Stressed out

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by hustlerburn, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. hustlerburn

    hustlerburn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Alright guys,

    I am to that point.......I am sick of jobs going over on time, hearing excuse after excuse why things are taking too long. What is with the kids these days? Are they lazy? It seems if i am not on the jobs it doesnt get done in due time. It means then i cant sell jobs while i am there babysitting.

    I graduated 5 years ago in La Design, worked for the 10 years at one company running crews and learning all about the installation part of things. I was fortunate enough to be a part of many jobs that have been featured in many of the brochures for brick and block that everyone uses. So i have had alot of experience in that part. A year ago i decided that i needed to get in more of the design and selling part of things.
    I made a move one for myself and two for the wife, she was just getting done with her masters, and in an area where we thought we would find her a job. But right now i am regretting everything.
    I can sell my a s off on just design, lately i have been the higher bid, but have gotten the job just on the design or quality of my porfolio. But that all really doesnt matter when jobs dont get done when needed be. I cant go back and ask the costumer for another 3 k because the guys took to long?

    What do you do? i have tried to be the nice guy, i tried being the d ck. I am to the point where i could do it myself and forget it all.

    Anyone in the MN twin cities looking for designers? I might relocate at this point.
  2. Mid-Ohio Scaper

    Mid-Ohio Scaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 135

    How do you pay, by the hour or by the job?
  3. hustlerburn

    hustlerburn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    by the hour, which yeah my labor cost of course are higher, but yet that means my commison drops if i go over on hours.

    Its not a thing where i am bidding too low, because with all my estimates i allow for some wiggle room but it seems like they know how to push the limits of my alotted time, if not go over.
  4. Mid-Ohio Scaper

    Mid-Ohio Scaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 135

    You should try paying by the job. Give your guys a time frame to get the job done, if they go over the allowed time they loose money, if they get the job done early they make more money.

    Try paying by the job and I bet your productivity doubles.
  5. Bru75

    Bru75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    I'm a one man band myself, but where I used to work I had the same kind of problems with the guys under me. It drove me nuts until I finally hired a guy who could do his work mostly unsupervised and help to make sure the other guys were doing thier work. I also learned that bad employees NEED TO GO! If you have one guy farting around or complaining a lot it can drag down the whole crew.
    I think Mid Ohio's suggestion might help, I have heard about others who have gotten good results this way.
    Do you supervise the crew yourself?
  6. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,580

    Too bad this forum doesn't have interacive voice. I think we could talk about this issue for an hour.

    Lets see, Where to start?

    Hardscape construction is not rocket science - yet it's a craft. So many details: the work needs to be perfect. If it's not - the client will make you re-do it. The work is usually priced based on estimated production hrs. If you forget something back at the shop / yard - goodbye profit.

    There are some here that are fortunate to have some terrific employees. When I first got into hardscapes I had all Americans. They were all hard workers, not afraid to get dirty, they were intelligent, and reliable. I also paid them very well.

    Well, time changed. The Americans stopped calling asking if we were hiring. I hired immigrants. Great people. Hard workers. Very respecful towards me. Yet - they have no comprehension of production hrs. They have no comprehension of using materials wisely and creating as little waste as possible.

    I'm a grown adult that babysits other grown adults for a living. Thats what I do.

    I have a guy thats worked for me for 5 years. All our jobs are residential, and thats how it's always been. Almost all our jobs have asphalt driveways. So today I'm in the truck on the phone and I turned around to look at something as I was hanging up. We had a load of CR8 dumped at the bottom of the driveway. Out of the corner of my eye I see my guy take the skid steer bucket, put the edge against the asphalt and push the think layer of CR8! Which in turn......scratches the driveway! Guaranteed everytime! So I go over to tell him to please not do that. I then see not only did he use the bucket to clean the driveway, but he turned the skidsteer over a layer of gravel on the asphalt, which again - scratched the driveway! I was furious, but I kept it contained. I nicely looked him in the eyes and said "you know better than this, please do not ever do this again, use a shovel and a broom". As I walked away I thought to myself "I'm getting too old for this babysitting, is this really worth it?"

    You have to motivate employees with positive enforcement. Negative enforcement will NEVER work. They need incentives and they need bonuses. And they need accountability. Even then - you still must babysit.

    If you do work that requires brains (such as masonry and hardscape construction) - you need employees with brains. If you do work that requires little skill and little smarts - you need employees with little smarts.

    Those whom are fortunate to employ hardworking Americans - it may not be for another 5 years, but your day is coming, they'll be a thing of the past :) :)

  7. philboudreault

    philboudreault LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    man i hired a native american never hardscaped a day in his life ...welder by trade ...******* awesome...picked it up quick and very precise work....talks alot but good worker...and hes in the program so no problems there...look man tell your clients it will take a week if it only takes 3-4 days and tell your guys that they have three days... that way u will have no flac from the clients... and room to breath.
  8. Mid-Ohio Scaper

    Mid-Ohio Scaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 135

    That is why I said pay by the job.:hammerhead:
    There is a universal language called M-O-N-E-Y. It doesn't matter if you're Mexican, American, European, Canadian, Black, White, Purple, Red, or Yella'
    You give the allowed time and they'll figure out real quick if they do it right in a timely manor they get paid, if they do it chitty or take to long they get docked.

    Besides if you wanna keep workers on that can't tell the difference between their arse and a hole in the ground, that's all you.
    For the guys on here who have good workers, we treat them right because we know how valuable they are, and send the idiots on their way.

    This is common sense............
  9. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,580 connection issue
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009
  10. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,580

    If "paying by the job" in the construction industry was such a fantastic idea, then all of America would have long been doing so.

    Piece work? Different story. Thats a very common practice.

    Paying by the job in this industry could be controversal. One would need a fair scale to base pay on. Last month here it rained all month. We had about an additional 6 man hours in cleaning up mud from the street each day. Thats not a common happening. So if I priced the job to pay each worker $1000.00 and then I told them they also have to clean mud every day - that would not go over too well.

    On the other hand, I know of a trucking company that pays their drivers per run. they deliver to retail stores. Each store has a set amount that the driver is paid. But - the scale is derived from some national map & timing system created for the trucking industry.

    Most auto mechanics are paid flat rate. Which is essentially by the job. But they're not dealing with pushing a loaded wheel burrow on 105 degree days, or carrying 70 pound block through mud because it's too wet to even get a CTL in there. Worst case for a mechanic is they deal with broken, rusty bolts and rust falling in their face, but they can see that when they quote the customer a price. When I bid a job in April, I don't know what the weather will do in July when we actually do the work.

    I believe most level headed contractors employ "good workers". But I seldom like to refer to my guys as "workers". That's kinda demeaning. I think of people that clean the NFL stadium bathrooms as "workers". Most decent, competent contractors employ folk with broader skills and knowledge.

    Reality is the hardscape industry is competitive, and it getting more and more competitive all the time. There is only so much money we ("we", as in the industry as a whole) can pay our employees because job pricing is at pre-2005 rates. I think all employers want to pay their employees top dollar and all do they best they can to do so. But as long as sub par contractors are taking short cuts on materials and construction standards (which is becoming more and more previlant) - employers are limited as to what they can pay.

    It's not often you see Harvard graduates stacking block and digging trenches. A blue collar company will always have employees make silly mistakes. If they were above the making mistake stage - then they would not be *EMPLOYEES*. They WOULD be *BUSINESS OWNERS*....aka - our COMPETITION.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009

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