Need help with a situation

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by exmarkking, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. exmarkking

    exmarkking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,012

    Hey guys,
    Thanks for viewing. I have got myself into a growth situation and need some help to keep this business moving. I feel defeated and like I need to rethink how to run this business.

    First things first let me tell you more about my setup.

    I have roughly 62 accounts which are weekly small/medium residential
    A handful of bi-weekly residentials
    A few small commercials

    I use gopher for all the billing/scheduling/pricing/estimating

    I have one guy that helps me

    Every one of these accounts pay for or require different services. its a scheduling/billing nightmare. Im working so much that when I get home Im to tired to even catch up on phone calls/emails ect. When its time to bill, its all messed up because i didnt keep on top of it or I lost the piece of paper with important info on it ect. Basically there is no consistancy which is starting to hurt me. I have had a couple of customers cancel due to reliability/billing issues. So the million dollar question is how to straighten this out. Will the list below be possible solutions to these problems and save this business?

    I feel like I need more man power. Maybe I should hire someone to take my place in the truck and I can start running the business and keep on top of all the billing/phone calls/emails ect..

    Risk losing customers by switching everyone to a fixed price/service schedule

    I need to figure out the exact cost of running the business. I can look at bank statements and see how much of this or how much of that I spent in a month but I really couldnt tell you honestly.

    It has gotten to the point where im not able to do as I say or be somewhere when Im suppose to be there. I dont know if its a personal problem within myself, or if this business wasnt setup properly to begin with to handle this many customers.

    Any ideas or changes I should make? Im trying to fix this before it destroys what Ive worked so hard to build up.
    Im sure Ive left out important info so ask questions if need be

    thanks
     
  2. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,420

    Check out the PLANET Website "landcarenetwork.org"

    They have courses that will help you get better organized

    If you hire and train another employee, will you need a second truck as well?

    You will have to be a working supervisor, salesman, office manager, equipment repair technician.

    Try to get enough sleep. Good Luck.
     
  3. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,659

    Yes! I learned as you did how things can get out of control, What I had to do was stop taking on new customers for short periods of time so I could get what I had, taken care of and then reorganize and regroup, it does no good to have a bunch of customers that you can't service, sounds like your ready for a second crew, I have 40 accounts with a full time and a part time helper and sometimes we get backed up so I can't imagine 62 with only two guys, of course it all depends how they are laid out. I would recommend rethinking your business model, IE: We are setup as a year round full service lawncare and landscaping company, I have a network of subs for anything that we run into that we can't handle,IE bobcat work, tree work ,fertilization and weed control even though we are licensened it takes that much work off of us. I currently use QB Online for all our estimating and billing seems to work for now anyway. I don't believe in fixed pricing as every property is different, but I do have a min in place basically $200/month and try to price like properties as close as possible. As long as you know your cost this shouldn't be a problem. I found it much easier to price everybody on a monthly year round basis and I will only take on year round customers, no weekly, bi weekly just for a season crap to deal with, try it! It will make your life so much easier!
     
  4. Ben Bowen

    Ben Bowen LawnSite Bronze Member
    from PNW
    Posts: 1,058

    I think you have gotten some good advice here. Kudos to you for asking for help.

    I agree with a couple of the thoughts expressed above:

    1- choose the type of service you want to offer and then stick to it. I too only take weekly customers on a year round basis. Don't worry about losing some customers.

    2- decide what you want to do. Mow or manage and sell? There is no wrong answer, but you now know you can't do it all.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  5. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,734

    The part that sticks out to me most when I read your post is that you "....didnt keep on top of it or I lost the piece of paper with important info on it ect. Basically there is no consistancy which is starting to hurt me..."

    I think I'm close to being in the same boat as you are. But I focus on staying EXTREMELY organized. It takes time, no doubt. And I have help on the accounting end- but I still have to estimate, invoice, prep FOR the accounting and reconcile all receipts and invoices for materials, etc... And work in the field everyday. It takes dedicated organization everyday (clipboards, truck organizers, updated "to do" lists on the computer, getting records and notes onto the office desk everyday!)

    My issue, as I think yours is, is deciding when to get OUT of the field and into the office to work "on" the biz and not "in" it. That happens with more labor, more equipment to keep those additional guys working, and so on.

    Not too familiar with Gopher, but my Quickbooks really helps with customer lists, estimates, and invoicing. We don't have it set up to track any real money, but I can easily keep up with payments and "pending" monthly invoicing, as well as one-time jobs (of which we do a lot)
     
  6. exmarkking

    exmarkking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,012

    So far you guys have some greats ideas and I'm thankful for your input. Could y'all explain further about forms you may have made to get things more organized? For instance, a little while back I created a new customer packet, I staple them together and put them in a folder to carry with me in my truck. When I go to an estimate I bring one with me to the door. I greet the customer and as we discuss the property I can go through the packet with them. It has our company policies, our service schedule for the year, a form for them to fill out(address, phone,email) and a page with the maintenance agreement with a spot to fill in the price for them to sign. They get a copy and so do I. That way when I get back to the office I have all the info I need to set them up in the system and our policy is when they sign up we put them on the schedule the following week. That way is doesn't mess up the schedule for the remaining of the week. To get an idea of how other companies operate on a daily basis, do you guys care to share your procedures, forms you use to gather info and keep organized, basic order of operations?
     
  7. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,923

    I have daily routes printed out and then attached together as a weekly schedual. I have a time in/time out with a seperate space to list any extras or notes for that week. At night I can then take that and enter it into my invoicing system. I was like you at one time but noticed how much money I was missing out on and got organized.
     
  8. exmarkking

    exmarkking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,012

    Also,
    I'm so mad at myself because with my scheduling software, it has a place to fill out start and finish times on each property for maintenance, and I have never used it. That would have been so valuable in pricing and knowing how long we were on a property. Guess I will def bevfillingball this info out next season
     
  9. exmarkking

    exmarkking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,012

    Exactly! I think I need to cut out any extra steps because that increases the chance of a mistake and takes more time. Now this will only work with the maintenance side of the business, but that's where all the trouble is. I might just switch to all maintenance next season because in my area it seems people aren't spending the money on installs or any of the extra services anyways. I want to only focus on maintenance but have to have a system in place first to handle anything more than what I have now
     
  10. krzys555

    krzys555 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 109

    try service autopilot.
    i really recommend it over gopher.
    it does cost ou money every month and does take a little while to set up all your clients/ services.

    you can print out your schedule for the day or week.
    if you dont track the time on each jib when you get home all you do is check the jobs done and press complete.

    it gives you the invoices automatically at the end of the month.

    give it a try as it will really save you time and help organize you
     

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