Where are the decent employees?

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

  1. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    This problem is everywhere not just landscaping. These boys come out of 13 years of public schooling wiht everything being handed to them and then all of the sudden they are throw into the real world and it scares them.

    Had an 19 y.o. show up at a jobsite a while back. Said he was a carpenter and would like to work for me. (he was currently a pizza delivery driver)

    His demands:
    $18/hr 40 hours per week min. rain or shine.
    5 weeks paid vacation
    health, dental, and eye insurance.
    company vehicle.
    profit sharing plan.

    I told him I leave him with KC my foreman and check back after lunch to see what he was worth. Came back. Kids gone. Left after an hour. Called him at home to see what happened. He said KC wanted him to work and it was hot out so he left. I told him he could stop by and we would cut him a check for $10 and he had the balls to ask me if I could drive over and give it to him.
  2. cutntrim

    cutntrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 474

    Stonehenge: As far as overtime up here, when we get a weekday holiday (like Canada Day) we ask our employees if they want to work or not. For regular pay. We won't pay overtime. If they agree, then it's ok as far as revenue canada (our IRS) is concerned. Same goes for overtime. We let 'em know when they've hit 44hrs for the week. If they want to work extra hours for regular pay, no problem. If they'd rather go home, not problem either.

    You know what my theory is on the lack of work ethic for young guys? Video games. I'm only 31, but when I was a kid we got 13 channels on TV and had to physically get up and turn the dial to change it from Six Million Dollar Man to Barney Miller. Our video games were Pong and that crappy shooting range game with the fake cowboy gun.

    We didn't care 'cause we were never inside anyway. Every day I would run home from school, grab my hockey stick (Proud Canadian that I am) and run over to my buddies house to play road hockey 'till supper. Then I'd run home again. Depending on the time of year, I'd tune in a ball game or hockey game if one was on then hit the sack.

    Today's kids are all fat and pimply and sit for hours in front of video games downstairs in the basement. No wonder they don't want to work.

    We don't schedule formal interviews, instead I call each prospect up on the phone "interview" them for about 5 minutes. One of the questions I always ask is what sports they play. If they don't play any then chances are pretty good they'll be uncoordinated and weak. After I've narrowed it down to a couple guys I'll tell them to come in for a day 'cause I gotta see them in action to tell if they'll be able to do it or not.

    That's the best I can do interview-wise when I'm also working in the field every day. No time for hand holding, throw 'em into the fire first day and see if they can stand the heat.

    Unfortunately most can't.
  3. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 424

    I always look at a mans hands when I interview them. You can always tell a real working man by his hands
  4. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,411

    This is the downside of an economy where unemployment rates are under 2 per cent. The ones without any job are jobless for a reason (see above posted experiences) and the rest are looking to improve upon their present positions, hence the inquiries about vacation, salary rate, etc.
  5. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    Id have to disagree, i dont think the problem is video games, and we only had 4 channels when i was a kid. There are good employees out there but you have to just get lucky to find them i think. Mine are great, but had many bad ones before them. Most of the questions people talked about asking in an interview are close to the ones you would ask while doing an estimate for a new customer.
  6. get mexican

    i am going to for next year even if i have to get H2b workers
  7. Comet

    Comet LawnSite Member
    Messages: 165

    Ive seen both American and Hispanic good and bad

    It rained today real hard, Hispanic helper said no work today?!..
    I said dont worry the skies will clear up, (and they did in 2 hours)just hang loose stay in the garages and clean up, sharpen this and that etc,, theres plenty of things to do

    He decided to go home instead,,,, haaa wait till he shows up tomorrow

    hes on my scrap page now
  8. site

    site LawnSite Member
    Messages: 168

    I have the same luck as everyone here finding good prospects, but once I find one I know how to keep him/her. I offer health insurance, retirement, paid vacation, I give yearly bonuses, and I trat them fair. I make sure to tell them when they have done well. I challenge their minds and their backs. I admit when I sctrew up. And, I cut them some slack when they screw up and work to fix it the next time.
    I was really struggling three years ago with this issue, but then I decided to change my attitude. A good guy is more valuable than anything else in this business so I'll do whatever it takes to get and keep them. Once I have them my quality consistency and reliability all improve. Then I can raise my prices. I'm one of the more expensive landscapers in our area, and the price is increasing all the time.
  9. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    Your problem is why I now work by myself at the age of 38. The people I used were so slow I almost worked harder with them than without. It just didn't pay. I am self-motivated, so I do the work (not bragging, just true) of at least two "employee types". When you factor in decent pay, insurance, etc, it's just not worth the hassles. In my humble opinion, the only people who make money hiring others to do this kind of work are:

    1. hiring relatives or friends, and have a good setup
    2. paying low wages to alien workers doing simple tasks
    3. paying people "off the books" illegally
    4. hiring illegal aliens (see both of above)
    5. cutting corners with quality, not keeping promises to customers, (charging for weekly mows, coming every 10 days or so, etc, etc)
    6. hiring in an area with a generally poor economy where there is still a demand for this type of job.

    I gross $300/day alone. I gross $390/day with a helper. Helper costs me $100. I lose $10 for their "help".

    I hire two guys to do a route. They gross $300/day. They cost me $220/day. I make $80...MINUS callbacks for poor job, no-shows, etc. I'd have to have 4 crews running to replace my income from working alone. If I wanted to sit in an office and deal with hassles, I'd have my old corporate job still.

    The only solution I can think of would be to hire someone REALLY good and motivated and pay for performance. That means paying a guy $35,000 a year if he works hard enough. I doubt this hypothetical employee would be easy to find. Motivated people usually wind up working for themselves.

    It may be anti PC to say so, but I believe immigrant workers are not suited for fast-paced mow/blow/go type mowing. Their work pace and desire for social interaction at work aren't compatible with this type of service. Laying sod, sure, but mowing a lawn in 15 minutes and driving to the next job, over and over again...no. I routinely beat 3 man crews in side-by-side mowing in neighborhoods. I have to work harder to do this, never wasting a motion, and it means I can't work 12 hours a day, but I don't think immigrants are the solution people think they are. They will become 'infected" with the lazy ways of Americans soon enough, and then what will happen?

    Oh yeah. YOu can thank modern media and television for the lack of people willing to "get dirty" and work nowadays. You're seen as a failure if you have to do something besides work with computers. Most yuppie parents wouldn't LET their boy mow lawns.

    I have a college degree and was even a Mensa member, but you should see the looks I get from people when they find out what I do for a living. It's like I have leprosy. No wonder nobody "good" wants to work in this field. Americans respect only money. Unfortunately, the immigration wave took the feet right out from under domestic workers in this field who would be averaging $20/hour otherwise (it's simple supply and demand for labor, folks) I bet a few more good applicants would show up for that kind of money.

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