Landscape Maintenance ?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by dallas05, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. dallas05

    dallas05 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 82

    I'M DOWN IN THE DUMPS. WE TAKE CARE OF APPROX. 120 ACCOUNTS AND A WHOLE DAY OF DOT ROADSIDE WORK EVERY 2 WEEKS. I RUN (2) TWO MAN CREWS AND I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET THEM TO GET IT TOGETHER BUT EVERYTIME THEY START TO LEARN THE ROUTES,RUN THE MOWERS ETC... SOMEBODY QUITS. I HAD A GUY OVERSEEING THEM TO HELP WITH QUALITY CONTROL,FIND A JOB ON THE ROUTE THAT SOME HOW THEY CAN'T REMEMBER WHERE THEY ARE:confused: ETC... BUT I COULD'NT KEEP HIM OFF THE PHONE AND OUT OF THE TRUCK SO TO SAY THE LEAST WE TERMINATED THAT POSITION. BASICALLY JOBS ARE GETTING SKIPPED,PATIOS NOT GETTING BLOWN OFF ETC... loosing alot of customers lately I'M TIRED OF IT. I THINK I HAVE JUST ABOUT HAD MY FILL WITH MAINTENANCE IF THINGS DON'T CHANGE SOON!!!!! NOW FINALLY WHAT I AM GETTING TO IS I ALSO HAVE A (4) man install crew that are no problem at all and install is kinda where my heart is at anyhow. has anyone gone from maint. and install just to install. was it a mistake or was it a good move i need some thoughts here. any help please thanks!
     
  2. Tim Wright

    Tim Wright LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,034

    Another plus for installs is that is it not rain or non rain dependant. That is, even if the grass is not growing, you can work.

    Tim
     
  3. B. L. Landscaping

    B. L. Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Posts: 176

    In my town there are two companys that do install only they have never had maintenance and we provide both services but same as you sick of all of the headaches of maintenance.
     
  4. dallas05

    dallas05 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 82

    i know it is a never ending headache with maint. installs usually go so smooth.
     
  5. greg1

    greg1 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 139

    If your installations are steady then i would scale back on the maintenance end. Scale back but do not cut it out. A good position to be in is to maintain what you install, your kind of developing a closer family of clients. You will always have labor problems in a labor industry so try not to sweat that part of the biz. Your having growing pains and it's time to jump on a scale.
     
  6. Need a Little Trim

    Need a Little Trim LawnSite Member
    Posts: 137

    Same here guys I just today had one grade job and sod install finished by eleven. I had two other small jobs that I used some of the leftover sod from the first job. I got all that done told the guys to go get 4 maintenance jobs done one of them decided to walk off the job because the heat was too much for him to take.
    We are effin behind two days due to heavy downpours here and this guy walks off WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, he is obviously fired and now looking for help again.
     
  7. dallas05

    dallas05 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 82

    good point! been doing some soulsearching on this and one thing is for sure is sometime this weekend my wife and i are going to type up a letter explaining to my noncontract maint. customers we are no longer doing seasonal work. give them the oppurtunity to join on a year round contract if not i will give references of companies that do seasonal maintenance but not installs(why feed your competition?). alot of companies in the area have gone that route.
     
  8. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,749

    There are a lot of maintenance companies that are very profitable. In fact, there are huge national chains. It has less to do with maintenance vs. construction and much more to do with management that makes maintenance profitable.

    Look at these big maintenance companies and see who runs them. They are not guys who started mowing at 11 and worked in the trenches. They are business guys who chose landscape maintenance as their media. They manage people and numbers.

    Most landscape companies are started by guys who worked in the trenches and often continue to do so. Gaining equipment and accounts does not change who you are. It is not going to necessarilly turn you into a business man who can manage people with ease. Instead, it often increases overhead and spreads the owner's ability to manage thinner and thinner until he is reasonably ineffective.

    Typically, the area that has the least problem is the area where the owner is present. If the owner is on the construction site, he is in fact a foreman rather than a manager. The other parts of the business do not function well in the absence of his presence. If the same owner went out with the mowing crew, chances are that the construction crew would be ineffective.

    I did the exact same thing twenty years ago. I thought it was because I could not get good help. I thought I needed more services. I kept looking for what was keeping me down while always looking outward. Joe's Landscaping has this, this, and this and he is making great money.They do that, that, and that. So, you follow Joe's business model. But guess what, you are not Joe and neither was I.

    Some guys can run multiple crews. Some guys can't. Maintenance is largely the selling of equiped labor. Profit depends on volume.Volume depends on production. Production depends on management. Good people managers thrive here and not so good ones die here.

    Landscape construction sells materials and labor in the least. It sells a product when it is a well refined business. Profit is not as dependent on managing people. Guys who are not great people managers can thrive here especially if the can get to the point where they are selling landscapes more so than materials and labor. The overhead is considerably less as well.

    It takes two distinctly different skill sets to run these two different services. A few guys have the ability to do both, but most either fit into one or the other. There is no shame in it unless you beat yourself to death by trying to continue to do what you will never be effective at.
     
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,082

    A friend of mine runs a large crew and I believe does very well. He enjoys installs and has done some very creative designs. He does however spend most of his time in the office, on the phone, in front of a computer dealing with everything he hates about business and very little doing what he likes about the business.
    Hire a secretary to handle the organisation of jobs and do the hiring and firing. She tells you whats available, then go back to work with the guys you like.
     
  10. Tim Wright

    Tim Wright LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,034

    Very well said.

    It is also very hard to transition from the field to being the manager, but sometimes this is the only way to get there if you don't have money to start as a manager.

    The money - that is to say, money for payroll, business cushion, etc.

    Tim

     

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