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View Full Version : Things that make life easier (take 2)


lsylvain
01-18-2010, 09:56 PM
I want to know if anyone has any "real" ways that they have discovered to make life easier for the solo operator. I have basically gotten so fed up with the sheer lack of descent employees that I have decided to go back to a solo operation. My plan is to cut back to about $90,000 a year and get rid of my least profitable stuff and do it all myself. Problem is I have not done this by myself full time in about 7 years. I'm looking for tips and items that may make it easier to get all my accounts done.

I'm not looking for what kind of radio you listen too or what kind of cell phone I'm talking actual things that make for more productive work.

I'm liking the idea of the edgit thing if it can actually speed things up though I'm pretty fast "free hand" I have not timed it to see if it is faster to run the stick and trimmer or just do it all with the trimmer.

What about those mower mounted edgers that grasshopper makes, anyone ever use one?

Anyone ever experiment with mid day blade changes?

I've also thought about breaking my day into two shifts. 7-12 3-8 getting 3 hours in the middle for rest and repairs with 10 hours of mowing. Instead of 12 hour days where you get 90% of you work done in the first 8 hours and it takes 4 hours to get the other 10% because you are dragging a$%.

I'm thinking that changing socks/boots halfway through the day would help the feet out a lot too.

This is the kind of stuff I'm looking for. Stuff to speed things up or stuff to keep you going.

ALC-GregH
01-18-2010, 10:16 PM
You've been in business for at least 7 years and you still don't know how to be productive? Maybe that's why you have trouble with employee's.

READ THE THREADS

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=301508

SouthLouisianaGrassCutter
01-18-2010, 10:33 PM
14 to 16 hour 7 days a week for me

But forget blade changes just get better driving your machine. Don't run over sticks and rocks. I could easly go a week with out nick on a blade.

Mahoney3223
01-18-2010, 10:38 PM
90k for a solo??????? good luck!

lawnboy852
01-18-2010, 10:52 PM
sure you can go a week without a nick on the blade, but that doesnt mean the blade is sharp....

Things I have done, On some of my big props (or awkward ones..) I take my trimmer with my on a bracket I built for my WB. Its much quicker to trim those too tight for my mower areas while im right there, than to cut the rest, take the mower back, get the trimmer, WALK back, trim it, then WALK back to wherever else needs to be trimmed.

Invest in spare spools for your trimmer. I put a big rubber band around the wrapped spool, or tie the free ends together through the slots in mine. Then I can tie these spools to a clip on my belt, or put them in a pocket, or tie them to the handle of the trimmer. New line is always right there.

Other things I do:
Know when to refuel, Start with a full tank, then figure out how many hours till that tank is empty. post that near your hour meter on a piece of tape or on the gas tank, and make a little mental (or physical, I know people who write it down) note of what hour they will need new fuel.

Same goes for gas, Not sure where but I saw a place that had a gasoline safe bottle, that had a mount onto the trimmer shaft, so you have another tank when you run dry. I have thought about getting one of those for the upcoming season.

Dont swap out machines. I have some props with a small gate that needs a 32. Now, the rest of the yard can fit my 48, but the time it takes to switch mowers is more than if I were to just cut with the 32.

Keeping yourself comfortable, whatever that means to you, will increase productivity as well

Last one, Build Make up days into your schedule. Rain/weather is a terrible thing, and always seems to hit where it hurts. Make sure you wont get backed up, and have time to make weather adjusted cuts. Other than that, PRAY for SUN!

Scagmower48
01-18-2010, 10:54 PM
One thing that helps me what to do is to plan out everything in advance. This planning might happen on Sunday night when I attempt to plan out the week, or while im in the truck on the way to the next property. While im planning or thinking, i am trying to be efficient as possible for the up coming week or the next job. Waking up in the morning and "winging it" will cost time and energy which is aka money.

scagrider22
01-18-2010, 10:57 PM
90k for a solo??????? good luck!

90k solo is very doable solo, many of the good solo guys in my area make 75-120k easy.

