should I let employees make important choices?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by seabee24, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. ToddH

    ToddH LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,192

    should I be nice to the crew ? Really? How else will you get the work done?

    Should I run a tight ship? Yes but do not be an a-hole unless you are there busting butt too.

    What was the question?
  2. JeffInTexas

    JeffInTexas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 30

    If you put rules in place, I'd put them in for everybody. If they get pissed, so be it. They'll adapt.

    Also, I'd put the basic decisions in the crew leaders hands. They have to know when to do what.

    On the lunch thing, thats a huge grey area. If you have a crew slacking off, I'd put a time in place for them and watch them close for a few weeks on GPS around that time if you can.
  3. seabee24

    seabee24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 619

    I tend to rule with the iron fist in the past and found that I have been getting a better result with honey

    I want to attract the best employees and retain the best. I know large companies that have lost great employees due to dumb rules like lunch breaks. And I get why they have those really tight rules

    I personally would rather not have a bunch if tight rules. I'm not
    Looking to be anyone's friend. But I want my guys to like coming to work for me. I want them to tell their friends that we do the best work, get paid well and have a good work day.

    Problem is last two seasons I have not been hitting my numbers or the results I need. Now I know how to tighten the ship, I know these methods are proven to work with results. But I don't really want to turn into an a hole about it.

    Large local landscape - no cell phones. If the supervisor pulls up and your on the phone, your sent home for the day, the crew leader is written up

    Another company makes the guys load and fuel at night. Thus there is nothing to do in the morning. The guys don't get punched in until the first site.

    Should I buy water for the cooler? Wtf I always brought my own water for me. These guys show up with nothing. Then they want to go to the gas station. If I didn't keep the cooler filled they would die from de- hydration
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  4. ToddH

    ToddH LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,192

    We have a water cooler and a fridge to make ICE. I installed a water filter.

    I buy some bottled water, Gatorade powder and a box of trail mix snacks for the shop. I do not keep it stocked all the time with trail mix.

    I try to take the group out to lunch a few times in the fall around the holidays, and I try to get one or two of them to lunch one on one from time to time.
  5. Holleywood

    Holleywood LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    In my opinion you should run it as tight as possible. It's your company and if something bothers you if needs to be adressed at that time. If not it will just build up and turn out bad. I think spring time is the best time to enforce these rules. Do a meeting and say theses are the rules take it or leave it....
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  6. Holleywood

    Holleywood LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    I say this after giving to much slack on my guys last year, then I find out they pawned my equipment.
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  7. McFarland_Lawn_Care

    McFarland_Lawn_Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,445

    Personally I think a once a month planned special or reward really helps to motivate in the midst of the busy season. Whether that's taking them out for a meal, treating a round of golf, or whatever. As soon as we finish one, they are already planning what they want to do next month. Lol. But bottom line you gotta trust your employees. If you can't then its not worth having them IMO. As owners we also need to be mindful of which "hat" we have on. Managing is totally different from our entrepreneurial mindset that most of us are in. Read some books on managing employees and it will help out a good amount.

  8. seabee24

    seabee24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 619

    Because of the previous two bad years, im considering just running a tight ship. The guys that do well, pull them to the side, buy them lunch, possibly increase their pay and let the good ones know that they are appreciated.

    Would you alsp let a good guy know that your running a tight ship at the moment to weeed out the bad ones? and that your goal is actually to run a looser ship later when more trusted employees are there?
  9. ToddH

    ToddH LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,192

    I plan on tightening up some too. I want to install some GPS to track and to optimize routes and I want to start tracking time on the job too.
    Part of the time tracking is for production but to also make sure the account is bringing in the correct income too.

    There are multiple ways to tighten up the ship.
    Talk to the guys, tell them production has to increase, ask them how and where. Tell them you want to track production but also say it is to verify billing.

    Drop the bad clients as well as the bad employees. Just do not do it blindly. Do not raise prices blindly.
  10. sgbotsford

    sgbotsford LawnSite Member
    Messages: 127

    Here's how I'd work it, but it will take years to fully implement this:

    Overall you need to inculcate a work ethic in them -- a desire to do a good job every time.

    1. As any given crew gets better the supervisor visits less often.

    2. Crews that need visiting less often get a bonus on their paycheck. After all they have taken less time.

    3. The foreman turns in a sheet each day of the route and time at each stop. If you are suspicious of a foreman, you pull the GPS log off the vehicle.

    4. From the log you get average times for a particular contract.

    5. From the log you also get abnormal times. Abnormal times mean one of two things: * The contract was underbid. * Or these guys are slacking off.

    6. Jobs that raise flags in #1 get a visit from the supervisor.

    7. If you want to make sure, swap a different crew onto that job for a few weeks.

    8. Overall, crews are paid a base rate plus a percentage of the contract. This has to be adjusted carefully. If the contract part is too big a fraction, they tend to rush the job and do badly. If the contract part is too small, they goof off.

    But judging quality is a lot easier to document than how they spent their time. However, a crummy job may require some fast talking with the land owner to fill in, so bad jobs shouldn't come up too often.


    Overall you want to create win-win situations. The original poster is working himself into a management vs employee war. This seldom ends well. You end up with employees who will do the minimum possible work. Instead figure out a method that it's to everyone's interest to pull the same way.

    As to personal freedoms:

    1. Starting time should be fixed at least in a given season. There is merit in starting your workday early in summer to keep out of the heat. There can also be merit in having some flexibility -- e.g. if you have a bunch of single employees who need to get their kids off to school, make a crew for them, allow them to start late.

    Ideally if you have a salting route, then move the whole day to the time the guys need to start. If there is extra time becuase of no-snow, this is time to work on maintenance, other projects, or let them book off early.

    Variable start times kill efficiency. On days you start early, people are half asleep the first hour or two. On days to start late, it's little better. If you are going to be flexible, be so at the end of the day.

    (I used to run canoe expeditions with teens. I found that trips where we started at the same time every day invariable got more miles in a week than a trip that had 'easy days' and 'push days' So I got them up soon after sunrise, we got on the water 90 minutes later, usually by 6:30. The variable part was at the other end of the day. If we hit a cool waterfall or rapid at 3 in the afternoon, we may stop. If we in a chain of portages amid the black flies, we may just keep slogging on, as we weren't much more miserable moving than stopped.)

    I also found working with teens, that having mid morning and mid afternoon breaks WITH FOOD made a huge difference. I think this is true for any physical job. Feed people so their blood sugar doesn't drop and they don't get owly. Schedule it into their day, and it should become part of the foreman's time sheet. Foremen should note guys who didn't bring stuff for breaks, watch them for slow downs before lunch and quitting time.

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