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Owner operators-what do you do???

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by 65hoss, Jul 12, 2001.

  1. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    I've had a few labor problems lately. My trainee that wanted help getting into this business quit with no notice about 10 days ago. I brought a new guy in, but he's having the same trouble everyone else does. Very slow learning the trimming. The exmark w/b seems to be hard to. But he is getting it. Do you guys do the trimming and edging and let the help cut?

    A friend of mine that has many big accounts here in town does all the trim work. He says nobody can do it as good and fast as him. His 4 guys do all the cutting.

    I just don't really like the idea of having a $7,000 lazer for the help to ride on. You also need to consider we have the famous bermuda that runs everywhere and grows very thick. Its harder to trim and edge than fescue.

    Should I train him mostly on cutting and leave the trim work to me?
  2. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    Keep teaching him how to trim!

    When and if I ever have/had any "help" as you say, they do the trimming...................they learn, one way or the other. I hire help so that I don't have to do that. I do it now and have for the most part this year but believe me it's getting old..............or I am one.

    MATTHEW LawnSite Senior Member
    from NE OHIO
    Messages: 665

    I would not let a new guy use my expesive equipment, either. If you have an older walk behind it might be ok. Sure, you will trim it a lot faster. By the time you are done, he may only have the back done. I think if you have two mowers, you should both mow. Then when done, you trim and he uses the blower behind you. I've seen lawns really scalped by an inexperienced guy, and the customers always seem to notice that spot right away.

    AVRECON LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 290

    I always do the mowing and let the help do the edging and trimming. It usually takes them a couple of weeks to get in the groove of things though. Scenario, we pull up to the yard, I have the help edge first then trim. I always tell them to trim in the areas that I have mowed first, and to try and trim the front yard before going in back. That way if hes still trimming when I'm done, I can blow the driveway etc. Other wise I tell them as long as the edge, trim and blow is done, I don't care if they take a nap in the truck, Just make sure everything is right before you are done.
  5. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,662


    Im gonna follow Homer on this one!!! Let him continue to do the trimming and operate the 36 whenever possible.

    Although it may be a PITA, you will find that production will improve slowly and efficiently if you keep cutting.

    If you have not purchased a dedicated stick edger, this may be a good time. You will save hours if the grass is that tough at the curbline etc.

    Just try to be patient and it should all come together in a short while. I like to tell the guys up front that in one week they either have what it takes to trim or they dont.

    The same goes for the mowers, 2 weeks tops. If they cant cut it, then its on to the next grunt.

    No pun intended - Best of luck!!!
  6. Premo Services

    Premo Services LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,516

    I agree with you Homer

    I have a helper and he is the one that is doing the trimming. I just can`t see him using the lazer while I am busting my hump trimming, this is what I wanted to get help with. He was a bit slow learning and I thought he should have learned quicker, but it has been 2 weeks @ 2 days a week and he is getting pretty good at it!! The better he gets, the faster he is, and that is helping me to get done a lot quicker. When I get home now, it is early, and I still have energy to do something. Plus the rest of the week is a lot better, because I am not worn down from all the work. I wish I would have done this sooner.:D
  7. Highpoint

    Highpoint LawnSite Member
    Messages: 153

    I gotta get in on this one. If you really want to get a full time helper, you gotta train them on EVERYRHING. But FIRST you gotta train your self to slow down, and realize that training is gonna take some time. You gotta get your brain to realize that all your jobs are gonna take more time unitil you get that person trained. I'm an owner, operator, book keeper, service manager, machanic, salesman, idiot repair coordinator, etc. I used to hire someone, work with them a few days and send them on their way. I had SOOO many problems. I did this for two years, grew fast and wished I was back to a one man operation. The following year, I cut back to roughly half of the following year, hired a GIRL and off we went. That girl had no idea what she was doing, till then she had only mowed here dads lawn and never trimmed! That girl stayed with me for 9 year!!! She was running a crew on the 3rd year on. The key was for me to have her work side by side and train her how I wanted the job done. Since then, any time I hire someone, I work with them for several weeks, I put them on the easy stuff first and slowly work in the more difficult aspects. Sure you will end up doing most of the (crap) work but in the end, it will be worth it. We all have our methods of training. Just keep plugging ahead and think to yourself (Hey, I just made X amount of money today and next week I will be able to make even more since my help will be more attuned to what is going on.
  8. Highpoint

    Highpoint LawnSite Member
    Messages: 153

    ONE more thing. If you really expect to hire help and KEEP help, you can not expect that person to do all the crap stuff. We have at least 2 of everything. We ALL mow, we ALL trim, etc. (with some variations of course). Treat your help right and they will on most every occasion treat you right. Put them on the crappy stuff and they will disappear or try to screw you on hours. Good luck!
  9. eggy

    eggy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,060

    All i do is trim....the help rides the turf tiger.......he can trim but not as good, he can stripe great...trimming to me is what sets off your accounts, its a finish product with great trimming, also much harder to learn in my opinion then operation of the turf tiger and walk behind. around here the pay scale is about $7.00 a hour for a guy who operates a ZTR $ 8.00 dollars for a guy who operates a wb, and $ 9.00 dollars for the guy who trims......Also another note....when you trim you kinda get to walk all of the property, and see things you wouldnt riding or at least in my eyes...you also see your guy riding and his patterns from a distance....which is good if correction is needed......just my two cents....but it isnt worth that Im sure.....
  10. GreenQuest Lawn

    GreenQuest Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 822

    I would also have to say to keep them trimming. Use mowing as an incentive when they get better & faster at trimming, edging, blowing.

    If they can't learn how to do those three things no sense letting them run the good equipment.

    They won't be around long.

    BUT I also agree,
    If you get a good person then they need to learn all parts.

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