Employees a problem? I may have a solution. Feed back urgent!!!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Pittsburgh Stone83, Dec 25, 2012.

  1. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,135

    well if it keeps working that's good.

    But you also don't have a problem then, you found a good guy (at least one)

    Every business out there is going to have the low end troops, be it walmart or joes lawn care, and they are all going to dip into the same cesspool for that labor. Nothing can be done about it. there is a reason why those workers are going for 10-14/hr and getting part time work, because they are all in varying degrees of suck.
  2. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    Easy now, everybody doesn't have the drive or want the stress of a high paying job, it doesn't always mean they suck, it just means it's not for them. Hell I got tired of it! myself. That's why I have no desire to go back to corporate America.The stress level of these 50-60K+ jobs ain't no joke.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2012
  3. Will P.C.

    Will P.C. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 966

    I 'get' where you are coming from. I think one of the problems you are running is there just aren't too many companies that are big and strong enough to afford a 40k+/year foreman with all the accessories. There are numerous owners that make less than or equal to 40k a year for themselves. Obviously it takes years to get to that point.

    In other news
    One idea for business owners is to register with the local community colleges and 4-year schools that offer horticulture programs. I know for 4-year degrees they require an internship to graduate. Mine was 120 hours (unpaid). Most of these places are unpaid internships, but a few places do pay. Speak with the dept head and have him put your phone number and business name on 'the list'
  4. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,135

    That's the actual problem, like I said, a lot of good guys start their own businesses, when they would fit perfectly within another company.

    This creates more contractors than solid work leads, which drives the price down. Just because you are good at what you do, doesn't mean you are going to make a good business owner. Many 'good guys' ARE you competition, this is why they are making in the 40k range.

    I know MANY (and i mean many) company owners that actually make LESS than 40k, a lot less.They are bogged with massive debt and trying to scramble out, yet they chase another job, and another job, and the bidding war continues, until there is a point no one can make any money.

    It's a vicious cycle.

    created by your forefathers in the business, carried on by this generation. Labor is not where you cut your costs, but it's the first place everyone starts.
    This is that cycle. Which is why the industry can't keep or find good employees, they just clone themselves.
    The BIG guys only make it because of massive repetition, they make small percentages a bunch of times. You will only find those big companies present in large population centers. Because they can't survive in the smaller ones.
  5. 1idejim

    1idejim LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,358

    Nicely done!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 7,961

    Some buyers do not care if they hire a low baller. Some buyers have learned their lesson and know it takes a reasonable amount of money to complete the work.

    People have to learn that is OK not to "win" the bid and that reputation matters.

    Yes, education does matter but not for the general laborer. While I pay my laborers more than the DOL stated average I am not going to say that I pay them as well as I would like. No matter how you slice it labor is the largest single expense in this business and is about 40% depending on your overhead and your other labor burden allocations.
  7. Pittsburgh Stone83

    Pittsburgh Stone83 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 116

    First things first. If we want to really get our hands around the big picture not just for the landscape industry but entry level employees across the board in this country we must go to a High School level. Employment issues are at an all time high. People needing jobs, companies in desperate need of entry/intermediate level employees. The first thing that we need to look at is that the construction field is one of the most significant parts of our country's infrastructure. Yet the classes taught in High Schools are mostly set up for preparing kids for college. Not everybody needs, wants, or is capable of college. What happens to the majority who go directly into the work force? They simply aren't prepared. There are Vocational Technical Schools set up in the Pgh. area for High School students. Unfortunately for a student to take these classes you have to take a bus in the morning to a different location away from the rest of your friends. Socialization is a main priority and necessary for kids at this age. Not to mention these VoTech schools are typically filled with disciplinary cases, and causes a stigma that good kids can't be affiliated with. Instead you have a kid like I was who had no intention in going to college, but was not going to socially assassinate myself. i was an athlete and hung out with the popular crowd and Vo Tech would of killed my social life. Instead I, like countless others take classes we have no interest in, play little to no part in our futures, waste tax dollars, and waste teachers valuable time while cheating other students out of the teachers time. It is time to quit misguiding children about eduction beyond high school. College isn't for everybody and the student loans passed onto to kids not finishing college, or not using their degrees is beyond wasteful and another big problem in this country. It is time to teach our kids there is no stereotype between white collar and no collar jobs. I personally do financially better then 95% of people and customers I associate with who have college degrees. I did however feel inferior to my college bound counter parts for years after high school. I feel that High schools urgently need to implement several trade classes into their curriculum and properly educate students on the realities of the true economic job world. This will put tax dollars to better use, keep students interested, better prepare them for their future, utilize teachers time better, reduce student loans,recreate the entry level workers, and greatly strengthen our economy . By implementing class room and on site classes will start to rebuild the work ethic that most kids are being cheated out of from thoughtless parents. It will begin to form the foundation they desperately need to survive and fully participate in today's society. By the time they are in their 20's it's too difficult or impossible to instill this.

