Growing a company...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Lawn-Scapes, Jun 5, 2004.

  1. Lawn-Scapes

    Lawn-Scapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,810

    I would like to expand next season.

    I have read many posts on here about LCOs going from many men back to being solo... saying you have less headaches & higher profit, etc...

    What was the deciding factor for you to go back to solo? Why did you fail as a multi person operation?

    I am maxed out as far as work and revenue as a solo operator. The dollars just aren't enough for me... so I need to move forward.

    I am currently working just the residential market. I would need to pick up a boat load more residential to even think about hiring a helper. So I think I need to go after large commercial accounts... Is this logical thinking? For you large residential only companies... how did you manage the transition from solo to multi-men?

    I would like some direction from all of you that have either failed or succeeded with multi crew operations. What are some tips and the dos and don'ts?

    Thanks
     
  2. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,372

    I didn't fail as an employer, I just got absolutely fed up with the employees not showing up, not finishing their routes each day, then complaining because they weren't off by noon on Fridays, etc.

    As for you reaching your max revenue, there's never a "max". You'll need to raise your rates. If you raise your rates 10%, you can drop 10% of your work, roughly. I know there's other deciding factors in those figures, but there's a point to be made here.

    I realize that many people say they can't raise their rates because they'll lose work. I used to be that way. I then went around to all my clients and said, next year I'm going to raise your monthly price by $10. That's $2.50 / week. I didn't lose 1 customer.

    $10 x 40 accounts at the time x 6 months for the year was an extra $2400 at the end of the year.

    That was 5 years ago. Next year everyone gets raised by $25 / month, and I still don't anticipate losing any accounts.

    I work 80-90 hours / week. If I had 1 guy working, I'd still be working 50-55 hours / week, plus losing approx. $750 / week ($15 x 50 hours) to an employee. You can't just cut the time in half, because there's going to be drive time where you're paying the employee to sit in the truck, or when you gotta run to the shop to get some parts, or ... yada yada yada.

    There's a bunch of threads on here why some of us went back to being solo. So a search and you'll see them.

    Just remember, the grass isn't always greener on the other side, unless you're standing on my neighbor's yard. :)
     
  3. Littleriver1

    Littleriver1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 811

    Think about an increase in your rates for service. May be you need to test your market a little to see what it will tolerate. Wouldn't it be nice to increase your margins by 1/3 without an increase in expenses? As you get more bids raise your rates to new accounts. As you increase in higher margin accounts, if low margin accounts will not let you increase their rates then drop them. If you’re maxed out on time then hire 1 part time person to help you 2 days a week. After you have enough customers to pay for him and making a profit add on to his hours, or hire another part timer for 2 different days. Move slowly and take baby steps. There are a lot of banks out there that want you to use their money but don't, pay as you go. If something goes wrong then you can back out without getting hurt too much. If you visualize your self with 10, 3 man crews mowing half the state of Maryland then that’s what you should expect. If you feel you’ve maxed out then so be it. If you want more money then you have 2 options. Cut expenses or turn more dollars
    Bill
     
  4. Trevors Lawn Care

    Trevors Lawn Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,180

    I would say that you failed as an employer. If you cant keep someone working for you for 50 hours a week at $15 per hour something is wrong with you my friend. My guy gets $10/hr and all he does is weedeat and blow. No problems with him not showing up. You have to have something in common with your employees. I would not go out and hire a 38 year old shop rat, because it would be SOO boring for both of us. Your productivity will sky rocket with the right employee. Ours has increased by nearly 80% with adding on "my mexican." At the same time quality has gone down maybe 2-3%..Nothing noticable to a homeowner or anything to complain about.

    Take your time finding the right employee...Preferrably one with no past experience so he will do things your way and only your way, and not say "well we used to do it this way at "So-n-So Mow"

    Trevor
     
  5. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,372

    Trevor -

    I could go on and on about the problems I had as an employer, but I've listed them before.

    I guess I just got tired of the headaches that come with being an employer.
     
  6. Trevors Lawn Care

    Trevors Lawn Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,180

    One thing i didnt add. We are still fresh into the cutting season of 04 so we havnt made it far yet at all.. I did not mean to sound like "he will never not show up"...he is only human, and i call in to my day job...everyone does. Being so fresh into this business i am sure i havnt even hit the tip of the iceberg yet with employees or any other situations

    trevor
     
  7. LawnsRUsInc.

    LawnsRUsInc. LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 916

    I personally myself went from me and my buddy at the age of 16 my truck a 5x10 and a scag he trimmed i cut. We were young so we worked as much as we could. It was about 20 hrs a week. Then when i had like 3 days of lawns i hired 2 guys to drive and do the jobs for me while i did sales to fill the other 3 days, i started that at the age 17-18. That got more jobs coming in becasue i was focusing on one thing and one thing only SALES. After my first year of them doing that i went from 3 days to six days of lawns. And also landscaping jobs so we were able to hire employees to take care of that aspect of our business. The thing that i dont do that some of you guys on here say is that you hire people that have never cut grass before and train them. How do you have time for that? I have done that and some of them dont work out and then you have to fire them or loose accounts. With the mexicans here they are worse than some of the white guys, they ***** to much if they dont get thier 70-80 hrs a week they are unhappy and they want premium hourly pay. And if $hit hits the fan they pretend they dont under stand you in spanish or english. I always think of it as do i want to be doing all of this work by myself forever what happens if i get hurt or cant work. What are you going to fall back on.

    Jason
     
  8. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,781

    I hire a few seaonal guys - mostly high school / college age. There looking for something to fill there gap of time and yet be able to get a tan and not work the butts off for the local concrete crew. There ok, but after Friday, I could say the heck with them all. Not trimming good, be it trimmer or push mower under trees/bushes. Complaining that it is getting hot outside and on and on.

    I just get tired! I have a guy help me every sat. He was an old employee of mine until 2 years ago I had a slow winter, where both married, he went and got a office job being there head Networking guro. He likes it but any chance he has he is with me. If I could afford to pay him what his compnay does, I would hire him back. He is the type of guy that just knows whats going on and see's things to do b/f we even get to that point.

    For some of you guys telling others that they failed at being an employer - I would think twice of calling someone a failure!

    Every aarea, twon, city, metro are different. Prices for services, locations of businesses, competitors etc. all play a vitial role in one guys operation.

    We can run hard, run hours, and get stuff done. Were in the position to create what we want or would like to be. We don't always need help. The local contractor who does this and that, he needs a guy. But when I am badysitting all day it is hard once in awhile to justify all that help.
     
  9. GreenTurf

    GreenTurf LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 41

    Just hire some mexicans
     
  10. steve225

    steve225 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 123

    I have been in business 23 yrs . I used to send guys out and go fishing a couple days a week. Than the helpers started to change. Not wanting to work ect. I can't find help anymore and some friends have gone to working solo. I have one good guy
    ( I'm lucky) and when he is gone I don't know what I'll do.
    The only thing I can see that works is go through an agency and get some Mexicans. One out of ten that send crews out and are successful have them. Americans don't want to work that hard anymore ,especially if it isn't there own business.
    I know I'm not a failure, just a little burned out. You hire Americans and see how many years you last. Most guys last 5-8 years on average.

    Botton line if you want to get big get Mexicans.

    PS If it weren't for the people on this board how successful would you be? I know I would pay thousands for the info you just got for free. Be grateful this board is here.

    Steve Snider
     

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