SouthLouisianaGrassCutter
01-18-2010, 11:14 PM
Every 3 days (give or take a week) I would change but I could see up to a week on them but whats the use of changing if the cut is clean and not a sprig insight while cutting wide open. I would have to multch limestone to change them in the middle of the day.

Tip do multch limestone

Back on topic, plan how you cut this yard, like connecting the dots. Like if your in front of the house and there is a tree in the middle of the yard you have to trim around go do it. Don't wait till you cut around the whole house. Look for the quickest way to weed eat while you are riding on the mower, and for gosh sakes use common sense.

lsylvain
01-18-2010, 11:29 PM
14 to 16 hour 7 days a week for me

But forget blade changes just get better driving your machine. Don't run over sticks and rocks. I could easly go a week with out nick on a blade.


I try to change my blades every day, the way it should be done, now, granted we are burning and turning lawns so I basically only get off the mower to jump in the truck and drive to the next subdivision. Some days we would hit 30 plus lawns a day and my blades are dull as heck after that, sticks or no sticks. Of course that will change if I'm on my own. I also mulch up all the hedge clippings so that to takes a toll.

It may be in my mind but I feel a difference as the day progresses with the mowers performance. As far as getting better driving I put over 2000 hours on one machine since April of 2008, and have 4 other mowers that get used here and there.

lsylvain
01-18-2010, 11:46 PM
sure you can go a week without a nick on the blade, but that doesnt mean the blade is sharp....

Things I have done, On some of my big props (or awkward ones..) I take my trimmer with my on a bracket I built for my WB. Its much quicker to trim those too tight for my mower areas while im right there, than to cut the rest, take the mower back, get the trimmer, WALK back, trim it, then WALK back to wherever else needs to be trimmed.

Invest in spare spools for your trimmer. I put a big rubber band around the wrapped spool, or tie the free ends together through the slots in mine. Then I can tie these spools to a clip on my belt, or put them in a pocket, or tie them to the handle of the trimmer. New line is always right there.

Other things I do:
Know when to refuel, Start with a full tank, then figure out how many hours till that tank is empty. post that near your hour meter on a piece of tape or on the gas tank, and make a little mental (or physical, I know people who write it down) note of what hour they will need new fuel.

Same goes for gas, Not sure where but I saw a place that had a gasoline safe bottle, that had a mount onto the trimmer shaft, so you have another tank when you run dry. I have thought about getting one of those for the upcoming season.

Dont swap out machines. I have some props with a small gate that needs a 32. Now, the rest of the yard can fit my 48, but the time it takes to switch mowers is more than if I were to just cut with the 32.

Keeping yourself comfortable, whatever that means to you, will increase productivity as well

Last one, Build Make up days into your schedule. Rain/weather is a terrible thing, and always seems to hit where it hurts. Make sure you wont get backed up, and have time to make weather adjusted cuts. Other than that, PRAY for SUN!

Getting rid of everything with lots of trimming. lol But good advice.

Since I have had 3 employees at one point I not only have plenty of extra spools laying around but extra trimmers as well so when I run out of gas I just grab a new trimmer. lol

Getting rid of everything that requires anything less than a 60" deck. lol

The make up days is causing me some grief luckily the weather here pretty much makes it so there is no such thing as a rain day, just rain half hours, but breakdowns is my fear and also my wife works a couple of nights a week and I have to watch the kids so that throws a kink in working longer days to get back on track if she has to work.

lsylvain
01-18-2010, 11:51 PM
I got a really good tip just now from my wife.

"Don't screw around on lawnsite at midnight when you have 24 jobs to do tomorrow and come to bed."

SouthLouisianaGrassCutter
01-19-2010, 12:16 AM
I'm not saying don't change them at all but the mid day blade change just seems like a waste off time if you something easy like centipede. On the other hand grasses like Bahia are tougher on blades.

lsylvain
01-19-2010, 12:26 AM
You've been in business for at least 7 years and you still don't know how to be productive? Maybe that's why you have trouble with employee's.

