Decisions, decisions.... What to do with the company?

Mark Oomkes

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
What steps are you (collectively you / your dad / brother) taking to ensure the proper training and ultimate success of your new hire?
No excuses, I slack off whenever it does slow down. I don't make the effort to create processes and training manuals.

So right now I am our landscaper, scheduler, mowing a day, mechanic, salesman, estimator, firefighter (as in putting out fires in the biz). We've been trying to find a shop\fleet manager and applicator. They either aren't out there or we can't afford to pay what they think they are worth (applicator). What I mean is, is a guy really worth $22 or more an hour that prior to May didn't know how to calibrate a sprayer, doesn't know the difference between Acelepryn and imidacloprid, or one who argues with me?

Anyways, how do you recommend starting? When I am too bizzie to even get the day to day stuff done that needs to be done?
 

CrystalCreek

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Northern NJ
I feel like I should keep quiet on this one because its been pointed out enough the mistakes that have been made already. You know them so I wasn't going to say anything about them, however, then I read your post from this morning and shook my head. You are hiring another new guy with no systems in place. You, and your dad need to put the brakes on (I know its almost impossible mid season) and come up with an employee manual in writing at the very least. People need direction and literally everything spelled out for them and you guys once again missed that opportunity.

My company is very small with only 7 full time guys and a 2-3 day a week girl in the office. But as small as I am, I have an employee handbook that everyone gets on day one. In there it covers almost every single facet of how I expect my operation to be. And because it is in writing, there is never any questions and almost never any problems.

Your whole story made me wonder a bit about mine so this morning at my Monday morning safety huddle, I started off with the guys sitting on the chairs. I simply asked, "how many of you still have your employee handbooks?" Every hand went up. "GOOD!" "How many of you could go and get your handbook within the next two minutes?" Again, every hand went up. "Can someone tell me why you all choose to keep your handbook so close by?" Then one of my crew members answers, "that's simple. It tells us everything we are expected to do and because you require us to keep it with us at work" That is exactly what I wanted to hear. That manual is the backbone of my company.

My guys are not perfect and neither am I. Far from it. But the fact that I took time and a lot of it to write down and formalize this manual, shows them that I really care about my operation. Look at every single big company that has been around for a long time and they all have a employee manual at the very minimum.

I wish you luck on your struggles.
 

Mark Oomkes

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
I feel like I should keep quiet on this one because its been pointed out enough the mistakes that have been made already. You know them so I wasn't going to say anything about them, however, then I read your post from this morning and shook my head. You are hiring another new guy with no systems in place. You, and your dad need to put the brakes on (I know its almost impossible mid season) and come up with an employee manual in writing at the very least. People need direction and literally everything spelled out for them and you guys once again missed that opportunity.

My company is very small with only 7 full time guys and a 2-3 day a week girl in the office. But as small as I am, I have an employee handbook that everyone gets on day one. In there it covers almost every single facet of how I expect my operation to be. And because it is in writing, there is never any questions and almost never any problems.

Your whole story made me wonder a bit about mine so this morning at my Monday morning safety huddle, I started off with the guys sitting on the chairs. I simply asked, "how many of you still have your employee handbooks?" Every hand went up. "GOOD!" "How many of you could go and get your handbook within the next two minutes?" Again, every hand went up. "Can someone tell me why you all choose to keep your handbook so close by?" Then one of my crew members answers, "that's simple. It tells us everything we are expected to do and because you require us to keep it with us at work" That is exactly what I wanted to hear. That manual is the backbone of my company.

My guys are not perfect and neither am I. Far from it. But the fact that I took time and a lot of it to write down and formalize this manual, shows them that I really care about my operation. Look at every single big company that has been around for a long time and they all have a employee manual at the very minimum.

I wish you luck on your struggles.
I have a handbook but it doesn't cover every day policies and procedures. I did start a list of items to cover the first day.

But like you said, how do you do that in the middle of the season?
 
OP
B

BLLM87

LawnSite Member
What steps are you (collectively you / your dad / brother) taking to ensure the proper training and ultimate success of your new hire?
My dad has one foreman working for him who is excellent in the training/explaining department. We typically send the new guys out with him on their first day. He watches how they perform and if they really have their claimed experience or if they were BSing. If they need more training, he tries to train them. He's very patient and easy to understand.

That foreman will work with him throughout the day and report back to my dad about it. Then, if he isn't quite up to par, my dad will usually take the new hire with him on his crew. My dad just has a "mini crew" consisting of one rider/trimmer/blower/edger that he uses to help the other crews when they're behind, which seems to be every week so far due mostly to the weather.

Overall, this way of training has worked very well in the past when the new hires actually keep showing up and showing up on time. Generally, all three of the foremen (my brother included) are pretty good teachers and have no issues with working with motivated individuals, even if they aren't up to par with the job duties.
 
OP
B

BLLM87

LawnSite Member
We actually sat down last year sometime and wrote a handbook. I believe it's about 10-15 pages long, and took us a few hours to complete. He did hand those out at the beginning of last season.

Again, the problem (his problem) lies within the fact that some of his rules are hard to enforce without enduring immediate negative consequences for him (us?). He really does his best to work with all of his employees, and he has definitely fired plenty of people in the past. He always manages to figure it out, but it really is tough to let 2+ people go and have to find competent replacements ASAP. Again, finding help is probably an issues that he causes himself. I have no idea.

