How to fix a spoiled company culture?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by GatorGardener, Jun 27, 2014.

  1. GatorGardener

    GatorGardener LawnSite Member
    Messages: 23

    New to the forum - checking to see if anyone has ideas on this problem:

    I took over our family business last year (25 employees) and have realized that the majority of employees are badly spoiled. They were treated extremely well over the past 20+ years, given annual raises every single year without fail of between 50 cents and a dollar an hour each, and now accrue large quantities of PTO as well.

    I'm all for treating employees well and compensating them more than the competition to ensure we have the best employees on our side. However, I've begun to try to correct some issues - like reducing guaranteed overtime of 10 hours a week to 2.5 hours a week for all employees, and I've encountered fierce resistance and attitudes, which is expected. The real problem though now is that the employees are the best compensated by far in our market but they perform quite poorly due to the bad morale related to the cutbacks of some of the perks they've had.

    I'm not sure what to do to fix this issue except to entirely clean house, which is not ideal as I would lose a ton of valuable experience and knowledge of client accounts.

    Here are some of the compensation related issues I'm dealing with that are absolutely killing our bottom line:
    Maintenance crew foremen at $20 an hour pay (even though they don't have driver's licenses)
    Pay for a full day on all rain days even if they leave work at 10am.
    Many long term employees with 4-5 weeks vacation time a year.
    Guaranteed OT for all employees of 3 hrs a week in the winter and 10 hours a week in the summer.

    I had a senior foreman challenge me last week in front of the other employees when I changed one of these policies and I fired him, and am already feeling the loss of his experience. But I see no other option available unfortunately for these guys that feel like I'm screwing them by trying to turn around the company.
  2. wbw

    wbw LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,165

    What part of the country are you in?

    Are you profitable?

    Involve the employees in finding solutions to specific problems. Would they prefer you thinned the ranks so that those left work a little harder and keep what they have?

    If you are profitable and not in danger of going under, then I would make subtle changes. They will add up.

    Put yourself in their shoes. Use them as part of the solution.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. southerntide

    southerntide LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Alabama
    Messages: 5,957

    Tell them to shape up or get out, hard workers are hard to find but still out there now more than ever looking for work unemployment is still super high and downplayed in all media and statistics.

    I got people calling about jobs more this year then clients seems lol
  4. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,554

    Don't mess up what you have. If you're business is profitable your family knew what they were doing.

    This is exactly how you lose everyone and go under
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. snomaha

    snomaha LawnSite Bronze Member
    from midwest
    Messages: 1,269

    My thoughts also - what % are you dropping to the bottom line?

    Don't envy you - changing a company culture is one of the tough ones. We use open book management and are very transparent with our team members. Aside from our general laborers, I want everyone to have a general knowledge of how $ flow through a business. This has helped with the notion that I fill up a truck full of $ every day.
  6. gcbailey

    gcbailey LawnSite Silver Member
    from WV
    Messages: 2,754

    For what it's worth... Around here there was a pretty good sized muffler/tire shop that was family owned. Had over 30 employees. The father retired and the son took over, just over a year later they went under. The son had all these grand ideas that he thought was better than the tried and true methods that his father had used for over 25+ years.

    If wages are hurting your profits you need to work with the employees not against them.

    It doesn't matter how much work you have coming in, if you don't have guys that know how to do the job, you're screwed.

    Honestly, for every 20 comments you'll get on this thread maybe 3 of them are worth putting any thought into. I'd be weary of making any company decisions based on complete strangers.
  7. ztman

    ztman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,115

    You have to first put yourself in the shoes of the long time employees. They look at it as snot nose comes in the biz without paying his dues and wants to take bread off our table.
    There may be a more efficient way to run the biz on paper, but if ,what you think are your over compensated employees giving push back, your going to kill the family gold egg laying goose.
    If you feel the effects of loosing one employee, imagine if ten left.
    Learn the biz and get to know the fellows before you go all corporate on them. They may be paid well, but you have to look at what return they are giving you, and what you would have to pay others, with the same output, to give you the same revenue.
  8. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,554

    In landscaping?

    If he takes that advice he'll ruin his family business
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. Sponsor
    Messages: 804

    I would definitely tackle these problems with your family or previous owners. Go in as a team and keep everyone involved, including the employees. Those are some major changes and you do not want to poison any employee moral more than you have to. Maybe take things gradual instead of the "bandaid" approach.

    Like a couple have said, they built it with these systems in place so it worked at one point. But change is a necessary factor.
  10. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,554

    I don't think people on here tealixe how much people truly cherish over time. To me that extra 10 hours made it worth it.

    Yes it's expensive for an employer, but it's also a cost of doing business.
    Posted via Mobile Device

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