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MOturkey
10-11-2005, 07:14 PM
I work solo, and am wanting to begin an expansion of my mowing business starting next spring. I suppose the logical step for most solo operators is to hire a helper at least part time allowing them to cover more ground in a day and service more properties. However, in my situation, I'm not sure that would work well. A large part of the problem is the type of properties I currently service. This is a rural area, and most yards, except in the downtown areas of towns, are pretty large.

I did some record keeping the past couple of mows, and the time required to do all the trimming etc., averages only about one-third of the total time required to service my properties as a whole. It is likely that most of the new accounts I would gain will be similar. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me to hire someone who is going to be spending a lot of time thumb-twiddling.

I have a friend who has helped me during my hunting vacation before and has expressed an interest in helping me on a part-time, regular basis. I would, of course, have to pay him substantially more to do the work solo, but it seems to be a solution to my problem. I simply can't, at my age, add much additional work and still handle it with my 50 hour plus regular job. My thought is to hire my buddy to mow on days I can't, as the business grows.

Anyone ever been in a similar situation, or have any thoughts on my idea? Thanks, Neill

mrusk
10-11-2005, 07:19 PM
Uh just buy another mower. Thats the only real solution.

Matt

befnme
10-11-2005, 07:29 PM
hire a p/t laborer to trim ,edge ,and blow while you mow and work together.

JMB
10-11-2005, 10:14 PM
It sounds like you need another mower if you really want to expand. You didn't say what size and type of machine that you are using, but ...
(1) If most of your properties are rural/large, I would buy a larger (61") Z and you should both finish about the same time. On larger properties, your helper could run the other mower if necessary.

Brianslawn
10-11-2005, 10:27 PM
employees want a 40 hr work week, yt most wont be able to handle this 40 hrs/ week. the more paid thumb twidling, the better.... for them.

50 hr week regular job??? quit that!

Darryl G
10-11-2005, 10:59 PM
There are other things your helper can do other than just trim. Have him fuel all the equipment, wind all the trimmer line, fill out the log book, check the fluids, air the tires etc., keep the truck and trailer organized and clean. You could even have him cut in along the edges of the property with a smaller mower while you do the large open areas. Heck, you could even have him go distribute flyers to the neighbors.

JimLewis
10-13-2005, 02:29 AM
So let me get this straight - you have your own lawn maint. company AND you work a 50+ hr. per week regular job???

Before you even start thinking about hiring employees, you need to make a choice which one you want to pursue. There is no way to put your heart into two businesses at the same time (even if one isn't your own business.) One of them is always going to suffer.

You need to make a choice which one you want to pursue long-term and plan for that one. If you chose to stick with the LCO business, then start cutting your hours at your job or get a part time job until the LCO biz can support you entirely.

If I am reading your post correctly, and you actually do have a 50+ hour per week regular job in addition to your LCO biz, then you are in no position to even be thinking about employees. You got your priorities all out of whack.

Green Quality
10-13-2005, 07:19 AM
There is no need to go out and buy a mower! or have your hired help play with the weed wacker.If your solo, you need to work on the business end,to get your company to grow!lets say one of your yards,is pretty big and and takes 3hr to do solo!and it payspayup =$140.00 .pay your help,lets say =8hr+payup $24 for the job.This leaves you with payup $116 with out doing a lick.you on the other hand drone up more jobs for your lawn service.now if your smart why go out and buy mowers? that cost $10000.00 when low ball joe has a mower.give him some work ,I'm sure he does not mind getting payed little more than what he would charge for cutting him self. this is the key which I'm going to employ next year I'm going to be A (((Lawn Broker))))payup

logan
10-13-2005, 08:02 AM
I would ride on the mower all day and let hime do the edging and trimming. Pull up on the trailer as he finishes blowing. If you are doing other work, let him do the hard stuff. I always weigh the cost of an employee with the cost of faster equipment. The equipment always wins. There are less headaches with payroll and hoping they show up on time and don't goof off. A 10k mower will cost you about 200-300 in payments, lets say 100k in gas and then costs of repairs. In my situation, that is still cheaper than an employee. I would not work 50 hours a week for someone else when I can make 150k a year working for, and by, myself (gross that is) in 50 hours a week. Keep in mind that this is a part time job too. I get half the winter off in Florida.

