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Hiring friends, relatives. Your thoughts & experiences

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by daltonbuck, May 23, 2005.

  1. daltonbuck

    daltonbuck LawnSite Member
    Messages: 36

    If you have read any of my recent previous posts, you would know that I am fairly new to the ownership side of the lawn business. Although I have over three years (off and on) experience, I recently bought my own equipment and started my own business. Now that I am acquiring more properties and clients, I am a pubic hair away from having to hire help, as I have previously done work alone.

    Here is my situation: I have a friend, a best friend, who is bugging the **** out of me about hiring him on for a few days a week as his job isn't currently giving him as many hours as he would like. I know he would take care of my equipment and that I would only have to show him once or twice my own idiosyncrasies and he would catch on. But then again, most people would be the same way. My father, a very wise man that I look up to, has repeatedly told me to NEVER hire friends or family because they won't take it seriously and would do half-ass jobs and more importantly would slowly become unreliable because he is my friend, I wouldn't let him fall to the wayside. I take what my father says on this matter very seriously because he has had experience with hiring family and friends.

    Give me some feedback. Would you hire him? What are your past experiences?
  2. South Florida Lawns

    South Florida Lawns LawnSite Platinum Member
    from usa
    Messages: 4,784

    Its kinda the same with family members too although my brother was one of my best wokers to date.
  3. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,209

    My family (2 cousins and my brother) have worked for me at different times and always worked hard and gave me their all. My friends, on the other hand, didn't work out. We didn't take it personally, and they are still my friends, but they won't work with me again. We do have a lot of laughs over beers when they tell their war stories of working for me.
  4. pagefault

    pagefault LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 492

    Your father is pretty much right, IMHO. I have only ever hired friends that I had worked with previously. It's not so much that they are going to do things half-assed; I just think that it is difficult to establish a good working relationship after you have established the friendship (or blood relationship).

    If I have a friend who was a good coworker or employee before we were friends, fine. Otherwise, I'm against it. I've seen and experienced too many problems. My old boss had a sister who went home with migraines every three days, a father who surfed for porn IN FRONT OF female coworkers and a cousin who embezzled money for coke. A more recent boss at a larger company had friends who never worked and a father who blamed him for everything that went wrong at the company (200+ employees).

    The other problem is that just about everyone screws around or calls in sick to go fishing or something, at least once in a while and it is hard not to take that personally when it is your best friend who is blowing off work and leaving you to cover for him. I guess that's not another problem, but a symptom of the same problem: trying to have a working relationship with a friend or relative.

    Plus, are you doing him a favor by giving him the job? Is he doing you a favor by helping you out? Do you both see it the same way? Think of the customer who "let's" you take care of his yard. How is your relationship with him? When you hire a friend or family member, it can be even worse. You feel like you're doing him a favor. He feels like he's doing you a favor. You both know how the other feels and you both resent it.

    Yeah, your dad's pretty smart. Never hiring friends or family is oversimplifying a little, but it is not a bad policy.
  5. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    it's a bad idea.
    usually results in the loss of a friend
  6. Mountain Peak

    Mountain Peak LawnSite Member
    Messages: 203

    My sister is one of my best workers, and my brother in law is one of my best leads. They would never let me down.

    I hired a friend the other day, slow worker but he did work hard. I was going to keep him on and train him a little more to help him get faster. Then, three fridays ago, I had him and my sister going out to do some catch up work. He was suppose to be there at 8:30 to get going. I took the day off to finish my own sprinker system in my new house. 8:40 rolls around and he still isn't there. I jump in the truck with my sister and we go to work. He called all pissed that we left without him. My sister is always there 10 minutes early, NEVER late. He was late and I left him. My business, my rules. He's still pouting about it and he's not working for me any more.

    You have to be careful and have enough balls to get rid of him fast if he doesn't work out. Friends will also start to ask questions about how much money you are making and expect you to answer......
  7. Adamma Landscape Group

    Adamma Landscape Group LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    You should hire your friend and give him a try. You said, " I know he would take care of my equipment ---". To me this is an inner conviction that you know him and he will take care of your stuff. In business you need people who will take care of your stuff not people showing up for money and throwing you stuff around or stealing your equipment.
    At times friends and relatives are the best employees you would ever have if you treat them right. When he starts, if he gives you good input you should know he is a good friend.
    Your father is also right friends and relatives can be bad.
    So there is 50% chance your friend might be good and 50% chance he might not be good. Since most things in life are like this I would rely on my gut feelings and my relationship with him and give him a try. If it works out, then that is fine. If it does not work out you can still be friends. Remember it is business not personal. Treat him fair like an employee and things should work out. Do not do him favors like let him sit down or stay at McDonald's and eat longer when he should be working because you say he is your friend. Do not be rude to him even under pressure.
    If you pay him good and treat him like an employees things should work out fine.
    I am writing from experience.
  8. GreenUtah

    GreenUtah LawnSite Senior Member
    from SLC, UT
    Messages: 866

    Well, Adamma started down the right track. It's the sense of entitlement and casualness dealing with friends and family that evenutally doom the relationship between employee and employer. You may have the discipline to ride herd on your friend, but I promise you, no matter what he says, he won't be expecting to be treated like regular rank and file from his buddy. Mixing business and pleasure only work in the world's oldest profession.
  9. DennisF

    DennisF LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 1,381

    The employee reliability factor is the biggest reason that I work alone. Hiring relatives or friends can be dangerous. They have a tendency to take advantage of the fact that they are related to you and that can lead to serious problems not only in the relationship, but in your business as well.

    If you want to keep a friend then make sure you're not signing his paycheck.

    If you want keep your business, don't hire relatives.

  10. ProCare Lawn Service

    ProCare Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    Messages: 167

    Depends on how reliable a friend he is. I have had friends that worked their a**es off fro me and then I have had those that really sucked. Just depends on the character of the friend I suppose.

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