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

Barrett Landscaping

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Cincinnati, Ohio
I agree with what most are saying here. Talk to him about your expectations and how he can get to where both you and him want to be. Sounds like a good guy that needs guidance. Maybe offer him a weekly bonus incentive for when things go smooth. You need to train him to work how you want him to as well as think for himself. Once he can do that I would not have much issue paying what he's asking
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Kelly's Landscaping

LawnSite Platinum Member
Location
Milford CT
Run this scenario by your self. He someday this year or in a few years decides he will leave you in the spring. But first he can string you along paying your 2000 a month with may be 2500 a month by then, Your pay him 8000-10000 in the winter that you can't afford and he will take that as his going away present. Gets even better if the new job doesn't work out your be the company they hit for the unemployment insurance guaranteeing you stay at the max rate.

Most don't think like this but I recommend you plan out your exist strategy on everything. Yes you want him to be with you and grow with you but think how this ends and most everything does end. Do you want to make it even messier than other wise need be.
 

TPendagast

LawnSite Fanatic
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

2400/mo sounds like a deal to me...provided it stays the same for 12 months.

Train him.
What resume/applicant is ALL he says he is and a bag of chips?
It's never that way.

Train him, give him goals and schedules, if he doesn't meet them, give him evaluations and tell him what expectations he didn't meet.
Give it a year.
if he aint the guy, let him know.... hes pretty much price fixed at less than 30k per year.

The 5-6 employees that "say the same thing" about him? Ummm aren't they the same 5-6 slackers?
I mean seriously what else do they have in common?

How many soldiers say their drill sergeant was easy on them and was very fair?
He's a new guy, pushing things harder....OF course they are going to say its his fault for not telling them what to do.
That part I can guarantee is BS, given the fact you said all those other guys are slackers.
 

HPSInc

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Buffalo, NY
I feel he oversold himself and underproduced. His mom texting you leads is not the same as him selling jobs. Does she still make him his lunch in the morning too? It's definitely on him if the guys don't work well under his leadership. I have guys that would slack off if I let them, but they can't because I WONT LET THEM. They know there is a price to pay if I leave and come back and things aren't getting done.

You became close with this guy, he thinks he's going to possibly own half the company one day. If you have no intention of that ever happening nows the time to set the record straight. If that means he leaves, then so be it. This is a problem becoming friends with employees. I always made it known to my guys, we can be cool and friend like but make no mistake I am your boss and I will show you the door if it ever comes to that.

His job duties and pay need to be crystal clear. He fell short on what you needed of him and from the sounds of it he told you he could do those things straight away. I don't see that as you not training him enough, I see that as him telling you he could do things he couldn't.

Hers how you solve your dilemma....you lay him off, period. If him collecting over 2k a month is a problem for you, then don't bend over and let it happen. You can't do it, it's not in the budget, end of story.

If he really wants to stick around make it known your happy to have him, but you need to get things under control from what I can see. Don't throw this guy all sorts of money for the wrong reasons. It's your company, remember?

What's the chance of him going anywhere else and getting paid to not live up to his end of the bargain? If your company can't support him taking a pay check and he can't jump into snow removal beast mode storm #1 then he isn't getting paid as if he was.

I also agree with TP, he's either a foreman or a salesman. And he still needs to learn more to be worth the big money IMO. He sounds years away from being what you had hoped, and what he had let you to believe. So train him and let him know you need more from him if you are to pay him more. And still no excuse of other employees slacking around. You need to set the tone if that means firing a guy on the job to make a point then do it.

Best of luck
 

donamow

LawnSite Senior Member
If you do decide to pay him I would still have him work. I would have him out out door hangers every day. But know one thing, how can he truly be a top guy and have no mechanical experience? That should be at the top of the list when your the go to guy. I would have a sit down with him asap and lay everything out on the table.
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DLONGLANDSCAPING

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Birmingham,MI
Thanks for all of the replies everyone. I appreciate it and i want to reply to some of the posts.

In our area, $12-$14 per hour is general labor (lawn mowing, trimming, brick layer, etc) $15-$17 are crew leaders/foreman rates. Anything above $17 is a highly specialized landscape professional that knows all of the in's and outs of landscaping. Plowing comes with a premium because of the hours and time of day we plow at. Normal plow drivers get $18-$22 per hour in our area.

I am in a little business group with 4-5 other businesses from my area and we discuss all of this, and that's where my pricing is set up.

With regard to training, he worked WITH me all year. I discussed everything with him every job, what i am going to do, what the stages of job are going to be, how to set up the job, how to keep the job clean and create sections of work so the entire yard etc. Even at the end of the season he would still do the same ****, cut corners, leave things unfinished so the final walk through was another day of work cleaning up messes and doing the final touches.

