How to find experienced crew members?

evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
I’d like to hear what you guys think- I believe the hourly wage for skilled people is a broken system. Productive people are penalized while unproductive people are rewarded. Money is exchanged for time, rather than skill. While I’m not sure what the best solution is, I believe the people who crack this one will have enough and happy employees. Thoughts?
I’ve worked a few production jobs making glass and also handmade tiles.
Both had a minimum hourly wage but also paid per piece. If the piece work was greater than the hourly that’s what you got paid.
As a late teen I was making x3-4 minimum wage.
 

dsptech

Well-Known Member
Location
North East
That’s what I’ve tossed around in my head, but I’m staying away from employees and a full service tree business, so I can’t test it. When I pick up a helper for non-contract climbing jobs, I usually just pay a hefty day rate added straight to the clients bill.
Doing the same.
Staying under the radar till I can grow my client base and have some real equipment besides my chipper.
Would be great to have someone responsible enough to chip brush as I send it down and only having to deal with log wood for a change.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
I’d like to hear what you guys think- I believe the hourly wage for skilled people is a broken system. Productive people are penalized while unproductive people are rewarded. Money is exchanged for time, rather than skill. While I’m not sure what the best solution is, I believe the people who crack this one will have enough and happy employees. Thoughts?
We pay hourly, based on abilities, so if you produce more you earn a higher wage. We are also in the process of implementing a program that pays out to each employee a percentage of the profits made each month, as a bonus - the percentage split between the employees does not change, but their portion of it can based on their performance for that month as well.
 

VenasNursery

Well-Known Member
Location
Michigan
My plan for paying a helper would be a decent percentage of the job.
The faster we get it done the sooner we get to the next and more money.
I think that would be incentive enough in which the helper would be invested in earning their share.
Might be a good for a two or three man crew.
For larger crews offer a bonus for getting the job done right, safely, and inefficiently.
You are either a good hardworking person or not I don’t believe $ changes that maybe a week or so
 

Crimsonking

Well-Known Member
We pay hourly, based on abilities, so if you produce more you earn a higher wage. We are also in the process of implementing a program that pays out to each employee a percentage of the profits made each month, as a bonus - the percentage split between the employees does not change, but their portion of it can based on their performance for that month as well.
A friend of mine and I were working toward a model that paid a percentage of everything in excess of the required man-hour rate, but his operation runs at a loss in winter to keep his team employed, so the overage earned in summer is used up then- it doesn’t feel like a bonus, but is in a way. I wonder if the bonus was paid during summer so the team had to put away the same way the owner does, would the bonus be felt, and would a better grounding in the business help morale or hurt it?

Another thought I’ve been chewing on recently is why people don’t join teams. I believe the newer blood in the workforce is looking for a growth plan. Most service industry looks like a dead end job unless you have owner hustle, which is why top talent always leaves, because they have owner hustle. There are plenty of talented people out there who will work a plan if there is a clear plan to work. Instead, both sides (onboarding employee and employer) are waiting for the other side to make a move. A clear growth plan communicates expectations, realities of the business, where the company is going, opportunities available as the company progresses, when milestones should be achieved and what the compensation will be for each milestone. One company that I’m somewhat familiar with hasn’t had turnover in four years. When I asked one of the leaders what contributed to this statistic, he said, “when we bring people on, they can see...”. His company casts clear vision that turns a job into a career path.

Thoughts?
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
A friend of mine and I were working toward a model that paid a percentage of everything in excess of the required man-hour rate, but his operation runs at a loss in winter to keep his team employed, so the overage earned in summer is used up then- it doesn’t feel like a bonus, but is in a way. I wonder if the bonus was paid during summer so the team had to put away the same way the owner does, would the bonus be felt, and would a better grounding in the business help morale or hurt it?

Another thought I’ve been chewing on recently is why people don’t join teams. I believe the newer blood in the workforce is looking for a growth plan. Most service industry looks like a dead end job unless you have owner hustle, which is why top talent always leaves, because they have owner hustle. There are plenty of talented people out there who will work a plan if there is a clear plan to work. Instead, both sides (onboarding employee and employer) are waiting for the other side to make a move. A clear growth plan communicates expectations, realities of the business, where the company is going, opportunities available as the company progresses, when milestones should be achieved and what the compensation will be for each milestone. One company that I’m somewhat familiar with hasn’t had turnover in four years. When I asked one of the leaders what contributed to this statistic, he said, “when we bring people on, they can see...”. His company casts clear vision that turns a job into a career path.

Thoughts?
There’s a lot in your post there, but overall I agree. For sure, top talent often leaves because they have that hustle and want to be rewarded for it. The way I see it, we can either be the company they leave, or the one they go to. We want to be the company they go to, hence things like the offering we are putting together. A friend of mine recently did it with his mechanic shop, and it has worked out very well. It rewards everyone for hustling, and while there’s not a bonus every month, there is most months.

The premise of this system is that everyone is treated like an owner, to an extent, so that they all will buy in. Sure, some may not, those who just want a paycheck for minimal effort - with this model, the rest of the crew will likely push them out for not pulling their weight they way they should.

I also agree that a clear path of advancement is a huge driver in retainment; we are putting together a payscale sheet that takes away all the mystery of pay rates so each crew member can see what he’s earning and why, and what he has to do to earn more. It will be posted publicly for the crew, so nobody will question their rates or anyone else. I believe that will help too.

