Paying lawn maintenance employees per lawn versus per hour?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by ghunter502, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. ghunter502

    ghunter502 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 286

    I need help with an issue.I have about 20 employees and have been kicking this idea around in my head not even sure it will work. Here is my question not even sure if I have it under the right category. I am trying to figure out how to get my employees to care more about their work which I know is hard to do, but here is my idea. There was an article in Lawn and Landscape where a company back east leased all of their equipment to there employees and gave them a cut of the profits. I am not sure how to go about this should I pay them a portion of the lawn/commission, figure out a way to make them lease the equipment against the lawns they mow, pay them by the square footage, pay them a percentage of the money paid per lawn just not sure on the approach. I think this would give them more incentive to not break equipment, get done with property in a timely manner, take pride in their work, make more money for themselves and make more money for my company.
    In this equation it would take in to account how much I am getting paid from the property, fuel, equipment cost, truck & trailer cost, lost or broken equipment, buying new equipment, work comp, etc. I think you get the point
  2. ghunter502

    ghunter502 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 286

    We did this with installing and removing holiday lighting and it worked great. I hope I can get some great insight on this topic so I can get this figured out for this coming season.
  3. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    It depends on how you structure it. If they have complete control over the equipment, including the trailers and trucks then yes, you should be able to do this. By complete control I'm talking about them taking the vehicles and equipment home with them every day and just generally being responsible for them.

    What I'm thinking you would have to do here is severe the employee/employer relationship. They would have to become full fledged sub contractors. You lease them the equipment, you give them a list of jobs that need to be done in the course of a week or month and let them go. They have control over the equipment, the number of hours they work and the order in which they get the work done.

    It sounds like you're trying to do some sort of hybrid sub contractor/employee thing and I would absolutely call the US Department Of Labor's help line at 1-877-889-5627 before I did anything like this. Just because you saw it in Lawn and Landscape doesn't make it legal. Sometimes the law gets tipped off by reading the media.

    You can also play around with the US DOL elaws First Step website. It has the info that about 99% of us use daily.
  4. hackitdown

    hackitdown LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,610

    If they are to remain employees, it may be legal to pay them on a "piecework" basis, or pay per lawn, so long as they are earning at least minimum wage.

    Some friends of mine used to work at a manufacturing place and were paid to make windows, on a per window basis. But they got minimum wage to start, and as a minimum. Of course, if you were not quick enough to make way more money, the company gave you the boot.
  5. ghunter502

    ghunter502 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 286

    They will be making over minimum wage for sure but everything counts against them too. Repairs, fuel, lost equipment so on and so forth. It worked great for christmas lights I made better money than last year and they were making 2 to 4 dollars an hour more than they usually do.
  6. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    You really, really need to call the number I posted above. It sounds like you are making a mess of this and if someone turns you in for this you will be burned. Bad. You cannot deduct for normal wear and tear, accidents or losses of tools and equipment. If the employee intentionally damages equipment or steals it then you may demand payment.

    Don't believe me, I don't care. But you had better call that number.
  7. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,979

    I believe you are right about this, but would it be a better to give a base pay plus a bonus for good performance. I've worked for a warehouse similar to this. They would give a base of $10.00 per hour but then after 90 days you were expected to be at the 100% pay rate which was $17.25. If you did not mantain this production then the would put you on probation and or fire you. Putting this into play for a lawn care business maybe good or bad as long as quality dosen't suffer.
  8. ghunter502

    ghunter502 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 286

    I haven't done this yet just toying with it trying to make it productive for myself as well as my employees. I won't do this until I know all of my bases are covered by the law. I am not going to do anything that is going to compromise my company.
  9. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    Couple of things. First I would like to read that article myself, so if you have a link or the month of the article and title author etc. please pass it along.

    Second I have found most of the guys interviewed in magazines are very pleasant to talk to and don't mind spending a few minutes to answer questions. I would just look them up and call to set up a phone appointment to discuss or better yet have them participate here. I always try to have my questions written down and think through what I want to learn so I don't wast their time.
  10. Imow4u2

    Imow4u2 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 377

    Hanging lights in the off season for some xtra cash, and keeping the beds and perimeters tight in july heat are two different things.. What that means is if work quality is already suffering, Why give them the keys if they're already half in the ditch?

    With 20 employees I assume you have 6-8 crews with each a leader.. Maybe start there, at the top..

    I'm sure you could make either work, the sub thing with your Iron sounds like a dead end road.. Just hate to see someone lose work after being well established...

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