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How do you find a decent employee?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by reneekrause, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. reneekrause

    reneekrause LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    Need some help! We are in our 12th year of business and for the past three years we have had 16 employees, started with the temp services, nothing but problems. My husband is the technician and would like to be the owner. We have taken inexperienced people and experienced. Plus he is getting beat to death, this industry is very hard on you as you age especially in Florida.

    He would like to be respected as the boss and not treated as one of the guys and doesn't want to be a parent. It is difficult to deal with employees faults when you are right there. (So he says, if you haven't guessed, we disagree here.) So far I have done the reviews of the employees.

    We have hired single guys and family men, we have even hired a few women (which by the way were our best employees so far, although they cannot take the hard work environment.)

    We currently have one guy who is #17 and so far regarding experience is the best - yes there is a "But" - he never arrives at the scheduled time, cannot admit he is wrong, always someone else's fault, and manhandles the accounts and equipment, talks incessantly, uses company phone for personal, cannot manage his weekly paycheck, and last but least after only 7.5 week of employment thinks he deserves a raise! He was only on time the first two weeks. Is good points is he is enthusiastic, looks forward to running a crew and mows the right account!

    I have spoken to him repeatedly about his tardiness and we are reluctant to start the hiring process and training all over again. It takes so much time. We interviewed him twice before hiring him. He interviewed great! We asked all the right questions, even so called "sneaky" questions. Should we cut our losses? My husband is to the point of cutting loose all business but the premier accounts and going solo again.

    Is there any employees out there who want a decent dependable job with a future career? We have been trying to find our first employee who has management potential, should we just seek the laborer (crew member) first?
    Any help comments or such would be greatly appreciated.
  2. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,867


    Welcome to the world of management. I think most, including myself, would suggest you cut your losses now. Think of it this way: If he's comfortable enough to do all of those things, what's he going to be like when he's been there for a year? Next thing you know, he's mowing his own side gigs with your time and equipment, or worse. I had the same problem with a previous business I owned, and the problematic one was my partner. I bought him out after only being up and running for 3 months.

    Might I suggest that if you are looking for someone with career expectations out of this, hit your local Vocational high school, or turf mgt program at the local community college. That's probably a step in the right direction to find someone who you know probably takes it seriously, and views it as a chosen career path. Another is stick your ear to the ground for the sobbing sounds of a white-collar refugee. There's plenty of us out here who would prefer the outdoors to the cubicle.

    Good luck!

    Curb Appeal Exteriors
    Dayton, Ohio
  3. Team Gopher

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

    Hi tonygreek,

    That is a good idea about finding staff at Vocational High Schools.

    Hi Renee,

    Here is a quote from this post. Maybe it will be helpful.

    "Advice on finding people? We'll thats tough,,I am considering myself still a heavy rookie. But the people I use,,,especially in the spring when all that mulch is going down, I use younger kids,,,if you only use them once,,,its ok and perfectly legal,,,up to a certain amount,, to pay them under the table if you didnt like them that one day they worked....I have used kids usually from 16 to 18 cause it seems that juniors and seniors in high school get out earlier and earlier these days... that worked great,,,for a full full time employee,,ive only got one working for me,,and he works as a laborer on a construction site...so,,i guess if i needed him i could use him..."
  4. reneekrause

    reneekrause LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    Thanks for the help, vocational schools is a definite resource. Using kids, well that creates the problem of always having to train someone which my husband is over and frankly so am I...appreciate your efforts...

    Anyone else? Can you share your experience in finding the good help? How about anyone who works for a lawn service? Any responses would be appreciated.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    This is like trying to find Mr. Right (or Mrs. Right). You just don't know what your getting until you deal with the person for awhile. I would try to hire people that you like, that you feel you can get along with. Its all hit or miss. Around my area, most LCO employees are Hispanic. I'd better brush up on my Espanol.
  6. smoothbore2004

    smoothbore2004 LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 71

    hey renee
    WOW i thought i was reading a post my wife may have wrote. your situation is exactly like ours. WHat I decided to do while mowing by myself was flag down a truck with a cpl of mexicans and asked them if they had any friends or family looking for work. THat same night the guy stopped by with his friend that was tired of his current company and was interested. I have to tell you he is the best employee i have ever found unfortunatly he quite about 3 weeks into it due to not enough hours. I was so disappointed and have yet to fill his shoes. So my suggestion is find your local hispanic neighborhood and just ask around. Best of luck
  7. Tony Clifton

    Tony Clifton LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 865

    Renee, you are not alone with this problem. Is this your only employee? It sounds like you do not start at the same time evreyday, is this true? Would you be willing to share what this employee is earning and also how much experience he has. There sounds like a lack of structure, things should be standardized, start at the same time everyday, and let your employees know that if they are even 1 minute late more than 2x in a given period they are gone. Same goes with trucks and equip. Dont let this guy hold your company back and end up costing you money.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981


    Just remembered something my old boss used to say. A rule of thumb he used to go by: "Put an ad in the paper, get maybe 20 calls. Only 5 will show up for an interview. If you hire all 5, only 3 will actually show up to work. Of those 3, 2 will last only one day. The other guy MIGHT last, you don't know.

    It's hard in my area. A LOT of hi-tech companies, average household income around 100k. Not a lot of quality people looking to work outdoors, unfortunately. Like someone mentioned above, Hispanics are often hard workers, but they are almost always money-driven. If they don't get a LOT of hours, they cut their losses and go somewhere else. So if you work a nice 40-45 hour week, this might not cut it for them.

    I know this doesn't help much. At least in Florida I imagine its a lot more year-round work than in my neck of the woods. Good luck.
  9. dforbes

    dforbes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 195

    If his tardyness seems to be the main problem we have had results with this. When we hire people, we tell them we will start you out at $6.00 per hour. If you show up on time and every day that week you get a $2.00 per hour bonus. If you are late once you recieve $6.00 per hou for that week. After 1 week of this they are either on time or quit. Just use your own numbers.
  10. Shuter

    Shuter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,171

    To answer the question... you can't. I will never find an employee that will care about the business and customer service the way that I do.

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