This year, instead of raises, he decided to do a weekly bonus based on performance (including attendance) and avoidable mistakes made. It's funny how everybody gets angry at the fact that the money that they make is affected by this, but the fact of the matter is that if they did their job like how they are supposed to, they would get the "bonus" every week. This bonus ends up being more than the raise that he was going to give anyways. You'd be surprised how many of them do not get this weekly bonus just based on them not showing up on time or at all at least 1 day (with no notice).

Again, I think most of his problems stem from not finding the right people. I feel that it doesn't matter what rules that you have in place for people to follow, they will be broken. Finding people to show up at least on time EVERY day seems to be the hardest challenge. Skill and productivity follows after that, but if they're not showing up to work, they obviously wont be productive to the company. This brings me back to the beginning of this paragraph.... it seems like all he can find is people that don't care about showing up on time every day. Seems like it's a vicious circle. Who knows, maybe one of these days, if he searches long and hard enough, he might find the ultimate dream team of people that will relieve some (most) of his headache.
 

snomaha

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
midwest
We use an orientation checklist that has worked well to reinforce what’s in the handbook. It’s a one page document that has 10 different categories with 5-10 talking points in each one. H/R manager, or the new hires direct report will take an hour once an employee is hired to go through the document and have the new employee checkmark or initial next to each talking point once its explained to them. Employee signs the document at the end of the orientation acknowledging that they will comply with each talking point they initialed.


Here are a few examples of categories we use and the talking points:


1. Company introduction

· Mission statement

· Core values

· Company background

· Management team


2. Uniform standards

· Shirts

· Pants

· Shoes

· Hats


3. Policies and procedures

· Clocking in and out

· Smoking/tobacco use

· Gossiping/drama

· Personal cell phone use

· Language


4. Personal responsibilities

· Calling in sick

· Time off requests

· Attitude

· Two week notice
 
OP
B

BLLM87

LawnSite Member
We use an orientation checklist that has worked well to reinforce what’s in the handbook. It’s a one page document that has 10 different categories with 5-10 talking points in each one. H/R manager, or the new hires direct report will take an hour once an employee is hired to go through the document and have the new employee checkmark or initial next to each talking point once its explained to them. Employee signs the document at the end of the orientation acknowledging that they will comply with each talking point they initialed.


Here are a few examples of categories we use and the talking points:


1. Company introduction

· Mission statement

· Core values

· Company background

· Management team


2. Uniform standards

· Shirts

· Pants

· Shoes

· Hats


3. Policies and procedures

· Clocking in and out

· Smoking/tobacco use

· Gossiping/drama

· Personal cell phone use

· Language


4. Personal responsibilities

· Calling in sick

· Time off requests

· Attitude

· Two week notice
That seems like a very good idea. I don't recall exactly what the handbook that we made has in it, although I believe it covers quite a few of these. I think I will start looking at examples online to see what I can come up with and revisit his handbook. Of course, this will only be worth my time if we can figure out a way to enforce the rules in the handbook and not be so lax in the discipline department. Obviously, we're both aware that things definitely need to change if his ultimate goal is to keep the business, which seems like the better way to go since he probably won't get much if he sold it in it's entirety.

Just to clarify, I was not expecting to tell his story here and receive a miracle suggestion that required little or no action. Most, if not all of the suggestions so far are very good ones and I'm glad that all of you shared your input with me.
 

Tara Ann

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Midwest
We use an "Onboarding Checklist," and do something similar to what @snomaha mentioned. I am going to add a few things to our checklist based off of what you shared above (thank you).

Our Onboarding Checklist is broken down into 9 sections: Welcome Packet, Daily Routine, Payroll Practices, Work Rules & Regulations, Mission Statement, The Job, Employee Benefits, Safety & Training, & To-Dos. There are over 40 bullets within these sections.

The goal of having an Onboarding Checklist, for us, is to ensure we focus on the most important topics. We go into further detail inside of our Employee Handbook. Our Employee Handbook, which does not include our Safety Manual or SOPs, is 17 pages long. With that being said, we send that home for new hires to read over.
 

sjessen

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Knoxville, Tn
No excuses, I slack off whenever it does slow down. I don't make the effort to create processes and training manuals.

So right now I am our landscaper, scheduler, mowing a day, mechanic, salesman, estimator, firefighter (as in putting out fires in the biz). We've been trying to find a shop\fleet manager and applicator. They either aren't out there or we can't afford to pay what they think they are worth (applicator). What I mean is, is a guy really worth $22 or more an hour that prior to May didn't know how to calibrate a sprayer, doesn't know the difference between Acelepryn and imidacloprid, or one who argues with me?

Anyways, how do you recommend starting? When I am too bizzie to even Sometimes, downsizing looks like a better option.
 

sjessen

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Knoxville, Tn
We use an "Onboarding Checklist," and do something similar to what @snomaha mentioned. I am going to add a few things to our checklist based off of what you shared above (thank you).

Our Onboarding Checklist is broken down into 9 sections: Welcome Packet, Daily Routine, Payroll Practices, Work Rules & Regulations, Mission Statement, The Job, Employee Benefits, Safety & Training, & To-Dos. There are over 40 bullets within these sections.

The goal of having an Onboarding Checklist, for us, is to ensure we focus on the most important topics. We go into further detail inside of our Employee Handbook. Our Employee Handbook, which does not include our Safety Manual or SOPs, is 17 pages long. With that being said, we send that home for new hires to read over.
This sounds great. Until we remember that most of the entry level folk have no intention of eve reading it.

Please don't read in any criticism of what you are doing @Tara Ann.

It looks great.
 
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