pay for top guys??

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by vtscaper, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. vtscaper

    vtscaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 159

    How do you guys compensate your top guys?

    I have traditionally given my two forman a $1 to a 1.50 raise a year until this spring when I gave them a benifit package. 401 k match, vacation time, spanking new truck which is "theirs" and they take home every night. These guys have an awesome work environment, working on the top jobs around, great coworkers, a boss that labors right along side them at least a few days a week, end of the year bonuses, parties, nice equipment the list goes on and on...

    one of them is now coming to me for more. He is my install foreman. very skilled installer.. in 4 years he has learned a ton. is very detail oriented and FAST. He does still have A LOT to learn about running a job though. small jobs with just him and one or maybe two guys and not too much complicated layout he aces.. customers love him.. But when it comes to thinking two or three steps ahead of everything, not just 3 or more guys but work flow in general he has big improving to do..

    this is a guys that has allowed me to grow my business in a BIG way, and I would not want to lose him and he would be very hard to replace...

    I live in vermont and we take about three months off. Another issue is that our unemployment rate we pay keeps moving up its at 7% now!!. we work a TON of overtime in the 9 months..we average 50 a week. in the winter its just a little plowing and shop maintenance etc. I am thinking of offering him a salary which would accomplish more for both he and I.

    How much is enough? how do you get them to realize the true value of their employment. how do you keep them long term and control payroll??

    I know its a lot but want to hear what some of the guys have to say hear on any or all of it..
  2. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    How much is it worth to you to go through another 4 years of training?

    I usually get away with saying, "lets revisit this in 6 months and see if you can become more efficient and handle 2 more steps, if you can run bigger jobs we will compensate you more. You make me more money, you earn more money." Then hopefully you see some improvements or he forgets about the raise. I told one of my guys that is at top tier of the pay scale that 4 months ago, and I haven't heard a peep since... I think its due in August, but I honestly think he is going to forget the conversation.
  3. AztlanLC

    AztlanLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,051

    Honestly for me it sounds like this guy talked to another person the usual "oh on my job I run the company, I can do any task, run crews, bla bla bla, then the other peson tells him I'd give you a dollar more if you come work for me, he leaves then both realize things aren't so good for neither one.
    Sorry but it sounds you are already giving them so much more than any company out there, unless you are paying them $10.00 per hour or less they are making a decent salary taking into account they don't have to pay for car maintenance, insurance.
    I would say to him you are pretty much to the top show me how can we give you a raise, what can we do to compensate you enough and at the same time you are making money for me.
  4. SVA_Concrete

    SVA_Concrete LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 467

    Maybe he is short sighted. Can you work out a bonus per sucessfully completed job? Like 1% of the net profit. Show him how when he stays 2 steps ahead things are efficient the cash grows. It may be a carrott to keep himfor running
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  5. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,619

    Let's go in a whole different direction.

    50 hrs of overtime is way way way too much. This means you need more crews. The money you're spending on time and a half is money you could be spending on outfitting another crew with tools and equipment. Just the company's share of FICA taxes in that overtime is insane.

    Next, take this guy's new company truck away. Not a wise expense. That's money that could have gone towards the truck for the new crew.

    After following my steps to success, then put the dude on annual salary.
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  6. FLCthes4:11-12

    FLCthes4:11-12 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 283

    Most all foreman or supervisors are on salary because of the overtime. If they are making you that much money during the busy season then you should be able to keep them during the off months. I get the truck idea its like a raise to them yet you are able to right off interest, espenses and depreciation. Just sounds like you maybe jumped the gun with the judge of character. If they are that good and comprehend business be honest with them on the numbers. example. Here are the budget hours get it done in less with quality you get x percent job bonus. So when you win they win. When you lose they are salaried (sucks to be the owner lol)
  7. vtscaper

    vtscaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 159

    Good advice. However there is company strategy behind the trucks. We live in Vt most of our jobs are FAR from the shop. Both of my foreman live in the city which we do most of our work. So once the job is set up, they hit the ground running at 6 am picking up materials, equip, at the job earlier, i save big on fuel and the time i would pay them to drive back and forth to the shop everyday an hr each way. They feel good about having something thats theirs, they save on fuel etc.

    In terms of overtime we HAVE identified that the overtime doesn't make a ton of sense for some of the hourly guys. Thats why i am trying to figure something else out aside from just hiring more. I am big on the commitment i make to my full time guys that during the season they will ALWAYS have at least 40 hrs. So unlike most contractors who hire heavy and cut hrs when needed we tend to run too lean on help. I know its a problem...

    I would be really like to talk to any of you who have a salaried employee to see what has and hasn't worked. PM me.

  8. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    I know one landscaper in Atlanta that did not pay overtime because his business license was landscaping that falls under agricultural. Dep of labor went after him for not paying overtime, he got a lawyer and won because his business license fell under agricultural. Agricultural guys are not required to pay overtime.

    I think the trick is finding a way to avoid overtime. That way you maximize your investment. Your employs make real money. Salary pay, per job, pay per day... I dunno. This overtime bullsh!t is nuts. It is really an antiquated law that keeps employees from making good money.

    I know this isn't right, but you could pay 40 hrs and after 40 pay cash. They are still covered under your workmans comp, still paying some taxes etc.
  9. xtreem3d

    xtreem3d LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 801

    I'm not familiar with VT winters but could you take on more snow work to offset any additional wage increase? Do you think it's possible that he could go to a competitor of yours and recieve the same package? I almost want to come work for you :laugh:
  10. SVA_Concrete

    SVA_Concrete LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 467

    In virginia employees that do manual labor texhnixally can not be salaried.
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