READ THE THREADS

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=301508

Yep that's it. It is my fault that 90% of job seekers were to lazy to graduate high school and the other 9% can't show up on time, and put in a full days work. And that last 1% can't keep up with me, can't take the heat, or whatever.

mowerbrad
01-19-2010, 12:47 AM
-Tighten up your routes, so you have minimal drive time between accounts.

-Drop poorly paying customers or customers that are too far out of your routes. Basically any un-needed customer.

-Carry plenty of equipment. Nothing is worse than getting to a job in the middle of the day and realize that you forgot to bring a certain tool or piece of equipment to a job.

-Have the right equipment to make you efficient. Having a couple different mowers will help. That way you have the right mower for every lawn (ie, 32", 48" and 60" mowers). But this is if you can afford to or already have the equipment.

-Make sure to stay well hydrated during the day and take time to eat lunch. Doing so will help keep you more focused during the day, thus keeping productivity consistant throughout the day.

-Try and mulch your accounts if you can. Or at least if you bag, try and dump the clippings onsite, this way you don't have to worry about what to do with the clippings at the end of the day.

-Don't change blades in the middle of the day. Change them at the end of the day for the following day.

-Get things ready the night before. When you get done for the day, before calling it a day, get things serviced, cleaned up and ready for the next work day. That way you won't need to do that the next morning.

-Make sure fuel is topped off in all the equipment and truck. I'd carry a spare 5 or 6 gallon gas can with me so if I did run low on fuel I would have enough to get me through the rest of my day.

-Get a good billing system working whether it just be in a note book or actual software like quickbooks.

-Get yourself a pair of worktunes head phones, they help you to enjoy the day a little more which will lead to better productivity. (I know thats not what you want but I thought I would add that in).

-Carry common spare parts with you (ie, belts, blades, filters, etc.) and tools to do minor repairs, this way if you have an issue you will be able to fix it on site and continue with your day.

-Use a dealer that has good service and/or is close to your location.

-Organize your trailer/truck so you have your most used tools/equipment easily accessable, that way you will have to pull off less stuff to get at what you need.

-Have someone you can call upon if you are backed up. I'm not saying hire someone full-time but just someone who may be able to come help you for a day or two while you get caught up with you jobs.

-Take some security measures to prevent equipment/tools from "walking" off during the day.

-After doing each lawn once or twice, you should have an idea as to how to speed up the time it takes to finish that account.

-Make sure to keep all maintenance on equipment up to date, keeps your downtime to a minimum.


...thats all I can think of for now.

grassman177
01-19-2010, 02:05 AM
pretty much everything they said, becasue i do 90% of it anyways and train my guys to do the same and i expect it from them.

ALC-GregH
01-19-2010, 08:47 AM
Yep that's it. It is my fault that 90% of job seekers were to lazy to graduate high school and the other 9% can't show up on time, and put in a full days work. And that last 1% can't keep up with me, can't take the heat, or whatever.

Your missing it. All of the comments so far are common knowledge as a business owner. If you've been in it this long, you shouldn't NEED to ask how to be more efficient. If only 1% can't keep up with you then the other 99% can? Maybe it's you who needs to be managed?

STIHL GUY
01-19-2010, 11:06 AM
i trim and mow as quickly as i can. i also get really close with the mower to cut back on trimming. get a chute blocker or mow with the chute pointing away from flower beds and streets to reduce the amount of blowing you have to do. you could also get a more powerful mower with a bigger deck and higher ground speed. try to keep a tight route and cut down on drive time

lsylvain
01-19-2010, 02:35 PM
Your missing it. All of the comments so far are common knowledge as a business owner. If you've been in it this long, you shouldn't NEED to ask how to be more efficient. If only 1% can't keep up with you then the other 99% can? Maybe it's you who needs to be managed?

No S#$% all the comments are common knowledge, this is why I posted to hopefully get some real input on new tools and techniques to do things to get more done. You obvoisly are about as productive as a rock since you obviously don't have any customers because you are on this site posting non stop. How many jobs did you complete today? Myself, I did 10 lawns, 3 leaf jobs, pruned 7 palm trees, 2 irrigation repairs, estimated and picked up a mulch job and another cleanup job and it is only 2:30. I guess the real problem is I am asking people who only have 20 lawns a week for 6 months out of the year for advise to burn and turn 70 plus lawns 52 weeks a year.

lawnboy852
01-19-2010, 07:56 PM
You obvoisly are about as productive as a rock since you obviously don't have any customers because you are on this site posting non stop.

