Is there any such thing as a good employee?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by spitfire3416, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. spitfire3416

    spitfire3416 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 609

    So I bought 100 lawn accounts this year bringing me up to about 160. Obviously I was in need of a couple more employees. I had no idea what I was in store for. Be prepared for a rant.

    The last two months have been a complete nightmare. First, one of the two employees from the the guy I bought the accounts off quit the day he told them he was selling the business. He wanted all cash and found a job with someone else making $13.50/hr cash. I don't really want to pay cash. His brother, who drove the truck, stayed on with me after practically pulling his teeth to come work for me. I was offering him more money and more hours ($17/hr as a helper) but he too wanted all cash. I worked out an arrangement with him to pay $10 on the books and $7/hr in cash. Great worker, but he's a pain in the a$$. He can't ever work late on tuesdays and can never work any saturdays because he's a bus boy at a restaurant. Apparently that job is more important to him cause he never tells them he can't work but has no problem doing it to me. I've gone through about 6 other guys since the beginning of May. EVERY time I go through all the applicants I always ask them how many years experience they have and then after they tell me "oh yea I have like 6-8 years exp" we get out on the route and it takes them 5 minutes just to edge 10 ft of a curb. Just as I'm typing this somebody called me and after talking with them they said they've never landscaped before. IT SAYS IN MY AD 3-5 YEARS EXPERIENCE REQUIRED!!!! I found an amazing helper a few weeks ago and everything was starting to look on the up and up. NOPE! He disappeared on me last weekend when he was suppose to work and now I come to find out he's in jail for having sex with a 14 y/o girl. I get a contact from this guys brother in law saying he can landscape so I give him a call. He was suppose to work tuesday. Texts me saying sorry something came up can't work today. Wednesday comes. Same text. Talk to him later that days and he says he can definitely work thursday and fridays. Guess what??? No call, no show. In addition to the other 6 guys that clearly looked like they never held a weed whacker before in their life, I've had 4 other guys not show up on their first day of work. This weekend I found somebody who wasn't happy with the hours he was being given by his current employer. He was only getting 40 I offered him 50-60 and same pay ($14/hr). We're out on the job yesterday and as I come back with another load of topsoil my one helper says..."he has to go home". It's 12pm. His wife is in labor supposedly. Ok I drop him off at the bus station and says he'll be back to work today. Guess what happened this morning?

    I'm literally falling apart. The only guy I can ever actually count on that I have I'm constantly going back over his trimming work. He's probably the worst employee I have in terms of quality work and always being 10 minutes late every morning, but I can't find anybody else for the life of me. Oh yea and he gets $17/hr as a weed whacker also. He basically demanded it after he found out I was paying the other guy $17. Not only am I paying outrageous prices for these two helpers I have, but I can't count on them.. ever. I'm at a loss and I really can't understand why it's this hard. Is this really how it is? Is it really this hard to find employees?
     
  2. Kawizx62003

    Kawizx62003 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,458

    Holy $&@(! The problem is more you than anything most likely. I know that sounds mean but... Your desperation shows to these guys which is why you are paying them high wages. They are in charge. Sub some accounts out or drop them. You need to clean this up quick or you will be done. I can't imagine how you afford this. Do touchable anyone worth keeping?
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  3. 205mx

    205mx LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,400

    Wow. Just. wow.

    1) do you give your guys a schedule? My guys get a schedule every week for the NEXT week. Even though it's usually the same or very similar.

    2) give job descriptions with pay info. Pay scale/raise frequency/bonus frequency.

    3) give clear instructions about time off. How far in advance they must request, how many days, etc.

    4) after a year. Give a day paid time off. They'll appreciate it and it's the closest thing to a benefit we can afford in this business. I give my lead guy one paid day, he has to book it one month in advance. 30 days.

    I do a bonus system where they gain a little $$$ each day they work. This bonus is paid out every 3 weeks and it's a 2 week revolver.

    So they do a good job last week, this week then next week they get the bonus. It basically lags a week. They ALSO get a quality bonus paid a month behind. They leave, they don't get the bonus.
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  4. Kawizx62003

    Kawizx62003 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,458

    Oh and try the whole "hire for attitude-train for appitude". Although I only have one employee, I am so glad I took a few days to train him even though he said he had some experience. Problem is you are probably out in the field working your butt off. Also continuously take applications. My advice on that; go to Typeform.com and create ann online application. It's fairly easy. At the end it will give you a link which you can put in your ads. It will email you all info. Make some cards with this link and pass them out to everyone. Conduct several interviews in the same day. Train at $10 or so an hour. Don't be a spineless leader and cave to any demans
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  5. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,294

    In New Jersey those arent high wages .

    Sometimes getting bigger isnt worth it
     
  6. Kawizx62003

    Kawizx62003 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,458

    I was using local numbers That's why I added "or so". Maybe I shouldnhave said the average starting pay for the industry in central Nj. I don't focus on where each poster is from unless in the post text. Thanks
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  7. spitfire3416

    spitfire3416 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 609

    Well to some degree you are right. My current employees are definitely taking advantage of me and I do know this. However, I've been trying to hire a 3rd guy for the past 8 weeks and they're either no good or no shows. I literally have no power over my employees, it's like they are taking me hostage in a way. They know I have a lot of work and can't find good employees. Surprisingly I have been making great money though and getting all the lawns done on time. But I'm behind on side jobs and I'm aware things can be much better if I could actually find maybe 2 more employees.
     
  8. Good advice. Here's my thought, and don't take this personally. I think it was pretty foolish to purchase 100 additional accounts without have the right people on place beforehand. I NEVER pay cash. Everyone is on the books whether employee or 1099. I'm not going to eat that at the end of the year. Plus it's not right. I agree with the previous poster. Sell off what you need to get to a place where you can handle what you need to. Then continue to look for good employees. They are out there. $17/hr. for a weedeater guy is a lot of money. You can def find some real good for that. You need to become the boss, put policies in place, and get back to level ground. Take it as a learning lesson and move forward. Good luck to you.
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  9. Kawizx62003

    Kawizx62003 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,458

    Also a good point. In fact I just read a quote that said, "sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. "
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  10. 205mx

    205mx LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,400

    Sometimes these threads really upset me and make me fear what I'm getting in to long term.
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