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Im at a total loss here

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

  1. FLC2000

    FLC2000 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,987

    The latest guy to walk off was Mexican American. I had a guy from Guatemala working and I was paying him 14.00 per hour and he was mad that when we would landscape or trim bushes, basically anything other than mowing, I wasn't paying him more of an hourly rate.

    My point in this thread is that I don't know i myself am doing something wrong. Is my interview process not good? Am I a bad manager in general? If there is something I'm doing wrong I need to correct it.
  2. AL's

    AL's LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 907

    Idk man. We'll need you to elaborate on how your interview process goes? And how you manage? Are there things that stick out in your mind as possibly doing something wrong? What are they? We need more info to disect the situation!
  3. FLC2000

    FLC2000 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,987

    When I interview it always starts out with a call. Them calling me. I get some info over the phone like age, experience, city they live in. If it seems like a good fit Ill have them come in to fill out an application and a face to face. I would say probably 10 guys haven't even shown up to the interview. There have been a handful Ive turned down because they lied to me about their experience. They basically didn't have any. I don't mind training but I do mind a liar. Ill offer them the job after speaking with them and confirming and Ill ask them if they think we are a good fit for each other. If they accept I tell them when to be here the on their start day.

    I don't know what to say about my managing skills. I print off the list for the week and its in the truck when we start on Monday. We work till the houses are done for that day. I tell them that most of the time they will be off between 330 and 430 but if we have to work late due to rain the previous day or equipment problems then we work late.

    Like I said earlier, i try to make it easy for them. I have no problem doing the grunt work if they are tired. I don't mind grabbing a trimmer or shoveling the mulch if they want a change of pace or are showing fatigue. There is always cold water on the truck. I let them know if they need to stop for a bathroom or lunch just tell me when they are ready and Ill find the nearest establishment.
  4. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,358

    There is another thing and I think most small guys in this industry deal with it including myself. We tend to be good managers of assets but horrible at personnel management. I'm very guilty of this myself. We often see employees as lazy, unmotivated and dumb (all of this may be true) but we can't let what see make us blind to the employees perspective. To grow in this industry you need them and getting them to do the task at hand is like herding cats.
  5. FLC2000

    FLC2000 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,987

    I'm with ya. I get they are out making me money and helping me out. I do my best to take care of them and I think I do. I'm pretty easy to work for and with. Show up on time, work, collect a paycheck.
  6. BigJimFish

    BigJimFish LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    My thoughts:

    What does it realistically take for a person to be happy? Economists say happiness starts at $70k a year, at least statistically. That is apparently the amount at which people can comfortably afford a car, housing, health care, discretionary income, and housing for a family. I don't make that and I own the business. That might be the amount at which you could expect to be able to retain close to all of your best employees though. Unhappy people tend to seek happiness, sometimes very stubbornly. At $10 and hour seasonal work you are talking about maybe a $15k a year wage if you work well over 40hrs a week in the season. You should not expect much retention at what is even below the dishonest poverty scale the fed prints. This is not even to mention that lawn care is hard work especially if you do not do the full range of jobs but just weed eat or run a walkie all day. A great many fatass Americans wouldn't be able to hack it even if the pay was good.

    I know this it not helpfull as I also know what lawncare can charge even in the affluent area in which I service. You cannot expect to pay enough to hire reliable employees. If you could there would be national companies doing franchises in it. There is just not much money in lawncare even compared with the past.

    I see 3 options
    1) Do it alone, this is what I do, be as efficient as possible and maybe you make a living wage. I manage to though, if the decreasing profitability trend continues, that may end.

    2) The Fed understands the predicament of many in unregulated and unskilled industries. It has created mountains of second class residents to fill the roles. Many of these folks basically have the choice of working a low paying job or risking prison in the illegitimate economy as no high paying job would even look at them. They are called ex-cons and immigrants. If you really expect to have a long term employee at wages below the poverty level even for a 2 person household, and given the added inefficiencies of multi man crews and the low prevailing per hour rates you really have no choice, you are going to have to specifically look for folks who also have no choice or at least no choice but risking prison or deportation.

    3) Hire students. Students have the advantage that they really do not have to care much about what they make relative to the cost of living because they are not paying the cost of living. They also typically need to just grab a job quick and go as they have only short summers off. Of course, a student has little invested in the job and will often flake out to go to the beach or because last night they wen't on a bender with friends. They also don't typically get off school until after the worst spring days. They are ideal for landscaping but pretty useless for mowing in my opinion. They also aren't students for long and even the ones who very foolishly major in useless subjects in school actually expect somebody to pay them to manage other people who probably know more than they do when they graduate.

    Anyhow, I don't think you are spending enough time looking at the whole situation from the stand point of your prospective employees. Your not offering much for what your expecting though I expect it is most likely the case that the resources do not exist to hire the employees you want regardless of how you manage things. You are trying to do something impossible, you need to re-valuate what your expected employee looks and acts like for $10 an hour.
  7. marcusmac99

    marcusmac99 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 356

    Either utilize students, knowing you will have limited ability to grow given they are seasonal. Or, find a way to pay more. Raise your prices or find out where your competition finds their guys and find some yourself. 95% of my stress was from employees. We had one really bad client that accounted for the other 5%. But, there was never a day without employee problems and other than my son, they were all Latinos. I always felt I was working my butt off just to make sure my guys were paid. Very frustrating.
  8. grassmonkey0311

    grassmonkey0311 LawnSite Gold Member
    from MD/NC
    Messages: 3,130

    @FLC2000 I feel your pain! I mentioned in another thread I'm 2 1/2 hours away from my wife and kids, in a hotel, training a new employee because the old ones got fired or walked off. I had the same problem last year, the year before, the year before that and so on. It's frustrating.

    Things I'm doing now are pretty much the same as you. I provide a great place to work, the pay rate is incentive, so the more they mow the more they make. Some make over $600 in less than 35 hours. I provide water, buy lunches, help when I can, etc.

    But it's not good enough.

    Next year I'm changing to salary. They get paid in the winter long after I've closed up for the year. I'll be expanding the routes to provide for the additional expense, but I realized no one wants a seasonal job. Doesn't matter if they make $25 an hour....it's just not enough. Another change will be the hiring process- all potential employees will have to provide the name of their last job's supervisor. I'm going to call to find out how good/bad employee they were. I can't continue to go off my instincts....I need to find out from others who actually worked with the potential employee.

    One thing is for sure....things need to change for me because I'm headed down the same path. It's beyond frustrating.
    FLC2000 likes this.
  9. jc1

    jc1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,263

    2.5 hours away is too far to not have a direct manager for them to report to in my opinion. They end up feeling that they are grinding it out and the owner is making a mint. Remember the great pay and place to work is usually our opinion as owners. Only sometimes the employee has the same opinion.
  10. FLC2000

    FLC2000 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,987

    10.00 per hour was 4 years ago. I start off at $13.00 per hour. Frankly that's $3-4 per hour more than I see a lot of other companies offering around here.

    Listen, I know you cant support a family off $13.00 bucks an hour and I wouldn't expect anyone to but its nothing to sneeze at and its a lot more than quite a bit of jobs pay.
    Forestdog likes this.

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