Now lets not get at each others throats, NONE of what you said is obvious from his posts. First off, before you start telling people they have no work because they are here "all day" take a look at where they are! (Al is in PA, as am I). Some of us are not as fortunate as you, because for at least a third of our year, there are NO palms to prune, NO grass to mow, and NO mulch jobs to be done.

Advice is advice, if you dont want it dont take it! simple as that. If you ask for tips from people, you might get some that seem silly. Keep in mind that this is an INTERNATIONAL board, with members from all walks of life. Some people here run HUGE companies, (anyone hitting the million mark?) while some of us, myself included, are smaller solo operations. Now, dont tell us that our time is not valuable, and that we are less efficient because we have less work to do. That doesnt make any sense. A hot summer day, I could laze my day around in the heat on a mower and with a trimmer, but WHY would I do that when I could be relaxing by the pool, instead of working?

Probably the best tip I have ever gotten was to run my business the way it needs to be run. If I needed to work 6 days a week, I would, If I wanted to work that much I would, but I neither need nor want to. If you need to split your day up into two parts, do it. Who are we to tell you it wont work. Everyone works a little differently.

This is a place to share ideas, civily. Lets keep it that way and we can all be happier. *trucewhiteflag*

lawnboy852
01-19-2010, 07:57 PM
Sorry, ALC GREGH, not AL as I said above ^

Roger
01-19-2010, 08:40 PM
I don't agree with the assertions of "not being productive after XXX years." I've been doing this for 14 years, and I continue to find more efficient and productive ways of doing things. I've been in the workforce for about 50 years. My finding is not only related to lawn service work. If a worker does not continue to find more efficient ways over time, then they are not thinking about what they are doing -- rather just "crank and grind."

From the past several years on LS, I think many are getting out of the business before they begin to learn how to be productive and efficient in doing their work. Reading posts by those who have been working for several years, and they say, "I am doing ....," or similar, it is clear they are far from working effectively.

Just my observations, ... sure that others will think otherwise.

lsylvain
01-19-2010, 08:50 PM
Now lets not get at each others throats, NONE of what you said is obvious from his posts. First off, before you start telling people they have no work because they are here "all day" take a look at where they are! (Al is in PA, as am I). Some of us are not as fortunate as you, because for at least a third of our year, there are NO palms to prune, NO grass to mow, and NO mulch jobs to be done.

Advice is advice, if you dont want it dont take it! simple as that. If you ask for tips from people, you might get some that seem silly. Keep in mind that this is an INTERNATIONAL board, with members from all walks of life. Some people here run HUGE companies, (anyone hitting the million mark?) while some of us, myself included, are smaller solo operations. Now, dont tell us that our time is not valuable, and that we are less efficient because we have less work to do. That doesnt make any sense. A hot summer day, I could laze my day around in the heat on a mower and with a trimmer, but WHY would I do that when I could be relaxing by the pool, instead of working?

Probably the best tip I have ever gotten was to run my business the way it needs to be run. If I needed to work 6 days a week, I would, If I wanted to work that much I would, but I neither need nor want to. If you need to split your day up into two parts, do it. Who are we to tell you it wont work. Everyone works a little differently.

This is a place to share ideas, civily. Lets keep it that way and we can all be happier. *trucewhiteflag*

You obviously didn't read the comments from his posts. He gave no advice at all into how to improve business, he only wanted to gripe that I fired all my employees and am 99% sure that I will never hire another one. Why would he care that I am sick of dealing with employees, and what does that have to do with getting lots of work done?

