MY "best" friend really baffles me. Friends? hmmm... (long)


Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Oct 29, 2005
I have a small group of friends as of late...most are just aqquaintences. However, I have one GOOD friend who has been by my side through thick and thin over the last few years (admittedly, he wasnt around too much during the thin, for reasons i wont go into. he was there somewhat emotionally, but not as much as i would've hoped).

I've employed him for one year now in my air duct and home repair businesses. He always states how happy he is that i'm able to keep him busy. He's a general laborer and has averaged over $20/hr. His best paying job before me was 12 or 13/hr....and was unemplyed for the 6 months prior to me hiring him.

Well, the other day he asked me while we worked "So when am I going to get a raise? How about xxx per job? I'm trying to make some serious money this year..." I told him I'd think about it. His proposed raise was 30% more than he's getting now. No way. I already pay for all meals while we work (admittedly, this usually includes some McD's for breakfast and some sort of fast- food or deli food for lunch). He has a habit of being late. Not LATE, but late nonetheless. I have basically adapted my starting times to him not being there on time. We have not shown up to any jobs late...but it's mainly because I have given us a 'cushion'. I'd say he averages 7-15 mins late daily. He knows it aggrevates me.
I havent 'disciplined' him in any way because a) i have no other reliable help b) he is a pretty close when he says 'hey, sorry i was late, the dog was taking forever to do his business' he thinks that's it.

30% is a LOT. But in $$$'s, it would not cost me too much. I'd still be making approx 3x as much as he is after I being greedy? he was there on every single job.The issue is that we work a limited # of hours....We only worked 350 hours last year, and i grossed enough for myself to live on comfortably. Hopefully we have many more jobs now that im at it full time, but we only had 100 jobs last year. His 30% raise would've only cost me $1500 this last year. im i being unreasonable?

Then today, I am even a bit more pissed. You see, he and i talked and decided it's ridiculous to try to go out to the bars/clubs tonight and have fun for new year's even then drive home drunk....not happening. so we decided to each buy ourselves and respective women in our lives some steaks, and we'd party at my house tonight. i have a son who is 18 mos. old and would be with me tonight....sleeping by 8. my fiance was excited to play some board games, eat good food, relax, drink, and be merry with her new friend (his girlfriend of 1 year).

Well, he called me a little bit ago saying 'sorry man, im going to have to cancel....i really want to go out tonight to eat. i wanted to go to a bar or something, but instead i think we're just going to go over to xxx's house" xxx is a mutual friend who treats him like crap, and he complains about on a regular basis. mutual friend is a daily drinker/aloholic with rage issues LOL...not someone i want to be around while im drinking!

i was 1/2 asleep when he called so i said' whatever works man, have fun. i'm gonna crash 2 u later"

it SOUNDED like he was truly sorry for making/breaking plans...but why? It's not like i'm sad my friend wont come play with me LOL. It's more that i feel betrayed for lack of a better word. i went out and paid 30 bucks for some appetizers and side dishes, got some liqour etc. my old lady's bummed she cant play her new board game (yessss! i dont have to play muhahahaha).
and WHY did he cancel? i have no idea...says he wanted to 'go out to dinner' was the most i got out of the conversation.

So as i sit here reconciliating the year's books, looking at his income for the year, devising some goals for next year, i begin to ask myself questions. is he really a true friend? or just around for the money? no, a 'fake' friend wouldnt buy season tickets with me to the cavaliers...(hmm, i think he still owes me a few hundred bucks for those...). a fake friend wouldnt buy me a christmas present for the first time ever ( he got us matching cav's shirts for when we goto the games. us guys in our circle never gave gifts. this year i got him a gift card to a nice restaurant as atoken of my appreciation business-wise). Do i need to train someone else for the position so all of my eggs arent in the same proverbial basket? (i think this woud backfire, as he'd be pretty isnulted that he helped me build up quite a respectable business for a year...and he relies on the income...and it would cause some serious friction).

I dont know what this post's point really is...i just wanted to express my situation to someone mature and with an outside view. as i write this all out, it seems like there's a lot of issues that need im now abit depressed. is 4pm too early to start drinking:confused:? lol
I hope you got some therapy from your post. I sounds like you need a bit.

