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Im at a total loss here

Discussion in 'Employment' started by FLC2000, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. AL's

    AL's LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 907

    Ok #2....

    Identify exactly what you expect out of, and what is acceptable from an employee of your company. They should be the same. But I think a lot of guys end up accepting a lot less out of someone than they originally expected.

    Write an employee handbook if you do not already have one. The objective of this is to explain, in detail, exactly what you expect out of your potential hire as well as what they can expect to encounter day to day. I would include thing like dressing for work, wether boots are required, what happens of they show up without boots (do they get sent home?), if tools are broken due to intentional abuse or negligence are costs deducted from pay? Is a lump sum deduction up to a certain point then a percentage of check until paid off after that? Or is it always a percentage? How to conduct themselves. How they are expected to drive trucks, operate mowers, trimmers, fuel equipment, safety glasses required at all times, which side of trimmer head to use to keep grass out of mulch beds, when mowing perimeters around house travel counter clockwise, always be mindful of chute direction, minimum distance allowed near pets/people/coworkers while blades are on etc. How to handle questions from potential customers and convert inquiries to the company number. Hygiene requirements, long hair and beards ok or no? How to handle gates, fences, keys, neighbors dogs. Where to park truck, obeying speed limits, signaling, procedure for dealing with complaints, what constitutes a write up, what constitutes termination. Hydration recommendations in the heat (of course I think you should provide the cooler/ice/water) etc etc

    Have an atttorney look over it and adjust as needed. Have the new hire read and sign off on it. Or even better require a short test on it before employment just to make sure they didnt skim over it.

    Once youve indentified exactly what you want and can effectively communicate that to your pool of applicants you will weed out alot of people who are wasting time.

    If you think making an employee handbook seems like a lot to put together just to hire a helping hand then imagine how overwhelmed joe shmoe tire kicker is going to feel having to read through it, agree to all of the practices within it, retain the information, pass a test on it, and then implement those behaviors day in and day out.... way I see it, if they do all that they want a career.

    People are also going to view you alot more seriously.

    Next depends on how you plan to grow, if at all.

    A. No more growth. Figure out what is the absolute most you could/would pay an employee RIGHT NOW if they were capable of doing YOUR job in the field. 100% competent employee with 100% trust in them to do it and do it right, and on time.


    Find that person and start them at that number.


    Find a person with the potential to be that person and lay out for them how their training, responsibilities, and pay increases will unfold over a period of time that you set.

    When people have something to work towards they are more likely to stick around.

    B. Plan to grow.

    Literally same as A except your going to adjust how their training/responsibilities/pay increases

    A simplified example could be in A you might have $16/hr @ year 2 driving a truck and running routes alone. And in B you might have eligible positions/raises by year dependent on peformance

    Year 2 crew lead $16/hr
    Year 4 route manager $19/hr
    Year 6 regional supervisor $25/hr

    Just a lazy example but you get the idea.

    Next comes your ability to discern someones character and have effective interviews.

    You should definitly see a lawyer about this part, and im in no way saying this is exactly how, or even at all how you should do it. The following is an example of common sense.... doesnt mean that its legal.

    If you dont want a smoker and they smell like cigarettes, not a good fit.
    If you dont want tats and facial hair, next.
    No drugs, do a drug test. They fail? Next.
    Are they 55 and 400 lbs? Not a good fit.
    18 yo party hard type...

    You get the jist.

    Last thing I want to add.

    I think you should hire with the objective to have them out on their own as quickly as possible.


    1. You need to get out of the field. I think thats the ultimate goal, so make it the immediate goal.

    2. Unless you happen to get lucky and find that 1 in 10,000 employee that you just click with on every level their will always be subconcious tension in working with you everyday. This may lead to them leaving the company sooner rather than later. It has nothing to do with you as a person. Its about the boss/employee dynamic. There are so many subtle concious and subconcious psychological aspects in this dynamic that will lead to an employee leaving if not managed. Constant pressure to be on their best behavior is just one. Your to busy running a business to deal with these.

    3. Just an extension of 2 (to clarify). People that can work independently from the owner will stay with the company longer.

    Hope theres some value in this post to help you out. Would love to hear what others think about it as well as it wont be long until Im looking for my first key hire.

