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Jun 15, 2016
Jan 18, 2008
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LawnSite Member, from Niagara falls, Ontario

oneshot was last seen:
Jun 15, 2016
    1. Wiedmann
      Hey! seen you talked some on here about some direct mailings and door hangers you did. I was wondering how many you normally send out/hand out and how many calls you get from them? I'm thinking of doing some direct mailings and door hangers this spring to grow my business.
    2. oneshot
      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. 360ci

      I've been operating part time for the near part of a decade. I started with mostly local (near my house at the time) residential accounts. School became too much then so I didn't advertise until the last few years. Each spring I'll post one advert online and I'll easily get 3-5 seasonal customers. My brother helps me out quite a bit, and has been bugging me for more work during the summer as he's out of school.

      HST will have it's complications, guaranteed. I owned and operated a couple gas stations for Pioneer Petroleums for just under seven years. I wanted my social life back and just do odd jobs now, but I get enough lawn work referrals that at times, I'm far busier than what I'd like to be. Still, I can't complain about the exercise I get versus spending what, $80? a month for a good gym membership!

      As for hiring staff, it didn't take me long to become a good judge of character. I can learn a lot about a person in the first fifteen seconds of them sitting down, and starting to answer questions. Demeanor, attitude, etc. I've hired over 100 staff over the years, and fired very few. Mostly for things beyond my own control as a business owner - such as drug possession and use in the workplace.

      It's hard to even think about giving hiring advice. All I can say is that if you feel comfortable with them talking to you, and they seem eager and have at least some work references, they should be easy to train, and get along with down the road.

      Before the smoking by-law came into effect (I don't smoke by the way), I'd narrow down applicants a bit by creating 2-4 piles of different types of candidates. I'd start the interview with something along the line of asking them to make themselves feel like home, and to smoke if they want. If they light up right away, it can generally mean they're irritable, or they're very nervous depending on their persona at the time. It ultimately comes down to you being able to trust that person; not to get injured, not to complain to customers or swear on a regular basis when working on yards, not to have a habit of coming in late or calling in shift.

      Work history on their resume can help verify this claim, and I always say that references aren't necessary. Because you can't get a reference to come in for an interview as well. In the office, or room, it's just the candidate and you, and that's really all that matters. If someone made it a point at the end of the interview, or they hounded me even during the interview to check out their references, I more than likely won't, especially if the candidates eyes are wide open and he/she seems anxious to do something. Like, leave the interview for example and allow his/her references to talk to me, instead of the candidate better explaining himself. I don't like how people purposely push me to do more work when they're RIGHT THERE in front of me to begin with. Not saying it'd be a bad move if you're unsure about someone.

      Privacy is also a big issue now. You can ask for their SIN number, but only if you decide to hire them. If you just plan to do background checks, references are the real only way to verify someones claim. I have friends at the local cop shop, which helped when I was interested in hiring someone for my gas station, as they have to be bondable, safe with cash and inventory while they work by themselves. I would run a candidates SIN though my friend at the station, and if there were any problems, he'd let me know within a day or so. With the privacy act in place, this is no longer an option, which makes an employers job more difficult.

      If I had to hire outside staff for lawn work, I'd ask for a criminal records check ($30 at the police station). Obviously they have to go and get it done, and pay for it. Even if they were arrested for disturbing the peace, it would show up on there. I wouldn't discourage someone who does have a minor record in applying for a lawn job. Only because the offences in question likely won't relate to anything I need them for on the job. A lot of people with records are usually hesitant to hand you a sheet with convictions on it, even if it's minor. If they seem OK in character, and I judge them to be of good morals even with a minor record offense or two, I'd consider hiring them only if I didn't interview someone that would have fit the job better.

      I don't believe very strongly in equal opportunity employment either. I'll hire who I think will do the job the best. Unlike the local police, who are told to hire women, which all they do is sit in the cruiser and call for a male backup. Our tax dollars at work.... Not to say I'm biased, but a lot of people today are in the wrong job market. My brother is good at what I ask of him, and I do pay him properly for the work. I know I could more than likely find a harder worker for the same money, but all told, it's not worth the time, money and aggravation of hiring someone new. Chances are, they'll only work for one season and find a different job next year, so you'll have to spend more money to advertise, hire and train someone new all over again.

      Anyway, I think this message is going to give me a memory error so I'll stop it there, lol.

      Where about in Ontario might you be?
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    Niagara falls, Ontario
    Services Your Company Provides:
    • Lawn Mowing
    • Landscape Maintenance
    • Snow Removal & Ice Management
    skate and snowboard/pickn an grinning