labor while trying to keep the work quality close to what it was. We currently maintain about 80 properties with most of them being full service landscape maintnance accounts. I know this is a very vague question but Id just like a little insight on how you guys do it without a constant turnover in customer base?
  2. Garth

    Garth LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 382

    I have several crews. We have an onclave at a military base, two Cal-Trans crews that do the janitorial at roadside rest stops during the week, an industrial janitorial crew that takes care of sheriff stations and fire department buildings, a residential account crew and a commercial account crew. The people I hire as job coaches have alot of experience in what they do and I tell them to treat every property like it was their own. The more accounts are dependent on the quality of the service as is the price you can charge for professional service. More money for the company means better equipment and raises. The workers on my crews are developmentally disabled and even with their odd little habits and quirks I find them very focused and having pride in the job they do. Much more so than "normal" guys. I got guys that will absolutely refuse to work until they get a hug, a handshake and a "high-five" then they would mow a football field for you without a single complaint and do a gorgeous job at it. How I treat them is like men, not kids. If your foreman is trying to be everyone's mate, they will manipulate him and the job suffers. If he comes across as a hard, unforgiving person, they will not want to work for you. It's that happy medium you have to find by hiring someone with leadership skills and compassion. The best bosses I ever had were guys that never told me to do anything they wouldn't do themselves. Because of how I was treated, with respect, I would have taken a bullet for them and the job I did for them reflected this. I worked hard, they looked good, the company prospered and now has the ability to attain million dollar contracts. If I get complaints from the customers or the crew I give the responsible party a chance to remedy the situation and if it doesn't work out he or she walks. This is your business and you have an obligation to make it work and sometimes it takes several tries to find that one person that fits like a Trojan and make your company shine. If your guys were doing good work before you hired this foreman they are still capable of it. I'd give him a chance to make everything work even if you have to have a "Safety Meeting" with the crew so they can voice their concerns. If it doesn't improve, find another guy. We found a guy who was fired from Home Depot because no one could work with him. I knew him from there and knew that he was a very hard worker and he made everyone else look bad. I hired him and have never regretted it.
  3. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,144

    The problem Im having is even finding a employee who can even speak english to run a crew. I can find laborers no problem...... But I must have a foreman who can speak english and speak to clients when nessesary. Around here americans dont want to do this type of work so its not so easy to replace my current foreman.

    The whoe situation is just very frustrating too me. I would like to grow my business.....have the volume of work to do so..... but cant find the employees to make it happen.
  4. nelbuts

    nelbuts LawnSite Bronze Member
    from SW, FL
    Posts: 1,053

    Well sorry to burst your bubble but no one will do it as good as you. That is just the way it is. If you do crappy work in someone else's eyes but you feel it is great then your employees still will neot measure up to your expectations.

    Now for your situations.Do you go and check every job? If not then you should.
    Do you visit every jobsite prior to the day they work? If not you should.
    Do you pop in on them while they are working? If not you should.

    Here is how I use to do it and it worked out pretty good. I would visit the jobsites the day before or maybe two days before scheduled service. Walk the property and take a few notes on what I wanted the crew to do.

    Then give them a list with what needed done on the day they went out. After they were finished I would go check out the job and see if the list was completed. If not then would call them and find out why or make them return and finish the job.

    Finally, drop in on them while they are working and make suggestions and look at their progress.

    If your employees know you are going to check on them then they will do a much better job.

    As a side note I required all my employees to speak English, period no exceptions. You can not communicate with them and do not want to have to use a translator. Your customers do not want to search down the one person who can speak English to ask a question. And, if we are made this requirement then they would make an effort to learn.
  5. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,144

    I ussually meet them at a jobsite and show them what needs to be done. They know how things are supposed to look because they do great work the the boss man is with them. I think they get a little sloppy and start rushing when im not looking over there shoulder.

    On the english topic...... If I were to only hire guys who spoke english I would be forced to be a solo operation. As I stated before..... Americans in my area dont want to do landscaping. They would rather work in an air condotioned non labor intensive atpmosphere. Besides..... The few Americans I have employed over the years cant even come close in productivity to the many mexican gentlemen I have employed. Just a completly diffrent work ethic unfortunatly :help:
  6. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,565

    Garth, I love your post, especially the part about hiring the developmentally disabled, but the part I'm quoting here is priceless. When you say "Trojan," can we assume you're referring to the nice, snug fit of something intended to keep a little fun from turning into a little family?
  7. J Hisch

    J Hisch LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 952

    No complaints equal money in their pocket. No call backs is what we shoot for and we do get very little. I run 2 crews if they get zero call backs in a 2 week period they each get extra bonus in their check. so you could say they are salary with comission for no complaints.
  8. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,775

    I am running with 12 guys, 10 at one location, 2 at the other. It goes well for us but I have two great guys in charge at location 1. I go there and check in about twice a week. Although I do all our spraying, then I am there more often but communication, respect, and authority work great for us.
  9. Duramax99

    Duramax99 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 203

    Check every job. Hire someone pay and treat them like they are a part owner in the company.
  10. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,565

    I've often thought that if I offer incentive pay, this is what it will be for.

    I'm still solo, but when the time comes, I won't want workers who work so methodically that a tortoise could pass them, but I won't want people working hurriedly, either. That makes for crappy work and accidents. My guess is that neither of these is cheaper than an extra three minutes on each job.

    When I waited on tables for a living, I came to realize that an extra 20 seconds at a table could often save an extra trip back to that table. So it was 20 seconds now versus an irritating 90 seconds later. The restaurant business has a funny way of compressing some of these things into very short spans of time, which means the repercussions hit you much faster than in other industries, meaning the learning curve should be much steeper. Still, it strikes me that these principles apply to lawn care as well.

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