Growing Pains..... What to do with an a good employee, what would you pay him?

DLONGLANDSCAPING

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Birmingham,MI
Hope you guys can help with an employee problem I have. Really its not a problem, its a definitive viewpoint of an employee that i have. During the season we run 6-9 guys daily. From college kids to veteran landscapers.

I hired a new guy this year under the pretense that he would be running the landscape crew, hands on, without me having to be there to monitor the job. He would be able to view/read the landscape plan/drawing, and execute the design with high quality results. He was hired in March and I paid him $1500 dollars in the month of March to go out and sell jobs, hand out business cards, etc. He had his mom get us a few jobs but other than that he didnt get anything. I paid him 5% commision on the jobs ontop of his labor on the job and the original $1500 for the month of march. For the entirety of the season he would be paid hourly @ $16 per hour and I provided him Health Insurance compensation($200/mo). Now that the landscape season has slowed down and snow removal is starting up, he thinks that he is going to be put on Salary. This is my dilemma.

Looking back on the year he was really the only reliable guy I had, period... I have a couple of really good guys but the rest would show up, slack off, yada yada. The problem is, I am paying him a forman's wages, but he really is a glorified laborer. Throughout this season, I had to be at every job, order materials and stage the job throughout the course of the project. Which is what I was hoping he would do after i showed him the reins and how we do things on the first couple of jobs. He is a hard worker, shows up on time, and puts in long days. I just don't know how to deal with someone asking me for $XXXX amount of dollars while we pretty much arent working and waiting for the snow to fly.

Here is the downsides of him: (keep in mind he is titled as Forman/Operations Manager:
-Doesn't have a Chauffeurs license (cant drive a truck legally)
-Couldnt execute a job without calling me every 30 minutes asking questions
-Doesnt know how to stage a job and would rather be told what to do
-He is a "boss" not a "leader". No one he works with really gets along with him, this may be because he has high expectations, but its hard to judge after 5-6 people he worked with this year say the same thing. People are always standing around and then he gets mad(but they are waiting for him to give instruction)
-Has never plowed before in his life, and would rather snow blow a driveway than learn how to plow(doesnt understand the concept of productivity)
-Very Very mechanically dumb, his way of fixing things are with bungie cords and shoving screw drivers in spots where a pin should go.
-He is suppose to sell jobs but instead he has his mom do the work for him and she texts me the contacts, and then i call them (this isnt selling a job, this is retaining leads)
-Doesnt know hardscaping at all (about 30% of all jobs we do)


Here is the good things about him:
-Hard worker and loves to be in this industry
-He wants to learn new things but is stuck in the ways of the company he used to work for and its a slow mental process to get him into the ways of being productive vs the Amish way of thinking.
-He isn't rough on equipment (besides shovels) and really takes care and makes sure everything is strapped down in the trailer before things get broken
-Hes a good talker with clients and clients really like him and trust him
-He is looking to grow this company with me, not just be an employee (he keeps talking about eventually being partner, but this is my baby, and i'm really not looking to share any profits. Been there done that)
-Knows a good deal about how to plant shrubs/trees properly and takes pride in that
-Willing to learn new parts of this industry and picks up on them somewhat fast
-I like him as a person, and this is where i think my problems are stemming. We are too close in friendship, than a Boss/Employee relationship.


The problem i have is that when I hired him, he sold himself as a expert in landscaping and could envision a landscape and would be able to sell jobs, lead a crew, and get great results. He worked for a plant nursery all through high school and another landscape maintenance/install company all through college... Hes a college graduate and is asking for more money than I think he is worth in this industry at this time of the year. I want to keep him around but this is the problem:

He wants to be paid $2040 per month salary (while there is VERY LITTLE work to be done in the next 4 months) He is requesting a one dollar raise with a minimum hourly week of 30 hours. (30 hours x $17 per hour = $510 per week)

I'm not sure what to even say to this. I have always laid my guys off in the winter, and let them collect unemployment and then kept 2-3 guys on for snow plowing part time and used college friends as shovelers. Which is like maybe 10-15 hours per week max during the winter salting and plowing events and cleaning the trucks off after each storm.

I don't have 30 hours of work for him to do, so hes going to be sitting on the couch collecting dollars from me for nothing. It just doesn't make sense for me at all. Its his first year plowing so even if he is going to be plowing, he has zero experience and is more of a liability than anything the first 3-4 events until he catches on. I cant have him fix and maintain equipment because he has zero mechanical knowledge. "He once told me the transmission just dropped when a U-joint started vibrating. "


What would you pay him?
What do you think he is worth?

These were my thoughts, because I don't want to lose him as an employee for next year I would offer him a 20hr per week minimum/cap that can be exceeded if we plow a lot that week. Payed at his normal wage of $16 per hour until he learns how to plow and can handle the entire plow route himself. Then i would move him as a regular plow driver to $20 per hour.

This is a base of $1240 dollars plus plowing events if working more than 20 hours per week.


What do you guys think? Im still a very small company. Im hands on and like being in the field, but my hours were supposed to dramatically decrease this year hiring him on, yet they stayed the same or went down a little. When im in the office, is when we are really growing, and selling new jobs, and following up on leads. That is where I need to be to make this business more successful, and i cant when i hire someone who is supopsed to do my job in the field, but cant.

