Why Cheap Employees Are Really Expensive

James Gardner of Gardner Landscaping LLC in Shalimar, FL, has only been in business for a couple of seasons. But he has already figured out that a "cheap" employee is actually really expensive.

"I would rather start my guys at a little bit higher wage and give them raises based on experience, certifications (which I'd pay for), performance and customer reviews," James says. "I would just rather pay an employee $13 an hour, as opposed to $9 or $10, and not have to babysit them."

Top reasons it pays to pay more

Employee value. James says a $9/hour employee often can't deliver what you need. They are more likely to have accidents and break equipment, and make mistakes which lead to return visits, apologies to clients, and a lot of stressful damage control. "Are they really costing you just $9 an hour?" James asks.

Worker's comp rates. James says that paying a little bit more to get much better employees does help save money in one way. "I get a 5% discount on my worker's comp policy by drug testing employees upon hire," he points out. That's not to say that all $9/hour employees are drug users, or vice versa. But by making drug testing part of his company's culture, James wins points with the insurance company while also attracting better candidates to come work for him.

Image marketing. "I beat this to death when I pick up a new client," James relates, in reference to the mandatory drug testing his company conducts. "I also tell clients how I'm licensed and insured, and pay my taxes. What happens if a client hires that guy with a station wagon and push mower for $20 a visit, and he shoots a rock through their window? Will he fix it? I might charge $10 more per visit, or $50/hour instead of $25, but my employees are responsible, reliable, educated and friendly. To most consumers, that is worth paying a little bit more for our services."

And to James Gardner, that's worth paying a little bit more in employee wages. "Employees are the face of your business," James reminds, "and your business is only as strong as your weakest employee. A reliable lawn technician you pay $13 will save and make you money in the long run."