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Workers.......what workers?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Wright48, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139

    No, I can honestly say I don't have these problems, then again I don't have employees.
  2. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872


    You're seeing the same problems most of us have faced. I used to hire mostly American-born workers to do the work. But as you've experienced, I found them to be unreliable, didn't last long, always tons of different "issues", etc. It was a losing battle. I would have never been able to build my business bigger had I kept on that route. I would have been spending all my time hiring new people.

    Once I started hiring Hispanics, all those problems went away. These days, Hispanics compromise 75% of our workforce. And most of those problems we used to have with people not working out are gone.

    Now, I realize that migrant Hispanic workers are probably more prevalent in Oregon than they are in New Jersey. We have entire cities close by here that are 80% Hispanic population. So it's fairly easy to find good workers here. You may have to work harder than we do here in OR to find good Hispanic workers. But if you're interested, there are some things you can do to help. For one, you can post your job openings in English AND in Spanish. We post every job opening in both. If you don't know Spanish there are websites (like freetranslation.com) where you can get a free translation or pay a small fee for a perfect translation. My ads are a lot more lengthy. But here is one example in your area of a job posting in Spanish.

    I will hire anyone with the right skills and experience. But 75% of the time, the ones who last are the Hispanics. Very few problems with them.
  3. Trees Too

    Trees Too LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,696

    Kids nowadays!!!

    These younger 20-somethings that had everything handed to them when they were kids. It's all about them entering the work force thinking what they're ENTITLED to what ever they want, instead of striving to EARN it for themselves!! :dizzy:
  4. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,231

    Too true. The ones with any initiative are starting their own companies right out of the box, learning as they go and not afraid to make mistakes.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,291

    Being 20 years old and trying to live off 9 dollars an hour doesn't work too good. How are you supposed to pay rent, utilities, fuel, etc?

    Then to top it off most lco s don't even pay year round.

    What would you do in that situation?
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Well, first of all, I disagree with the sentiment that you cannot pay rent, utilities, fuel, etc. on low wages. You certainly can. It's what most young people do when they first get out of high school. I did it by having a REALLY small apartment, 2 roommates, shopping at the cheapest grocery stores in town, and working my ass off, often times with one full time job and another part time job.

    But that doesn't last forever. Your goal should always be to be looking for ways to improve your situation. Look within the company you're working for and see if there's room for promotions / more money. I know guys at distributors (Ewing) who started out as just counter help and are now regional managers. One of them is even VP of sales for the entire company, nationwide! All that happened in just the last 7 years or so. They excelled at what they did and slowly moved up the ranks. Now, they're making really good money.

    Even at my company, that's possible. It's a little harder for the Hispanics who don't speak much English, because they're only going to be able to go so high in the company before the next job requires perfect English. But still, I have Hispanic guys who started out at $9 an hour in maintenance and are now foreman for $16.50 an hour leading a whole crew - with benefits. Not the highest paying job in the world. But you can live off that. Especially with 10 hours of overtime at $24.75 an hour each week.

    Another great example is we have a guy who was a real estate developer in the area back until about 2007. He was making really good money. But that industry went bust and he lost his job in 2008. Started just mowing lawns for a competitor of ours for $8 an hour, just to put food on the table. Worked up through the ranks in that business until he was manager 2 years later. Then we hired him as a maintenance manager and he made around $50k his first year. He's done really well with the company and is a really fast learner so we bumped him up to construction project manager and with wages and bonus he'll clear over $92,000 this year with our company - with benefits. So from $8 an hour to $92,000 in 5 years. It's called being smart, making yourself invaluable, constantly outperforming expectations, and putting in your time!

    In this industry it is a little harder in some areas because of the seasonal nature of the business. So if you're going to stay in the business, you gotta not only find ways to work UP in the ranks in that company so you can earn more, but also find some sort of off-season work to be doing to earn money in those months as well. Or move to an area that does have year-round work.

