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When to expand? Advice from the wise please!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Lewis541, Apr 22, 2011.

  1. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,441

    The fact is an employee can take over a year to train properly. Mowing can be learned quickest, but I have seen people continue to screw that up months into their career.
    Crooked lines, torn up lawns, plants broken or they cut over a piece of paper or chop up some-ones hose that wasn't picked up. What if they don't tell you they screwed up?
    You don't have time to check every-where on every property each week. That can be frustrating to find out about and repair.

    We use mostly 21/22 inch mowers. Senior guys operate the ride-on.

    I prefer to get people onto a string trimmer asap. There are some tricky techniques that need to be learned. In my opinion this is one of the most important tasks to master for lawn care. The basics are easy, but tree circles and edges have to be done when you aren't using a stick edger all the time. I start them in a low profile area...and always make sure they wear the straps, have it properly balanced and erganomic and utilize all of their safety gear!

    Where I operate, every new employee must be shown how to use each piece of equipment properly. They must be officially trained. We use a sign off sheet that they initial once they have been shown how to operate each piece of equipment. This is for legal reasons and workers compensation too.

    You can find safety manuals on line or through the landscape associations.
    Get employees to read the equipment manuals.

    If you can find workers with experience this late in the season, You will have to pay more to keep them around. You could incorporate some kind of benefit into your
    system. We give a company Costco card, and they get a discount on work boots and work clothes. If they quit, they give back all company property.

    We also supply safety gear, by law. Eye and ear protection, a first-aid kit. We have gloves if they need them, but boots and gloves are usually their responsibility.

    There can still be problems with experienced employees. What if they have learned to use equipment in a dangerous manner? I hired one guy with seven years experience and he used the line trimmer upside down. Rocks used to shoot every-where, because the safety guard wasn't deflecting them towards the ground. You don't remove the safety equipment either! He could not and would not learn the proper way to run a trimmer.
    He quit after a week. That was frustrating for both of us.

    I have had the best luck mostly with team players. Soccer, baseball...they love the outdoors and have energy. We keep to a routine and work rain or shine.

    If you are buying new equipment or a truck, it is a good idea to charge back a percentage per hour to cover what it will cost in 3-5 years to replace that equipment, otherwise it will come out of your pocket again! Search Return on Investment for more information
  2. Aaronnc

    Aaronnc LawnSite Senior Member
    from Zone 7B
    Posts: 354

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