How to get goog employees

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by JimLewis, Feb 4, 2003.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    An LCO emailed me asking about how to find good employees. I thought I'd share my response here on this board for everyone else. Hopefully someone else can benefit from it as well......


    Well, I actually have more good employees than that even. It's just that now, during the winter, we lay off over half our workforce. So we just have 3 presently. More will come back in the spring.

    As for how to find good ones, well, I'd say that in my experience only 10-20% of white american males (of those who apply for lawn are jobs) are honest and hard workers. They are hard to find. But they are out there. Just plan on weeding through a lot. It's sad to say - cuz I am a white guy too. But most of us Americans are just lazy and spoiled. We just weren't raised doing hard labor and a lot of us don't have good self discipline so must of us aren't that great at it.

    Of females, I've hired 3 over the years and not a one of them was worth a shlt. Too many issues. I am not saying there aren't good ones out there. I just haven't ever found one who's cut out for this kind of work.

    Of hispanics, I'd say probably 80% are good hard workers, 70% are honest, but only 50% can think on their feet or figure out things on their own. Still, better than every other category. So in my experience, on average, hispanics make the best workers. They will also work for less money - so that's a big savings too. The only downside is the language barrier. Not a problem for me - I am relatively fluent in spanish so I can communicate well with them. But even if you aren't, you can catch on fast. And even if you just always spoke english to them but showed them what to do at the same time, they'd eventually catch on. They really want to please their bosses and will try hard to do so.

    I haven't really had any other group or class of people work for me, so that's the extent of what I can comment on there.

    But the biggest tip of all that I'll give you is this; Just plan on having to fire people fairly regularly. I usually have to fire 3-6 employees in the spring time over a 1-2 month period before we find the ones we want to keep. It takes a few weeks to realize it but some guys just don't cut the mustard. And you don't have to be a dick about it when you let them go. It's difficult to do. But you can just say, "Hey, it seems like you just aren't cut out for this kind of work. I appreciate your effort and I'd be glad to give you a good reference because you did show up every day and give it your best shot, but at this point we're going to have to let you go."

    Just know in advance you're going to have to do that. And don't ever try to keep a guy who just isn't cutting it just because you feel sorry for him. The sooner you can a guy like that - the better. Once you start seeing a few warning signs - that's when you should consider getting rid of him. Becuase if you let it drag out he'll just keep up his same behaviors and you're going to have to fire him one day anyway. Why delay the inevitable? I'm not saying don't ever give second chances. But after a few stupid mistakes, you can tell when a guy just isn't cut out for this - just get rid of him and move on to someone who will do much better for you.

    Finally, when you do find good ones, reward them! Give them bonuses when you finish a big job. Give them raises if they deserve it. Some guys work almost twice as hard as others do. Why not pay them a buck or two more per hour? They are saving you tons of money being so fast! Reward them! Give them perks when you can. I let my crew leaders take the company truck home. They can't use it TOO much for personal use. But if they need to go to the store, or help a friend move a couch, or something like that on occasion - it's fine with me. I don't need 5 trucks parked in front of my house anyway!

    I also give my crew leaders their own cell phones. I've got them on the cheapest plan available. But the plans have free nights and weekends so I tell them go ahead and make as many calls as you want during those times! Free long distance too. So on weekends, they can call their families, etc. from far away. If they go over their weekday minutes though, it comes out of their pocket. But this is a nice perk.

    I take my entire crew out to a company dinner once or twice a year and I pay for everyone. Nothing fancy. Just a nice mexican restaurant or something. Costs me about $200 or $250 but it's something they remember for a long time. I also give good size Christmas bonuses to those who are still working in December. And I give them all of the winter holidays off - paid. I also give a week's paid vacation after 1 year of employment.

    Well, these are some of the best tips you could ever get on employees. So use them wisely. It's taken me almost a decade and having probably close to 100 people work for me to figure all this stuff out. Good luck!
  2. troblandscape

    troblandscape Guest
    Messages: 0

    Thanks for the knowledge, I will use those tips for this season.

    PS. How do I get GOOG employees? Just kidding, thanks for taking the time for great thread that will give me an insight on hiring and keeping my employees.

    Thanks Again Tim
  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Yah, my bad. Typo. I type too quick. Wish they had a spell checker here.
  4. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Messages: 1,540

    Good post, Jim.

    We need more this this one.
  5. John from OH

    John from OH LawnSite Member
    Messages: 144

    Once again, a good post Jim. I'd like to add a few things. Screen your applicants, verify references (most lawn care/ landscape laborers know references won't be checked so they flat out lie about previous employment/ wages), and run your top candidates thru your states criminal data base and sex offenders data base on the Web. This few steps will weed out most of your undesirables before they burden your payroll.
  6. Gravely_Man

    Gravely_Man LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,075

    Jim thank you for sharing your ideas. This will really be a helpful and hopefully frequently referred to post.

  7. Gene $immons

    Gene $immons LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,028

    Good post Jim, I like what you said about doing something nice for employees, because they will remember it for a long time. This is true. Every once in a while, after a good week of work, I will slip my guys an extra $50 dollar bill, and tell them "you did a good job this week". They think this is so awesome, and I have'nt been asked for a raise in a long time.
  8. BB36

    BB36 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    Good post Jim. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
  9. Andrew S

    Andrew S LawnSite Member
    Messages: 150

    great post

    I could use some more advice when it comes to employees,how can you make them reliable?

  10. greenngrow

    greenngrow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 403


    A good post. This is the kind of stuff we need on this site. Here recently we have had a lot of back and forth pissing contest. This kind of post is something that all of us in the industry can use. Even the solo guys can appreciate your comments. Who knows they may hire someone in the near future.

    It is really hard to find good depend seasonal help. I see it every year. I my present job in the Ag Retail sector. I face this every spring time. Our window for part time help is even smaller than LCO's. I need a person from March to the end of June. Now go out and get someone to work for 4 months that is worth a $hit. You just will not find them. These guys are going to be loading expensive chemicals and mixing loads of pricier fertilizer. It makes me just sick to think about it.

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