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Old 11-26-2014, 09:07 PM
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CrystalCreek CrystalCreek is offline
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How often do you check up on your crews

Well title says it all. As I am hoping to get out of the truck next year some time and move into an office/manager/lead roll, I am wondering what you guys do? I mean besides all the boss duties and running around, how much time do you spend checking up? Is it a quick drive by after they are done, or do you stop and walk the job? Do you check on every job? Do you appoint someone responsible like a crew foreman? I am very picky and letting go of the controls is going to be hard. Not doing the work will also be very hard. Let me here what you guys do.

Thanks in advance!
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Tentatively speaking, kinda... I think... And maybe, thou I sure hope so, sure would be nice.
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Old 11-26-2014, 09:48 PM
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CNYScapes CNYScapes is offline
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that is one of those things that I always tell myself I am going to do but it rarely gets done. It is definitely an important part of being the boss. I am always too busy chasing down new estimates.

I wont say Ive never done it but it is usually only if Im already in the area I will stop by some jobs the maintenance crews have done. It should really be a regular thing.

Checking on the jobs is going to be something I put more emphasis on in the future. At least I plan on it!!!
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Old 11-26-2014, 11:46 PM
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93Chevy 93Chevy is offline
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Hard to provide a decent answer to that question, at least for me. Might be a different perspective though, to the question, as I am an employee and not an owner.

Maybe to shed some insight, our crews check in with our manager 1-2 times daily. Phone call at noon, phone call at 4pm. Sometimes only once, if it makes sense. Doesn't make sense to check in twice when I'm doing landscaping maintenance. "Hey, I'm pulling weeds and pruning." "Almost done pulling weeds and pruning."

I think maybe the better question is how much do you trust your crews and how often do you NEED to be on site? If you have good guys that you trust to do the job right, communicate with them at least once a day, but don't overwhelm them with micromanagement. Drive out to meet them on site 1-2 times a week at most. Good crew leaders don't need you watch over them, but will appreciate if you bring them lunch on a Friday, show up to check a difficult job and give guidance, or help them with problems they don't have a lot of experience with.

Personally, for me....when I'm doing a construction project, I'll check in typically twice daily. I rarely need my manager to stop on site, but sometimes I do, mostly with difficult drainage solutions or huge plantings. When doing maintenance, I will check in once a day to discuss scheduling. I never get checked on when I do landscape maintenance and I appreciate the autonomy. My manager trusts me to do my job correctly, and I show my appreciation by doing my job correctly.

Hope this helped...probably not a whole lot though. Basically, my point is that if you hire guys you trust, you don't NEED to check up on them, and when you do, show appreciation for them doing a good job. If you don't trust you guys and they do bad work when unsupervised, then either can them or spend all your energy babysitting.

Good crew leaders will appreciate when you don't check up on them...but look forward to seeing you because there's either a compliment or a cheap incentive like lunch. Bad crew leaders dread seeing the boss because their bad work will be known.
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Old 11-27-2014, 09:18 AM
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Classic Cuts Lawn Service Classic Cuts Lawn Service is offline
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I'm in total agreement with 93 Chevy. As an employee, I expect a certain degree of autonomy. My attitude is almost exactly the same as his. You hire people you can trust to do good work so you don't have to micromanage and continuously check up on them. Some days where you know they are doing a difficult job is one thing, something I would appreciate. But if I'm just out doing a mowing route with a crew and my boss comes checking up and micromanaging, it slows us down and we lose our momentum once we get in our zone.
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Old 11-27-2014, 10:46 AM
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chrisvinky chrisvinky is offline
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I moved off the mowing crew this year and spent 2 days in the office or out giving estimates. The hardest thing is letting go. It was very frustrating at some points when they called me for simple stuff. I am and have been trying to get them to be problem solvers. To think for theirself. Easy to say...hard to do. My guys were doing pretty good by the end of the season if it was just mowing or maintenance. Hopefully we can build on that next year.
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Old 11-27-2014, 11:02 AM
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Tanum Tanum is offline
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All my crew leaders are provided with company smart phone. They have to send back daily reports of each site visited via email to include before and after photos. I have gps trackers on the trucks so I know where each crew is at a given time. All the crew leaders have access to the customer data sheet which is stored on a dropbox file. Each customer's site is broken down into a 3x3 grid on a map, each box is numbered. For instance; Oil Co B1 (then date). As I know from the gps I can call a crew and ask for photos for Box 1, 4 & 9. I don't call them up on every site but it means that they cant be taking short cuts and skipping stuff. I also make it my business to call to the sites 'before' the crew get there, inspect them and meet with the customers.

You have to meet the customers, also switch the crews around every few weeks. Same trucks but different crew manning them.
Once my company hit three full time crews I had to step back and work on the company, not in it.
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Old 11-27-2014, 11:07 AM
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chrisvinky chrisvinky is offline
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Tanum, are you doing this on residential properties or commercial? Sounds like a lot of work and extra time on the crew leaders part if you're doing very many properties per daym
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Old 11-27-2014, 11:10 AM
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Tanum Tanum is offline
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So true

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Originally Posted by chrisvinky View Post
I moved off the mowing crew this year and spent 2 days in the office or out giving estimates. The hardest thing is letting go. It was very frustrating at some points when they called me for simple stuff. I am and have been trying to get them to be problem solvers. To think for theirself. Easy to say...hard to do. My guys were doing pretty good by the end of the season if it was just mowing or maintenance. Hopefully we can build on that next year.
Indeed, sometimes I cant believe some of the questions either. That said I shouldn't be surprised as I 'was' so hands on, I made all the decisions. It is so hard to let go, but since i stopped working in the gardens and started working on the building the company turnover has gone up. Thus far for 2014 we are up 70% from last year. Have five crews, 3 for maintenance, 1 landscaping and 1 clean-ups and tree surgery.
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Old 11-27-2014, 11:57 AM
SSantor SSantor is offline
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The toughest part of the business for me is letting go of some of the control. I am hands on and want everything done perfect. I am involved in every aspect of the operation. I have really good trust worthy employees and I treat them well with respect and pay. We operate as teams. My question to you guys with crews is when did you make the decision to get up to three crews and why did you make it. What adjustments have you made as an owner and has it increased the finanicial bottom line to your business. The reason I asked that last question is because some companies I've known have grown and they took home less money then staying smaller and working in the business. Any more input on crews would be great. I like this post.
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Old 11-27-2014, 01:17 PM
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Tanum Tanum is offline
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Hi SSantor

I thought about down sizing in 2010 but I am so glad I didn't. First in May 2013 I really hurt my back and in January this year broke my ankle. If I had down sized I would be out of business now. If I didn't grow the business it would be just a job. While off with the broken ankle I drew up a plan, thus far it is working out. With a business plan and work system you can grow, if you don't have a business plan I would advise you to take time and draw one up. Otherwise you are risking making uninformed decisions which could cost you. We are planning to expand next year into other fields. My aim is to have a business not just a job.
I cant do everything; I was at serious risk of having a breakdown or heart attack. I don't work the hours I used to 6am to 6pm minimum plus weekends. I was totally burnt out from burning the candle at both ends for far too long. The worst was the guilt and thinking wtf do I do now? I have a job description and I am just doing the management. Not management, receptionist, crew leader, book keeper, Mr fix everything and general dogsbody. For me its for quality of life and for the first time in years I have taken 2 x 2 week holidays plus taking a week off at Christmas.
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