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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let me first emphasize, that I am small-time. Right now I'm working solo so I don't think you get any smaller than that. My inquiry is, how do you find good employees to build your business around? When I started a year ago I thought I had my guy. He was proficient, trustworthy, personable, reliable, and available. However, I had to take a job in Cleveland because I have to go wherever the work presents itself. He lasted for two weeks and I haven't seen him since. Now I fully understand the opposition to temporary relocation, but this is a depression (not a recession) and there are talented guys who would travel cross-country to work. Now, the homeowner's pissed because I'm nowhere near my original timeline. PLEASE, everybody, chime in with how you separate the truly valuable people from the one's that just aren't going to cut it.
 

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Project Manager HFH..
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Let me first emphasize, that I am small-time. Right now I'm working solo so I don't think you get any smaller than that. My inquiry is, how do you find good employees to build your business around? When I started a year ago I thought I had my guy. He was proficient, trustworthy, personable, reliable, and available. However, I had to take a job in Cleveland because I have to go wherever the work presents itself. He lasted for two weeks and I haven't seen him since. Now I fully understand the opposition to temporary relocation, but this is a depression (not a recession) and there are talented guys who would travel cross-country to work. Now, the homeowner's pissed because I'm nowhere near my original timeline. PLEASE, everybody, chime in with how you separate the truly valuable people from the one's that just aren't going to cut it.
Unemployment was at almost 20% during the depression.Things suck right now but it is not a depression.
 

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First off I'd like to commend you on working for yourself, and never think a one person operation automatically constitutes a "small business" I think more that a few members here could give businesses much larger in size a run for their money.

IMO a good employee simply means some one who will treat the business as though it were their own, I have a Great employee who flys off the handle at times with the customer, but gives them (and me) 110% all the time. I know his short temper is just his personality and not something more.

Others I've worked with have had similar issues, such as being on time... these are all problematic to running an efficient business, but are tolerated because of the nature of the employee. However if you had a worker that you know would act differently if it were their name or money on the line then you have a real problem.

I give my guys slack because anytime I've really needed them (holiday's, long hours etc.,) they are there 100%.
 
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Unemployment was at almost 20% during the depression.Things suck right now but it is not a depression.
Count the people who are no longer even counted as being unemployed in California 16%, and Oregon 18%, and Michigan somewhere close to those numbers and we're pretty damn close. Unemployment was highest during the Great Depression when it reached 26%.

Finding good people is something every contractor struggles with. Showing up on time, works effectively, and is trustworthy tops the list. I've never hired anyone but that's what I'll be looking for when I do.
 

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My three rules for employees:

1) show up

2) on time

3) be prepared to work

Sounds overly basic, but would you believe that only about 1 out of 4 meet this criteria within the first two weeks?
 

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really the only things you can go by are first impressions, and time.....

people are people,

I would say "all" but I would never hear the end of it so,

"some" people are not entirely what they seem to be.

At some point "most" people will disappoint you in some way. It may not be intentional, but it may still happen.

Just trust your instincts and pray for the best.

Ray
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Nearly 10%. Not to mention in the 20's that was primarily a national economy. We're now dealing with a global economy that provides international business opportunities. I don't think it's fair to determine a recession or depression on unemployment levels, but rather as the disappearance of individual wealth. While I don't necessarily agree with "paper wealth" however, it is the basis of our economy and if it disappears entirely(in terms of home equity, IRA's, and stock portfolios) it certainly hampers us as contractors. But, I digress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Warren, I expect the same things. I can try to teach them the basics. It's up to them, really, how far to take it. However, when running a small company how do you overcome someone throwing in the towel? When Korna Kokosing has someone abandon ship they just slide in a replacement. But if you're ever to get off the ground you need to surround yourself with good people. They're the hardest to find in this business. If you guys could, give me some ratios in terms of solid employees to currently hired employees.
 

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I should mention that in my lifetime I've had to fire well over 100 people from either my own businesses and the one's I've managed... mostly the reason had to do with attitude, either couldn't/wouldn't get along with the rest of the crew or refused to see things our way and undermined the company.

Rarely was it over a mistake or for illegal behavior, although it has happened.

one guy was drunk in his car (not work truck) asleep at the jobsite's parking lot as I pulled up in the morning before we started, so I gave him the rest of the day off.

