Suggestions needed

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    We had a crew leader that was stealing walk up business from us all season and only found out about it at seasons' end.

    What are others doing to keep the crew leaders in check and find out early if they will sideline you for cash?

    All suggestions greatly appreciated.

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  2. PTP

    PTP LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Posts: 1,383

    If employees steal, fire them.

    But you might want to look at it another way. What if that was kind of a bonus for them? If your crew is good you might let them do things on the side for extra profit but only if they tell you about it and you get a small cut for equipment costs. It may be a small price to pay for retaining good employees.
     
  3. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    that is why I always had a non-compete contract with my employees. If they were caught stealing work, or using company equipment for work they had to pay us the total work completed or pay us the hourly rate that it would take for that work.
     
  4. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    PTP,

    Maybe that deserves consideration, but it is contrarty to what the Justices recommended.

    I spoke with Mike & TJ about the problem when I took them to lunch the other day. TJ said he would have fired that guy in front of the other drivers the day he found out about it. Their advice has proven to be very sound when followed.

    I fired the guy on Friday. It was our last day of the season and I told him I wouldn't need him back next spring.

    What I am really interested in, is finding out if crew leaders are gonna sideline you or not. I think I will write a company policy over the winter that basically says we expect to receive a minimum of 2 calls per crew per month where the customer indicates that they asked for a price and the guys gave them a card and told them to call the office. We will be tracking it all season and if we don't get those two calls every month from a crew, that will be a red flag. I think I will also indicate that I've got secret shoppers planted throughout the area and if they quote the secret shopper a price they are fired, no questions asked. The secret shoppers are a bluff, but my crew leads don't know that.

    The troubling part of it is, I have gone above and beyond the call to keep my employees happy. They get to drive the trucks home and use as personal vehicles and truth be told, they are probably paid too much. The crew leader who was fired on Friday ran the fert route three days and mowed three days. They are paid on a commission and he made over $30 per hour for those six days. Granted, those were six good days because of the fert route, but he probably averaged, over the season, around $20 per hour, I'd guess.

    Now, even though I paid him like a king, I still have the joyful duty of retraining another guy on chemical apps. Obviously, my strategy does not work. Over paying people will get you nothing and I am beginning to realize that.

    The idea of treating the employees extremely well hasn't helped reduce churn, so the company trucks will not be going home anymore and new hires will have to start out at a lower commission until they prove that they can be trusted not to sideline me.

    Later,
    Books Worst Enemy
     
  5. Mueller Landscape Inc

    Mueller Landscape Inc LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 489

    Fire them! If the pay is good at your company, the other guys will see what happens when they steal and will think twice. I have guys bring cash in with their route sheets occasionaly with "walk up business". Also, you must get out and be seen while your guys are working. Show up on the routes.
     
  6. PTP

    PTP LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Posts: 1,383

    Well, they are making a lot more than I am . . .
     
  7. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    When they turn in cash at the end of the day, you can pretty much assume that is only part of what they are getting.

    Also, they might be paying you that only because they are fearful that maybe you saw them mowing one lawn that wasn't on the schedule. So they pay you for one and that gives them a free pass to mow 12 others behind your back with your equipment. If you see them mowing one not on the schedule, they will say that was the one they are turning the cash in on.

    I think it's a bad idea. They've tried to lead me down that path I don't want to go there. Just my opinion.

    I worked in the field for the first two years. I have a pretty good idea about what to expect in terms of walk up business. If I've got three crews out mowing on Labor Day, Independence Day or Memorial Day and the phone doesn't ring, that's a red flag!

    Later,
    Books Worst Enemy
     
  8. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,850

    you cannot expect to have have 2 calls per month from walk ups. I think you just need to let your crew know upfront they will sign a non-compete and if they are caught they will be fired immediately and liable for lost revenues.
     
  9. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    ****. The crew leader I fired on Friday made a lot more than I will make this year. Of course, he worked a lot harder too and if things keep improving I should make a nice income next year sitting at home all day with next to no responsibilities for 4.5 months.

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  10. rbriggs

    rbriggs LawnSite Member
    Posts: 106

    No discussion necessary on this one.....their services would be terminated. However, you should consider the NO COMPETE contract. We also do it with our employees. It gives you some leverage later on. Also, consider GPS if you don't already have it and monitor your crews closely.
     

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