Employees Can Be Fixed

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Sean Adams, May 27, 2009.

  1. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    How do you make any money with that much overtime? if your not paying O/T but some sort of subcontract agreement you are either breaking federal labor laws or in some serious gray area that will take a lawyer and much more $$ to clear up if and employee was ever to challenge you on it.

    It is not plausible to expect employees to work that many hours. Just the liability of exhausted employees on the road should be enough to make you change your ways. Believe me you will reevaluate when you have a tragedy occur because of your business practices.

    We work 4-10's and only do that because working 2 more hours when its 110 is better than getting up to 90 degrees at 4:30 AM for another day's work. I have also found if I want to keep my clients happy with prompt response time to extras and improvements and keep my employees from burning out I need to have one extra employee for every 3-4 that I have booked for work. I have found that invariably as mentioned above someones child will be sick, an car will break, a forgotten appointment will pop up something will happen to disrupt my finely tuned schedule. Better to have extra manpower on staff than putting undue pressure on your best guys, the ones that did show up. A happy employee is a safe and good employee and you can't expect anyone to be happy for long if they are working 15 plus hours a day.

    I can hear it now, what do I do with that guy if nothing pops up or I have no extras? :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh: Like that will happen. The best part is you will find you will make more money because your not paying O/T and you can bill out for more. Your guys will get more done in the first 8 hours than they will in the second 8 so your production rate will go up as well.
  2. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    I too will not expect my crews to work beyond 45 hours per week. The additional revenue stream is often eradicated by poorer performance of tired employees. Add in the weather now my crews are operating in sustained 100* temps and after 1500 everyone slows down.

    Concerning the "fixing" of employees - if you as an employer has a problem with an employee; remember YOU interviewed them, YOU hopefully exercised due diligence in checking them out, YOU trained them which all = YOU ARE THE ONE REQUIRING FIXING.

    Labor and the respective issues which accompany comprise the bulk of any business and operating cost. Having state of the art equipment, numerous accounts, etc means little if YOU can't manage your employees effectively.

    To the poster that commented upon poor feedback towards their management, have you tried setting up a time to speak to the management in private and way from the job site? A quick clue to let you know if you have made a poor choice in employment - if the manager won't speak with you to address your concerns - it's time to seek a different job elsewhere.

    How I handle employee concerns is too maintain an open door. My crews KNOW, as I have repeatedly informed all of them, not only do I have an open door but I will not address a problem unless it is a safety concern on the job site. The end result is my crews are happy, my profit margin has increased because all know what everyone else is expected to do, and my crews know I will address and correct any "fixes" required.

    The end result is a bunch of satisfied people, clients and a business that is humming along quite well. I didn't get to this point over night but neither did any business.

    Remember, specific perseverance is what separates a successful business from one that isn't.
  3. clcare2

    clcare2 LawnSite Member
    from indiana
    Messages: 224

    We work like crazy keeping the mowing crews up to speed in april, may , and june. Then every thing seems to even out and every body goes back to 40 hours. The more employees I have in the spring is more people that I have to keep busy in the summer and fall. Plus, I live in dread of another drought. The we had two years ago just about broke all of my guys. From 60 hours to 20 in one week and it lasted the rest of the season.
  4. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    DING DING DING we have a winner :clapping::weightlifter::clapping::weightlifter::clapping: Tx comes through again. Take responsibility for your actions and quit blaming others for your poor choices.

    I try and get in a few minutes every other week to have employee development meetings. I used to make a big deal of it and try and schedule 20 minutes or so but I found it was too much. The guys felt pressure to come up with something to discuss and were intimidated by coming into the office for a one on one with the boss. I get more out of them by just pulling them aside in the morning for 5-10 minutes and if there is an issue we set up more time to get into it. I have been able to keep this more informal schedule which makes for more consistent meetings.

    They know this is the time to bring up problems so we don't have the blow ups and unhappy people in the field this is the time to get things resolved.
  5. maintenanceman

    maintenanceman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 34

    From my experience, employees take on the attitude of their employer. So when you see unhappy, complaining employees you usually find a boss with the same characteristics. When you find employees that care about what they're doing and have good attitude, you find a boss that cares about his people and has a positive attitude too.

    When employees have a complaint, the boss needs to listen and ask for a solution. When employees know that their complaint must include a reasonable solution it changes the whole dynamic. Employees often have great ideas and when you use them you show that you respect the people that work for you.

