How much do your employees cost you?

Not sure if this is something everyone would want to share, but I was wondering what percentage of your gross goes to payroll expenses. Specifically hoping to hear from some of the big timers who have crews that run without them. Hoping to compare numbers and see how I’m doing.

I’ll start: I’m running a two-man crew for fleet washing where I tag along most of the time and my payroll expenses are sitting at about 25%.

I think I can get it down to 15-20% once we get some more clients and are spending less time on the road and more time washing and also as we refine our method and get more efficient.


I have 1 helper which I usually only use on larger homes and I pay him $25/hr buy him breakfast and split tips with him.

Can i come work for you?


I pay $20 hr plus drinks snacks and lunch. But I only pay for work time. They always have the option to meet at the job site but they never do.
My guys average $600-$700 a week plus tips .
I also let them keep the money when people ask if we can do something small while we’re there for $20 . This only works if we’re doing HOA stuff. Like roofs and the homeowner want there walkway or entry way cleaned. 5 minute stuff


Legally if they drive your truck and they have to bring it back to your shop then you have to pay drive time. You also have to pay drive time in between jobs. My cost averages around 35-40% of gross for the week.

They are payed a daily salary for 6 hours of work. They don’t complain. Minimum wage is $8 hr. Most companies only pay $10


My main guy gets 20 and my helpers get 15 per hr. Our minimum wage will be 15 in 2026 in new jersey per our great governor. Also we have mandatory sick pay accrual for every 30 hrs they work they receive 1 hr of sick pay.

It works both ways with me . If they get to a job and the equipment goes down or the customer rescheduled for some reason and they only end up working 2 or 3 hours they still get the same pay . As long as they leave for work they get pays for the day

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My guys are guaranteed 40 hours a week, regardless of how many they work. So a guaranteed minimum of 40, plus overtime if earned, plus $20 per diem for food when traveling, plus 80 hours a year paid time off, plus paid day off if the bank is closed. With salary, my share of matching fed requirements plus workers comp, each employee costs roughly $50k a year


You definitely pay more than me . And probably more than most. It seems to working for you though

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I’m kinda at the point in life where I’m working because I want to provide jobs. I’m convinced I could make as much and have less headaches if I kept one truck, sold everything and just washed 20 houses a week by myself.



Quite the conundrum isn’t it. We work so hard to grow our companies only to miss the simple times .


Not trying to be rude, but if I were in your shoes I would be trying to make myself redundant by training someone to do everything I can do, I.e. an operations manager. Genuinely curious what’s preventing you from doing something like that? That’s certainly my goal for this business. I don’t want to be doing anything other than sitting in an office for all but the biggest jobs come 5-10 years from now.


I’m much happier washing than sitting in an office or talking to people. My wife had told me she is going back to work for the last 10 years. She starts back to work Monday after being a stay at home mom since 1998. I have no clue how to send payroll to the accountant, how to do invoices or hardly anything about the paperwork end of the business. She had tried to explain it but I just can’t wrap my head around it. I’ve been turning down as much as possible, stopped going out of state and doing all I can to downsize but this has kinda bit me in the butt. My ideal scenario would be for someone to buy me out and let me work for them 2 or 3 days a week. I refuse to sit down in front of the computer so the odds are I’ll be doing something else this time next year. I have great employees but there is no one that can do what I do as well as I do when it comes to washing, an eight year old probably has more office and computer skills than I do

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Sorry, this excerpt is kind of long, but it puts everything in perspective for me, it’s from the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, an awesome book-

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”


It’s all about perspective…

Has anyone tried a commission based pay? It would incentivize productivity. Example: average House Wash cost of $279 x 18% = $50.22. Takes an average of 1.25 to 1.5 hours. Great hourly rate and they have the opportunity to become masters at the trade and earn more. Callbacks are not paid…incentive to do a great job the first time :joy:.


Most employees need a stable income so they can budget there life. Risk taking is the employers job .
I will sometimes do piece work as an incentive depends on the job . Is usually to speed things up if I see they guys getting tired


I mean that’s a great allegory and all but 1) I don’t sacrifice my free time for this job and 2) I don’t want to do manual labor for the rest of my life and 3) I see this as an opportunity to create a business that can sustain me and my future family with minimal effort from myself once it gets streamlined. I’m in my mid 20s and have plenty of time to make this work before I’m 60 and wondering why I sunk my entire life into a business so I can retire and finally actually live my life.