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I want to expand, add a crew, but can I???

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by thefed, May 18, 2007.

  1. thefed

    thefed LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 350

    Here's the deal... A friend and I started up this year...he has a lot of landscaping experience, and im experienced in starting up several service based businesses, all of which are now self sufficient and/or sold.

    So the 2 of us do everything. We signed 35 accounts to start the season, and maybe 20 -25 mulch jobs,clean-ups, etc. We really fell behind on the extras once mowing started, so I subbed a few of them out.

    We mow 3 days/week...full days...and the rest are available for rain and extras. We are down to 4 or 5 extra jobs that need completed...and we'll be down to an 'easy' 3 day week...until fall.

    We advertised HARD for only 2-3 weeks,then really slacked off while we spent 8 hrs/day on estimates and getting everything ready for the season. All I have out now is a small newspaper ad. IF we finished our advertising plan the way it was designed, I think we could have added 20-25 more accounts. So, I expect we can add maybe 50 accounts next year if we try.

    What would be the best way to add some help? Do we fill the mowing schedule and find 2 guys to mow 5 days/week? OR do we mow, and have some helpers do the extras...mulch,cleanups,powerwashing etc? The downfall in this case, would be ensuring they have enough extras to stay busy...and i dont see that happening all summer long... spring YES, fall YES, summer....not so much.

    Another option would be to hire 2 guys...start them off mulching/extras in early spring...and keep them busy until all the work is DONE, which i suspect could be by this time next year. Then switch them over to a full mowing route, and my partner and I spend our time advertising, advertising, advertising, and supervising.

    Sorry for the rambling...but im lookign for any and all advice for this situation...im sure lot of you have been here before.

    YES, i am sure i want take on the hassles of a crew...staying small isnt an option...i dont want a job, i want a BUSINESS.

  2. howardsells2000

    howardsells2000 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 355

    From my short time doing this, I discovered hiring someone is harder than you might think. I was thinking of hiring a guy or two to cut lawns for me. I have hired one guy and getting him to show up is the hard part. After this experience it has made me rethink my plan. Since you have experience with starting several service based businesses you might already have some experience with this problem. Then the next thing that worries me is that I would have to send these two guys out with my truck and equipment and hope they safely do what they are supposed to do. I'm sure it can be done. Lots of guys on this site do it. I just got a little discuraged. If you get enough work all you need are the right employees and let them go.
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    yu need to hire a route manager at a good wage or on commision from work completed. train him now for 6-8 weeks and he can then train the next guy to run with him.

    go to a 3 man cre next year and expect more from 3 man than 2. once maxed out and on overtime, go to 2, 2 man crews. then max out, add crew, max, split, so on. etc.

    you could do some splits once you get bigger, 1 2man crew runs the truck and equipment from 6 am( commercial in the early hours) to 1pm, then new 2 man crew gets equipment and truck from 1pm to 8pm. maybe another 2 man crew works 12 hours sat and sunday on same truck. it is a great way to get the most revenue out of one truck and equipment.

    seriously consider a used boxvan with ramp and nice graphics. they will last you 20-25 years/250-350,000 miles if you buy new. the dodge sprinter diesel is the most efficient out there right now. if diesel hits 5 bucks a gallong in 5 years it will pay for itself. look at UPS and FEDEX- they are already switching over. they know. plus you can run that rig 16 hours per day 7 days a week. .
  4. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,834

    One of the 2 guys needs to be the lead guy, you can't fight a war if the entire army is a sargent.

    get insurence a 1 million liability binder is about 5 to 600 per year in my area. get workmans comp, contact your auto insurer and get the scoop on what they need from you so the guy for hire that is being paid to drive your truck is coverd. do not pay under the table, hire 1 guy at a time. in my area landscapeing partners with euqule footing and investment don't work very well for many many reasons, you guys would stand a better chance if either of you defers to the other. their work needs to be checked and inspected often for a minamum of a month or 2 or your reputation can be destroyed before you even know a client is not happy.
    OHHH and do not hire a highschool kid to be the lead guy hire someone with motivation and maturity, a go getter, someone production minded someone that can show confidence when dealing with your customers. I also want to repete the suggestion for one of you guys defering to the other to avoid labor conflict. every one says OH it will never happen to us, but just wait. it often does.
    Please no flames, I do realise their are many ecceptions to this
  5. Mark in MD

    Mark in MD LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 322

    Make any crew leaders sign a non-compete agreement before you hire them. It should say something to the effect that they cannot steal your customers or compete for jobs in your neighborhoods (e.g. zip codes) for a period of two years or so after their employment with you ends.

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