As in the Godfather, "it's only business." $20/hr is pretty good general labor pay in most of this country. The only question is how much "skill" or "craftsmanship" does he bring to the table. If you would be hurting for someone with his skills he may be worth a little more money. If you could call up a temp agency for a strong back and a pair of hands, you would probably save some money. Only you know. As for how much is he worth as a "skilled" worker remember he hasn't been apprenticed for 4 years. In any event, I'd look at training someone else if you think he's trying to either play off your friendship or shake you down because he thinks he's essential to your business.

I wouldn't worry about giving him a "fair share" of the profits because you are apparently doing the sales and business development work. Plus, it sounds like you are doing the physical labor too. If the business takes off, you should definitely spend less time doing the real work and more time getting new business.
Tough to have a friend who is your employee, as you have too much power over him. He may resent this, and you will always wonder what you are wondering now-"Is he my friend, or just in it for the money?"

You can't fire him as an employee and expect to keep him for a friend. You may be able to keep him as an employee, and let the friendship trail off.

Likely if you don't give him his raise, he will get pissed off and both friendship and employment relationship will vanish.

Which might be best for you.

Hey, the process of putting together long posts like this helps you think through the issues.

When you read it again, does it surprise you to see how many different ways you're questioning the quality of the friendship? I think that, like love, if you have to ask whether someone is your friend then you already know the answer.

As for him being your employee, there's also a possibility that he could become your main competitor. He might be more motivated to stay and work your business if you cut him a share of the profits based on performance. No raise, but the possibility of a bonus or a share for "good behavior". Of course it'd be smart to have a written summary of what consitutes good behavior. His raise request sounds like a final attempt to kill the golden goose before he moves to another employer or starts his own duct-cleaning business.

As for hiring more people, if he sees it as a threat then it's his guilty conscience speaking. You're hiring more people because you're trying to grow the business, and if he doesn't see it that way then you might need to hire even one more.
Why not agree to meet him half way 15%? Use this as a good time to discuss the daily lateness and any other work issues you may have for him. It does'nt sound like you "owe" him anything - but keeping a good employee is always a good long as it "pencils out" - and from what you say - it does.
On a side note - 2 of my pet peeves concerning friends are - them being late and cancelling at the last minute. Unfortunately a couple of my favorite people do this - it's who they are.
I think a little of the answer to your question is how you define a friend. If this work arangement was a short time thing then I guess you could be friends. But the current nature of the relationship means it really can not be friendship based. You are his employer. As such can he really ever be honest with you without worring about his position with you? Also it doesn't sound as if he respects what you do for him - the lateness and wanting a 30% increase.
Find a replacement, help him find another position (for more money; if possible) and see if he ever calls you again.
Thanks for the quick replies...keep em coming...I've still got a lot of thinking to do.

On another note, my day is getting worse. My fiance just got home and said "hey hon, i just went to eat with my mom so im not really hungry. save my steak and lobster for another day"

Wow. now i get to eat 2 lbs of peel n eat shrimp, cheese and crackers,a lobster tail, steak and grilled veggies by myself.

funny thing is that it's our 7 yr anniversary...if *I* would've cancelled our little dinner date, I'd be sleeping on the couch til next december.

closing out '06 with a bang, eh?
BOY oh BOY... Not much of a friend if he is trying for a 30% raise when he has never made $20 per hour before and a 7 year relationship that fails to consider you and your plans on NYE:confused: What a wrap for 2006. I hope 2007 is much kinder in certain areas of your life. ;)
Mixing friendship and employment is always a risky business. I think Nords have given you a great tip. It is one way to make it clear that money does not grow from trees (or your pocket). Set a baseline tied to this years number of jobs, revenues, gross profit or ? and let him you know for every x$ above that baseline, he will get Y$. Do some math in advance so the number with reasonable assumptions will give him the target income. I suggest a quarterly payout since monthly can be a hassle to do but for your business it may be okay. It jmakes it easier to use quarterly since you can tie it to an annual number. Just do not get caught in paying out in anticipation of the rest of the year being as good--say 75% of any lift with the 25% rolling to next quarter so you always have a buffer in case something goes bump.
PM me if you want to get into details.
Good luck and don't let him guilt you into doing something you would not do for someone who was not a friend.
Best wishes for a great 2007.
nwsteve said:
Mixing friendship and employment is always a risky business.

That's what I was always taught growing up. Friends are friends....but, business is business. "If you want to keep your friends, keep 'em as friends....if you want to lose your friends....hire 'em!"....that's my my Dad said. 8)
Others have given you good feedback on the risk from hiring friends.

