New business direction/How to save money by spending it

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Barkleymut, Feb 4, 2003.

  1. Barkleymut

    Barkleymut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,117

    In 2002 I had a good year. I have a good friend who helped me for much of the season. I paid him around $12,000 for his work. However I realized how much time I was wasting picking him up (he was always 5-10 minutes late), and then stopping for a Gatorade, and then stopping for lunch. I figure around 45 to 60 minutes per day. And even though he has a college degree, he doesn't care about the work that he does as much as me. Therefore I always had to check up on his work and sometimes had to go and do a little cleanup behind him. About 15 minutes per day.

    Also I keep all of my equipment at a storage unit. Every morning I have to load up my 16ft open trailer and every night I have to unload. This takes about 40 minutes per day. It takes about 45 minutes at the end of a 100 degree day since I am dog tired.

    Every 10 days I mow a huge, weed filled industrial complex that takes me about 12 hours by myself. The next morning I have to clean my Dixie thoroughly and change the blades, etc. This takes about 2 hours.

    So this year I have purchased a 24ft enclosed trailer and am going to buy a new ZTR so I will avoid many of these hours. I also plan to not use any help. My purchases will total about the amount that I would pay my employee for one year. Figure that my equipment should last much longer than the one year and I will make out great as long as I can sustain the same workload. Just some thoughts for some of you guys who are reaching the limits of the solo business and want to increase your bottom line. Any comments are welcome.
  2. ksland

    ksland LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 927

    All your ideas sound good, but why not keep your worker also? Utilize the 2 mowers better that way, keep them cutting. You got to expect little issues here and there with help, and don't expect them to care about the work as much as you do because it won't happen.
  3. DLS1

    DLS1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,619

    Sounds like your a perfectionist and being a little hard on the guy if your talking about a stop for gatorade and lunch. Do you get on him for bathroom breaks. I doubt it since you need bathroom breaks. If you ever want to be happy with employees you need to lighten up or you will never keep anyone for long.
  4. Albemarle Lawn

    Albemarle Lawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,544


    Clearly you have a strong work ethic.

    I agree with ksland that you have to accept issues with your workers.

    In my opinion, lunch is acceptable. You may not normally afford yourself lunch, or just eat behind the windshield. But an employee may want a break and be more efficient and put out better quality work with a reasonable (45 min) lunch.

    In my opinion, 5-10 minutes late is not acceptable. No call-no show is termination. Gatorade STOPS (vehicle stops) are not necessarily needed (bring cooler). Taking a break on site (not stopping vehicle) for water is ok, and essential. Vehicle stops for cigarettes, snacks, etc. are not acceptable- come prepared. Snack breaks to eat/smoke cigs or snacks that are in possession should be allowed, just don't smoke in front of customers. Poor quality work is obviously not acceptable.

    Have a sit down. Give him lunch, and sort out the issues. Be firm.

    Look at service businesses: Hotels, restaurants, etc. They would be crippled without help. It is too much (and too risky) to do it all yourself. What if you get a broken ankle?


    Obviously equipment is more reliable than people. Do you pay cash? Dont answer that publicly! If you are handing your friend cash, then you can't deduct it. You can, however, deduct new purchases. There is a new tax law that lets you depreciate anything bought after 9/10/01 that is a 5-year asset at 30% the first year and still retain your section 179 MACRS deduction of up to $24,000. So buy buy buy, unless you don't need the deduction. Do it right and you'll pay $0 taxes and still have extra cash.

  5. IBGreen

    IBGreen LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 726

    Also get a flex-deck for you're DC. How do you like you're trailer? Which brand is it?
  6. MOOSE

    MOOSE LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 393

    I hear ya on wasting time with employees. I did the same thing. But I also had to wake him up, loan him $, let him use my cell phone. Then he pulled a few noshows. Oh I was in jail or he didn't make it home. Well after the 4th time I didn't pick him up and he called and I told him I can't do it anymore. Employers don't pick you up or even wake you up.

    Needless to say I need a employee, so I have one that now drives to my house and is on time. Work gets done too. He uses my cell phone but I don't mind since he comes in on time and to my house.

    Sometimes you have to think which would be better, getting rid of employee or running bigger & better equipment.

    Barklymut u made a good decision.
  7. PaulJ

    PaulJ LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,776

    I think this is the only profession where an employer will provide, a wake up call, transportation to and /or from work, refreshments, allows repeated no-shows, provide cell phones for personal use, provide vehicles for personal use, and the boss usually works harder than many of the employees.

    My former boss did it. That's one of the reasons I quit. I got tired of picking up the slack for the deadbeat employees.

    Is there any other fields that treat there workers like this?
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    You mean other than government work? Because most all government jobs I've ever been at allowed most all of the things you mentioned. And that accounts for a good 25% of the US workforce.

    Many other jobs I've been at have also provided refreshments, cell phones, pagers, co. vehicles, etc. - especially for those in a supervisory position.

    But some of those things you mentioned I don't think are very common for any industry - including ours. Things like repeated no-shows, wake-up call, transportation to and from work, etc. I don't know of any LCOs on lawnsite or otherwise who do these things. And if they do, they are the minority.
  9. wojo23323

    wojo23323 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 608

    I pick up my only employee in the morning because he is on the way, however I do not start paying him until we get to the jobsite. His time stops after our last job is done. Works out well for both of us.
  10. Barkleymut

    Barkleymut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,117

    Albemarle- I am totally legit, I pay him with a check and I match the SStax plus all the other taxes:cry: I am fully aware of all new IRS tax stuff. Thanks for the comment on a good work ethic, but my wife thinks I am a workaholic X 5. Working 70 hours a week is normal right??? I just know how I feel after a full day with him and I want to pull all my hair out if things aren't done perfect, I know I should lighten up but its just not in my nature.

    IBGreen- I have actually considered a Flex-Deck. Do you own one? I feel it would cut down on my trimming around ponds, tight areas. Any comments? Also my trailer is a 24ft. Haulmark. I like it right now because all it does is hold my equipment. We'll see once I have to drive it every day.

    Moose- I think I made a logical decision, thanks for your vote of confidence.

    JimLewis- Don't get me started on the average American worker, especially govt employees.

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