Spanish speaking employees?????

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by turfmagazine, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. turfmagazine

    turfmagazine LawnSite Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 95

    Jim @ TURF Magazine here.

    We're trying to get a take on your experiences with employing (or not) Spanish speaking folks.

    How has that worked out? Is language a problem? Reliability?

    What are your plans in the future -- more or less of this.


  2. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    although i speak spanish quite well, i had in the past always stayed away from hispanics due to the stigma associated with them. In the past few years i have been forced to change my policy.

    Thier attendance and work ethic is great. The language barrier is still a big issue. They are always working, so if they are unsupervised and misunderstood the directions, they will continue working all day doing something counterproductive that may take you 2 days to fix...

    also due to the places they were raised, they have to be trained about work quality. we sell a very high quality service. Most hispanics have never even seen a gas mower before coming to the states, so you cannot expect them to know how a well manicured property should look.
  3. huh

    huh LawnSite Senior Member
    from Lubbock
    Messages: 251

    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
  4. Prolawnservice

    Prolawnservice LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 612

    Its not that funny if it happens to you, but I've also had American workers do the same thing.:cry:
  5. huh

    huh LawnSite Senior Member
    from Lubbock
    Messages: 251

    just to clarify I was not laughing AT HIM......I was laughing at the fact that it is is a very unique feeling to look and see someone busted their ass all day.......but you are mad at them because they just did a ton of totally wrong work....even though it was a hell of a lot of work.....and it is hard to be too mad at them because you know the flip side is someone who did not show up or who came in drunk or drove the mower in circles all day to waste time

    again I was not laughing at him....but at the fact that there are people who want so badly to work and EARN a living that they are too scared to stop and clairify something....they just want to work work work and hope you are glad because they worked hard :)

    and I still laugh when I read his statement :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

    I also laugh....again not at him.....because it is something that is hard to understand for many people......and it is not HARD to correct, but it takes understanding of Mexicans and their culture and it takes you putting yourself in their shoes and seeing things their way based on where and what they come from.....which can be hard for some people.....but it sounds like he has a handle on it :)
  6. turfmagazine

    turfmagazine LawnSite Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 95

    Whenever I talk to a contractor who employs one or more, they 100% report this "hard work" ethic -- often followed by "they work harder than most of the white guys I find."

    I wonder how true this is?
  7. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,209

    Jim- I would agree that they have a strong work ethic and are very reliable. I hired my first spanish speaking employee at the end of my first year in 1995. Like other groups, there are good and bad, some great workers, and some who are just trying to do the minimum. The language barrier has been my biggest problem, and yes, I have had them do jobs completely wrong. It is also a problem that they can't effectively communicate with a client. But I don't know if I would have been able to build my business if it wasn't for my spanish speaking workers.
  8. Lawnworks

    Lawnworks LawnSite Fanatic
    from usa
    Messages: 5,407

    Most definately they work harder. They show up, have a great attitude, and they can be trained to do quality work. They will work Saturdays and Sundays also... something that was never possible w/ white guys. And the misconception that they are cheap labor is outright lie. To get quality guys of any race... it is not going to be cheap.
  9. MudslinginFX4

    MudslinginFX4 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,170

    All I've ever really had is hispanic employees and quite frankly, I'm tired of it.

    I'm tired of guys (in my case) who aren't reliable, I'm tired of guys who won't take care of my equipment and who "ghetto rig" everything that breaks without telling my about it. I'm also tired of guys getting $9, $10, $11 an hour, but who can't even start a blower or use a trimmer.

    Another thing that makes it hard is the language barrier. I know a little Spanish, but that isn't enough. Most of my guys know English, but don't comprehend enough of what I'm saying most of the time to do the job right. I constantly have to go over things time and time again with them, and show them how to do each and every job, to say the least it's getting very frustrating! Talking on the cell phone to them is even a chore.

    At the same time as I say all of this, many days do go smooth and things get done good. I'm just having one of those times in my business right now that is really starting to bring me down on the whole industry. I can't find GOOD help!
  10. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    i agree that they are not "cheap help"

    and yes, they can be trained to do quality work, but it is harder due to the language difference.

    Also i have found tht there is very little loyalty. They will jump ship very quickly, and i have never had one give any notice at all. I have had many not show up for a few days becuase someone else would pay them $.50/hr more for a 3 day job. When that job was over, they would just show back up and not understand why they no longer had a job.

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