Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by WRICH, Nov 23, 2005.

  1. WRICH

    WRICH LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Have lawn care business in prominent eastern long island community and service about 75 accounts from retired seniors to multi million dollar estates. I currently have 2 full time employees that graduated college with degrees I pay 17 and 22/hr with the empire medical insurance package. They are now looking for that full time retirement professional type job and want to said they are not working for me next year. What would you do to find new employees or to try and keep these two.
  2. dsmrolla06

    dsmrolla06 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 305

    22 and 17 an hour sounds awfully high, maybe its because of where you live. I wouldnt pay solely by the hour myself, but that is only my oppinion. Around here, 9 dollars an hour would be decent for a laboror and maybe 12-15 for a crew chief.
  3. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    Well, the pay is comparable to what I pay my guys, $17.50 and $22.50 for crew foreman. Personally, I would do whatever to keep them if they are good workers.
  4. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,420

    Thats high for around here also, $9 for a laborer is about tops. I could see going $17 if the position were crew foreman as Rod posted.

    I grew enough this year to hire two employees, and learned how true it is that good help is hard to find!! If you are already paying this much and bennies, I would suspect a 3 % or 4 % matching 401k package would not run you more than $50 or so per employee per week for contributions alone. Check with some investment brokers about plan administration costs, some may do it based upon a percentage of the monies gained, therefore the more employees enrolled including yourself, the sweeter you look to a broker.

    Now don't solely take what I've posted on here as gospel, this is more based upon my experience of working for the man and the type of plan we could enroll in. This was with a large broker as well, for smaller companies you likely will have to seek out a smaller broker.

    I have struggled with the employee issue all season, I am convinced of a few things:

    1: You could pay younger workers $30 per hour and it would not make a dang bit of difference in their work ethic :angry:

    2: I had an employee similar to what the original poster describes (college grad, certified fert & squirt, worked grounds crew at golf course) very conscientious. I paid him the prevailing rate $9 per hr. routinely kicked $50 or more, bonuses per week his way. Told him he would be given substantial raise for next season + bennies if still around, have him manage lawn maintenance if hardscapes took off. He jumped at first office job he could get, don't blame him, just seems we will always be fighting this problem.

    3: Semi-retired will be next labor pool I try and tap. Guys that actually understand and give a sh!t about the job they are doing, dependable, don't use a trimmer like a magic wand :p .

  5. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Messages: 4,040

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    Hi WRICH,

    How did you get these current employees? Could the same process be repeated and find other college students?

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    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Wow, a couple college grads already worried about retirement :D The $17-$22 an hour you're paying is probably more than they could get starting out at a 'professional' type job. You'll probably be alright if you can hold onto one of them, make him the 'franchise player' with good bennies, and hopefully pick up a competent helper to work with him.

    If they do decide to leave, them 'em know they're welcome to come back...there's a ton of college grads, not a ton of high-paying jobs, this comes as a rude awakening to many of the under-25 crowd.
  7. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,597

    pay good employees with steak and pay yourself with hot dogs...eventually you will "relish" the decision
  8. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    I'm not so sure the amount of hourly wage is the issue here...rather the hard work outside in the elements might be the underlying key. Let's face it. This industry is not for the meek.
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    No offense but why should I, the owner, get paid LESS than my workers? This is one of the reasons I have no employees is nobody is willing to work for me for less than a thousand dollars / month (my wage). Well hey, tough luck, go work at McD's and stop complaining to me about low wages.

    $6.50 / hour, maybe 7 for a hired lawnboy. Ok, maybe 9/hour, could be I'm behind the times but at the same rate, WHO out there pays 9/hour, what Industry pays that much, and if someone does, then shouldn't these high-paid employees be working for THEM, and what are they doing asking US for a job...?

    I say some Lco's are being bamboosled... Not to say hard work isn't a key factor, but the following deductions apply:
    - Broken equipment / downtime YOU would not have incurred had YOU been working the equipment.
    - Missed days, sick days, coming in late, etc, etc.
    - Work done 'on the side' such as when an employee in the field does something for a customer's neighbor on a cash deal, with your equipment.
    - Other things such as what happens due to the fact they THINK like Employees, remember the days? Yeah...
    - Theft, et. al.

    Why should WE, the owners, eat the problem?
    Paying somebody MORE does not make them a better worker, this is the exact same thing as when we give a customer a discount, just from another viewpoint, you're bending over backwards now for the workers vs. the customer... Stop doing that, you can NEVER pay them ENOUGH, much like you can never price things LOW enough, you need to price HIGH and pay LOW.
  10. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    Perhaps that is why I pay what I do. I don't have any of the above problems other than sick days (few and far between) too. As for broken equipment, most of my people are better mechanics than I am and I'm pretty good as it is.

    As for work done on the side, I can't think of how many times one of my foreman came up to me at the end of the day and handed me cash. I'm like, "What is this for? Well, the next door neighbor's mower is broken alonside Mrs. Smith's house and he was wondering if we could mow his lawn while we were there..."

    Get the picture?

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