    STEP 2

    Trade schools established for kids right out of High School are great. I spoke with an electrician yesterday about how easy it is for them to recruit educated and certified candidates. I have nothing like that in the Pgh. area (from what I've researched). There are several levels of higher education beyond high school that would be invaluable for landscape companies. To start off on the bottom, to implement a " Introduction to Hardscape Construction Course" . This course would teach:

    - The hardscape industry background and current role in the business world
    - Tool identification and usage
    - Raw Material identification and usage
    - Equipment identification and usage
    - Hardscape materials, identification and usage
    - ICPI and NCMA class room and on site education (This section alone would be a 2 month course)

    This alone could be a 3 month+ course for entry level employees. Nothing too expensive, or too many resources needed to get established. If successful could be implemented nationwide. I would consider this level 1 out of 5 for just hardscape and not even getting into landscape, irrigation,lighting, excavation, water features services. Then you have management, design, sales, etc. A 3 month course that a candidate has to pay for, gets graded on, and maintains strict attendance along with full participation in field classes would be a great asset to any company needing these basic fundamentals. If a candidate completes a course such as this, I as an employer know what to expect as the candidate took the class seriously, paid for training, and fully understands the physical aspects and work ethic required day in and out (Applied through months of site education). If you run a hardscape company or looking to get involved these are the necessary fundamentals that fit in any company's model.

    I have approached reps from Versa lok and Unilok so far about implementing this education. I feel it would give them a hand up on competition as using this as part of their contractor programs. For me to continue the fight I need support from employees, owners, or anybody interested to weigh in. This is vague and introductory for my vision but enough to summarize.

    I see many are viewing but we need responses!
  8. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659


    If you lived down here, I am sure you could implement such a program, we have a very strong technical college program here, I think it's one of the best in the country if I'm not mistaken, I for one would do everything I could to either get in your program or somehow support it. Clemson Univ has a BS and MA hort program but no two year AS option which would be a great option in my opinion.One problem here is a lot of the big companies here don't even recognize an AS degree in anything, as I found out after getting laid off. I totally agree with your assesment of the education problem in this country, we're pumping BS into these kids heads and it's all about money more than anything. If you get your program off the ground let me know I will gladly attend some how.
  9. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,597

    I know this discussion has changed a little bit from it's original intent, but ultimately, it is about employees - finding them, training them, motivating them, and keeping them. Someone earlier in the thread said something along the lines of "give me an honest hard working employee and I will take care of the rest"...

    I have to agree.

    Our job as business owners is to have systems in place for our business, regardless of whether or not you have one employee or 50. There should be an exact way of doing things, and as the owner, this starts with you.

    It's like sports. You can teach a football player how to catch, throw, run routes, block and tackle. But you can't teach height, speed and strength.

    I always prefer to hire someone with minimal (if any) experience in the industry for several reasons. First, he will not be predisposed to other ways of doing things. I want him to do things my way. Second, I will not have to listen to someone telling me that they feel that they deserve or have earned some sort of rights or privileges by working elsewhere.

    I know that once someone is hired, they will be trained properly within my organization to do things the right way, the efficient way and the safe way.

    On top of that I focus on the "culture" of my company. I do not want people hating me, their supervisor or their job in general. So we have lot so of ways to keep employees around, keep them motivated, keep them excited and get them to care about not only their success, but the success of the company as a whole.

    No it's not easy and yes, it is a process. But because we have systems in place, labor is not as big an issue for us.

    We know how to place the right kinds of ads for employees we are seeking. We know who to talk to in order to help us find new employees. We know how to interview potential employees to see if they will fit nicely into the "culture" we have created.

    If hired, we know how to ease them into the company, train them and keep them involved so they are not constantly looking for a new job.

    Does this work with a small company? You bet.

    If you are running your company the right way - organized, efficient, focusing on pleasing your clients and making sure you are making a profit, there will always be room for growth and opportunity for your employees.
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    My biggest complaints about LCOs of all kinds, really have little to dowith 'education'...
    For exa.:
    Blowing the leaves into the street or the end of the driveway, so it might be bagged with a ZTR... Creating a dust cloud over the entire neighborhood, along with pebbles, chopped leaves and twigs in adjacent lawns...

    Not too complicated and education classes about picking up leaves, are going to teach, 'What?' in the classroom???

    Another exa.:
    Relates to CG root inhibitor being put down in March for Wisconsin Lawns has everything to do with money and getting all the lawns accomplished before May 10th... Education about the correct timing for the benefit of the lawn is not only wasted, but irrelevant...
    I would agree that teaching all LCOs the science behind the Pre-M "Barrier" would be a worthwhile effort...

    3rd Exa.:
    Planting a tree or shrub properly and expecting a 100% survival rate can be demonstrated one time, even by a video clip on Utube... The only problem with plants being planted improperly, is shodding workmanship... its not brain surgery and doesn't require years of experience,,, it only takes care and doing it as if, you really give a ***...

    I can't see that much classroom education in doing a job and following instructions ,,,is really something that anyone needs to invest time and money in... OJT all the way... :)

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