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View Full Version : Employees??alot or none?


fga
11-01-2003, 08:52 AM
How's it going?
I've been in business for 5 seasons now, in the new york city area, staten island. I do pretty good with lawn maintenance, and and the occasional landscape project. But my biggest stress I've had is employee related. With two to three guys(not counting myself) i complete alot of work, usually with free time on the weekend to either take sat. off or catch up on odds and ends. I know the guys are hired through me, its my choice and responsibilty. My dilemma is their unreliabilty, through the 5 seasons, there is only one worker I've had more then 4 months at a time. I pay fair and offer the hours, its gets frustrating.
I was wondering if anyone in here works completely solo, maybe using ocasional work for large prjects. I can think of alot of benefiets, such as payroll, insurance, the amount of down machines, # of trucks, Even buying these guys lunch, which you know adds up. I know I'd have to buy bigger machines, and things like that, just curious for your opinon.
THANKS FOR YOUR TIME!!!!!!
FGA

gramps
11-01-2003, 09:39 AM
Agree. For every employee productivity goes down and bs increases. Have to decide where you want to be.

chefdrp
11-01-2003, 09:43 AM
I am solo, I do the jobs and that way i know things get done the way i want them to

the scaper
11-01-2003, 10:34 AM
i started out solo about 4 years ago but now i always take 1 helper with me. works out great cause i still have complete control of the situation and have someone to do 1/2 the work for just a small piece of the $$. on bigger jobs i'll recruit 1 or 2 extra helpers. i always get my help through people i know. i always take care of my helpers and treat them with respect but at the same time let them know what i expect. they are always willing to work for me.

fga
11-01-2003, 10:53 AM
Thanks alot guys!
How many accounts can you usually get done on a daily basis working by yourselves, and how big of an account are they? In staten island, most accounts are done with 21" lawnboy mowers, etc. I've been out of state and know the set up is different, alot of big mowers and equipment. I have about 87 accounts, the average company in S.I. has about 175, from my knowledge(they use 5-7 workers).
Thanks again for taking the time!!!

David Haggerty
11-01-2003, 11:31 AM
Good labor is a killer here in Ohio too. Though you wouldn't think so. Must be the seasonal thing. By next spring the good people have found something better to do.
I've had as many as 2 crews of 2 people. Now it's me and my son. Sometimes I threaten to fire him and hire a mexican.

You could about draw a line thru Lawnsite and divide up the businessmen who run crews from the guys with the green shoes. Maybe solo guys with helpers. I'm no businessman. I'll probably have to work hard the rest of my life. I don't care. I kind of like it.

I can get a lot done in a day. I have great big mowers. My best time was probably an apartment complex I mowed last year. 24 acres of sod. No buildings or parking lots measured in. Mowed trimmed and blown. WB the ditch bank and everything. Lots of little islands of grass. It looked good. Had it done before lunch! Wierd part of is was that all the residents were imigrant laborers. They were here to work in the owner's plant. Not to mow no stinking grass!

Oh! To get back to your origional question. I don't know what the answer is to the labor problem. But I am really familiar with the question.


Dave

PRO PROPERTY CARE
11-01-2003, 12:13 PM
I was solo last season. I had the odd helper for bigger jobs that came up. But next season I will need one part time (maybe full time some weeks). I am not looking forward to this.....
I hear a lot of horror stories from people i know that deal with employees. Especially when i cant offer alot . Only a little bit better than min. wage.....
I think a reitree. looking for some part time work is the best route.... they are probably more reliable.
If i could run solo,l would. But a couple of jobs i have for next season arent doable by myself....

Shuter
11-01-2003, 01:17 PM
I have had one laborer working with me from time to time. It seems to never work out. It is very hard to find someone who is happy to go to work. Now back to solo, with some help from my wife.

sanfordandsonfan
11-01-2003, 01:36 PM
I guess the only thing I can really say I have been lucky with is help. I hired my dad full-time this year. He is fifty six years old and can work like nothing I ever seen. As a matter of fact he gets on me to keep up sometimes. A factory worker for most of his life, he is used to things like twelve hour days, twenty minute lunches and seven days a week. He tells me this is the best job he has ever had and looks forward to every day. Makes me really think how lucky I am. Enough about dad. When the time comes that he doesnt want to work anymore, I am looking for another guy about the same age. They realize the value of a dollar and what good work ethic is all about. So the speed may not be there, but if you charge the right amount, you dont have to run around with your head cut off.

pjslawncare/landscap
11-01-2003, 04:34 PM
Lets face it, its' tough, hot dirty work and you must find people with what it takes to do it.
I was solo for a long time. I have large machines and get a lot done. Now as work keeps comming in, I have two guys now and have as much as seven in summer months. I think my trick is to be nice but not too nice and let them know whats expected of them. A pat on the back is good also when warrented. I actually decided to let one guy go when I discovered attitude problems (Mild temper tantrom in front of other employee). He settled down and asked to stay so after a little talk, He is a pritty good employee now. It is a head acke sometimes, good luck!