I am sitting down with him Friday to discuss everyhting and go over the review of the season. We did a mid season review as well with Objectives for him to hit (one of which was for him to get his chauffers licenese paid for by the company) and he still has not gotten that. I am having him do small tedious things as of right now to keep busy (staking driveways, cleaning the shop and trucks, filling in pot holes at some of our clients before we plow them etc) but the busy work is going to run out.

The thing im having trouble with is i dont know how i tell him, sorry bud, your not getting salary. Find another job to get through the winter and you can plow with us. Or you can take the 20 your min/cap offer.

I need a backbone with him, he is not my friend per se but we work well together and thats what i think he got used to. Me giving him jobs, vs him coming up with things to do.

Does anyone pay a laborer salary? One of my buddies is setting his employees up on commission based wages. They do roughly $2,000 dollars per day in landscaping and they each get a percentage weekly from the income made that week. Im not sure if i could do that for my guys but works well for him with guys trying to milk the clock.
 

calvinslawnservices

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Grand Rapids MI
Thanks for all of the replies everyone. I appreciate it and i want to reply to some of the posts.

In our area, $12-$14 per hour is general labor (lawn mowing, trimming, brick layer, etc) $15-$17 are crew leaders/foreman rates. Anything above $17 is a highly specialized landscape professional that knows all of the in's and outs of landscaping. Plowing comes with a premium because of the hours and time of day we plow at. Normal plow drivers get $18-$22 per hour in our area.

I am in a little business group with 4-5 other businesses from my area and we discuss all of this, and that's where my pricing is set up.

With regard to training, he worked WITH me all year. I discussed everything with him every job, what i am going to do, what the stages of job are going to be, how to set up the job, how to keep the job clean and create sections of work so the entire yard etc. Even at the end of the season he would still do the same ****, cut corners, leave things unfinished so the final walk through was another day of work cleaning up messes and doing the final touches.

I am sitting down with him Friday to discuss everyhting and go over the review of the season. We did a mid season review as well with Objectives for him to hit (one of which was for him to get his chauffers licenese paid for by the company) and he still has not gotten that. I am having him do small tedious things as of right now to keep busy (staking driveways, cleaning the shop and trucks, filling in pot holes at some of our clients before we plow them etc) but the busy work is going to run out.

The thing im having trouble with is i dont know how i tell him, sorry bud, your not getting salary. Find another job to get through the winter and you can plow with us. Or you can take the 20 your min/cap offer.

I need a backbone with him, he is not my friend per se but we work well together and thats what i think he got used to. Me giving him jobs, vs him coming up with things to do.

Does anyone pay a laborer salary? One of my buddies is setting his employees up on commission based wages. They do roughly $2,000 dollars per day in landscaping and they each get a percentage weekly from the income made that week. Im not sure if i could do that for my guys but works well for him with guys trying to milk the clock.

This takes 20 mins at the SOS. That little thing tells me that he doesn't want to do anything more than he is told to do. He is just a smooth talking labor... I wouldn't pay him more than what you are paying him now.
 

HPSInc

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Buffalo, NY
I've known guys on salary who just wanna get the F outta dodge cause they make the same either way. Hourly guys want to milk the clock and salary guys want to rush. You just need to find the right people and pay a fair wage for their given duty. I think it should all equal out at the end of the day.

Why not just lay him off, and when he works he claims that on his unemployment. Works one night 8 hours, doesn't claim a full week on unemployment. That way it's legit and your only paying him when you need him. The way it should be.

If you had the work load and it made sense you could pay him through winter, but you don't and it doesn't make sense. Be firm and lay it out to him. It's your company and he's an employee who does what you say if he wants to work for you. No company I ever worked for ever was this sweet on me or any of their other workers. Probably why they are all millionaires.
 

joeslawncaree

LawnSite Senior Member
When I worked for a company I was on salary paid 50 hours a week any hours after 50 got put into the winter fund. It worked out to be about 30 hours every week in the winter plus plowing. I actually made more in the winter then summer time.

It's hard since he has the work ethic yet not all the skills yet. I would lay him off and pay him to shovel. At least he's still making money if we don't get a lot of snow this year.

Definitely sit down down with him and tell him every you wrote in your first post if he's a hard dedicated worker wanting to help build your company he'll understand.
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joeslawncaree

LawnSite Senior Member
The down side to laying people off is they don't want to work since they're getting 365 dollars a week to do nothing so going out to plow and bring home 150.00 after taxes makes it seem not worth it.
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