retention + hiring military vets

Discussion in 'Employment' started by americanlawn, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. WillK

    WillK LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    I been looking at these forums for a few years now because I always wanted to start up a landscaping business but never took the leap, I'm in the works of finally doing it this year, cant wait.
    Since this is the wrong place to post this kind of stuff I'll save it for another post but figured I would put it out there since this is my first post :clapping:
    I did 6 honorable years in the Navy ( fire away jarheads, I still love you guys, my cousin was one too :laugh:) My rate (job) was a Fire controlman (electronic technician but for weapon systems.) I had to sign up for 6 active 2 inactive since they sent me to 3 different schools for electronics that took almost 2 years. I ended up doing 4 years 4 months on the USS nimitz and did 2 deployments in support of operation iraqi freedom.

    You also need to take into consideration what branch of service. In the Navy I considered myself a hard charger but only got out as a E-4, In the navy they take into consideration your evaluation along with test scores and time in rate. In the test is every job in your rate along with some other stuff. I knew my job inside and out and always did great on that section of the test but did average on the other parts. Also each division was only allowed to give out a certain amount of 5.0's and 4.0's on the evaluation. I was not really a kiss ass so i usually got a 3.0 and rarely a 4.0 even tho I never got in trouble and did my job and did it well.
    Also the navy advances you more if you rate is in demand, the test before I could take the e-5 test it was like 30% advancement. When it was my time to take the test it dropped to like 5% and stayed around there ever test I took. O well thats the way the cookie crumbles, as they say in the Navy "choose your rate, choose your fate". If i would have made e-5 I would still be in and only have a little over 6 years left out of 20. But then again I would have not met my woman im with now and have my little Abigail so everything happens for a reason.
    I dont know much about the Air Force but I heard there advancement is not that great for them either.

    I agree, DD214 is where its at. You can find what discharge they had and Im not sure if every branch has it but it tells you how many good conduct medals they have. Every 3 years if you have no NJP's you get one so for me i did 6 years and have 2.

    I had a few jobs since I been out and no employer asked to see it. I find that odd. I would almost take that into consideration more than there resume.

    The highest paying job I had since I got out was 14.50 an hour but they laid off a few of the newer people and I was at the bottom of the totem poll. I got a new job paying way less and also used my G.I. Bill and finished a tech school for HVAC. Thats what I'm doing now but once again the low man on the totem poll. I make 11$ an hour now and my girlfriend a lot less, we have a 5 y/o that is hers even tho I consider him mine since sperm doner is not in his life and a 11m/o baby girl and we are getting through it. We dont own a house or have a lot but we are happy.
    Life is a B*$&# sometimes but you just have to adapt.
  2. FLC2000

    FLC2000 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,986

    You may want to think about offering some stop gap jobs to vets. Most of the posts here are on point. Vets want to make more than what most companies offer unless they are fairly big ones with benefits and 401.

    I have a friend who deals with vets and PTSD. A lot of them are just getting back and looking to get back into the work force but don't necessarily want to cut grass or landscape for a living. Hire them on for a while until they can move on to bigger and better things.

    I know its a pain to train and invest time but lets be honest...they deserve it.
  3. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    I wonder what the big national Co pay wage wise for their applicators.

    I do have a glimmer of hope some day to hire presentable help to do applications but many of the iffy shaddy characters who do work for most of the lawn maintenance Co. here look like they just rolled out of bed, just got picked up from hitch hiking for weeks on end you name it. At least the guys who do applications fr the big Co....okay most of them ...look fairly presentable....even if they never blow off granular product off walks or drives or make ANY effort to tidy up a trial of aeration plugs.
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  4. olajoe808

    olajoe808 LawnSite Member
    from Zone 5b
    Messages: 221

    I just wrote a friggin essay response to this but will narrow it down. The answer is yes. Because of the unrealistic expectation of lumping vets in with vets. No two vets alike.
  5. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,076

    Here's the jigger.

    Why do they look like crap?
    Look at the work,
    it tears up clothes, like crazy!
    Im tired of replacing MY clothes.
    Don't you think they are tired of getting paid $14/hr and ripping through clothes they can't afford to replace?
    So they show up wearing crap like they were just an unearthed zombie.

    The answer to this is company uniforms, dickies, a shirt, a cap.
    YOU pay for them, or do an 80/20 split.
    But UNIFORMS should be the first bennie any company offers.
    Ive even seen/suggested a boot reimbursement after a year
    something like $80 towards boots if the guy sticks it out a year.

    have them show up in a clean uniform, yesterdays goes in the laundry hamper, the dude from Cintas or Alsco, picks up laundry, drops off new uniforms.

    Easy Peasy.

    Oh it cost too much?

    The alternative is night of the living dead.

    Im not sure I blame employees on this one.
  6. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,076

    why do vets get lazy and not come to work.

    because you aren't meeting their expectations (which frankly are very , maybe unrealistically, high)

    You're undisciplined, unorganized, un focused and won't listen to subordinates.
    They lose respect for you, and then that's it, done deal, they don't show up because it's not worth the tiny pay.

    Before anyone opens up their mouth and says "Im not undisciplined, or unorganized!"
    by military standards you are.

    There are VERY few companies in existence working according to military efficiency.
    Im not saying the military is perfect (far from it)
    but it is what they are accustomed to, and adjusting to what's normal, and acceptable takes a LOT of time and practice….something they don't have, since they are just fresh back from the 'ghan.

    I just hired a vet a month ago. 25Q (como) from 172nd Infantry.
    his car is still in transpo from germany, so he doesn't have a ride to work, his phone got shut off, because he doesn't make very much and he's going through a divorce.