    Too often the owner is concentrating on the work rather than creating a great team that can do the work properly. Sometimes we need to take off the worker hat and put on the owner hat, and manage our people with the same enthusiasm that we manage the work. Yes, in the heat of battle every day that is challenging, but that's why you're the boss!
  6. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,955

    I worked for ChemLawn Corporation from the late 70's to 1990. Back then, they paid "Chinese overtime" (usually less than minimum wage). Then I started my own company (American Lawn Care, Inc). Some weeks I would put in about 90 hours per week - 7 days a week & using my truck's headlights to see while finishing up lawn app's.....just to build my business

    Now we have nearly 3000 "spray" accounts (we subcontract the mowing). Eight applicators including myself. Now it's rare that any of my guys work more than 40 hours per week, cuz we have tight routes & nice equipment. Personally, I still average about 50 hours per week. I am still the first to show up in the mornings & the last guy to go home, but that is expected if one runs his own business.

    I try to treat my guys as easy as possible, cuz they have lives too. Back in the early 80's, ChemLawn Corporation (not TruGreen) did a corporate-wide survey of employee's complaints. Number ONE issue: "Not enough free time.

    My company operates like the "Knights of the Round Table" -- (nobody is better than anybody else). I respect my employees' wants & needs, so I let them choose what equipment they want to use, and I listen to any ideas they may have. Example: My ride-on applicators prefer the T3000 spreader/sprayer cuz they do NOT want to have to pull a trailer. Others were tired of the constant prob's with LESCO push spreaders, so we switched to Spykers instead. I could go on & on.

    We also provide NASCAR tickets for races, give them a weekday off to attend the Iowa State Fair, as well as several other free events that our company pays for. They work about 9 months out of the year. The other months = they get weekly paychecks. Health/dental insurance is also provided. Many weeks, my guys average $25 per hour. Many earn $30,000 per year -- not bad for Iowa.

    We always find time for several training days as well. Both 'in house' as well as land grant university events.
  7. openbook

    openbook LawnSite Member
    Messages: 215

    Wow you treat your employees well, I'm sure they all stick around a long time.

    My employer Bxxxxxxn. Doesn't have any benefits, Always hounds us about our hours, has a wall they put either smiley faces, or frowning faces that say whats that called again when you don't win, oh yeah, losing. Doesn't care about what equipment I want, wont replace something unless it wont start. Wants me to get my own tools to change blades, makes me work holidays, doesn't want us stopping at a gas station.

    They have one day a year when we have a picnic and they let the mexicans make all the food, It was chorizo, it tasted like some dry flakey sausage but was pretty good mixed with salsa and tortilla chips. Then I played volleyball with the mexicans and they must play all the time because they were good as hell and kept trying to hit it to me, since I'm okay at it but out of practice.

    Crazy long rant I know, so how do we fix employers. Somebody I know called corporate hr and told them we weren't allowed to stop at a bathroom and wanted us to pee in the trailers, now we get two 15 minute breaks a day to use the nearest restroom.
  8. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,955

    Two days ago, I bought a 1995 Cadillac El Dorado for one of my guys. He will make monthly payments. We have done this for several guys/for several years. No skin off our back, cuz many employees are trying to get out of debt, get caught up on child support, etc & upgrade their way of living. We also just bought a 1997 Isuzu (jap company) :hammerhead: pickup for one of our renters. Same thing -- he will make payments.

    Luck has been with us for many years (partly due to working as many as 90 hours a week) so we are able to help those who need a "hand up" instead of a "hand out". Life is short, and I don't mind helping folks who work hard in order to support themselves & families.

    All our guys get one lawn to treat for free. They can always wash their vehicles anytime for free. They are always able to use our warehouse & tools to maintain their vehicles for free.

    We own 2 residential & 2 commercial properties, and we have no long term debt. Everything we have is paid off. That's why we are able to treat employees they way they deserve to be treated. If is were not for them, we would have no company whatsoever. They are the foundation of our business. :usflag:
  9. randj4life

    randj4life LawnSite Member
    from IN
    Messages: 8

    Dear God, maybe spelling and talking correctly should be the new #1. A hard ass with a 6th grade education
  10. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,955

    Our renter just paid me "in full" for the pickup truck. I told you he would. :usflag:

    Today I bought a 1995 Chevy S-10 pickup for one of my guys so they now have two running vehicles. ($500 for the S-10). This allows his wife to have her own car so she can get a job too -- especially important when my employee relies on weekly unemployment checks during winter. They will make payments for the S-10 when they can.

    I would not do this for everybody, but when I am blessed with a hard working employee, it's a smart move. Plus it makes me feel good. Struggling Americans deserve a hand UP -- especially if they have proven themselves with us.

    Employees have a responsibility to help when they can. IMO.
    -- cuz the road runs both ways.


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