employee productivity ideas

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by HBFOXJr, Sep 19, 2002.

  1. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,712

    Things are lagging and getting sloppy. Although I have a company policy manual that spells out some performance and job issues I'm rethinking just going over this stuff again as same old same old and freshen things up a bit.

    My office and shop are about 120' apart. My guys come in and don't let me know they are there and just start on things they think needs to be done or stock trucks or what ever or maybe talk football on monday morning etc. I'm just gonna verbally put a stop to that. Call me on the radio or come in the office every day. Since plans can change at night or early in the morning setting things up a day ahead is not the answer all the time.

    Prep for the days work takes too long. I've read of lights & bells on timers that go off at certain times which means that 5they don't have to watch the clock and aim to beat the buzzer. Warning or timing ones go off before the final buzzer.

    They are supposed to come to work with lunch in hand. I haven't enforced it as it can be nice to hit a bathroom in your travels and catch a break. A lot of our work is moving job to job anyhow and we go by lots of stores. I've heard of lunch allowances for coming prepared in the morning and not stopping at stores.

    There are also training issues for lesser employees and productivity organization things that are not thought out. My job is secure if the other guy is the grunt and I know it all. Nothought about if I take a day off or company growth and my future in that growth etc. Or lets put both aerators to work, 1 big, 1 small and then we can dog the touch up seed work because there is only one power rake for little areas and one drop spreader and one broadcast for seed.

    I want to spice things up a little, maybe get some training tapes or something and get some movement here rather just just do everything because this is my idea and I said so and I'm the boss.

    Comments and ideas please.
  2. bubble boy

    bubble boy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    are the radio/cells in the shop? they could call in when they arrive.

    def. no shooting the ****, football or not. this should be easy to curtail, without actually forbidding it. just give out a task to the speaker.

    not sure what you mean by prep work, but for us thats stuff like blades, oil, gassing up, etc. best way for this is to do it at night, before they go home. will get done faster.

    exception-i don't like application tanks filled overnight, i dont know why. stuff like killex. i just do it in the morning.

    by buzzers, what do you mean?

    as for lunch, i allow half hour off the clock. they can do what they want, i figure a hot coffee is always nice. if they skip lunch and eat on the road, fine. i won't take the half hour off their time. i know there is room to cheat here, just one thing i am nice (slack) on.

    productivity is tough, often can be hard to teach. i find when people are on in the spring they get productive fast. usually a couple days working until sundown tends to help productivity. if they come on mid yr, they never learn to be efficient.

    days off is tough. i wonder as well what others do.
  3. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    Harold -

    I don't know how many trucks/guys you have and how long it takes to load up in the morning... but what about having the foreman arrive early to load the vehicles, or load what they can at night before they depart. Have the crew show up 30 min after the foreman. If it's just applicators (single man crews), are the trucks standard? Could one person come in early or stay late to restock each truck according to the route for the next day. I suppose the efficiency of filling multiple tanks all at once depends on several factors.

    I read the article about the bells, lights and buzzers. I know what you're talking about. I think though simply installing lights and buzzers giving the crews a count down might not be effective right away. Do you have an effective field general who can run the shop and get people out the door? If your'e not able to run the shop in the morning, than someone ought to be there ready to hand out work assignments the minute the guys walk in. Start tasking them right away and the talk will dwindle.

    How many hours are you loosing each morning, each week, each season? What about explaining the problem in dollars and sense to the crew and ask them for their ideas on how the problem could be remedied? Savings from greater efficieny could be applied to the year end performance bonus of some sort.

    Heck - 5 guys for .5 hours each morning is 12.5 hours each week. That's 500 hours for a 40 week season, or a loss of $25,000 in revenue if you're producing at $50.00 per hour.

    As for lunch - the employee gets 1/2 hour - encouraged not to stop at the store/deli. However, if the crew travels off the route to a deli, they either must keep the lunch time in 1/2 hour range (tough to do) or they simply take a .58, .67 or more lunch break. We track time to the 5 minute mark or .08. If the crew elects to take more time for lunch, it's not paid time but it does take from the work day if it's abused.
  4. Got Grass?

    Got Grass? LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 363

    How about simply moving the time clock into the office? Would force employes to see ya. If you done have time to talk to all of them you could simply stick a "Post It" note onto their time cards with the days instructions. Tell them thay must prep & be out of the shop by a given time.

    As far as lunches are concerned & driveing arround to a distant deli, you could always install GPS systems on your trucks. You would then know excatcy how long they were at a given stop, some you can even tell if they were speeding. (Search "GPS")

    Some insurance sompanys give discounts to larger co's, if you let someone come in the play some "safty" videos & talk about "horrior" stories. All employees will be required to be there. Being in some coffee & dougnuts while thay sit & watch the boring tapes for an hr.

