Where are the decent employees?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by cutntrim, Jul 3, 2001.

  1. cutntrim

    cutntrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 474

    The number one problem with this industry has got to be labor. Since it's seasonal (snowplowing excepted) your always having to replace workers annually. Plus unless you're in business for yourself, or in a really big company, if you're a young guy you're not gonna work in this field for long.

    We find it ridiculously difficult to find and retain good employees. The biggest problem is finding guys who've got what it takes to do the job. Young guys (in general) seem not to understand that work is called "work" for a reason. My dad works these pansies under the table everyday and he's 55.

    I can't even count high enough to list the number of "1 day wonders" we've had over the years. They show up for work, move slower than molasses uphill in january, are all thumbs, can't understand how to follow simple directions, and bail on us before the day's done. Or if they somehow last the day, they either don't come back or we can them. Then there are the dozens and dozens of guys who call about the job, I call them back and say come in Monday at 7:30. Then they don't show up, no call, nothin'.

    What the hell's the matter with these wusses? The only crew I can count on is me, my dad, and my partner. That's it. We use the best pieces of equipment we can for the job, but you still need bodies to operate 'em.

    Is it like this for the rest of you guys?

    BTW we pay $11/hr for guys who know what they're doing, which isn't bad money for young guys in these parts. So it 'aint the cash, it's the lack of intestinal fortitude.
  2. GreenQuest Lawn

    GreenQuest Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 822

    Target the "hungry" people (as we call them). People with families, Lots of bills, ect. Also I would rather hire an older person than a young kid. Seems in this day and age young people(and not everyone) do not have the work ethic as 10+ yrs ago.

    the first questions people seem to ask today is

    1 how much money
    2 how hard do I have to work
    3 What time is lunch
    4 what time do I get to go home
    5 when do I get paid
    6 When do I get a raise

    These are all things I have heard working with the many, many people that were in my crew when I worked for another LC

    I am teaching my 9 yr old good work ethics.
  3. John Allin

    John Allin LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,488

    You guys are not alone.... it happens everywhere and not just in our industry. This topic is Major when our industry gatherings occur. As much as this hurts to hear... alot of this can be avoided in the interview process (assuming they show up for the interview)... we extol the benefits we offer, the career goals that they can achieve if they stick around, the fact that we are agressively growing and that opportunities abound for them if they stick it out.

    Unfortunately, the turnover still persists, although at the foreman level that turnover is dramatically reduced (at least in our operation), although with foreman status comes increased benefits.

    Front line turnover is still high... we don't have the answer's you seek, but we too are working at it.

    Good luck.
  4. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    JA - good to hear from you. Must be having a great season...

    I have to agree with John, in that the interview process is the best way to weed out the bad ones.

    If they are a minute late for the interview without an earth-shattering reason, I don't hire them. If they are 10 minutes late, I leave, and let them figure out what happened.

    If they ask GQL's questions # 2,3,4,6, they don't get the job. I like when they ask how many hours they are going to get. Q's 1&5 are appropriate questions for some point in the interview.

    I also give them a wheelbarrow test. 400# of versa-Lok block in a wheelbarrow. They have to wheel it to a certain point in the yard, turn and come back. No makey, no jobby. I always wheel it there and back first, to sahow them it can be done. I was surprised at how many of the bad candidates this helped me to eliminate. The cocky ones sitting slack in the chair, seeming disinterested. Also touched few if any tools in their lives...I almost chuckle when they get that wheelbarrow to the end, try to turn amd it starts to dump. They do what they can to hold it up, but it's 400#. You aren't going to stop that from going over. Then those same kids are now pretty sheepish and can't get out of the interview fast enough.

    I'll interview 10-20 people to hire one.
  5. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 424

    This buisness will always be plagued with high turn over in the entry level of employment. By the time a person makes foreman status he has proved himself and has learned what this industry is like. Landscaping is hard heavy work with lousy hours and not a fantastic pay. I agree 11.00 per hour isn't bad, but most landscapers don't pay overtime, or have benefits or regular year round work. When you compare this to the other industries that hire at the same or better wages, with regular hours, benefits and lighter physical work it only stands to reason that a lot of people would rather go there. It takes a speacial type of person to be a landscaper but they are out there you just have to find them and when you do, be good to them.
  6. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    Dan - "most landscapers don't pay overtime" - are the laws in Canada more lax than the US when it comes to OT?