Finally, getting the employees to buy in is the key, which means treating them with respect and showing them they have real value. Little things make a big difference there, just listening when they have complaints or ideas and correcting those things when possible, and explaining when not. I make it a point to try to buy anything a crew wants to make their jobs easier or more productive. If we can’t buy it, or don’t want to, I will explain why so that they understand, and the that’s made a big difference too.

Also, I tell the employees that this is really their company, and I’m just there to manage it for them to guide everyone and keep things going smoothly. It’s true too, without the production staff there would be no company, I would just be a guy with a chainsaw.
 

evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
We pay hourly, based on abilities, so if you produce more you earn a higher wage. We are also in the process of implementing a program that pays out to each employee a percentage of the profits made each month, as a bonus - the percentage split between the employees does not change, but their portion of it can based on their performance for that month as well.
I like this idea, but it’s hard for me to wrap my head around. It’s very much different than getting paid .40 cents per 4x4 tile, 60 cents for a 6x6 tile..
Do you set a time goal on the job, and if the job is completed early you pay extra?
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
I like this idea, but it’s hard for me to wrap my head around. It’s very much different than getting paid .40 cents per 4x4 tile, 60 cents for a 6x6 tile..
Do you set a time goal on the job, and if the job is completed early you pay extra?
We have done that in the past, but it’s hard to track and a great big pain to do, hence the new program we are putting together, which is based on net profit at the end of each month instead. Every dollar extra (Over a predetermined amount) in the general fund at the end of the is divided up and spread out between a few different categories - a percentage goes to the owner(s), a percentage to savings, some to debt reduction, and a percentage gets divided between the employees and delivered in the form of a bonus.
 

VenasNursery

Well-Known Member
Location
Michigan
This year I’ve tried and liked a new thing for my guys is

for every job they bid and win I split 100% profit with them but we only do their jobs on weekends

so I don’t schedule weekends and leave them open for the Crew’s jobs

I don’t mind working weekends they do but not no more they love it Because they are making a lot more money

My equipment doesn’t make money sitting at the shop

the extra 4-6 days a month add up!!!!
 

SeanRuel

Well-Known Member
Location
Portland
Employee ownership is really the most effective method I've seen for employee retention. The owner/manager can still call the shots.

Having open books/finances helps employees see that they aren't being taken advantage of.
 
I’d like to hear what you guys think- I believe the hourly wage for skilled people is a broken system. Productive people are penalized while unproductive people are rewarded. Money is exchanged for time, rather than skill. While I’m not sure what the best solution is, I believe the people who crack this one will have enough and happy employees. Thoughts?
problem is that if you are in a lead position we put those ppl on Salary. Hourly employees bank o/t so ppl can have pto. We are bringing on health ins at the new year. You have to have drive to get anywhere in this company or you never leave the ground crew. Those with potential can learn cutting and rigging as well as begin to climb to limb. The crew leads and foreman have to be willing to "tattle" when those bad apples don't pull the load like others. Here if you show up late you are written up. If you are not willing to play nice with others on your team you may not get your raise. I make that very clear. If you are written up enough you get your walking papers and no refs for next job. So the leadership has to be held accountable or yes the system rewards the bad apples and non producers.
 
A friend of mine and I were working toward a model that paid a percentage of everything in excess of the required man-hour rate, but his operation runs at a loss in winter to keep his team employed, so the overage earned in summer is used up then- it doesn’t feel like a bonus, but is in a way. I wonder if the bonus was paid during summer so the team had to put away the same way the owner does, would the bonus be felt, and would a better grounding in the business help morale or hurt it?

Another thought I’ve been chewing on recently is why people don’t join teams. I believe the newer blood in the workforce is looking for a growth plan. Most service industry looks like a dead end job unless you have owner hustle, which is why top talent always leaves, because they have owner hustle. There are plenty of talented people out there who will work a plan if there is a clear plan to work. Instead, both sides (onboarding employee and employer) are waiting for the other side to make a move. A clear growth plan communicates expectations, realities of the business, where the company is going, opportunities available as the company progresses, when milestones should be achieved and what the compensation will be for each milestone. One company that I’m somewhat familiar with hasn’t had turnover in four years. When I asked one of the leaders what contributed to this statistic, he said, “when we bring people on, they can see...”. His company casts clear vision that turns a job into a career path.

Thoughts?
Yes you have to let them know that hard work will get them higher positions with better benefits - our foreman gets a Company truck, a gas card, a good Salary, and company CC. He is the one that shows up early before the crew. Is in charge on the job site, and has input on his crews annual reviews. If there is no ability to grow with a company, no reason to stay past a year.
 

owScott

Well-Known Member
Location
Lafayette
You are either a good hardworking person or not I don’t believe $ changes that maybe a week or so
I agree, I have seen hard working people bust ass with no mention of money. I have tried to incourage not so hard working people with more money and that leads to more entitlement attitude. I also think its just part of who you are. Thats why trying to entice people with employment adds with money and nice equipment doesnt carry the day. Money definatly is part of the equation but there is another key element here to attract the hardworking, high potenial people. I believe as the boss you must examplify these traits. Too many tree companies ran by people who didnt work their way up or have barely any experience actually climbing who started a tree business because you can " make bank". With so many companies out there, 75% of which are total hacks and unqualified, star climbers have alot of opitions. This is a difficult profession, hot, cold, dangerous and it beats you up. It takes a special person to exel. Society isnt producting much of that these days, alot of instant i want it now mentality. I wish i had the anwser, these are just some observations after 30+ years watching the industry change.
 
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