JimLewis
10-13-2005, 10:04 AM
.......lets say one of your yards,is pretty big and and takes 3hr to do solo!and it payspayup =$140.00 .pay your help,lets say =8hr+payup $24 for the job.This leaves you with payup $116 with out doing a lick.......

Haha. It's not quite THAT simple. I wish it was. I remember when I THOUGHT it was. But there's soooooo much more to it than that.

Your concept is right. But there's just so much more to it than you realize.

Maitland Man
10-13-2005, 03:45 PM
I would ride on the mower all day and let hime do the edging and trimming. Pull up on the trailer as he finishes blowing. If you are doing other work, let him do the hard stuff. ............... I would not work 50 hours a week for someone else when I can make 150k a year working for, and by, myself (gross that is) in 50 hours a week. Keep in mind that this is a part time job too. I get half the winter off in Florida.


Our half winter vacation that is..............:cool:

Dennis

MOturkey
10-13-2005, 04:47 PM
Guys, thanks for the thoughts and advice. I probably need to clarify a couple of things, which I apparently didn't in my first posting.

My accounts run toward being mower intensive, rather than trim/edge/blow intensive. In other words, if I just hired a helper part-time, on nearly every property he would be done trimming long before I was done mowing. Someone suggested having him do other things, which is a great idea, but there is just so much fueling, etc. to do with a small operation.

I have a Gravely250Z, and do intend to move up to a 60 inch deck whenever I trade, or buy another mower. I simply don't have enough business at this point to justify the capital outlay to purchase an additional mower. Someday, perhaps, but not right now.

As for my job, yes it is a 50 hour a week job, and soon to increase another 3 or so hours due to some changes in the local situation. I run a wholesale route for a large dairy, and a small, private owned dairy here locally is going out of business, which will increase my sales even more, plus add at least two additional stops to service.

Quitting is not an option. I'm 54. Wish I'd gotten into this mowing game years ago, as I enjoy it, but I've not approached it with making a living in mind, but rather for a supplemental income. I have 22 + years in with the dairy ( a union job), and simply have to stay until I get a full 25 in order to draw a decent retirement. We could, actually, live, by being quite frugal, on my retirement when the time comes, if it were not for the health insurance issue. Health insurance for retirees has gone up something like 1000% in the past 5 years, and continues to climb. I am getting VERY tired of climbing in that truck at 3:00 AM, and would like to retire as soon as possible, but saw the handwriting on the wall that I would need addtional income to do so comfortably. Mowing seemed to fit the bill better, for myself, than getting some other job which would be 12 months instead of 6. Hence my reason for starting my business. I currently mow about 12 hours a week. If I were 30 again, I wouldn't think much of working 25 hours plus the milk route, but right now, if I get the job I was asked to bid on yesterday for next year, I will be up to close to 15 hours a week which I think is, from a practical standpoint, about my limit. Of course, if I'd lose about 65 pounds, I could probably work more. :)

I was just curious if any of you had ever been in a similar situation, and how it worked out for you. I would really like to be able to take on new accounts as the opportunity to do so arises, in anticipation of being able to go full-time in 3 years or so.

Thanks for the input. Neill

JimLewis
10-13-2005, 05:49 PM
Well, thanks for explaining more. I guess I just assumed you were some young dumb kid working at a grocery store for 50 hours a week. But now that you explain the situation, it makes a lot more sense. I wouldn't give up that job either! Sounds like you'll be set in a few years and then you can retire that job and focus more on the LCO biz and draw two incomes. That's a pretty cool scenario to have!

I do know one guy here locally who has an employee who does all of his work for him. He works full-time for UPS and he just hired this hispanic employee to take care of all of his accounts for him. There was some training involved, obviously. But now, this young guy works for him and does every single account for him. He pays this guy's salary and still has plenty of money left over for himself each month. Not a TON of money. It's just one employee. But he does like 45 accounts each week on his own. Not a bad deal. You could arrange something like that. You just basically run the operation (talk to customers, quality control, keep books) and then someone else runs the operations Full Time while you are at work. If you could keep a Nextel on you at work, it would flow even better. Then the employee could bling you if he had a question or a problem arose.

Rhett
10-13-2005, 06:31 PM
Found out the hard way that it is much cheaper to buy better equipment than it is to hire employees. New mower cost about 8 dollar an hour to run. Employee costs about 15 an hour to run to replace the production of said mower. Max out on the equipment then look for an employee. Just my expirience though