I think I may go back to being solo.

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by exmarkking, Jun 30, 2013.

  1. Efficiency

    Efficiency LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 6
    Posts: 1,536

    not sure what I have to add to this other than YOU have to be comfortable with YOUR decision. I had a new guy ask me on friday if it was always like this. Not understanding what "this was" I asked for more. He said the revolving door of new employees. Unfortunately, the answer is yes. To find guys who want to do this, yes, you will go through a lot of chaf. Had a new guy we invested a LOT into training just walk off the job on Wed. Week before, a new guy left within 5 minutes of showing up and hasnt been seen since.

    Ill admit, hiring and training employees is my last frontier - and probably a huge wildcard for most in this industry. However, even not knowing what Im doing, I have managed to find 3 great new employees this year (went trough many to find those).

    This all goes back to what your plan and goals are. We have very aggressive 5 year goals and to reach those, we will need 20+ more employees. If you simply want to provide a great living for yourself and family, thats great too. But, if you want a regional footprint, the employee decision has already been made. The hassle is worth it though. Net worth has grown ~225k this year, get to take 4 weeks away in season, and a handsome salary. Doesnt make it easier though.
     
  2. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,984

    I turned 59 this spring. Good health. Though I do not know how many more years I will be able to do this work.

    As to making a good living solo I think if my schedule was filled I would gross about $1,300 to $1,900 a week. $1,900 a week during the mowing season.

    $33,800 to $49,400 mowing, plus fall and spring clean ups, plus snow which can never be counted on. So maybe another $10,000 a year.

    $44,000 to $60,000 would make me happy though it would not make me feel rich.

    If I had the business I could make more but I do not want to work 60 hours a week.

     
  3. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,355

    Efficiency,

    Approximately how many employees do you need to cycle through before you find a good worker...?
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  4. Efficiency

    Efficiency LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 6
    Posts: 1,536

    you might get to keep one good one out of the best 3 or 4 that start after you interview (out of 15-20 that apply).
    Our plan next spring is to start twice as many guys as we project needing and watch them fall away.
     
  5. vegandude

    vegandude LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 450

    I do not have the patience nor the time to have an employee. Me and my wife have decided that we stay solo. As I get older I am starting to transition into high end shrub trimming and want to learn about natural landscaping. If you aren't prone to sickness or injury, you shouldn't have any problems. One big thing to think about is, what do I want to be doing five years from now.
     
  6. wildstarblazer

    wildstarblazer LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 982

    I have done this. Had 3 guys the one ton truck 16 ft trailer all the equipment and all the headaches and nothing left for me at the end of the week. Am solo now making better money for myself. Could have hung in and been doing better in time but I didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Re read all these posts cause there are good nuggets about the pros and cons of each side of the story.
     
  7. seabee24

    seabee24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 619

    You might find that just going out with the crew everyday seems to work. At the moment I'm contemplating the same senecio. I'm not making anything, the production is low and the quality is low. We normally run a 3 man crew. What I have been doing is bring all 3 guys with me. I run the mower, they do all the rest. If someone doesn't show up, it's not a big deal since we have 4 guys on the crew, which was designed for 3
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  8. seabee24

    seabee24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 619

    I feel like a lot of guys make the same mistakes I did. You get to a point where you become busy. You end up with a full crew and at some point you trust 1 of those persons to run the crew and you step away because your busy with other things. That person left in charge doesn't provide the same results as when you were there.
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  9. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,355

    Okay is it safe to say that finding good employees for this type of work is more difficult than in other industries such as: retail, food service, industrial labor and manufacturing? The work is often seasonal and in some areas doesn't promote long term career advancement etc. So is it safe to say this is part of the reason...?

    Seriously....I entertain thoughts of going back to working as an aircraft mechanic [hate working nights sleeping during the day] or even getting a job working for the rail road. The later is probably better pay and benefits.


    Regardless it seems having and managing employees in a business that is so seasonal and pushed around by the weather doesn't really make it an appealing long-term career thus will not attract the best and brightest of the work force. Sadly this spills over to owner/operators in image to some degree. My own dad a former retired educator with a very high intellect believes deep down inside that the industry is best left for those blessed with less intellect. In other words, "this industry is a waste of my talents".

    My take is a family run type of operation [maintenance not extensive installations] is where it's at. Enough man power so the load is shared instead of all on a single person such as in my own situation where my son and wife really don't want anything to do with it...except spend my $.

    Regardless ....I'm still left with the long term goals that seem to be set by the book "E-myth Revisited" ...that the long term goal is to sell a biz, cash out and move on. This biz is a service industry. It is not Intel, Microsoft or Buck Knives.

    I guess I'm looking for optimism here for staying in the biz long term and not viewing this as a job where survival depends on staying small or getting really big which requires stellar people management skills.

    In my area I don't see the quality in the larger more well known full service Companies. I see pricing that is lowish, catering to what the clients wants [not what's best for the grass].

    Again I'm looking for some long term stick with this industry optimism.

    Truthfully working in the aerospace industry in research and development field along side engineers would of been the best fit for me. Make it faster, better and stronger. Cutting edge development far and away from the drudgery of the mundane. :)


    Yeah my aerators pull more plugs in a single pass, my clients lawns I'm in complete control of absolutely rock...but for some reason I always look for greener grass.
    :waving:
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    Last edited: Jul 3, 2013
  10. wildstarblazer

    wildstarblazer LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 982

    Couldn't have said it better myself. I feel the same way. If I had a plan B, I would be using it now.
     

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