Is it time for a raise?

DFW Area Landscaper

LawnSite Silver Member
I hired my first employee about a month ago. The guy has been on time for work every single day. He's a work horse. Very dependable. Never complains. Speaks decent english, though there have been a few misunderstandings.

I drive. I run the mower. He rides shot gun. He runs the line trimmer and edger.

I pay time and half for work over 40 but I also withold social security taxes. He has so many exemptions he hasn't had to have any income tax witheld yet.

So far, he's worked 40+ every week. This week we worked 51.5 hours.

His pay is $8.50 per hour and I buy lunch every day. Supper sometimes too. Of course, he costs me a lot more than $8.50 per hour with unemployment taxes, workmans comp insurance and social security taxes. When he's on time and half, he's making $12.75.

Anyway, I think I've been fortunate to have such a good employee.

I certainly don't want him to quit. Is it time to give him a small raise? Or should I figure guys like him are a dime a dozen?

DFW Area Landscaper


LawnSite Member
Omaha, NE
I'd wait till he's been there at least 90 days. But bump him up a little more at that time too. A quarter raise doesn't affect a check that much, but 75 cents or a dollar will make a difference in his check that is a little more noticeable. Also, do you want him to expect to get a raise all the time. Heck, most jobs I ever had never gave a raise for at least 6 months unless you were in a formal training/probationary period and making less than everyone else.


LawnSite Senior Member
there on time every day for 4 weeks, work-horse, never complains...

i would tell him that these are traits you find very valuable. if he continues to demonstrate them, you all can talk about a raise in another month or so. i like to save as much of a raise as i can to offer the employee as an incentive to come back the following season.


LawnSite Bronze Member
I evaluate my employees every 30 days. About half of the new ones got a raise after the first evaluation. My best worker last year I gave him 3 raises in 3 months. Right now he is at $9.50 per hr. But he buys his own meals.

Give your guy the 50 cent he deserves and make him buy his own meals. At least you can right off the raise on your taxes. Not so with the meals.


LawnSite Silver Member
After the week I just had with one of the grunt workers I'm not able to answer your ? objectively. THis guy does fabulous work...that is when he shows up. Your typical landscraper...a fruit loop. Works like a dog, does perfect mulch and bed edging...but a complete immature and irresponsible 28 yr old fruit loop. Instead of giving him a raise per hour, I have him on a bonus program. For example, I know how much mulch he should be able to install per hour on each job. Some are ez, some are tedious. Last week he earned $150 in bonus beyond his hourly wage. I know its almost impossible to have a bonus program on maintenance but I'm just throwing this out in case this might work for you on other work he does for you.
I dont know what your avg wage rates are in Texas but I think a guy who is DEPENDABLE, has some land experience, and does good work, is easily worth $10/hour. But be careful about giving raises too often as there have been many studies done that conclude that "money" is only a temporay motivating factor.
Recognition for a job well done (perhaps a day off with pay, gift certs for a nice dinner for 2 , etc, show that you sincerely appreciate his efforts). THe studies show that money does not motivate long term...but...if the employee perceives he is underpaid, it does in fact DE-motivate the employee. Pardon the mgt theory bs here but in a prior life I managed a large group of employees and I saw these "theories" proven time and again.


LawnSite Member
GarPa - You are absoultly correct. Money is a temporary motivator.

DFW - If you can afford to do the bonus I do believe that is a good thing to do. Everyone likes a pat on the back once in a while. Or wait for 90 - 180 days to give the raise.


LawnSite Bronze Member
Providence, RI
I would definitely tell him that he's doing a great job and that I am impressed with his punctuality and work ethic, I would offer him a bonus for now with the promise of a near future raise if he continues to be the same good worker. Things tend to change quickly in this line of work, many times they are all good at first and slowly start to slack, especially when they start to think you need them more then they need you. I have one guy who is great, he does everything good, great attitude and so forth, he has been with me 3 years now. I hope you have the same luck, because good help that you can trust is hard to find.

Turf Medic

LawnSite Bronze Member
Lincoln NE
Set up a bonus program based on the business, either profit or volume, IMO volume is more fair. You will make him feel more a part of the program, and when times are slow it will break the bank. We have several hispanic workers and they were given the choice of a raise or a bonus program, took a bit to explain the bonus program, but they all opted for it. They were hard workers before, but they now work just about anybody into the ground. Since the bonus is based on production, they tend to police themselves and will help each other with picking up the pace if needed.

I am curious about a comment that specialtylc made, why can't you write off the meals that you buy for employees?


LawnSite Bronze Member
Around my area there are alot of Fruit-loops as GarPa put it. You're darned if you do and darned if you don't when it comes to raises. I say go with your gut instinct. If it's usually right, go with it.


LawnSite Member
Central PA
Let me preface this by saying I am not a landscape pro but I've enjoyed this board for several years. I would say if you appreciate him show it. I know you have been on this board for some time so you know the problems some of these guys have with employees. I would make sure that your guy is being paid a bit more than you think he could get from another company. It's not so much that the extra money will motivate him to do more work (already sounds like you are pleased with his work ethic) but it may motivate him to NOT look for another job. If you have a full schedule (it sounds like you do since you have him working overtime) consider how much it would suck to lose him and have to replace the manpower quickly...and you would probably really be kicking yourself if it was for less than a buck an hour. If you had a crew of 6 or 7 it might be a little different because you would have a better idea if guys like this are a dime a dozen and it would be easier to pick up the slack if one of them quit.