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View Full Version : Crew size???


stexasrookie
10-16-2004, 05:51 PM
I am extremely new to lawn maintenance, although ran a tree trimming business for some family for the past two years. My question is how does one justify running a four man crew when you can only expect to see $30 or so from the yard. I work in a smaller city of around 75k people and stay pretty busy, but when you have to pay your guys 10 minutes between each job at atleast $6 an hour thats only $6 an hour in profit. I know you can get jobs done faster in theory, but how do you justify the drive time or work around it? Any help is appreciated.

mow2nd
10-16-2004, 06:19 PM
2 guys can mow 3 yards an hour x 8 hour day = 24 yards. Now figure how much you will profit

Turfdude
10-16-2004, 08:49 PM
For $30 laws, crew size shoulkd only be 2 guys. Unless your lawns exceed 1/2 acre w/ multiple lawns at a stop, there is no need for larger than a 2 man crew.

bushtrimmer
10-16-2004, 08:56 PM
4 guys work great for 10 acres or more and for commercial properties as long as you have a crew cab

JustMowIt
10-16-2004, 09:15 PM
I am extremely new to lawn maintenance, although ran a tree trimming business for some family for the past two years. My question is how does one justify running a four man crew when you can only expect to see $30 or so from the yard. I work in a smaller city of around 75k people and stay pretty busy, but when you have to pay your guys 10 minutes between each job at atleast $6 an hour thats only $6 an hour in profit. I know you can get jobs done faster in theory, but how do you justify the drive time or work around it? Any help is appreciated.

We have found 3 guys can do 35 to 40 yards in our market, which is also the best leverage of truck & fuel. Right now, we are using 2 guys on about 4 of our trucks doing 26 per day just because many customers are going bi-weekly with the season ending or quiting early & our driver wants to finish the season in 4 more weeks. Our routes are tight, & they usually spend 8 to 14 min. per yard.

out4now
10-16-2004, 09:37 PM
I see different set ups all the time. Just really depends on how much there is to do on any particular account and how far apart they are. On most residentials there are only two per truck. HOA's and apartments usually 3-4 in a crew cab. One guy's set up comes to mind, he has a crew to cut grass every week and a crew that does nothing but bushes, seeding, fertilizing etc. Guess that works well for him.

LB Landscaping
10-16-2004, 10:20 PM
For my area/customers I have found 2 is the most profitable. Its nice to have a third (2 mowing 1 trimming/blowing) but for us the time savings isn't significant enough. If I get backed up due to rain then I'll add a 3rd if needed but generally run 2.

Freshcut Lawn Care
10-17-2004, 12:05 PM
For Lawn Care, we generally use a 2 man crew.

We find a 3rd person helps, but usually ends up waiting for the other workers. When this hapens, I have the 3rd person pull weeds from flower beds to make the property (and our work look even better)!

Generally, we find anything more than a 2 man crew for basic lawn care a waste of time and resources. They should be doing something to add value to your work, however!

For Spring & Fall Clean ups we generally use 3 to 6 workers depending on the job and size of property. The additional workers are used for the Spring and Fall (only) and are generally friend's of my workers looking for some additional income.

Everyone stays busy, until the work is completed! :rolleyes:

impactlandscaping
10-17-2004, 12:44 PM
Same here... with mower advancements in size and hp, 3 men would be a waste around here. Our largest property is 3 acres, and it really has never warranted a third guy. All other services: installs, ponds, hardscapes, etc, I use myself and two men.Hydroseeding is usually just me and my brother unless it hasn't been prepped...sometimes, I seed by myself on prepped lots, and put them out on other maint. jobs. It just depends on your client base and size of properties as to setting a crew size..just remember sometimes"too many cooks spoil the pot"...LOL :dizzy:

stexasrookie
10-17-2004, 02:26 PM
Thanks a lot guys, I was thinking of running a two man crew this next season. This past year I was by myself for the most part and was curious how other LCOs were doing things. I cant seem to understand a 4 man crew on 10k square foot residentials, but see several doing it. I'll se how 2 works and might go to three. By the way, how many lawns should a solo crew be able to tackle in a day with say 5 minutes drive time between each & 10 hour day.

stexasrookie
10-17-2004, 02:30 PM
By the way equipment for the above question is a 36" scag & 21" commercial toro with echo hand tools

impactlandscaping
10-17-2004, 11:53 PM
Here's another interesting tidbit...about 16 years ago, I worked for a guy here in town doing lawns. There were 6 of us, in two trucks, all with 21" LawnBoy homeowner mowers. We would follow the other crew, get out, and 4 would mow, 1 trim -sometimes 2-3-, and 1 guy blowing behind everyone.I just ran into him the other day, and he's still in business...he must have figured something out , but now it's just him and a helper(equipment advancements!)

RICHIE K
10-18-2004, 06:24 AM
WE ALWAYS USE A 2 MAN CREW




RICHIE K

www.kulakandcompany.com :blob3:

Five Diamond Lawns
10-18-2004, 09:11 AM
I run 2 man crews but don't seem to get as much work out of them as most of you. I get 15 lawns in 8 hours. All residential the routes are not that tight but not bad, they use to use a 36" walk-behinds and a 21" but found with the small res. lawns 2 21"s work just as well. any thoughts?

Az Gardener
08-11-2006, 07:43 AM
I have been pondering crew size and did a search and revived this old thread. The one thing I have not seen discussed is The cost to outfit another crew and ongoing added expenses.
Additional foreman =higher hourly wage average
Additional vehicle trailer and equipment
More exposure to liability due to more vehicles on the road
Additional space needed to store vehicle/equipment
Higher fuel costs Insurance costs Vehicle maintenance Licensing


I ran two crews last year one three man one two man It was a struggle. Went to a 5-man crew this year the bottom line is much better this year. Problem solved right, no, quality is down with the larger crew. This is unacceptable in my market.

I don't really expect anyone out there to solve the problem just wanted to throw it up and see what sticks so to speak and bring the costs up as they have not been discussed in the past.

rodfather
08-11-2006, 04:16 PM
I run 2, 3-man crews since our residential props run anything from 1 - 12 acres...there is no 3rd man standing around waiting ever for the others I can tell you.

befnme
08-11-2006, 05:18 PM
it all depends on the props. i have 3 including myself and we can only do 8 to 10 per day because of the sizes of them.

Jpocket
08-11-2006, 05:35 PM
Thanks a lot guys, I was thinking of running a two man crew this next season. This past year I was by myself for the most part and was curious how other LCOs were doing things. I cant seem to understand a 4 man crew on 10k square foot residentials, but see several doing it. I'll se how 2 works and might go to three. By the way, how many lawns should a solo crew be able to tackle in a day with say 5 minutes drive time between each & 10 hour day.

Alot of guys like myself do all sorts of size properties on the same days, so on the few smaller lawns you;ll have more labor than you need. On any given day we could leave a 4 acre commercial property or Estate, and then go right around the corner to a 10k property where we charge $27.00. Now it would be differnt for someone who has 2 or more crews. I only have one.

Az Gardener
08-12-2006, 09:49 AM
I run 2, 3-man crews since our residential props run anything from 1 - 12 acres...there is no 3rd man standing around waiting ever for the others I can tell you.

It seems from your past posts you seem to do more financial analysis than most. What say you about the other expenses-vs-labor expense issue? I concede the fact that There is higher % of wasted labor with the larger crew but is it so great as to offset the additional costs of putting another crew on the road?

I estimate about 32,000 to put another crew on the road, to say nothing of the ongoing expenses. Thats a lot of extra hours, at even 14 $ per hour. By my calculations thats over 6 years full time year around work for two men. By that time all that equipment will need to be replaced again.

Please someone prove my math wrong so I feel a little better about putting another crew on the road, because I know I need to for quality reasons.

naturescape
08-12-2006, 10:23 AM
I find one of the BIGGEST jokes is having more than 2 guys working on a small property. It's not even SAFE. How many times this year have I seen one guy working a trimmer while another worker is about 5 feet away? WAY too many times! IDIOTS!

Az Gardener
08-12-2006, 10:36 AM
Lets try and keep it to a $$ and cents discussion because I have already conceded that a smaller crew is preferable.

It would also be preferable to have a military unit doing the work, all English speaking, clean cut, etc. That followed directions to a tee without deciding they had a better way, but thats not profitable either.

The question is... is a smaller crew more profitable?
I don't think so unless you are doing the Just Mow it thing.

naturescape
08-12-2006, 11:00 AM
Lets try and keep it to a $$ and cents discussion because I have already conceded that a smaller crew is preferable.

It would also be preferable to have a military unit doing the work, all English speaking, clean cut, etc. That followed directions to a tee without deciding they had a better way, but thats not profitable either.

The question is... is a smaller crew more profitable?
I don't think so unless you are doing the Just Mow it thing.

Well, that's one reason I brought up safety. You can't say it's profitable when you get sued for a million dollars and lose. LOL

nobagger
08-12-2006, 11:11 AM
I ran 2 guys for the most part this year. While we were trainning a couple of new guys we used three, me and the original employee and one of the new guys. I would never run a three man crew with the places we have. With two guys we finish up about the same time and I'm not loosing money by standing around. But some companies and areas warrant 3 plus guys just due to the sizes of properties.

rodfather
08-12-2006, 12:18 PM
It seems from your past posts you seem to do more financial analysis than most. What say you about the other expenses-vs-labor expense issue? I concede the fact that There is higher % of wasted labor with the larger crew but is it so great as to offset the additional costs of putting another crew on the road?

I estimate about 32,000 to put another crew on the road, to say nothing of the ongoing expenses. Thats a lot of extra hours, at even 14 $ per hour. By my calculations thats over 6 years full time year around work for two men. By that time all that equipment will need to be replaced again.

Please someone prove my math wrong so I feel a little better about putting another crew on the road, because I know I need to for quality reasons.

32K IMO is cheap. I'll use one of my crew's setup as an example.

F-350 PSD pulling an enclosed. 25 grand right there (and that's used replacement cost) for the truck and trailer. Inside, 2 big Z's and 1 big WB (new) running about 28 grand as well. 3 trimmers, a stick edger, and 2 8000 Redmax bp's, 2500 bucks. Spare tires, toolbox with almost every tool needed to do any repairs in the field is gonna add at least another grand to the total. Total is over 55K.

I need a minimum of $400 in revenue per man per day. In an 8 hour shift, each guys costs me $140 - $180 a day in labor ($17.50 an hour workers, $22.50 an hour foremen) plus an additional 11% employer matching payroll tax is another 15 bucks or so plus WC ($4.14 per 100 of payroll).

I already know my operating expenses based upon fuel consumption (trucks and mowers), depreciaton expense, replacement cost, etc., on a spreadsheet. I also know that I will average 5.5 - 5.75 hours each day of billable time. I know what all my other expenses fixed including variable based upon past history and future projection through QuickBooks. As in any business, it's a number's game. If you don't know your numbers right off the top of your head, you will fail...period. And I have told that to countless LS members here that seek my financial advice in pm's and emails...also in person as well.

Lastly yes, I crunch numbers all the time and have the aid of free CPA help by my younger brother. After 13 full time years, I hope I know what I am doing. :clapping:

rodfather
08-12-2006, 12:37 PM
Alot of guys like myself do all sorts of size properties on the same days, so on the few smaller lawns you;ll have more labor than you need. On any given day we could leave a 4 acre commercial property or Estate, and then go right around the corner to a 10k property where we charge $27.00. Now it would be differnt for someone who has 2 or more crews. I only have one.

I route all our work according to man hours needed to do the job...square footage means absolutely nothing to me when it comes to mowing...fert, aerating, etc., yes. This minimizes inefficiencies like what you are describing J. And by doing so, I know precisely what equiment to send to get the job done in the quickest way while maintaining and assuring quality control.

Az Gardener
08-12-2006, 01:03 PM
Rod, I think you only proved my point further. We don't cut that much turf here so my mower cost would only be about 5-K for 2 reels and 2-21" rotaries. With a 2-3 man crew I could get by with a smaller trailer and single cab truck. So 32-35 K would be fine, but even using my numbers your hourly costs are going to be much more running 2-3 man crews than a 5 man crew.

My labor costs are less here too and I get 6,5 hrs production in a 8 hr day but we have gone to 10 hr days and that has increased the production %. In a 10 hour day I am getting 8.5 hours of production per man with the 5-man crew.

On paper a smaller crew will look better when you are looking at hours and labor costs an a per crew basis. When you figure all the costs in and look at the company as a whole the company with 3-5 man crews will make more after all the bills are paid than a company with 5-3 man crews.

As far as safety goes workman's comp and weekly safety meetings would likely negate any lawsuit.

rodfather
08-12-2006, 03:57 PM
Rod, I think you only proved my point further. We don't cut that much turf here so my mower cost would only be about 5-K for 2 reels and 2-21" rotaries. With a 2-3 man crew I could get by with a smaller trailer and single cab truck. So 32-35 K would be fine, but even using my numbers your hourly costs are going to be much more running 2-3 man crews than a 5 man crew.

My labor costs are less here too and I get 6,5 hrs production in a 8 hr day but we have gone to 10 hr days and that has increased the production %. In a 10 hour day I am getting 8.5 hours of production per man with the 5-man crew.

On paper a smaller crew will look better when you are looking at hours and labor costs an a per crew basis. When you figure all the costs in and look at the company as a whole the company with 3-5 man crews will make more after all the bills are paid than a company with 5-3 man crews.

As far as safety goes workman's comp and weekly safety meetings would likely negate any lawsuit.

I agree with your points. My marketplace (and I guess along with everyone else's) dictates your optimum size mowing crew and equipment size/mix.

One thing that I failed to mention earlier is I feel there is a real production advantage to having a 3 or more man crew than just 2. If 1 person (for what ever reason) isn't pulling all his weight, 2 other people can make up for the difference better than just 1.

And I feel there is a phychological factor here as well. You pull up to a huge place (say like one of our 10 or 12 acre estates), 2 guys are gonna feel like they are taking a slow boat to China. Now with 3 (or more), it's a completely different story.

I'll stick with my 3 man crews. I've been doing it for a couple of years now and my people like the 3 man type over the 2.

lawnprosteveo
08-12-2006, 10:30 PM
I have worked with a crew of two and I have worked solo...what I see as the advantages for having a crew are not being as tired at the end of the day, mowing more properties in the same or less time, and the biggest advantage...you can take on larger/higher paying properties with a crew and get them done quickly whereas mowing solo, it would take you all day or you might pass on them.