Hiring & Pay

Hi, I’m fairly new here so here my first question…

I have been doing window cleaning here in Kansas for a few years and for the most part tend to hire sub contract workers and pay $12-$15, mainly because its far cheaper to do it this way than pay tax, workers comp and so forth…

The bad news though is im always having to find new people because even though i think im paying a decent amount, i can’t seem to find anyone good enough or who doesn’t have problems, drinks to excess, have minor drug issues, doesn’t fit the image, prison and so forth, right now have a guy who does a great job but doesnt make enough because obviously there are days we simply might not have jobs and then hes not making anything.

Basically is there a way to solve this without having to pay a full time wage and the added cost of employing someone full time too, especially given we are slow here for about 4 months of the year too due to bad weather and the winter months.

I have read that some of you guys and girls pay a commission basis, based on the price of the job, 20% 25% 30% would you reckon thats a better way to go and i would find a better worker that way. Also for those of you who do that do you then have them do flyers and pull in jobs are part of that commission or is that simply for doing the work itself. If i paid 30% of the whole job to them and then needed more workers later how does that calcalate into the figs too?

Obviously having done things the pay per hour way for a long time and not finding anyone decent enough to do the work, reading threads on here got me thinking about a different approach maybe?

All and any help greatly appreciated. Tired of having to train people, find they have problems or arent doing a good job then having to rehire through craigslist, would paying commission be better but also insist they bring in jobs too given they would be making $120 on a $400 job!

You might try a temp agency. It would also keep you from having (at some point) the worry of whether some guy was a sub or an employee. The rules governing this can be a bit tricky at times. With a temp that is never an issue.

Companies/and owners are only as good as their worst employee.

Good luck on your search!!

I appreciate the feedback guys. I’m thinking in 2009 when my residential really picks up again in April I may simply have to focus on % of the job and hire 1 main guy to drive a truck with a helper earning a certain x amount. I own 2 other businesses (21stcenturygutterprotection.com and johnsoncountypublications.com) and trying to find workers to help with window cleaning all the time is stressing the crap out of me not to mention i need the time currently spent doing jobs to do a lot more marketing among other things. Personally i think the % may have to be the way to go given I don’t want to have to fart around with having real employees when there isn’t a job and wondering if they are doing flyers or pulling in jobs themselves.


I would also like to hear suggestions on how you experienced cleaners pay your employees? If a percentage, what percentage?

Ive always done hourly, but there are times that i’ll give my pt employee extra $ at end of a larger job/dangerous job, etc. and I buy lunch, do Christmas/bday bonuses. I give raises, 3 months after they start is the 1st one and yearly after that. Its hard to find a good employee but worth it to pay them more if they are. My pt collects unemployment the couple months hes off (Jan-Feb).My hubby works w/me then,he’s in construction and slows down around same time I do .

I pay strickly commission excluding the office girl. During the interview with the potential new hire, I fill them in on the ins and outs of the business. Letting them know UP FRONT how this business is is the key to keeping people around longer.

We are usually off from January to Late March due to the lack of interest in having residential windows cleaned. All of my guys know this. Some go on unemployment, some take other jobs until Spring arrives.

As far as commission goes, I am a big advocate of paying this way. I cant have a supervisor on every crew to make sure that employees aren’t screwing around and milking the clock out. I switched years ago because it seemed that I just couldnt seem to grow my bank account. I found out after switching to commission where things were going haywire. The two major things that I can think of are listed below:

1). Jobs that were very UNPROFITABLE were brought to my attention really quick! When the guys were on hourly, they had no reason to complain about non profitable jobs. They would make the same pay regardless being an hourly employee.

2). They had to do their work more efficiently now. If they were “dragging” around all day, I didnt see it in the numbers any more like before. I had one guy that would clean gutters strictly from a ladder if he was by himself. Im talking about an $80.00 walkable ranch gutter clean that could easily be blown out with a blower, flushed with water, yard clean up. Total estimated time on the job should be under 1 hour. With drive time and him doing it from a ladder, I had almost 2.50-3.00 hours in it. My profit margins were getting slammed all the time.

I would suggest that if you are thinking about doing commission, do it for a trial period like 2 months. If they dont like it or if its not profitable for you, scrap the idea. That is the option I gave my employees back when I started doing it.

I’ve used that line before - how true it is!

I have also came across a quote that read: “Some employers deserve the employees they get”.

try commission…more motivation.

I like that one :slight_smile:

Hey Karlos,
I like it too when i first saw it. :smiley:
It is so true…


I am considering this option. I am having trouble deciding what to do. I have some questions. What % do you guys pay. I have jobs that are $12-$15 and take fifteen or twenty minutes to do. Yeah they aren’t the most profitable, but they are what we have on a very consistant basis. The guys wouldn’t make squat there. Maybe 5 bucks based on the commission rates I have heard of.

At what point did you finally say “the buck stops here”? I want to make the move to this type of profitablility, but I can’t pull the trigger because I know that I may loose some of my guys.

I also am wondering how much of your business is storefront route work? I’d say that 40% of my work is this. I try for more houses and large commercial jobs but, I am limited right now because, unfortunately due to crappy employee situations that were beyond my control, I am back in the field two to three days per week, and am not working on new leads like I wish to be.

I am giving interviews for two new guys this weekend and I have tentatively hired a new girl to do route work. I would like to make a decision on how to pay them, so I can tell them when they interview.

I would look at the amount of money that they are bringing in on a daily basis. How many hours does it take them to make X amount of money per day for you? I do strictly residential so its alot more money to be made at one stop.

If you take the 20 minutes it takes to do that $15.00 stop and X it by 30% you will come up with an average of $13.50 per hour. Unfortunately route work has some amount of idle time (driving from stop to stop etc). I would run the numbers for a week or month -hours versus commission based pay. You will see where there are trouble spots in your pricing or who is not as productive.

I have to admit that when I was doing the hourly thing, It was a HUGE mistake on my part to not track the numbers that were being done. Some of my old customers had not seen an increase in over 5 years. A decent amount of work was unprofitable because I wasnt checking the numbers. I just thought that some jobs would make up for the low paying ones. Commission forced me to step up to the plate and do something about it.

The nice thing about doing commission (or as I call it “paid for performance”) is that I dont have any confrontation with my guys over production. How many times have you sent a guy out to do a 5 hour job and he rolls in 8 hours later? To me , this was happening to me all the time. :mad:Some of my employees have every excuse in the book to fill in those time gaps (traffic, grids too hard to get out, too much furniture in the way, got lost on the way, screens were hard to get out, windows were covered with overspray,bees nests, homeowner left and we had to wait an hour for her to return on and on). These problems do exist but not day in and day out basis. It was so FRUSTRATING and I felt that I didnt have any control over it. I dont have time to snoop around and play detective to see if my crews were screwing around. Im out working too.

I sent you my cell# in a PM if you want to discuss commission further.

how does commission work with over time, and unemployment??

So when someone pays say 30% commission and you have a 2 man crew, they get 15% each of the job? I am looking to hire my first 2 workers very soon. I’m in my second year now and feel I’ve stretched myself as far as I want to go. I want to run this company now not work it so much.

you can split it up however you want. i think most guys pay the crew leader a higher percentage. so like a two man crew would be 17% crew leader/ 13% helper or something like that.