That night our gang box was taken from the site, and he didn't show up the next day... when I called him he was upset because I had fired him, I told him that I only gave him the day off an that I expected him the next morning.

I asked if he knew anything about the stolen Gang box, and he said no, I told him that I would review the security tapes and key card access system the next day, but would be willing to talk if the box was returned... the next day he returned with the Gang box in the back of his pick up and an apology. the owner of the company (my boss) and his lawyer were there to give him his last check... and a promise that if he where ever to return charges would be pressed.

We all worried for weeks about him coming to the site with a gun and killing all of us lol!
 

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Head Grunt
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My three rules for employees:

1) show up

2) on time

3) be prepared to work

Sounds overly basic, but would you believe that only about 1 out of 4 meet this criteria within the first two weeks?
X2, those i wold say are the most important. I have an old friend "Lee" who works with me part time now and he also works with another mutual frind of ours part time who does construction so he bounces back and forth depending on work status and weather. Lee had worked for another mutual friend of ours who is an Electrician but due to the downturn in economy he has been laid off. I spoke with both of Lee's other employers about his work habits and such and the only problem we all have with Lee is his smell whether it be his body odor or the toxic fumes being released out his butt-hole. He show up to work early everyday, will work all day through breaks with no complaints, brings his own tools, is willing to ask questions and learn, will do any work you ask of him and takes care of the tools and supplies but man his odor can be horrid. Rainy days are the worst!!!! I have tried to talk to him without offending him and have given him new hats and shirts with my company logo and that has helped. I know his other employers have tried the same thing and the one fella outright yelled at him vocally about it on a daily basis and wouldnt let him ride in his new truck. For now i am looking into hiring another fella part time who i met yesterday on a job, he showed up on time, he is very cleancut, quiet and seemed to be a hard worker. He too has been layed of from his job and is now out of unemployment. When i spoke with him he was worried about losing his home and he also just put it on the market for sale so maybe this fella will work out.
 

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My three rules for employees:

1) show up

2) on time

3) be prepared to work
Warren I agree, I had a guy who was solid he wasn't great at figuring things out, but he caught on quick to everything and pretty soon he was trimming out pannels almost as fast as me. One day he didn't show up and I never saw him since (apparently his girlfriend forced him to run away or some crap like that).

Now I have a part-timer who has been with me for almost a year and has learned nothing, I mean nothing, its like working with a drone. But he's always early, very honest, good heart, decent worker; its almost sad he doesn't have the capacity or motivation to learn. Even though I can never leave him alone to run a job I'm happy to just have someone who can meet #1,2 and 3!

Here is Canada we are not seeing the recession, well I'm not there's tonnes of people looking for employees (I've never been so busy). Sure broadcast and tech companies have had some major layoffs and some individuals will have to take pay cuts its nothing like in the States.
 

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I'd love to hire a few employees next season to do the mowing. Based on the amount of people calling this year after my schedule was full I can probably get 500 residential/commercial mowing contracts. It'd be great if I could hire 4 guys to handle it. Give em a truck, trailer, equipment and a list of addresses.

Problem is I have huge reservations about cutting someone else loose with my stuff. I worry not just about unhappy customers but things like car accidents, theft, quitting, etc.

Unless I can get over it I'll never be more than a one man show.
 

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They are a rare find

Only one in a hundred workers can rise above "helping hand" IMO


If you spot some one who is honest,there on time,and has logic,common sense ,a need to be independent hire them -----they are rare.

Train them well or they will move on.This type is independent, a challenge and reward is their price.
 

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Let me first emphasize, that I am small-time. Right now I'm working solo so I don't think you get any smaller than that. My inquiry is, how do you find good employees to build your business around? When I started a year ago I thought I had my guy. He was proficient, trustworthy, personable, reliable, and available. However, I had to take a job in Cleveland because I have to go wherever the work presents itself. He lasted for two weeks and I haven't seen him since. Now I fully understand the opposition to temporary relocation, but this is a depression (not a recession) and there are talented guys who would travel cross-country to work. Now, the homeowner's pissed because I'm nowhere near my original timeline. PLEASE, everybody, chime in with how you separate the truly valuable people from the one's that just aren't going to cut it.
What did you offer him to jump through the extra hoops? A talented person who is a good worker always has options, we need to give them a reason to stay with us.

If we can't make the job attractive it doesn't matter how many good workers we find, they will only move on to something better.
 

