Need management help

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by domain311, Jun 1, 2010.

  1. domain311

    domain311 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 177

    Been in business for about 12 years-was part time for the first few years or so. The past 7-8 years we have had consistent growth of about 20-30% per year. Last year we were up almost 20% in a crappy economy. This past April was our biggest month out of any month, ever....and May's gross just beat April's by almost 25%. So long story short, I need help! :dizzy:

    Right now we have 6 guys working 80+ hours per week and 2-3 working about 40-50 hours per week. I really don't know my hours but I can tell you I am up before 5am everyday and still working on the computer when I get home in the evening. My job consists of managing my crews, scheduling, estimating, billing, contracts, customer service, etc., etc.... at this point I need another me.

    I have some help-part time (maybe 8 hours a week)-for office help, but she doesnt have much experience yet and I really havent had even a breath to show her what I need. I don't even know what I need sometimes it seems! :confused: I've been so involved in every little detail that I don't even know where to begin to show someone how we do what we do. For example, I send emails all the time for my clients for pricing on whatever it is they're requesting...sometimes we do the work based on that and sometimes we do it based on time and materials.

    Soooo, I guess my question is...where do I begin? What help should I look to hire first? Someone who can manage the crews for the day or quality control-someone to check all of our (I certainly don't do this but wish I could) accounts each week? Someone who does estimating and billing? Someone for scheduling? I don't know the answer but I do know that if I continue at the pace I've been going-on my own-I will start to lose clients as I simply cannot keep up. I do want to continue to grow as well.

    Any and all help is appreciated!
     
  2. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    I always like to delegate the job I dislike the most. That's a pretty simplistic answer though. Whatever you let go of it will have ramifications. You have to decide what you can let go of with the least impact to the company. I hate to tell you that building a stable business is hard enough when you start with a plan. When your trying to hire and implement systems both at the same time it is very difficult.

    I would probably start with field help, if your guys are really working 80 per week the overtime savings alone will provide enough cash to hire your office person which I would do next about a week later. Don't skimp here pony up the Benjamen's and get a good office manager. They will keep the cash coming in and low cash flow will be the most likely thing to kill your business.

    I know your flying by the seat of your pants here but try and be consistent with your hiring process. Ask the same questions in the same order, write answers down as all the applicants will blend together an hour after they leave, check references, and trust your gut but verify. Stay in control don't let a prospective new hire dominate the interview by asking a million questions and telling stories about their band.

    I like to start by telling them about our company, the position I am hiring for, wages advancement opportunities, and general stuff about work hours, payday etc. This way they can relax and answer your questions without getting off track. I have a check of list I go through as I interview then I have a list of questions with space to write in the short version of their answers.

    If you have never done it before it wouldn't hurt to do some role playing to be comfortable. Whatever you do don't put an add in with your cell you will never get anything done.
     
  3. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,220

    Must be a Joke post...

    1st post, working 6 guys 80 + hrs a week ?

    my friend the over time would kill ya...

    anythign over 40 is time and a half.
     
  4. domain311

    domain311 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 177


    I wish I were kidding. I have nothing to gain here by making up stories.
     
  5. big acres

    big acres LawnSite Member
    Posts: 182

    I agree with most of what AZ gardener says.

    You need to take your top foreman and create a new position of Lawn operations manager. Train him on how to route and schedule and make it his responsibility to get the crews out each day and ensure the work is done and qaulity is kept up. Hopefully the next guy on his crew can step up his game and take over as foreman. You might be able to phase him in by having him do some of this supervisory stuff while in the field. He could go out with the crews on big days or to help them catch up when behind.

    This would leave you with more time to work with your office manager to get the office running smoothly.
     
  6. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    No disrespect here big acres but I have to disagree, although it is the typical approach in our and most industries. Your best foreman is doing a great job for you and bringing in the cash so you want to break that machine up, pull him away from that and move someone up into his position... Then you have 3 people learning new positions. office person, foreman and new foreman.

    I would prefer to hire someone with management experience or even train someone new to do the supply b/s then your foreman keeps producing for you and the smooth running team keeps running smoothly.

    As owners we often jump to the conclusion that everyone is like us and wants to move up. That is not always the case in fact its more likely not the case, few people crave new responsibilities, most are content to work their day and go home and forget about it until the next day.

    I would also hire an experienced office manager that will teach you things about running the office. Lets face it what most of us know about running an office we learned by default. Are we really the ones to be training our office managers :confused:

    Just a different prospective.
     
  7. wbw

    wbw LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,424

    Dead on target AZ. As usual.
     
  8. big acres

    big acres LawnSite Member
    Posts: 182

    Great points AZ... BUT one factor you have to consider is that the new supervisory position will be viewed as higher up the ladder than the top foreman position. I don't think this company is big enough to slip in an outsider ahead of the foreman without the potential for some bitterness. Some might say "TS I'm the boss and it's my decision", but it could cost you your best man.

    If the foreman is worth his salt and has truly been working on behalf of the company, I wouldn't blame him. Other than the owner, who else would be better to oversee overall quality and efficiency than the top producer, who, in between getting the crews out and in, can float between crews to train, check quality, help when behind, etc...?

    Regarding the office manager, you are right. We have an awesome manager and she has done wonders for us with her experience... though we have 40+ employees. I have to wonder if the OP is simply looking for data entry, basic invoicing, and phone work so that with his newly created extra time he can run more numbers himself, do more sale, etc...?

    Just my take on this size company... I do not own a company however, but I have been through the growing pains.

    PS. Just reread your post and that you considered that he wouldn't want to move up. I think it's good for moral if all employees see a couple guys move up. If he doesn't want it, then you could consider another qualified employee or going outside.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
  9. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,806

    So useing national average per man rates, your invoicing over 42,000 a month thats not even includeing your 2 part timers, presuming you have no excessive business debt or equipment payments you should be able to higher anyone to do anything you want them to do. this is quiet simple, Identify (exactly what is preventing you) from doing what you need to be doing and either move a guy up or higher someone to do that task simple when you really think of it.

    The reason some have questioned the seriousness of your post is the fact your paying 80 hours at time in a half to six guys. I am tempted to comment on that but Their are no polite words to describe that. why are you doing this? how do you justify that type of bleeding.
     
  10. domain311

    domain311 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 177

    Well-its simply been so much growth so fast that I got caught. I do not have enough trucks to even have 12 guys right now for 40 hours instead of 6 guys for 80. Thats one problem. To put things into perspective in early March I was worried about hiring the 4th guys back too early-I thought we might not need 4 guys full time, early on in March, only 3. Now here I am not getting it done in time with 9.

    I came to this board for a reason-I need help, advice, guidance...whatever you want to call it. I have the work, I just need to get everything straight still to get it done efficiently while keeping quality top notch.

    Its also so up and down in this business sometimes. Once mid July comes it slows down a lot for us usually-so I only have about 6 more weeks of sweating and then its usually a cake walk from there. If there is one thing I hate its hiring all this extra help to only let them go a few months later-in my opinion its best to keep the same guys as long as possible-I think most would agree.
     

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