I've lost my mind but I think I'll try it

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    Next year I think I will buy three more F-150's and change everything to one man crews.

    The one man crew is so perfect. People will go out of their way to compliment the work of a one man crew. People are MUCH more likely to complain about the work of a three man crew. I am certain of this.

    Keeping a one man crew busy is so easy. If there is no work for a one-man crew...door hangers. When there are three of them, it is a baby-sitting chore to have all three of them do door hangers. They are just more likely to screw off when they're in groups. The attitudes of the one-man crews are much better too. Keeping work available for multi-man crews is a real PITA and is often impossible. Plus, if there is a little extra drive time or a break down with a one man crew it is not the end of the world.

    The thing that really bothers me is, with a three-man crew, the ONLY way to make it work is to have someone working for me who earns poverty level pay. I hate it. It makes me sick. I can barely afford to do it at the prices I am able to charge and the crew helpers are busting their butts all day in the heat for absolute crap pay. Turnover at this position is one head-ache after another for me and for what they are earning they would be better off stealing and taking their chances of going to jail. Literally. I am just glad they haven't figured it out yet. At least in jail they wouldn't have to work all day and they'd probably have less-cramped living conditions. It might actually be a better life.

    With one-man crews, and the efficiencies of the one man crew, I can pay one guy a great wage, about $150/day, and I simply won't have churn. He will earn a decent living. Customers will be happier. I will deal with far fewer complaints. But my return on capital investment won't be nearly as good. That is the only draw back to the one man crew. I don't make as much per year on the same $$ of investment. But you know what? I really don't think I care. At least I'll know that everyone who is working for me is earning fair pay. And I won't have the head-aches associated with churn at the crew member position. And my complaints will be nearly non-existent as compared with muli-man crews.

    I think I will do it and see how it goes.

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  2. Howie's Lawn Care

    Howie's Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 512

    What's wrong with two man crews? If they pass out door hangers, they each get their side of the street.
     
  3. dmc456

    dmc456 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 383

    2 men crews are the most effiicient. The only problem is when old people complain not of quality but the speed.

    They compain that cutting a lawn in 10 min for $30 seems a little high, but they don't want to pay more if we go slower either.
     
  4. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    2-man crews are not solving the issues of schit pay for the helper and churn associated with that schit pay.

    Call me crazy, but I am 95% certain I will go to this structure next season. I am thinking I will have 5 one-man mowing crews along with a one-man shrub & application crew.

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  5. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    I've just run through the back of the envelope numbers and I think it makes sense with six crews. I will not get rich but I will be able to make a living without returning to corporate america and everyone who works for me will be able to earn an acceptable living.

    The big question mark is repairs. I am budgeting $17,000 per year for repairs on 6 F-150's, my Nissan Frontier, 5 enclosed trailers and all the equipment associated with these things. I think that ought to cover it but there are no guarantees. That is the number I hope I can stay under and not make any repairs myself.

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  6. MTR

    MTR LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 1,280

    One man crew must have the right mower and equipment to finish job in decent time frame. One man crew with a walk and one man crew with a Z will produce very different volume of business, don't forget he has to mow, trim, edge, and blow...and if "hedging" ( most labor intensive without alternative ) comes in on that day, he is stuck for longer time cause there is no extra men to help out. Don't forget that.
     
  7. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,496

    Complete non-efficiency. There is a simple formula...two guys can do it in LESS than half the time. It just works out that way. There have been studies, and there have been trials with guys even on this site. 2 man is THEE most efficient use of manpower.
     
  8. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,112

    Why don't you try one man and two man crews and see what best works for you.With a two man crew hey $78.00 a day per man is nothing to sneeze at anyway.You would cut down your turnovers and still make some $$.But investing in all those trucks to drive one man crews around
    might be cost prohibitive AND one man "crew"s tend to turn into new one man operations,they say to themselves
    "Hey why aren't I doing this and making all the $ for myself?""I'm making better money now all I need is to get a loan and buy some equipment and I could do this"!
    And their off.......and running
     
  9. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    Sheshovel,

    The thought of "hey, I could do this myself" is a risk with any worker.

    Last fall when my back went out, I told my helper that I would probably go get a job and he could take over my accounts and pay me something for my equipment over the course of time. He did not like that idea at all. He wanted me to stay in the business. I don't understand it. I guess these guys who speak very little english would rather have a job than have to talk to customers. I struggle with getting them to knock on doors. The gate is locked, the customer is home and they drive off without mowing the back lawn. The customer sends me an e-mail...I was home...why don't they knock? I just can't very easily get them to talk to my customers. They resist.

    $78 per day is not my idea of a good job for anyone. $150 per day is something I will feel good about. My one man crews are making that now and I am confident they will not leave me for another opportunity. Obviously, at $78 per day, I wouldn't be able to say that.

    I am just sick and tired of dealing with the churn at the secondary positions. I guess you could say I am willing to take a major pay cut to not have to deal with it. Even when the secondary people quit it is a real PITA. They are almost just as important as the driver...just not quite as important. I need a dependable employee for the secondary position and at $20-$25 per cut on most lawns I can't figure out how to make it work.

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  10. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    Runner,

    I have found the complete opposite to be true. I have found that a one-man crew is much more efficient than a two man crew and two is more efficient than three.

    Basically, I have found that two men can mow about 6 lawns more than one man in a long day. Adding the third crew member is another 4 or so.

    So basically, you go from one-man at 17 lawns per day to two men at 23 lawns per day to three men at 27 lawns per day. After factoring in the head-ache factor, I think I would rather have one-man making really good money than two or three men (with two or three times as many head-aches) all making schit money.

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     

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