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I've been thinking about it and what I'd really like to have is someone I can trust and don't have to supervise.

The idea is that they show up on time, clock in, get in the truck and go. I need someone I can trust w/ a truck and $15K worth of lawn care equipment. Give this person a gas card and a list of addresses. Set a weekly route, 25 yards a day. Pay around $18/hour.

I'd need someone that can work unsupervised and just get the job done.

Obviously trust is one hurdle. The other hurdle is unemployment insurance. This would be a seasonal job. April to October. A few years of this and I'd pay a fortune in premiums.

Where I'd like to be is to have 4 trucks that do nothing but weekly lawn care. Around 500 accounts. 125 per person per week. Have 2 crews of 3 that do installs of landscaping, hardscaping, irrigation, etc. Then I could focus my time on selling.

The big hurdle is that the work is seasonal. I'd spend April to July every year training and getting things set up. I seriously doubt that I would be able to get guys to come back year after year knowing they're going to spend every winter collecting unemployment.

Basically I'm at a loss as to how to grow out of the one man show.

One idea I had was to expand into other areas for income. Like coin operated car washes, laundromats, or rental properties. If I had enough coming in from other sources I could cover my employees payroll during the off-season. Then I wouldn't have to lay them off. I could send them to trade shows, manufacturer classes, etc.

The catch is it takes money to build things like car washes, laundromats, and rental properties. I won't have that kind of cash unless I expand my landscape business.

That's one of the reasons I'm taking the HVAC and electrician classes. Perhaps I can expand into that, create a business, and be able to transfer employees between jobs on a seasonal basis.

It's a tough nut to crack.
 

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Grand Rapids Remodeling
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I've been thinking about it and what I'd really like to have is someone I can trust and don't have to supervise.

The idea is that they show up on time, clock in, get in the truck and go. I need someone I can trust w/ a truck and $15K worth of lawn care equipment. Give this person a gas card and a list of addresses. Set a weekly route, 25 yards a day. Pay around $18/hour.

I'd need someone that can work unsupervised and just get the job done.

Obviously trust is one hurdle. The other hurdle is unemployment insurance. This would be a seasonal job. April to October. A few years of this and I'd pay a fortune in premiums.

Where I'd like to be is to have 4 trucks that do nothing but weekly lawn care. Around 500 accounts. 125 per person per week. Have 2 crews of 3 that do installs of landscaping, hardscaping, irrigation, etc. Then I could focus my time on selling.

The big hurdle is that the work is seasonal. I'd spend April to July every year training and getting things set up. I seriously doubt that I would be able to get guys to come back year after year knowing they're going to spend every winter collecting unemployment.

Basically I'm at a loss as to how to grow out of the one man show.

One idea I had was to expand into other areas for income. Like coin operated car washes, laundromats, or rental properties. If I had enough coming in from other sources I could cover my employees payroll during the off-season. Then I wouldn't have to lay them off. I could send them to trade shows, manufacturer classes, etc.

The catch is it takes money to build things like car washes, laundromats, and rental properties. I won't have that kind of cash unless I expand my landscape business.

That's one of the reasons I'm taking the HVAC and electrician classes. Perhaps I can expand into that, create a business, and be able to transfer employees between jobs on a seasonal basis.

It's a tough nut to crack.
How about snowplowing. Sorry don't mean to hijack this thread. I see a lot of lawn service around here does plowing in the winter.
 

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I can't turn a profit snowplowing as a legal contractor. The rider for the insurance is $9,000 a season plus another $2,000 vehicle insurance per truck per season. We only get 50 inches of snow in an average year. My insurance agent explained the liability is huge. If I'm contracted to maintain a property and someone slips and falls I'm on the hook for their injuries. Also it's a big liability on the truck side too, if a truck loses traction in a driveway and slides through the garage door I have to be covered for that.

The guys that do plow do it on a cash basis, under the table. I really don't want to move in that direction, it's a slippery slope.
 

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Maker of fine kindling
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If a guy does nothing to tarnish the company name and makes me money, he is golden.

It's up to me to roll with the tide when I need to and be wise enough to figure out when it's go time.

Rules are only good to use against someone that does not fill the bill.

We want to make money over the long haul, right? We need to know when that is not in the cards with the individual and take the necessary steps to bring the bow around, what ever that may be.

That is an art we will spend the rest of our useful days trying to master.
 
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