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agrostis palustris
08-01-2002, 10:19 PM
I am investigating taking on about 100 lawn customers next spring and am trying to figure out what my times would be for productivity as well as what my equipment expenses would be. I was hoping I might be able to get some help from anyone here who has experience with this sort of thing.

52 accounts take 2 guys 5 days to cut using 2 walk behinds.
40 accounts take 2 guys 4 days to cut using 2 walk behinds.

The accounts are in a few different towns. The 40 are located within about 4 or 5 towns. The 52 accounts are located in 1 town however some of them have to be done 2x per week. MOST lawns are over 1 acre in size, and go up to about 10 acres in size. The smaller ones are for the most part in clumps of 4 or so. There are 3 relatively small commercial accounts in the mix.

I would like for 1 crew to be able to do this route within about 4 days. Is that possible? What equipment would I need? How many crew members?

LAWNGODFATHER
08-01-2002, 10:26 PM
10 accounts - 1 million accounts how can we tell or give info?

From the looks of what you wrote you need 2 crews for the equipment listed and could add a few to one of the crews.

To speed up production, would the use of 60" ZTR's fit? If they would you might consider them to speed up things, but you are still going to have to use 2 crews or you will be working 8 days a week in the spring.

agrostis palustris
08-01-2002, 11:28 PM
Riders would definatley work on these properties. I was hoping that a crew of about 4 - 5 could bang out all the houses in about 4 days.

steve122
08-01-2002, 11:42 PM
When do you have to decide? I would take the time ot inventory each property- making as detailed a sheet on each as possible (10 minute job for each), especially listing times for a 2, 3 or 4 man crew. 4 men aren't always going to do twice as much as 2 men. Add it up figuring times for 2, 3 or 4 man crews and see if your estimates answer your question. I agree with previous comment that ZTR's would really speed up the operation. We hardly ever get out the walkbehinds anymore. If you gear up for this are you sure you'll keep all of the accounts? You didn't say but this sounds like you're contemplating a buy out.

wolfpacklawn
08-02-2002, 12:00 AM
Crews of 4 or 5 are not very efficient on that many accounts. They are good for doing 2 or 3 large accounts a day. Too much wasted time traveling,loading, unloading etc. You will make more money if you can use two man crews. Why do you want to have only one large crew?

I don't think it can be done though. 100 accounts divided by 4 days is 25 per day. That is a little over 3 accounts per hour in an 8 hour day. With all the traveling time, unloading and loading. Then you are saying between 1 and 10 acres. One acre is a pretty good size lawn, 10 is huge. There is no possible way for you do this many accounts in 4 days. I really think you need to look at having two crews.

agrostis palustris
08-02-2002, 12:07 AM
Alright, thank you everyone. I was just hoping that by increasing crew size and machine productivity that I could cut down on how many crews were needed. I was hoping that 1 crew would be able to do it because like that only 1 truck would be needed and 1 trailer, and 1 crew to check on.

LAWNGODFATHER
08-02-2002, 12:07 AM
Keep it at 2 crews of 2. This will be the most efficent way. Being able to be in 2 places at once.

4 guys on a crew will eat payroll fast and one will be standing around a lot at single places.

A crew of 3 should be able to do that in 6 days with the right equipment.

You will be the only one to figure out what that equipment list is.

agrostis palustris
08-02-2002, 12:11 AM
Thank you LawnGodFather. What is the preferred brand of ride on mower at this time? I have experience with the Turf Tigers and am not too happy with them. Also have experience with Lazer Z's and the same goes for them.

LAWNGODFATHER
08-02-2002, 12:16 AM
Exmark Lazers.

Check on crews with Nextel 2 ways!!!

Vibe Ray
08-02-2002, 01:33 AM
Exmark Lazers! WHATEVER you do, make sure you look at these bad boyz!
Dixie Choppers, Walkers, Toro, Hustler, Scag, Great Dane, Gravely, & Ferris are also quality commercial mowers.

65hoss
08-02-2002, 02:44 AM
Heck, if these 10 acre properties were being done with 2 w/b's you could almost double productivity just by adding all Z's and losing the w/b's.

strickdad
08-02-2002, 03:03 AM
Originally posted by LAWNGODFATHER
Keep it at 2 crews of 2. This will be the most efficent way. Being able to be in 2 places at once.