Let me know your thoughts,

Jason
 

jc1

LawnSite Silver Member
What I read is you hired him expecting to know how you want things done. The question is did you train him?
You can't expect someone to come in and be able to run the show.
Most likely your initial conversations were not on the same page and expectations. You said one thing he heard another.
If he is a good employee figure out how to retain him. Use the time and money to train him. One on one, continuing education classes trade shows etc. look into small engine classes, etc
 

grassmonkey0311

LawnSite Gold Member
Here is the downsides of him: (keep in mind he is titled as Forman/Operations Manager:
-Doesn't have a Chauffeurs license (cant drive a truck legally)
-Couldnt execute a job without calling me every 30 minutes asking questions
-Doesnt know how to stage a job and would rather be told what to do
-He is a "boss" not a "leader". No one he works with really gets along with him, this may be because he has high expectations, but its hard to judge after 5-6 people he worked with this year say the same thing. People are always standing around and then he gets mad(but they are waiting for him to give instruction)
-Has never plowed before in his life, and would rather snow blow a driveway than learn how to plow(doesnt understand the concept of productivity)
-Very Very mechanically dumb, his way of fixing things are with bungie cords and shoving screw drivers in spots where a pin should go.
-He is suppose to sell jobs but instead he has his mom do the work for him and she texts me the contacts, and then i call them (this isnt selling a job, this is retaining leads)
-Doesnt know hardscaping at all (about 30% of all jobs we do)


Here is the good things about him:
-Hard worker and loves to be in this industry
-He wants to learn new things but is stuck in the ways of the company he used to work for and its a slow mental process to get him into the ways of being productive vs the Amish way of thinking.
-He isn't rough on equipment (besides shovels) and really takes care and makes sure everything is strapped down in the trailer before things get broken
-Hes a good talker with clients and clients really like him and trust him
-He is looking to grow this company with me, not just be an employee (he keeps talking about eventually being partner, but this is my baby, and i'm really not looking to share any profits. Been there done that)
-Knows a good deal about how to plant shrubs/trees properly and takes pride in that
-Willing to learn new parts of this industry and picks up on them somewhat fast
-I like him as a person, and this is where i think my problems are stemming. We are too close in friendship, than a Boss/Employee relationship.


The problem i have is that when I hired him, he sold himself as a expert in landscaping and could envision a landscape and would be able to sell jobs, lead a crew, and get great results. He worked for a plant nursery all through high school and another landscape maintenance/install company all through college... Hes a college graduate and is asking for more money than I think he is worth in this industry at this time of the year.

Sounds like he is a good employee, and one you can groom into being very productive and hard working.

I'd sit him down and have a review with him. You already highlighted his good and bad points, I would certainly share that with him. I would also talk with him about the part I put in bold (how he sold himself) and say for those reasons and the bad points, you can't justify a pay raise or salary.

Maybe say to him you'd love to have him come back next year, and work on things to eventually get him to the money and salary he wants, but as of now, he has not met the expectations of the job description. After that, it's up to him if he wants to invest his time with your company, or take a hike and try to schmooze some other business owner with selling himself as an expert.
 

Michael Ward

LawnSite Member
It seems like most of the issues you described are knowledge based. From what you have said it seems he is a hard worker that is really bought in to you and your company. Those are very valuable things. He might not be as developed as you would wish he was but knowing how difficult it is to find hard working people who are bought in I think I would try to develop and work with him. Let him know the strengths and weaknesses you see inhim and how you expect him to develop for next year, then just pour into him in all areas from his leadership to mechanical knowledge.
 

Subiz

LawnSite Senior Member
How much will you pay me for leads? I bet I can do better than his mom. There is a joke but I won't go there... :usflag:
 

DuallyVette

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
Charlotte NC
I believe that I would have gone over this list of pro's and con's with him. Only you know what he's worth to you. And you just spelled it out to us. You hired him at what you consider a foremans wage, and he couldn't do the job. It sounds like he couldn't lead and motivate his crew members, causing them to under produce. It sounds like you bought yourself a friend.
 

alldayrj

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
Long island, NY
Sounds like an english speaker, address where hes at, and where he needs to be. The position you want him to fill is a 20/25 per hour position easily so tell him he needs to grow, get to that level where you need him to be, then he can make that kind of money.

As for the salary, put your foot down, no, can't do it. Not this year. 0 plow experience liability is an understatement. I would ask him to ride around with me few storms paid minimum wage so he can learn. Tell him maybe salary next year. Its not like hes going to walk off at this time of year and get his demands from another scaper
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AI Inc

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Southern NH
First off , I would not pay him $20 an hr to plow. 2 reasons ,
one he has no experience and will probably not be worth it
2 , once you pay him $20 to plow he will expect $20 next spring to now be his new pay rate.


You need to sit him down and talk with him

1 , get the truck license taken care off. Offer to pay for the test ect.
2 forget the selling , he is either a salesman or a foreman , not both. Being both can be your job , not his.
3 Some people are great workers but suck at leadership, they will work their azz off while the crew stands there and watches them because they are not being told what to do.

4 Bringing in someone new to tell guys who have been around a while always causes bullcrap. Possibly start a second crew with new guys under him ( him now being the guy who has been around the longest) . Then if you want to get out of the field slowly get rid of existing dead wood ( or fastly)
 

alldayrj

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
Long island, NY
Not true, snow guys start at 25/hr here. Guys that normally would be 15/20. They understand its few and far between and a reward for showing up at 4 am and doing the deal without screwing up
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wbw

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
houston tx
Develop him. Nurture him. Performance review every 30-60 days until he is where you want him to be. Tie his pay rate to meeting objectives set out in the reviews. Get him out of sales. Next spring he won't be the new guy anymore.
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