    Good luck Thumbs Up
  2. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,861

    The op said he went through a dozen employees in four years
    I can go through a dozen in a few weeks in the early spring and summer
    We are almost always hiring
    I have a sign out on the building 24/7/365
    We advertise probably 40 out of 52 weeks a year.
    We have maybe 4 or 5 employees that have been around more than 3 years that aren't management/career landscapers.
    Everyone else is cyclical

    I still don't get why customers think they are always going to get "John" to mow then every year , week in week out.
    Lady people grow, they get better jobs, "John" runs a hardscape team now he doesn't mow lawns any more.
    I like promoting from within
    I like training nobodies
    So I don't mind cyclic employees
    The customers expecting the same guy tick me off more
    maelawncare, JLSLLC and Mitty87 like this.
  3. Mitty87

    Mitty87 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,557

    Very annoying, had a boss who wouldn't send me to certain jobs because the client had to have a certain guy working on it who they liked better
  4. Grassholes

    Grassholes Banned
    Messages: 495

    All of this sounds like good info. It is always good to have a plan. You are assuming that employees are going to listen though. Handbook? Many of these guys cannot tell time let alone read a handbook. No matter how much you offer to pay a guy they will always think that they deserve more. Incentive programs are tough. I got ZERO responses to ads stating that drug testing would be required. I am hoping this was bad timing with the ad instead of everyone being on drugs. You must have a lot of qualified candidates where you are which is good.
    Phenom#1, Forestdog and kemco like this.
  5. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 9,142

    Tried to grow with employees a long time ago. Didn't work then and won't work now. You're just going to have constant turn over. Much easier jobs out there with benefits. Not many want to deal with the heat, cold , wet and wasp stings. Then there is the monotony and hard labor. The good ones assume you are making a lot more then they are, so they go off and start their own lawn care business. Just a no win situation that adds a lot more stress to your life. I have seen the big companies come and go over the years for the same reasons you have. Then there is the cash flow problem with the big commercial accounts don't pay on time or at all.
    There are help wanted ads all over town. Many of the new generation, just do not want to work. Many parents giving them the best of everything without asking anything in return. They think money grows on trees. They want to start off at the top not realizing you have to work your way to the top. Work? I don't think so. That is for the peasants, as they drive off in their parent provided BMWS
    Not just the younger generation. Looks like a lot of middle agers have given up. I cannot sit in a parking lot and eat lunch without a pan handler coming up and begging for money. I am not too nice when telling them there are help wanted signs everywhere. Now leave me alone!
  6. Gus McGee

    Gus McGee LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    I don't hire American born laborers anymore. They rarely can handle the work. I hire almost all Mexicans, Ecaudorians, and Guatemalans. I make sure they are legal to work here, but I have found them to be much more reliable and able to do the work.

    During the great recession I tried to be a good American and hire American born citizens, but that experiment failed miserably.

    My advice if you want decent laborers is to learn Spanish, pay competitively, and hire only experienced people who originate south of the border.

    JLSLLC Inactive
    Messages: 9,080

    How did you find that guy?
  8. That Guy Gary

    That Guy Gary LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 853

    I'm in my 3rd season for a medium sized outfit and keeping maintenance guys is rough. I'm a "full time" applicator who spends half his time filling in and putting out fires for the circus that department has become.

    I'm the only non-hispanic employee we've had for a few years that has been reliable and stuck around. The other reliable coworkers are either legal immigrants or first generation American's. As rough as it's been it would have probably been impossible to keep it together this year if the owner didn't speak fluent Spanish and have connections with a few large immigrant families.

    I intend to go out on my own after one or two more seasons but I don't want to get very big. Enough work to bring on one or two guys maybe, but I really sympathize with how stressful this must be for my boss.
    kemco and JLSLLC like this.
  9. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,861

    If they are legal to work in the us , they have a very high probability of also being American born, there are more Mexican Americans here than there are Mexican immigrants
  10. Gus McGee

    Gus McGee LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    Most of the people I employ were born outside of the US. I tend to hire people a little older than some companies, I usually prefer 35 and up. I've found younger workers, under 30 or so, still don't have their heads on straight and you end up with the constant turnover problems.

    Also, many of the younger US born Hispanics don't have the same work ethic as their parents (one's born outside of the country). The younger one's have led much softer lives for the most part, and they aren't as hungry (figuratively) or ambitious.
    Forestdog likes this.

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