4 guys on a crew will eat payroll fast and one will be standing around a lot at single places.

A crew of 3 should be able to do that in 6 days with the right equipment.

You will be the only one to figure out what that equipment list is. this man has been at it a while, and he is correct any thing over 2 men per crew is not efficent. like he said to much standing around etc.

lawnworker
08-02-2002, 09:11 AM
I to agree with LawnGodFather. Although, I am solo myself, I can see that four people would be too much for mixed accounts ,such as you described. If on the other hand, you were bidding on huge industrial properties 3 or 4 might be the ticket.

Shady Brook
08-02-2002, 09:22 AM
Seems to me that it depends how close your properties are in relation to one another. If you have clusters of properties, you may not have as much waste with a 4 man crew. If you had multiple houses together pretty much wherever you go, and you could get big riders on each property, it would almost be like doing larger industrial accounts. I would look over the properties as was suggested, and try to determine how fast you could mow each if you had a couple riders at your disposal. If it were me, I would look over everything in detail and figure on having 4 guys, and two riders, say a 60 and a 72, with the other guys trimming and stuff. I bet you could do the 52 you have now with that set up in a very long day, or day and a half.

I figure you can have some windshield pay time in exchange for a second trailer, double the equipment, double the trucks, double the insurance, and double the headache of wondering what kind of work your other crew is doing while you are not with them.

I have a buddy that does 350-360 every week, working 5-5.5 days a week with a 4 man crew and two 52's. Most are in the 1/2 range, but some are over an acher as well.

Oh well, just a thought
Jay

LawnLad
08-02-2002, 09:39 AM
It's what I would call a crew and half - leaving you open on that second crew for two or three days as LGF said. Two crews - even though you haven't filled the capacity of that second crew - it'll fill itself with time. You'll need it in case it rains on that many properties and you'll pick up small clean up, mulching or planting jobs to fill in when the weather is in your favor. If you do add more business on those two routes and you fill them up with cutting, you'll most likely need a third crew to support those two on those small jobs. A 100 customers can feed you a lot of extras and there is great money in the little jobs.

Having multiple crews gives you added flexibility which means greater consistency for your customers. Trying to bang it out with one crew could cause problems if any number of things goes wrong. Such as - foreman is sick, truck breaks down, flat tire, ZTR breaks down, etc. If you don't have back up and you've packed that schedule tight, you'll have a couple of tense days during the season when "it" hits the fan.

AGG Lawn Maintenance
08-02-2002, 04:09 PM
Thats one thing i have said for years. You should never over book your accounts. I used to run 3 and 4 man crews. I have found over time that a 2 man crew is best. when it comes to cutting the huge lawns I send an extra crew. If you plan to pick up more lawns you should think about adding a third crew to trim bushes, mulch stone etc. I see where you are tring to go but take it from me you need that secound crew. Guys get sick truck and mowers break. I live buy the motto I cut buy any means nessary. why should the customer not get his lawn cut because your truck or mower broke down. Years ago when I only had one truck, when it was is the shop i would rent a Ryder truck. The money I spent on the Ryder was worth its weight in gold. Good luck.

bubble boy
08-02-2002, 05:17 PM
Originally posted by Shady Brook


I have a buddy that does 350-360 every week, working 5-5.5 days a week with a 4 man crew and two 52's. Most are in the 1/2 range, but some are over an acher as well.

Oh well, just a thought
Jay

:eek:
one crew of 4!!!
what equipment???
I thought my guys were efficient.
thats amazing:dizzy:

65hoss
08-02-2002, 05:27 PM
Getting a few Z's will increase productivity. Especially on the 1 acre to 10 acre properties. Doing 10 acres with 2 w/b's is insane.

greenflag
08-02-2002, 06:35 PM
I didn't belive it until I rode with them one day, but I have a friend that uses a 3 man crew. They do 130 yards per week, plus 4 commercials.

This does include 18 duplexes with no fences or trees. They use 1man on a 48" w/b with a sulky, one with a 36"w/b, & 1 man trimming & blowing. They have been doing these same yards for several years.

On the slow side:) solo I average about two yards per hour including drive time. I am very selective about my client areas to improve routing. I seem to be faster as I get more familiar with the yards.

Thanks to what I have learned here, my business is very profitable.

I agree with LGF you can kill your profit with too much payroll.