McCarty"s
11-01-2003, 05:10 PM
I've been in business for five (5) years. During the first two (2) years I did everything solo / part time. I had about (15) lawns. In my third year I had a part - time employee who worked under the table, we had about (20) lawns and I again only worked part time. My forth year I scaled back to (10) lawns and did everything by myself. This year I went haywire. I have (73) lawn contracts, four (4) full time employees during the season, one I will keep year round, another will stay on part - time and the other (2) went back to school. It has been a struggle this season. I have gone through at least seven (7) until I got to the four that remained with me. It's a tough business. I have found that little perks keep employees faithful like: free tank of gas, hats, t-shirts, shorts, jackets, lunch, crab feast, cash bonuses etc. These are just a few things I have done to keep things going smoothly..

paponte
11-01-2003, 05:24 PM
Good laborers are hard to find, but they are out there. Just run ads in papers, and put up a couple of signs. You have to be willing to offer more money, and even benefits. You wouln't get them over night, but be patient they will come.

locutus
11-01-2003, 06:49 PM
Does anyone happen to know just how much more productive a solo operator could be with one motivated employee? Through a little stopwatch work and some questimation I determined that I could increase my accounts by 80% this way and it would only take a couple of those accounts to keep this guy paid. I like the math on this one.

PRO PROPERTY CARE
11-01-2003, 07:11 PM
I think as long as the owner is working with the crew.. the production is good.I hope to be just me and one employee. But if you have multiple crews , then the numbers would fall....
:dizzy:

Flex-Deck
11-01-2003, 07:13 PM
Solo all the way - wife helps some - Forget the Workman's Comp, the extra trucks, the extra mowers. Last Wed. did the following- all by myself, one mower. Took 7 hrs.
1. 5 acres - Charlie Poisels yard
2. 7 acres - JD dealership
3. 1.5 acres - open lot with steep narrow ditch
4. 1.5 acres - bank with lots of curbs and ditch
5. 3 15K yards - corner lots
6. 2 acre yard with 4 buildings, all small.
7. 1.7 acre legion yard -
8. 2 acre church yard
9. 1.5 acre yard in the country

Some of this is freeby stuff, some is charged. In your area, figure it out. Do not know what you can make where you are at.
total travel miles = 46 miles.

Why would I want to put up with the hassels of employees, insurance, trucks, trailers, mowers, and the other costs involved. I would have to mow the entire county to require and or justify another crew. Thanks Brad

the scaper
11-01-2003, 07:26 PM
Originally posted by locutus
Does anyone happen to know just how much more productive a solo operator could be with one motivated employee? Through a little stopwatch work and some questimation I determined that I could increase my accounts by 80% this way and it would only take a couple of those accounts to keep this guy paid. I like the math on this one. yea, i do. :)

the scaper
11-01-2003, 07:35 PM
Originally posted by McCarty"s
I've been in business for five (5) years. During the first two (2) years I did everything solo / part time. I had about (15) lawns. In my third year I had a part - time employee who worked under the table, we had about (20) lawns and I again only worked part time. My forth year I scaled back to (10) lawns and did everything by myself. This year I went haywire. I have (73) lawn contracts, four (4) full time employees during the season, one I will keep year round, another will stay on part - time and the other (2) went back to school. It has been a struggle this season. I have gone through at least seven (7) until I got to the four that remained with me. It's a tough business. I have found that little perks keep employees faithful like: free tank of gas, hats, t-shirts, shorts, jackets, lunch, crab feast, cash bonuses etc. These are just a few things I have done to keep things going smoothly.. thats pretty darn good! would you mind sharing with me what type of advertising you did to increase your # of accounts from 10 to 73 in one season?? thanks

mtdman
11-01-2003, 11:12 PM
I am solo. I have thought of hiring next year, dunno yet. I enjoy what I do, and would like to do lawn care and not employee management. I definitely did not get into the business to conquer the world and be the biggest lco with the most employees.

Envy Lawn Service
11-02-2003, 01:22 AM
fga,

I'm a solo operator and I intend to stay that way as long as there is any way it's possible. I have taken great pains and spent plenty of money in order to avoid the dreaded employees. It's not that I wouldn't like to have one superman employee along to help, but from past experience I know it's way to hard to find that person.