    Allow them a stop for the bathroom, as we all know not everyone has to go at the same time & customers wouldnt be happy with a suprise in the bushes. (Search "Peeing in the bushes") Female employees will always have to go more becasue of . ....

    First month or so of the year your prolly sending them out in multiple crews for cleanups, as only a few are prolly dry at a time.
    Stop in at the job & see who is getting along & working well with who. Stick them together in the same truck for the year. Stick a leader & hard worker with the new guys to "pump them up".
    Dont give the new guys the easy jobs simply becasue they arnt as good doing certin things as they will want thoes jobs forever.

    If you are "strict" the guys will turn against you & find ways to slack off & prolly quit. Instead reward them when they do good, but be strict with the qualifications for the rewards. Give them rewards for "most productive crew", "least beakdowns", "on time", "least sick days", etc.... Make it a weekly thing like a free lunch, case of beer & pizza fri. night. End of the season bonus would keep some guys arround if you make it worth it. Heck give them a bonus for simply sticking arround a full year.

    Sick days are a pain as most guys need time off every so often. If you dont need them that day give it to them. Just dont let them get away with taking sick days because thay went out & are hungover. Let them have their birthday & the day after off if requested. Most other landscapers will let people have time off whenever so you cant be to strict. Tell them thay need to stick arround longer the rest of the week.

    Make it fun for the guys & they will become much more productive. If they think "it's just another job" & dont like you. Your in for a rough ride. If your emplyees enjoy working for you, think your a great guy, it will be so much easier on everyone.
    Stop by a job site on a 100 degree day with some GatorAid & pizza for the guys & just watch their faces light up.
    Tell the guys you will pick up a couple dozen dougnuts & coffee for thoes who come in early monday mornings. Have them in the office & go over what happened last week & this weeks agenda. The coffee will wake em up by punch in time.

    Just a few ideas. Take them as you wish.
  5. Floridalandcare

    Floridalandcare LawnSite Senior Member
    from Tampa
    Messages: 314

    What you are talking about doing to your employes is called Micro Managing ,If you think you can Micro Manage employees that make 7-10$ an hour you are sadly mistaken , do you think these guys really care about your busines ,hell no they dont .All they want is a paycheck and if you cant offer them that then they will go to the next guy .You need to make your staff feel like part of a team .A little B.S time amoung employees is necessary and not only is it necessasry but its healthy . If you told me I had to bring my lunch to work everyday with no time to rest I would be gone .There is only 4 groups that can Micro Manage efficiantly, The United States Marine Corps, The United States Army, The United States Navy and the Coast Guard.:eek: :mad:
  6. Floridalandcare

    Floridalandcare LawnSite Senior Member
    from Tampa
    Messages: 314

    Sorry to all you fly-boys but I forgot about the United States Air Force
  7. site

    site LawnSite Member
    Messages: 168

    We quit the maintenance business and now do strictly installs, so not everything will apply. And, I definitely can't claim to have the last word on this subject- I struggle withit a lot. Anyways here's what helped-
    Enclosed job trailers- no more searching for tools, no forgotten tools, no broken tools due to poor loading. Guys remember ear protection, masks, blades, a garbage can, etc.- EVERY DAY. They have a place to sit and eat during rainy days. they can store some of their own junk in there too- like a radio for big stone wall jobs, and raingear. I figure this alone raised our productivity by a huge amount this year. Plus- its a huge billboard with the company logo advertising in all the right places.
    Dry ink erasable job board- lists crews job location trucks and materials and any special tools needed for the job. Guys don't ask each other what's happening they look at the board- it gives them accurate info every day. When we forget to fill it out the guys complain now. This cuts a few minutes off each guy's departure time every morning and as we all know a few minutes here and there adds up pretty quickly.
    Work orders- has a copy of the proposal without the prices. Also includes complete address and directions, complete lists of materials, warnings about potential hazards, sketches or plans, etc. I hate filling them out because I have to figure out all the details, but who better to make such decisions.
    Last but not least- get rid of the poor performers and replace them over and over until you get someone who fits your expectations.
  8. dave-man

    dave-man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Got Grass and site both have some really good points. I have an academic (MBA, teaching business classes) and practical (blue- and white-collar supervision and management) background. Positive motivation is a real tool for you. MBWA (management by walking around) is also. Get out of the office and into the shop every morning. Help load the trucks, fuel the equipment, fix what's broken. By doing that, you cut the guys who say "he doesn't know how it really is" off at the knees without saying a word. Offer an incentive -- if your start time is 7, and every truck and employee is on the road every day in a week before 8, you buy beer and pizza on Friday at 4:30. The guys who are movers will lean on the guys who aren't.

    You would be surprised at what makes a difference. I had to ask a guy to work pretty late one night. Jotted out a note to his wife saying that his extra (paid) time made a real difference to the customer and the company and that his effort AND HER CONTRIBUTION where really appreciated. She started sending cookies and brownies in with him every couple of weeks.