My friend above will not split into two crews because unless you have an awsome supervisor, your quality & production will both
suffer when you are not part of the crew.

Sorry to go so long, but I know there are very few non profit LCOs out there. (At least we don't want to be)


:D :D

Shady Brook
08-02-2002, 08:03 PM
Bubble boy

I know what ya mean. That crew rocks. Actually they do a very nice job to boot. They bag a great deal.... not sure why... and do it mainly with 2 52 Tigers and grass gobblers. The rest of the mowers are pretty much 32's and 21" mowers. They are very efficient. They get their bush jobs done in a timely manner as well. If the guy could make reasonable business decisions, he would be making some big bank.

Jay

LAWNGODFATHER
08-02-2002, 08:21 PM
If we use some simple math here it will show that 2 crews of 2 will out produce one crew of 3 or 4.

Crew of 3-4 do 4-5 places an hour.

Crew of 2 do 3-4 places an hour times 2 = 6-8 places an hour.

I always thought that adding a second guy to a crew would be double the production, have been shown other, but still belive it is double cause you have 3 jobs to perform when you mow. 1 cut, 2 trim, 3 blow. Some places take longer to do one job over the other 2 but they are getting done simotainously, or both guys mow, trim, and blow.

But when jumping to a 3 man crew you are now more like 2.5 guys not 3. Only way 3 men crews work is if the props are big enough for 3 guys to work. I find that 3/4 acre lawns and up 3 guys can work pretty good.

It all falls back to the accounts, equipment, and managment.

BTW I run both 2 and 3 man crews. Some days it's all 3 man crews some days it's mixed, and some it's all 2 man crews.

I tried doing a solo crew this year, to slow and unproductive, for it to work I would have to double the trucks and trailers.

Also your routing, planning etc.... will have a enormus effect on how your crews produce.

Rooster
08-02-2002, 08:29 PM
I can't say for other brands, but Dixie Chopper does make a 72" cut pup tow behind. That should be considered for the larger properties.


Rick

agrostis palustris
08-02-2002, 10:33 PM
This crew will only be doing lawns. Another crew will be required to "keep up" with mulching, weeding, trim, etc jobs.

bubble boy
08-03-2002, 02:29 PM
this is quite interesting to me.

we run 2 crews of two right now, with me and my biz partner doing maybe a day or two of cutting a week. i say a day or two cause sometimes i'll go work and make a three man crew. i find, surprisingly it is quite efficient. i trim all day while the two guys cut. often i will not touch a mower all day, just trim then blow. most in inefficient part is drive time. that is, basically if the props are close, or large, i think a three man can work fairly well.

BUT i am still not convinced which is better. next yr i am either running 2 crews of three, or 3 crews of 2. i know 3 crews will cut more in a week, but i also need to buy a new truck, trailer, and equipment for that crew. that will really cut into the increase in revenue. right now, to move to 2 crews of three all i need is to hire two more guys, maybe get one more WB. less revenue per week, but way less costs.

looking at the scenerio i think for me profit is better with two crews of three. but here's the kicker-any expansion will result in more snowplow customers, meaning i could use that new truck.

if any one was able to follow all that rambling...:D

basically i'm finding all the imput here quite valuable:)

jsaunders
08-03-2002, 09:30 PM
I would love to get some of those bigger jobs. Largest lawn I have is 1 acre. Any way I find going solo can be very productive but you do get tired of talking to your self. A crew of 2 is good but there is some waiting around by someone because you never finish at the same time. I would do a crew of 3 only if I was able to work with the crew( 2 guys and me) or if I was able to find someone who I know who would keep the crew moving while keeping quality up. I would use a crew of 3 for the large properties and a crew of 2 for the smaller. Consider the 72'' mowers if they will fit that will help alot. What are the wb's that are being used now?

agrostis palustris
08-03-2002, 09:47 PM
Mostly 48" walk behinds. Some with velkies, some without.

jsaunders
08-03-2002, 10:02 PM
well you know how long it takes with the 48'' wb's. Go and get larger equipement what you can afford and what will fit into the most places. You will easily cut your time down. Make your routes as efficient as possible THIS will help alot. I took over a route that took 3 full days to do with 2 48's ( older scags) I bought 2 new 52'' ferris dual drives with velkies now it takes 1.5 days. Looks good to me.
Joel