    We were plowing a trailer park, and this guy wigged out on him (seriously the dude looked like he was the ultimate warrior from WWF and his face was about to explode is a mist of blood) for rolling a little snow into his "driveway"
    We are not responsible for clearing driveways, just the access roads as per contract.
    this was repeatedly reiterated to the resident.
    but he kept shoveling his 'driveway' into the common road.
    literally snowman high snow. some of that rolled back into his driveway (tough ShiZAT buddy)
    anyway resident ready to blow a gasket runs at my employee (fresh vet) screaming and yelling.
    I was able to get out of my truck to defuse the situation, sort of, before It became a rodeo where my employee showed the resident the bottom of his boot and what the the ground looked like up close and personal.

    However, after that, I had to send the employee home, because he was now psychologically unable to work, following a potentially violent confrontation (PTSD clearly)
    Ive had over a decade of practice… him? a month.

    I talked to him about it 5 days later.
    there is no going into it right then and there.
    Takes time for that wound to stop oozing, and you have to just let it.

    He now understands, something like that happens, he is to either just leave, or switch places with me (I was operating on the other end of the trailer park)
    This is referred to as a 'Plan of action" or "SOP" (standard operating procedures)

    Have these things in place, and it will be easier for vets to work with you.
    Don't and they won't.

    Most vets already don't trust/respect civilians. You have to earn that respect.
    Thumping your chest and proclaiming "I Da Boss" doesn't establish that.

    Soldiers/Airmen/Marines/Sailors follow their superiors because those superiors supply for them, look after them and take car of their needs, the reciprocate in return.
    12-14/hr and a part time/seasonal job with no bennies… isn't doing that.
  7. BowmanR

    BowmanR LawnSite Member
    from IA
    Messages: 12

    I'm a vet, I noticed people keep listing the unit these people were in but its totally irrelevant. I have met people from 82nd 101st etc etc etc and there are ALWAYS more shitbags than headstrong motivated individuals.

    The MAIN reason I think people slack off don't show up is because in the military you a paid a salary+benefits no matter how much you work. You get paid the same for a day off as the hardest working day of your life. No bonuses/incentives. People do it in the military because the HAVE to do it. When you are in the military and the higher ups say ok guys we are gonna be in formation at 0230 and do a 15 mile run followed by a long day of busy work.... is ANYONE happy about that? NO nobody is happy about that, but they still do it, why? because they have no choice, they signed a contract.

    When you become a civilian, you have a choice. And they make that choice.
  8. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,076

    where did you serve? In supply?
    I don't know anyone in the airborne or rangers that HAS to do anything…they are ALL volunteer units.
    At any time ANY day you can say "I don't want to do this any more" and they will take you off the roster and send you somewhere else…. you know, where people complain about having to work after a 15 mile run.

    I don't know which group of people you are meeting from 82nd or 101st but I think your are talking to the toilet scrubbers and supply guys.
  9. BowmanR

    BowmanR LawnSite Member
    from IA
    Messages: 12

    LOL. Guess you didn't really read my post. People are POSTING THE UNIT these people are from NOT THE JOB THEY PERFORM in said unit.

    The OP didn't say I am hiring RANGERS nor did he say I've hired JUMPMASTERS.

    People are listing the UNIT these people were in as if THE UNIT they were in was relevant. YOU JUST PROVED MY POINT. There is supply/commo/drivers etc etc etc etc etc etc in THE UNITS THEY LISTED.

    There is a huge difference when hiring a retired jumpmaster from 82nd and hiring a 24 year old supply specialist from 82nd.

    The fact remains there are many many more shitbags in 82nd airbourne than hard working strong minded individuals AND THAT'S A FACT no matter what your opinion is. I met all of the above in America as well as Iraq, special forces etc etc etc. Stop lumping everyone together, just because you were 101 or 82nd blah blah doesn't mean you are a hard worker and are going to be a good hire for a landscaping crew, FACT.
  10. SevenSpringsLawnCare

    SevenSpringsLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    As a 6 year Air Force vet getting out in August, I feel compelled to write a reply to this one. I am replying to this from my tent in the desert (4 weeks left here!) on my last deployment to the big sandbox.

    I am getting out partly due to the uncertainty in the military in general due to the financial situation in Washington, but mostly because I have decided that I would rather be home doing something I enjoy than in the desert pounding sand. I just happen to really enjoy landscaping and outdoor work in general which is what has me browsing these forums at midnight in the first place. I have punched the numbers and without finding work in a different government sector there is no way I am going to get close to what I earn as an E-5. I am ok with that-if it was about money I wouldn't be getting out in the first place.If guys getting out are trying to make the same as when they were in then they are unprepard and in for a hard time. At 24 with no kids or debt minus my very affordable mortgage I can do this but if I had kids and/or any form of debt I would be sucking it up and suffering a bit longer.

    I want to go to work in the landscaping business because I know I will be happy. Every vet is different and it is important to realize that. I am working on getting my business setup for the future but in the immediate future I plan on working for a landscaping company while I go to school for my horticulture/environmental science degree. I think the most important question to a vet would be 'why are you getting out?'. That will tell you everything you need to know plus some about retention. disclaimer- the company I am going to work for is in a different area than me and in a different niche all together-There is 0 conflict of interest.

    If you are not already efficient or unsure of how to become more efficient, most vets will be able to help you in that area. We tend to be very familiar with systems in general considering how many are in place in the military. My goal in any situation from getting ready in the morning to grocery shopping involves developing a logical system that cuts down on time and effort while increasing the quality of the task. On that note though, there is a reason my wife prefers I go shopping by myself.:laugh:

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