If you really want to go back to solo, my advice to you is to do it slowly. Construct a solid plan to implement over time. Transition is better than sudden change. I wouldn't want to be all alone with a Lawnboy trying to make a living next spring.

First look at where you CAN use a larger mower. Even if it's a 36" WB and sulky, you should be able to eliminate some salary/employees. That's the best place to start....the biggest mower you can use productively on your accounts. The cost is small when compaired to the cost of an employee.

Once you get to the point where you are maxed outwith equipment, then start doing some math based on what you are doing now and what you can do with less employees or solo. Here is some number plugging using $30 avg per cut per lawn....

87 x $30 = $2,610 per week

Now how much volume can you do? OK maybe less than 87. So if you increased rates by an avg of $5 per lawn, how many could you conserve? OK let's say you loose a dozen. 75 stay with you.

75 x $35 = $2,625

See what I'm getting at? Try to make the change slow and retain as much of your current earnings as possible. Take the elevator down, don't jump off the building.

o-so-n-so
11-02-2003, 09:03 AM
I am also successful doing what "scaper" does.

HOMER
11-02-2003, 11:09 AM
Me + 1 makes my life a heck of a lot easier.

Me + 2-3-4...........gives me a major headache.

Me + 1 has done as many yards in a day as me + 2-3-4

Costly mistake, live and learn. Find your niche and work it........get into uncharted waters and start sinking fast.

You can treat (1) better than you can treat (5)?

steve's lawn care
11-02-2003, 12:01 PM
Never made as much money with 4 guys as I did with one other and myself ..stuff does not break, we are faster and customers are happy. I keep in mind that the name of the business is Steve's lawn care ...it is for me to profit not these other losers who dont care!!!

Grassmechanic
11-02-2003, 12:31 PM
I am solo. I want to avoid employees and the problems they'll bring.

mrusk
11-02-2003, 12:41 PM
I am just getting started in this biz and have dreams of running 5 or more crews. I know the only way i will be able to achive this goal is if i have good workers. I plan on growing gradually, and training my workers real well.

Heck yesterday in the paper i saw a ad in the classifieds, one company was looking for 25 workers for next season and was offer 8.06 an hour. Another was looking for 15 at 8.16 an hour. You must be a big company if your looking for that many workers. Since there paying only 8 bucks an hour all they are going to get is mexicans. Its impossible to live any kind of life on 8 bucks an hour. I am going to try my best to bid my jobs so i bring in more money an hour then the other LCOs so i can pay my help good. Becuase i know with out help, i can never achive my dreams.

matt

the scaper
11-02-2003, 01:39 PM
mrusk, thats the great thing about the landscape biz and america for that matter, your only limits are the ones you set for yourself . i have a friend who has a roofing co. back in the 80's he got up to 50 workers and a bunch of trucks, i think he was doing about a mill per year but i do recall him saying that about 20% went to the lawyers to fight off lawsuits steming from careless employees. thats a nice cash flow though for those who can swing it. he's still in biz but has cut back to two small crews. i like where i'm at but am not saying i wont expand a little in different aspects of the biz. good luck!

MacLawnCo
11-02-2003, 01:45 PM
Originally posted by PRO PROPERTY CARE
But if you have multiple crews , then the numbers would fall....

Unless you invest in the Compass system.

the scaper
11-02-2003, 02:12 PM
maclawn, no offence buddy but you need to loose a little weight.

PRO PROPERTY CARE
11-02-2003, 02:31 PM
hey mac
I dont get it. whats compass system...

landscaper3
11-02-2003, 02:34 PM
We employee 5-6 in summer and 6-7 in winter plowing season.

Evan528
11-02-2003, 03:02 PM
This is the reason I only use mexicans (yes from mexico!!) on H@b work visas. Hard workers, very thankful and can not leave your company for any reason why there here.

fga
11-02-2003, 06:35 PM
Thanks again to for all your thoughts, very professional.

MacLawnCo
11-02-2003, 08:16 PM
would you please mind your own business. Check your PM box. incase you dont know how to get there, click this (http://www.lawnsite.com/usercp.php)

PRO PROPERTY CARE
11-02-2003, 09:57 PM
Hey locutus.
Mac sent me a private message explaining what he meant ...
We were exchangeing info through that system, instead of on the board...
no worries man

thanks
mike:D

the scaper
11-02-2003, 10:33 PM
wow, i'm kinda glad ya'll didnt put that on the board for me to see..... toilet monkey???

the scaper
11-02-2003, 10:35 PM
:angel: