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Last Activity:
Mar 14, 2016
Nov 7, 2009
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Kitchener, ON

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LawnSite Senior Member, from Kitchener, ON

360ci was last seen:
Mar 14, 2016
    1. 360ci
      Hey there! I'm not sure why but I just got the notification email tonight for this!

      As for hiring staff, I look at it as need. If I was too busy, say 8-9 hours a day constantly running with a 5minute lunch, I'd considering hiring. To keep things simpler, look at it this way. If you work 65 hours a week, 6 days a week then I'd find someone to hire. For me, I'd break it down like this:

      Keep in mind, as the owner you have to work even when your SICK. If I averaged say 65 residential lots a week and 10 additional properties every two weeks (large residential, light commercial such as apartment complexes and the like) I could work that myself. Most of my residential lots can be cut and trimmed in half hour or less. The largest one takes an hour, and obviously they pay me more for it. For six months straight that'll net around $65K depending on lot sizes and based on working prices of $1/min for your time worked. At least that's what I charge. My average residential runs $25-40 depending on the lot size for around $1/min. Based on that I'm able to pay my brother $15.hr because he increases my productivity. With two mowers, I'll cut the smaller area of lawn and them trim by the time he's done cutting the larger part of the lawn. He cuts my time by 30-40% that I have to work. i still charge the same but I can do 40% more in an hour.

      Most of my clients are literally a 2-4 minute drive apart so traveling time and expense is minimal. We can cut 5-6 residential lots in two hours. So (average) $28x6 = $168/2 = $84/hr gross. Minus $15/hr for my brother, equipment at $4/hr, vehicle and trailer at $0.50/km including wear & tear, so about 20km = $10. So before taxes and after expenses I gross on average $55/hr. Minus taxes, insurance, CPP, EI payments it works out to about $40/hr which is great for just cutting grass.

      I also do other jobs such as tree trimming, light renovation work such as faucet installs, light fixture/fan installs and other odd jobs that pop up. This is an added bonus as I charge $1/min plus whatever operating costs I incur on other equipment. Such as my chainsaw, sawzall, circular saw, etc. I charge for wear and tear but I keep it reasonable.

      However, if all you do are lawns, and that's all you want an employee to do then you'll have to hire for the growing season and advertise the position as a seasonal job. If you start the season on say May 15th and end on Oct 15th that would be enough for them to get unemployment as long as they work X amount of hours (you'll have to get the specs on the government websites). For students, it's a bit harder. This is the problem I'm faced with as my brother is still in high school. So from the end of June until the end of August I'll put him through his paces, but I have to remember that I can't overbook for services as I might cut an 8 hour day down to five hours during the summer season that he has no school, but if I increase OUR day to an 8 hour day I'll be looking at a 10 hour day once he's back in school.

      Remember to protect yourself first and foremost. There are a lot of bad employees out there and it's not always easy to spot them. My brother lives two blocks away at home still, so it's a win-win-win situation for me as it's someone I can trust with my machines, I know where he lives and that he is legal to work in Canada (SIN#, etc), and if he does give me problems I can beat him up. You have to keep in mind that you'll have to train ANY one you hire.

      Even if they have experience, you'll still have to go over starting, stopping and any other safety precaution you can think of on all your machines. This is only so if they do get injured, even pinch or break a finger, they can't blame it on you for not being safe. Most students aren't the smartest, but if you can find one that at least seems trustworthy, dependable and is eager to work for decent money then hire him.

      I overpay my brother only because I believe strongly in operating profit. If I do well, and he helps me succeed I don't mind paying him top dollar. If he ever said "no" he doesn't want to work for me, then I'd have to find someone else and re-train them on everything. During the spring and fall cleanups, I'll hire a couple of his friends for cash under the table. I'll still take their SIN number for insurance purposes and to keep on file should I decide to hire them for more work in the future.

      For myself and my brother it costs roughly $1100/yr for insurance. It's cheap assurance in a sense that if the lawnmower goes over a pile of rocks and flings them through a $3000 patio door, or scrapes the side of a vehicle, I don't have to pay for it out of pocket! WSIB is also fairly cost effective for the both of us. Yes, I cover myself only because if I get injured cutting lawns, I won't be able to go to my day job and WSIB will cover the expenses until I recover. The premium is around $2 for every $100 I pay out in labour. If I pay myself $200 a day, it'll cost me $4 for workmans compensation.

      In your case, you have to find a level in which you can no longer tolerate so much work. Then you need to hire someone when it gets to that point or stop taking on customers before you find yourself stressed to the max - and you will burn out fast once you reach that point.

      It's mostly a judgment call on your part. You have to decide if you're overworking yourself enough to justify some more free time. Either way, for the hours spent to what you pay out, you'll profit just as good, if not better than if not having an employee. If no one could profit from hiring, every business owner would be working for, and with, themselves. If I worked on my own I'd more than likely only see $30-35/hr after overhead costs versus the $50-55 I'd see if my brother helped out as he cuts my operating time in half. I don't pay his friends what I pay him, as they were mostly hired for manual labour in the spring and summer (planting, raking). I didn't need to train them on most of my equipment but I still gave them $11.50 each (cash), and of course I profited more by doing so.

      Going back to the first bit in my super-long note here, I could easily handle 65 residential clients a week plus 15 bi-weekly clients with larger lots. In any given week that's 72 lawns. Average out 45min a lawn (overstated) that works out to 54 hours/week - MAX. I estimate a gross income of $65K. If you hired someone you could add another 35% in clients so say 100 lawns for 75 hours a week solo, or 40 hours a week with an employee. That's $4500 a week. Employee pay (example) $15x40 = $600 OR 12x40 = $480. That leaves $3900-25% for taxes $2925 - insurance $25, WSIB - $90, maintenance fuel $200 = $2610 approximate take home for the WEEK. 2610 x 25weeks = $65250. Of course, if you both worked 50 hours this would increase another $8-9K.

      Keep in mind that employees WILL call in sick, and sometimes other things arise such as funerals, weddings, etc that you'll have to try to plan around. I think 40 hours a week for both is a good start for you.

      During the off-season, you can also consider winter maintenance. A few smaller (light commercial) parking areas can easily net $800-1200 a month on contract for the season and renegotiate every summer. $1200x4 or $800x6 = $4800. As it's only you employed you can also deceit the WSIB and only pay half of your worked hours, as there's no way to properly verify your time plowing snow unless you decide to keep a log just for when you plow & salt, but don't note any exact times when you arrived to when you left. So if you worked say 25 hours one week, for 100 hours that month but really you worked 150 hours, you can still state you worked 97 hours or something if you catch my drift. It's easier to get around things working on your own. But anywho, that's a whole different ball game if you're not careful.

      Right now I don't do much in regard to snow maintenance. I have a client who keeps a blower on site (dental office). So far we haven't had any snow up here. Only a dusting a couple times a week. As this client is a minute away from where I work, I charge $25/hr as I have NO overhead, I don't pay for the blower, fuel, or even a shovel as it's owner owned and kept on site. It's my only client this year but I'll probably go full time with my business this fall as I've been getting a LOT of requests for various services that I'm currently not equipped for.

      I charge hourly for residential clients. My rate is still $60/hr if I used my own equipment. It takes longer to drive to a location in the winter. Again, the client I mentioned above is rather reasonable and I still average $150-250 a month depending on snow fall/ice, etc. The business only operates two days a week, but there are other residential tenants that live there as well (HUGE old converted house), so I keep an eye on the weather network and if it's suppose to snow overnight, I'll get up an hour earlier than normal and shovel/blow first, then head into work as I don't really have a start time (lazy job).

    2. oneshot
      I don't think it worked so here it is again.

      Hey 360 good to hear from you and thanks for the input. Like I mentioned before it's nice to talk to a local. Well sort of local, I am in the niagara region. Let me give you a little history. I started out part time as well with a little toy truck pulling a 4x6 homemade that bounced even on freshly paved streets. I dragged around an old 21" snapper self propelled with no drive belt. Damn thing weighed a ton. Anyway had about 8-10 regulars at first and I really liked it.

      So the following year I quit work went at it full time, upgraded gear even advertised. bumped the trailer to a 6x10 grabbed a 36"walkbehind and a couple another 21'. Well to make a long story short I am now at year 6 and finally got my dream set up:

      7.5 x 14 open with side gate and beaver tail trailer, walker 26mtefi, 36 walk behind ferris hydro cut, 2 toro prolines one with blade brake clutch, echo 755 backpack blower, 2 srm 235 echo trimmers, echo blow and vac handheld blower, and echo hedgetrimmer. All towed behind a sweet gmc1500 with beefed up suspension with a 6.5 ' easy dump hydraulic. No more hauling that grass out the back. Man sorry to ramble but I only dreamed and drooled about a set up like this in year 2 when I knew I really wanted to go for it.

      So now it's year 6 I have 65 contracts and 5 per cuts, all residential offering full service(no fert) and I think I hit a solo operator wall. It seems like it's time to hire but alot of questions come with it. For instance,
      how much more revenue does a worker have to bring in to justify expense of hiring?
      How do you hire and train a guy on choice properties were my only competitive edge is quality of service, and not have him butcher it?

      If you take on the additional work to justify the worker and he srcews up or just screws off how do you handle the added work load?

      Can you just can someone for not working out and at what length of time does it become a layoff situation?

      I am wondering with the lawn biz have you always only relied on you bro or did you have other employees. I always herd stay away from hiring family or friends that they don't work. Hey here's a question for you do you think with you and 1 helper,your company full time could net 75k. or is that a little unrealistic. Any opinion on any of this would be great I have already learned so much from this forum and will probably continue for a long time I hope.

      I also do resi's for the snow as well just with a blower are you getting hit with anything major up that way with totals I haven't been out once this season. It doesn't really matter because it's all contract paid up front. So snow or no snow monies in the bank. Do you do snow and how are you set up truck plow or none. anyway thanks again for the info and have a good one

    3. oneshot
      hey 360 oneshot here I am just writing to see if you got a reply to your message. the reason I ask is my inbox shows i have no sent items. hope you got it.
    4. oneshot
      Hey 360 just wanted to drop a line and say hello. My company operates out fo southern ontario as well and it's nice too here a canadian perspective on things. Makes more sense when discussing tax issues, EI and GST and probably HST soon. I am 5 years in the biz solo looking to hire for next season and would appreciate any info you have on the matter. pros/cons.
      take it easy eh!
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  • About

    Kitchener, ON
    Services Your Company Provides:
    • Lawn Mowing
    • Landscape Maintenance
    • Snow Removal & Ice Management
    • Tree Services
    Part-time lawncare business



    2011 RAM Quad Cab 4x4 HEMI

    Various walk behind mowers, trimmers, and misc equipment.