    I think if most American-born guys would just stick with landscaping and do a great job, like the guy I mentioned above at our company, they would have eventually been making pretty good money as a top manager. Give me a clean-cut, English speaking guy who is fairly smart, willing to work hard for a few years, willing to learn, etc. and that guy would move up the ranks like you wouldn't believe.

    Sadly, today, there aren't many Americans who want to put in that time. They want instant gratification. It doesn't work that way. If you want a high paying job right off the bat, go to college and get a really good degree in something really useful or in high demand. Otherwise, be patient, be willing to put in your time, and find a company that rewards hard work and has upward mobility.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  7. StockmanLawnscape

    StockmanLawnscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 131

    I love reading your posts Jim, and I couldn't agree more with the above statements! I keep telling our guys that if they are patient, work hard, and really dedicate themselves to the company that they will be able to make more money plus benefits. But they get fed up when that doesn't happen within the next month or two. They want it instantly, without putting in the time to learn the business and how to lead fellow employees, while helping the business grow It's a process.

    To the OP, we have had similar problems like you. What we have started to see is that if you train and pay a few key guys, they will be able to lead the general laborers. Salaried employees will be happier with their job because they have stable income every two weeks. In my opinion, they can focus on their job better and get really good at it. Then, they can make more and more as the years go and will know the company is loyal to them. This makes them work hard and have a sense of pride and ownership with the company. We know that general laborers will always be high turnover, just the nature of the business and the attitude of most young American laborers. We haven't tried Hispanic laborers yet, but we are going to try that route soon since we've been hearing good things.

    Keep trying different hiring techniques. When you find a good employee, really commit to training and developing them. Make sure they know they're important to the company and its future. Not saying it will work 100%, but just a suggestion!
  8. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139

    The problem isn't $9 an hour.
    The problem is most people live above and beyond their means.

    Person spends more than they earn, it doesn't matter if they get paid $200 an hour this person still doesn't have enough, that is the problem.

    Frugal living is more than one or two little things, it's a lifestyle, it's a frame of mind that involves thinking far outside of the box.

    How to pay the electric bill on a poor man's wages?
    Mine is actually set a bit on the warm side, I've heard of folks who have theirs set to 54...
    Granted that's the coldest I've had it so far, still getting acclimated.

  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Holy Crap! 59 degrees!!! No thanks. I'd rather eat Ramen Noodles for a week than freeze all day inside my own house. My dad used to do that sh|t when I was a kid to save money. I always hated going over to his house in the winter. I made a vow to myself as a kid that I'd never skimp on heating my house. I keep it at a nice warm 71, thank you very much.

    Anyway, back on to the topic at hand, I wanted to add a few things:

    First, workers who perform and help the company become more profitable and more successful are the ones who should and will be rewarded. All of the top earners at our company right now are only paid what I pay them because they've helped BUILD our company to the point where we can now afford to pay them that. They were INVESTED in our success. They did their job well, made us a lot of money, saved us a lot of money, and outperformed expectations. It was only THEN that I could pay them more and more...

    Second, I am coming to understand more and more that incentive bonuses make a big difference at every stage of the company. I used to do bonuses just for estimators based on sales they made. Then I started offering bonuses for our construction foreman. If they finished a job a day early or somehow saved us a lot in materials on the job, they'd get a bonus. They were incentivised financially to outperform expectations. And it really helps motivate them! I started doing the same thing with our service techs a few years ago too. It made a huge difference on the amount of up-sells they made. Once there was a financial bonus included, they started up-selling a lot more. Now, we've even begun to do this with our lawn maintenance crews. Crews who come in at or under the allotted time for the week (usually 40 hours) and also have few or no complaints that week get a bonus.

    Giving workers a reason (financial incentive) to work harder, faster, smarter, etc. can really help a lot.
  10. JMK26

    JMK26 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Missouri
    Messages: 1,552

    Get a 2nd job, ( I've worked 3 jobs before ) drop cable, internet, all included data plans for phones and other PERKS. Eat store brand food instead of name brand. Don't spend $30+ a night in a bar, movies or eating out. Don't get a brand new car with all the trimmings, don't get the biggest baddest TV out there.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013

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