In your sit-down with him tell him that you need additional help because you expect more jobs coming on down the line. Consider using a temp service for a while, the old 'try before you buy' routine - works both ways. Make no to promises to the temp, it is fair to indicate that if the business continues to grow you will need permanent staff. Using temps for a while is less threatening to your friend and it will enable you to build a labor pool.

Try to restructure the friend's pay to reward reliability and efficiency.. a type of bonus (remember this is included in a regular rate of pay calculation when overtime comp is owed). Also, remind him that his rate of pay is only between the two of you. By keeping the base pay lower you can avoid ramping up expectations of new employees.

One way to call his bluff, nicely, is to tell him that you want him to take advantage of whatever opportunities come his way. That you would appreciate two weeks notice, however, if he accepts another position.
don't know where she got this but my cousin recently described friendships as a trolley car ride. you are the trolley car. some people are there from the beginning of the ride. some people get on and off along the way. and some ride with you to the end. but during your ride, all the passengers were your friends.
thanks for the ongoing helps! almost as much as my most recent rum n coke!

the old lady made me play board games for 2 hours, then when i complained about playing LIFE, she put everything away, dumped her vodka down the drain, and hit the sack. and why? i dunno yet, maybe i'll 'get it' next year....

so im slightly annebriated, burping up my lonely surf n turf dinner, chomping on real nyc cheesecake, watching brett favre say goodbye to the game, working out the #'s for the business and my personal goals next year....and browsing an ER much better does it get:confused:

Hey Fed...

Happy New Year... I am sure you are hung over by now... hopefully not to bad...

Like others, I would question the friendship... only because of what you wrote, not any other reason... BUT, it seems like he wanted to get out and get drunk at a bar... the noise etc... not be stuck with some old fart that wants to stay home (I am just using words that he MIGHT be thinking....)

Also, it is a common trait that once someone gets a raise they start to expect that as their new baseline... it doesn't matter that he could not get a job for more than $12 or $13... he THINKS he is worth more now because you pay him more.... and why not get a raise since I MUST be doing better...

I would make a suggestion that he start to look for work someplace else if he thinks that he needs the $26 per hour as you can only afford the $20... and I would also suggest that he start to get there on time.. that it is costing YOU money for him being late... PS... do you pay him for the late time or not:confused: just curious...

I will give an example of a former friend and my best friend... we knew each other in high school... well, the one called F was a loser... he would get jobs and then get fired as he did not like being bossed around... he had a few kids, but never paid child support... he moved back to his parents house about 15 years ago... I have very little to do with him, but my other friend kept in touch... he lent F some money because he was going to lose his car and did not have a job.. well, M did not have a lot himself, but wanted to help out a friend.... well, one year went by... then two... M started to ask about getting paid back (F did not work much as his parents were taking care of his expenses... and they are POOR)... Well, F said to M that he did not need the money as he had a lot more than F did... he then decided to drop the friendship as M was not 'fun' anymore...

Dont' know if that helps you out or not, but to me the money is at the heart of your problems with him... you must remove that problem..
You have an acquaintance, a good one, but not a friend. A true friend is hard to find, rare and very valuable.

On the business side, he is your empoyee. Nothing wrong with an employee wanting or asking for a raise. If he brings added value to your business, then provide him with the raise. I would not tie his compensation to profits unless his work actually brings in or increases the profits. Remember though, it's your business, you are the owner, you pay the unemployment insurance, the work comp, the taxes, etc.

Even if you do not hire another employee, I suggest you develop a method to hire one. Is there a worker pool available to you. If so, at least make contact to find out what is available.

Good luck, good to hear that you business is going well.

Could be worse things that eating a pound or so of shrimp and drinking a good shot or two of whiskey.
As hard as it may be, you have to bite the bullet & draw a line of distinction between "friend" & business. I have seen this situation plenty of times in my life, experienced a time or two myself as well. Inevitably, something has to (will) give. As Barney used to say "Nip It!" Draw the line with this employee right now and let the chips fall where they may, in the interest of your livelihood. If the two of you have a true friendship, it will weather the storm in time. Either he is your friend or your employee. You (and he) will have to decide which way it will be. I would do no less than lay the law down to him on what you expect from him as an employee,and then stick to your guns. I don't see you maintaining a friendship, if that's truly what it is, and also an employer/employee relationship. He doesn't sound like he's mature enough for that, and in any case, it's just not sound business. Best of luck!

p.s. If he remains an employee, ie. agrees to your ground rules, you would be best served not to try to still have a social life with him, it would simply muddy the lines again. No more invitations to spend New Years etc. at your place. Sad to say, but some folks will just take advantage or mis-read the situation. Yeah, I know I sound cold hearted, but it's the only way.
Another bit of advise: never to hold a Christmas or New Years employee gathering at your home.

