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paying the help

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by rpmlawns, May 9, 2001.

  1. rpmlawns

    rpmlawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    I am fairly new in the lawn maintenance biz. (Started in 1999) Over the winter I bought-out another lawn service company. I am having a heck of a time finding good help and determining what they should be paid. (By the hour or by the account) I am located 40 miles west of Chicago. Any suggestions would be appreciated!:)
  2. joshua

    joshua LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,226

    i pay my help by the hour. seems to work the best, but i'm trying to come up with a new way to pay, haven't figured one out yet.
  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    While there are some obvious incentives related to efficiency by paying by-the-job, I would not at all recommend it. There is nothing wrong with paying by the hour.

    First, realize that you're not the only one having a hard time finding good, reliable workers. It's a result of our economy and the fact that unemployment at or near the natural rate of unemployment. Which basically means that anyone who's worth their salt and wants a job, already has one.

    Now, some tips on finding good, reliable help;

    1) Put an ad in the paper. Hire like a real employer would. Have them fill out a real applicaiton, W-2 form, I-9 form, etc. Conduct a professional interview. And conduct several of them (5+) before you make a decision. The more professional you make it, the more you'll attract the right kind of guys.

    2) You can weed out a lot of applicants over the phone. Just ask if they have a valid Driver's license and reliable transportation. If they don't, they are probably not the kind of person you want to hire.

    3) In the interview explain exactly what you'll expect of them if they come to work with you. Discuss hours, paydays, work conditions, days of the week, etc. Discuss any good aspects of the job as well. e.g. will you pay vacation after a year? Holidays? Sick Pay? Do they get to have a cell phone or pager? etc...

    4) Once hired, get rid of bad apples quickly. Once in a while you end up with a bad apple, despite your best efforts. If you notice within the first week or two that the new guy you just hired just isn't cut out for this type of work for whatever reason, don't try to pamper him. Let him go quickly and move on. Chances are he's not enjoying it anyway. With any luck, the guy who you had 2nd in mind will still be looking for work. Try him out.

    5) Don't be afraid to try out Hispanic workers or those without any experience. I always say hire for character first. I can teach them the work. But character and work ethic can't be changed. My best employee, now a crew lead, is a guy who speaks almost no english and had never done landscaping in his life before. In addition, he was also 48 years old when I hired him 2.5 years ago. So I was cautious. I am glad now that I decided to give him a shot. He's the most loyal, happy, hard working, employee we have. Our clients love him and so do the rest of us. And he'll out work any of us any day of the week.

    6) Which brings me to my final point. When you find a guy like this, pay him what he's worth. Don't be stingy with the raises. The guy I mentioned above began at $7.50 an hour and has had 6 raises since then and is now at $10.50 per hour. And he's worth even more. You'll get loyalty if you treat them right.

    Well, that's my 2 cents anyway. Good luck!

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