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How to Fire a Friend


LawnSite Senior Member
War Eagle!!
You would think hiring friends to work for you would be a benefit, you have a good time working together. That is until you figure out that your friends work ethic is like that of a sloth.

Was doing a combo job of pressure washing a house and spring cleanup on Saturday. I has handling the trimming and hauling, friend was pressure washing. Ask him if he knows what he is doing, of course he says "Yes you idiot". Two story house that should have taken about 3 hours to finish. I look up after doing the first set of hedges after about 45 minutes and he is walking towards me with a big smile on his face proclaiming how "easy that was".

Customer comes out sees the half a** done house and starts giving me the 3rd degree. Tells me how he is not going to refer me to anyone, that I am charging $200 to p.w. his house and it is a waste of money, etc.....

Not the first time this has happened with my buddy....

Took an extra 2hours to finish the job after having to go back and doing the entire house over again.....

Question is How do you fire a really close friend without ruining the friendship?


LawnSite Bronze Member
Overland Park KS
First off you should be paying attention to what your employees are doing, check up on them , stick your head around the corner and make sure that they do know what they are doing and just didnt tell you that. Secondly if you want to fire him then just tell him he's fired, dont mention anything about the friendship, its got nothing to do with the business.


LawnSite Senior Member
the south
Packerbacker, thats easy for you to say, try firing your best friend, it wont be that easy. All i have to say is good luck there is no easy way to do it. But it has to be done.:(


LawnSite Member
Fargo, ND
Have you made sure that he knows what you expect. It is tough to work for somebody when you don't know what they expect in terms of quality, maybe he thought he was just saving you time and money.


LawnSite Member
madison, WI
If you do fire him you may save the friendship. Right now that is @#$% with him costing you money and harming your business. I feel for you, I did just this last year and it was just hard. Now we are friends again.


LawnSite Silver Member
Morgantown, WV
Never work for friends and family...and the same goes in reverse-never hire friends or family....


LawnSite Senior Member
War Eagle!!
I let him know what I wanted and how to do it, he was getting impatient which should have been a sign, kind of like I was babying him. Thought I could trust him to do a good job instead of costing me lots of extra time and also money.


LawnSite Senior Member
culpeper, va
Reminds me of an all too recent situation I let myself get in. Actually it was two years ago........My nephew graduated college from New York where the rest of my family resides. He accepts a position at a school near me. Has to be here in June - but won't be getting paid until school starts in September. Brother asks me to hire him - I do....... Biggest mistake of my life. Laziest a**hole I ever had work for me. I tolerated it - for a month until I walked in and overheard my employees saying that "he was untouchable" because of the blood relationship. I took the bull by the horns and kicked him to the curb - and swiftly reminded the employees that no one in this company is irreplaceable......not even me ! The bad vibes are still there in my family - but they know I'm about business and that's the bottom line. Good luck in dealing with this situation - It's a tough one - but I think you know what you have to do, and if the rest of your family doesn't accept it - ask them who among them would be willing to hire you and let you do nothing in return for a paycheck. That should silence the critics.


LawnSite Senior Member
I worked for a friend a long time ago and I wasn't the saint back then that I am now. LOL He had to let me go for not showing up half the time. I knew it was my fault and it has had no effect on our friendship what so ever. In fact now that I have grown up quite a bit he has subbed some work out too me in the last couple of years. If he is really your friend he won't blame you for his mistakes. If he does he isn't your friend any way. It's far and few between friends that can work for you that don't intentionally or unintentional take advantage of the friendship in a work relationship situation. On the other hand if you get along with your employees and they work for you for long you become friends so it's hard to avoid this problem anyway. How many warnings have you given him? Try giving him a written warning first so if you have to fire him it will be harder for him not to accept the blame.


LawnSite Senior Member
I contracted for a company that preached the following to all their employees from the CEO down to the mail room clerk:
The Four Absolutes of Quality
  • The definition of quality is Conformance to Requirements
  • The system of quality is Prevention
  • The performance standard is Zero Defects
  • The measurement of quality is the price of Non-Conformance
This company followed these guidelines in everything they did and they are a leader in their industry. I have adopted these principals in everything I do and it seems to work. When I'm dealing with any customer, one of the first things that I do is find out what their expectations are and evaluate if they are reasonable, attainable goals. From then on the job of pleasing the customer becomes just a matter of either meeting those requirements or making sure my employees meet them.

Ever notice how new car dealers fix minor problems after they deliver a new vehicles to a customer? A window leaks, or there is a rattle? Is this after sales service or a quality control problem at the factory? Either way, the dealer charges the factory for fixing these problems and the factory actually builds the cost of fixing the problems into the cost of the vehicle, so guess who ultimately pays the price for Non-Conformance to the standard (zero defects) from the factory?

Some manufacturers plan on a 98% defect free product and when that happens 98% becomes the standard. The manufacturer's employees know that their job will not be effected if they let 2% of their work get through with a defect.

If they are manufacturing a commodity that means that 2 out of every 100 widgets won't work when they come off the assembly line. If they are in the service industry that means that 2 out of every 100 times they perform this service it fails to meet acceptable standards. I'd really hate to know that I'm a soldier in combat and that my weapon will fail 2 out of every 100 times I pull the trigger or that I'm a passenger in an airplane and the pilot cannot successfully complete 2 out of every 100 flights he attempts.

It ALWAYS costs more to fix a problem then to do it right the first time.

Just my thoughts on quality issues, now about firing your friend... Are you sure he understood the requirements of the job and what your performance standard for completion was?