I recall one who did; an employee who didn't like his year end bonus danced on their furniture in his street shoes.

Chiming in.
- As you probably realize, basing some of his pay on the performance of the business will tend to make him feel an increasing degree of ownership/responsibility for the succes of the biz. While it gives you an "out" to not pay him more if things don't go that well, I think he'll likely blame you for this (since youa re te guy doing the marketing). It think it might also be difficult to make his pay based on tangible factors like showing up on time--do you really want to be in the position of havng to document his arrival time ach day? No. Finaly, if he feels more "ownership" in the biz, he becomes more of a partner and less of an hourly worker--based on what you've said, I dont think this is a great thing.

- You really shouldn't compare his "hourly rate" to yours. You are taking all the risk in the business, and have money tied up in equipment, etc. You (and he) should properly compare his hourly rate to what you would have to pay others to do the same work. If you could get someone else to show up on time t do this work for less, then you owe it to yourself and your customers to do that. Ultimately, you might even be doing him a favor--if he really needs/wants to make more money, then he should find a line of work that will enable him to do that.

- Don't expect your personal relationship with this person to survive the end of the business relationship. I dont think he'll be able to make a distinction between the two.

- He might become a competitor, but this doesn't sound like much of a threat. You know what it takes to run a successful business: Does this guy have it? I'd say that showing up to work on time is a fairly low bar, and he's tripping over it.

Best of luck for a propserous 2007
Hi Fed. Reading between your lines I think you need to stop worrying about your employee (the former friend) and focus on communication with the spouse. Sounds like both of you are resenting things about the other. Don't let it fester too long.
donheff said:
Hi Fed. Reading between your lines I think you need to stop worrying about your employee (the former friend) and focus on communication with the spouse. Sounds like both of you are resenting things about the other. Don't let it fester too long.

i think it was just a bad day for her...that time of the month. everything was a-ok today, she apologized, and i rarely hold a grudge. we have a VERY open relationship and things usually can only fester for a few days before oneor the other gets it out! i think part of it was her drinking...she DOES NOT and HAS NOT nor WILL EVER drink @ home, but she had a few drinks, got tired, and passed out. If we're at abar or another house for a party...oh boy......i LOOOOOVE those nights ;)

And thanks everyone for the advice. He and I have a game tomorrow night (go Cavs!) and we're going to have a nice long talk. I really dont want to lose him as a friend/aqquaintance, nor as an employee. We're going to have to talk it thru and see what happens. If anything, I'd rather lose him as an employee...because i dont see being able to cut the friendship and have the business-side still work (we actully have a LOT of fun together working...its almost like it was back in high school...goofing off, joking around, but still gettin 'r done!)
In the past I have employed so called friends and even worse family. I was extremely naïve and thought that it would be a very good win-win situation; it never turned out that way. My advice is to keep business and personal separate or in many cases you don’t end up with either, you will loose your friend and your employee.

As far as compensation I pay my good employees way above the amount that they can get anywhere else, not because I’m this great guy but in my case I believe it just makes good business sense. I have very low turnover at the high skill area along with very high productivity. I also feel I tend to get a much better caliber of person. In your line of work you need to weigh out the many factors and make pay decisions that best fit your business model. Don’t ever base your employees pay on your pay, you’re the owner, you take all the risk and deserve the rewards when they are there. If your friend does a good job then he very well may be worth the extra dollars and you should look at it as a business decision and nothing more. If the friendship is going to go south you might be able to retain a good employee. It’s very hard to have both.
OK, I have NO business experience. And I only have three friends. Each of them has fought side by side with me and we have been responsible for each other's lives several times each way. I am the named guardian of the minor children of two of them, even over their own families, and one of them was the named guardian for my daughter when she would have needed one. A whole bunch more acquaintances, but only three friends. That said, this will probably be met with howls of derision and incredulity.

You say the money isn't really going to hurt you any, so why stress over it? If it does bother you, offer him half of what he asked for. But if you really want to keep him be ready to give him the entire amount. If the guy is truly a FRIEND, consider making him a minority partner. I would never have one of my friends work for me, with me yes, but not for me.
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