I have been a member of this site for 9 years so I know a troll when I see one. I can tell you also that I have giving out more good advice here than I have or ever will get from here. 4000 post in less than 2 years doesn't say much about your ability to mow lawns, but it does say a lot about your free time and your ability to sit in front of your computer and troll through every post day in and day out. How about you take that 3 hours or more a day you spend on here and go out and do some of the things that people tell you to do to get work. If you did these things you would not have time to play on LS. If you don't want to be that busy and have lots of free time that is your business, but don't sit and tell other people they don't know what they are doing when in all likely hood they service in a day the number of lawns you do in a week. That is the point of the whole thing.

I've seen the trolls on this site for years and they will still be here in 9 more years spewing forth the same regergitated business 101 stuff that they themselves are too lazy to even try.

towtruck212
01-19-2010, 09:00 PM
Your missing it. All of the comments so far are common knowledge as a business owner. If you've been in it this long, you shouldn't NEED to ask how to be more efficient. If only 1% can't keep up with you then the other 99% can? Maybe it's you who needs to be managed?

Greg are you even in the business? All replys I see you make are useless. DO A SEARCH!!!! Thats all you say... Im starting to think you bought a mower to mow your yard and two of your neighbors asked you to mow for them and now you say your in the business, and come on here and get your post count up so you look good.

lawnkingforever
01-20-2010, 12:16 AM
Yes, I agree with towtruck. If you think a certain thread is played out, then simply move on to another, why even reply with, "Do a search" or some other negative comment. For example, I cringe when I see a thread for trimmers, but just because I think it is a tired subject does not mean other members feel the same way. I simply move on to the next thread. It is a long winter for most folks on here, who cares if a thread is played out or not. In a couple of months, most of us with real businesses won't even be on here much anyway, we will out making $$.

CircleC
01-20-2010, 01:11 AM
Not sure if this helps but....I picked up a Viking mower in Oct, before that I had a belt drive that I was pushing all over the place. That belt drive was wearing me out! The hydros made a huge diffrence in effort during the day. With the hydros I felt like I wasnt dragging during the day.

Started to put a giant tarp in the back of my truck for grass, so when I went to the dump I could pull tarp out and unload without pitchforking everything. Saved a ton of time at the grass dump.

Wear a camel pack so I dont stop for water.

Always buying new gold toe socks.

I have been considering a Walker and bigger trailer, I figure I can ride all day and drive right on the trailer and dump grass. Keep things off the ground and out of my truck.

Now Im sure someone will bash me for something here, but oh well....dude hope that helps.

soloscaperman
01-20-2010, 01:43 AM
I am only 25 and I feel you. There are two things to speed up. Equipment & you.

Start from the ground up. The foods you eat and drink, proper sleep to the highest HP equipment and biggest deck. Basically you want to top out your equipment then worse comes to worse work longer hours and days. After that that's when you have to find a worker or start throwing away customer's that you may not need and start squeezing more lawns in one area. I really believe in doing every lawn in a street. I do two streets that take two days and I bring in more money then someone brings in 5 days. One street is a new high class area that I got from quality and also from them having a neighbor hood Christmas party. The other street was from word of mouth.

lsylvain
01-20-2010, 06:33 AM
Not sure if this helps but....I picked up a Viking mower in Oct, before that I had a belt drive that I was pushing all over the place. That belt drive was wearing me out! The hydros made a huge diffrence in effort during the day. With the hydros I felt like I wasnt dragging during the day.

Started to put a giant tarp in the back of my truck for grass, so when I went to the dump I could pull tarp out and unload without pitchforking everything. Saved a ton of time at the grass dump.

Wear a camel pack so I dont stop for water.

Always buying new gold toe socks.

I have been considering a Walker and bigger trailer, I figure I can ride all day and drive right on the trailer and dump grass. Keep things off the ground and out of my truck.

Now Im sure someone will bash me for something here, but oh well....dude hope that helps.

Good tips luckily I have a yard waste place down the road that unloads you. Greatest idea ever. Tuesday I had about a ton of debris to dump leaves, whole philodendrons, a lemon tree, and a ton of other stuff all mushed together on the trailer, if you had to take that off by hand it would have taken forever since everything was in a big not. Instead I backed up dumped and left. easy as pie now that is a time saver.

willretire@40
01-20-2010, 10:29 AM
I think you should consider having one helper b.c anything can go wrong.