    Somebody has a death in the family? Of course you give him/her the day off. Stop by the funeral home or church and let them know that you care about them! New baby? Little bitty lawn care hat. Marriage? Champagne. Graduation? Think of something!

    If you look after your employees, almost all of them will look after you. The ones that don't should "consider exploring other opportunities, since we don't seem to have common goals."

    Just my opinion.
  9. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,712

    Lots of good ideas but unfortunately I didn't go into detail about what we do.

    I'm a small operator now with no more than 3-4 guys and me. Although it's not many guys there are 3 trucks that can go in 3 directions each day.

    We do primarily irrigation service, some irrigation installs and lawn application programs. The programs also generate the special apps like grub, fungicide etc and aeration and seed work. Many days they guys work solo. Some days they are teamed for irrigation installs or aeration & seed. We are down to mowing one day per week and next year not at all.

    They are competent and most days are self starters and productive on their own. Self starting is fine as long as you are starting on the most immediate tasks at hand for that day. Occasionally I'll find one guy who does most of my mechaical work tinkering on some left over repair project instead of finding out what is going on today. Or they may load or unload equipment before checking with me if the plan is still the same or what is the plan. Frequently due to night and early oring phone calls I get approvals and appointments for work to be done immediately.

    What they lack is an understanding of how their action or inaction affects productivity and earnings. There is also not a sense of urgency to prepare in the morning. Everyday is game day in business. But this is a mental game and not physical and the need to perform well everyday is paramount.

    I allow (actually insist) a 1/2 lunch break every day. They also get a 15 miute paid break which can be and frequently is combined with lunch. But what is really happening is something different. If you make a quick stop at a store in the am for a snack, buy your lunch at the same time if it is not with you. Or if you stop for cigarettes or coffe on the way in in the am, buy lunch to bring with you if needed. If 3 guys are on an irrigation install, just have one guy unhook the trailer, take orders and get lunch while the other 2 work. Why should I pay for the time to un hook, hook up, drive, eat etc. ?

    When they stocka truck for an install that atkes 2 or 3 days it shouldn't have to be restocked the 2nd and 3rd day. But I see it happen. They need to count or eyeball fittings and know that there is enough to do the job. Even if they have everything right there is no need to top off daily. Just do it once when the job is complete.

    They are given printed route sheets/work orders every day to prepare from.

    I want to more than just talk to them about this stuff. I know they'll be agreeable and understand. I want to put some systems, bench marks or what ever in place so it is not just because I said so, but makes it measureable and worthwhile to be on top of their mental game everyday. I want their good habits and performance to become automatic. Then I want a positive reward when they are and no reward, not necessarily punishment or negative when they don't.
  10. hoyboy

    hoyboy LawnSite Senior Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 346

    Hello everyone, this is my first post. Hopefully I can be of some value to you, and you to me.

    I was in your same situation several years ago.

    The problem is not in the specifics actions, but in the very core of why you are in business. Your goal is to get a job done in a quality manner in the most efficient (shortest) way possible.

    What is your employees' goal? If your like my company was, as long as they can keep their heart pumping from 7AM until the time they punch out, they get paid. And if they can slow a job down a little more, they get a bonus...overtime. Their selling "time" and your buying it...and they have plenty more to sell.

    Hmmmm.....something's wrong here. I was selling my customer quality, efficiency, and value....and I was going to deliver it using employees selling me their time, inefficiency and sluggishness.

    My goals were not their goals. I needed to change that or get out of business. It's not fun working with people who don't share your vision for the company.

    Bottom line...I started paying piecemeal. They get paid X number of dollars for performing X job. So simple.

    It was scary at first. It's hard to "sell" the idea at first. Employees are highly suspicious and you may have to go through a few to find the right ones. But I promise you it is worth it.

    My crews are out the door, by 7:05 AM...AT THE LATEST! Sometimes even before I get there.

    They get paid their 8 hours whether they work 6 hrs or 10 hrs. (Let me tell you, they are coming in at 1 or 2 o'clock now. Jobs done. They spend a few minutes getting ready for tomorrow, and then they go home to their families.) I'm happy. They're happy. I'm getting the same amount of work done that my crews several years ago were doing, but they were coming in at 4PM.

    Now, crews don't seem to get that unquenchable 7-11 thirst every 1 1/2 hours.

    Now, crews find out that if they go down this street instead of that street, they can save 2 minutes. Or a hundred other "tweaks" that us owners would figure out if we were on the job.

    Now, that piece of equipment they use makes them money...so they take care of it. If it breaks, I still pay for it. But it slows them down and they don't like that.

    Now, they don't forget stuff back at the shop that requires a return trip. You know, that rake, trimmer string, etc.

    Whatever you decide, good luck!

    Great forum!

    Dan Norton

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