    In the US, you have 3 options: Pay OT for every hour over 8 per day, or every hour over 40 per week, or every hour over 80 per two weeks. Not paying OT is not an option. I'd find myself in a heap of trouble with the DOL or some thing if I didn't pay OT.
  7. 75

    75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 992

    Seeing my employers headaches in the day-to-day running of the welding company I work at, I often say to myself "I don't ever want employees................"

    The welding business, particularly the kind of work we do (a mix of structural steel, miscellaneous metals & mobile welding & repair) is similar to landscaping in some respects: physically demanding, hours are often open-ended (2 examples: yesterday I went out to a local asphalt plant, they needed some repair work done right away on one of the track links on their o-l-d D-8. Started at 11:00 am, worked through till it was done at 2:30 pm & took lunch then. Today I got back at 6:45 this evening, an "emergency repair" was needed out at one of the nearby gravel pits (got the message from our office when I checked the phone at lunchtime, was working on a joists/metal deck roof). One of their "Eucs" (rock truck) decided to shed a wheel, required a bit of arc-air & welding to sew things back up. When they call, they don't mind paying the $ but they want you to stay 'till it's done. As well, hard-facing on the crusher is usually a Saturday job - pretty hard to weld in the crusher while it's crushin'!) & being able to think is a definite plus. So the turnover is there, plus with fewer people getting into the trade to start with there just aren't as many good people out there as we'd like. For the most part, those that are any good already HAVE jobs. Plus it's not the kind of trade you learn in a few weeks.

    I'm quite happy where I'm working now (just remind me if you happen to catch me on a bad day! ;) ) and I currently have a "fringe benefit" of the custom paint job on "my" welding truck which I take home each night, but that had to be earned! A lot of people these days seem to think they should get that right off the start.

    One of my employer's problems has always been getting people who can drive! Some had licenses & lost 'em, others have 'em but their driving record is spotty enough the insurance co. says "extra $ for them to be on the list".

    Then there's the "equipment (lack of) care" factor. Not even going to GO there..................

    Stonehenge: I'm not 100% up to speed on labour laws here vs the US, but I think part of what Dan was referring to is the fact that part-time & seasonal workers (at least here in Ontario) fall under a different set of rules than "regular" employees with regard to OT. In my field, we're OT after 88 hrs in a 2-week pay period, while some of the aggregate companies crusher crews ("seasonal") don't see OT until around 60 hrs in a week.

    I think everyone here has good ideas: the interview process is important, and I like Stonehenge's "test". We have a similar idea, but geared towards reading a (simple) drawing & fabbing a (simple) part based on that info. Interesting how many ways a drawing can be interpreted................ And definitely, when you DO find someone good be good to them. Perhaps "be fair to them" is a better way of putting it.

    Here's an idea for the ones who think everything should be handed to 'em: send them off for a few years truckin'! I did 3-1/2 years of THAT, makes me appreciate the job I have now................
  8. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    I hear the eqpt care issue - I bought a new rototiller yesterday and went to the yard to assemble it and test it today. When I opened the drawers on the ratchet set, I had to spend 20-30 minutes draining and drying what looked like a pint of water from the drawers. Someone must've left it out in the rain or something...
  9. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 424

    The laws in Ontario have a loop hole that lets landscapers get away with not paying for statutory holidays, and overtime. Most of the landscapers fall under the catagory of horticultural type workers or sod layers which have very little benefits. I don't know how landscape construction can be considered as time sensitive (as in perishable material) but most companies get away with it. Farming, growing nurseries, domestic help and several other catagories fall in this loophole to various degrees:mad:
  10. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,144

    You guys need some "foreign labor". I have been dealing with the same employment issues you guys mentioned for years. Just this year I have gone through 3 white men.... they either were careless or stop showing up! About 2 weeks ago after my guy stopped showing up and me working 13 hours a day, 7 days a week to stay on top of my work I hired a mexican guy. He speaks not a word of english but let me tell you... hes the best dam worker ive ever had! I show him how to do something once.... and hes perfect. He's extremly motivated and very willing to learn. I think it all comes back to the point that he has repsonsibility... He came to America about 3 months ago for opertunity and he sure as hell acheiving it! He has a wife and 4 kids back in Mexico to support. He dosnt drive but me picking him up every day is a small price to pay for an employee who is repsonsible, does a great job, very hard worker and i can trust! I think the key to hiring at this point is finding someone who depends on the income from you to survive.... a 22 year old still living at home aint gonna bust his ass..... for what? My guy does the work of about 3 white men and is very greatful to have the job.... I have to force him to eat lunch evryday.... he dosnt want to stop working!

Share This Page