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# of accounts vs. quality of service

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by klsgc, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. klsgc

    klsgc LawnSite Member
    Posts: 236

    So I have a situation. We have 4 trucks plus me and have added a truck to our fert division each year for the last 4 years. I see no reason why we can't keep doing that for the next 10 years if we really want. I don't think I really want that. Right now, I feel that we can really do a good job with our accounts, and give really prompt and expert service. We have really great techs, and it shows. Could we hire 10 more really great techs? I'm not sure, but I kind of doubt it. We need to make a big jump this year to fill out our 4th truck but I am kind of leaning toward not advertising next year and just start raising prices and weeding out customers I don't want and just stay the same size. I am not convinced we can have the same quality of service with 15 techs as we can with 4-5. We have really been working hard in the past few years on our systems and automating everything possible and making standard procedures for everything so we can treat our customers as consistently as possible and not let anything fall through the cracks. I am sure if we kept growing, our cancellation rate would increase as well. We were at 11.7% last year and it has steadily been going down the past few years. I think we can get to single didgets - right now we have been growing fast and end up picking up customers that we know are not "keepers" and that artificially inflates our cancellation rate. Does anyone have any input on this? Are there companies out there with 10-15 techs with good cancellation rates? good employees? few problems? Examples please.
     
  2. Monroe74

    Monroe74 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 322

    I'm interested in this as well subscribed
     
  3. The Turf Guys

    The Turf Guys LawnSite Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 135

    I'm just a small fish but I hear horror stories from a couple of the big players in my area. One told me at a seminar this winter that his goal is to always staff 13 techs even though he only needs 10 because in any given week 3 won't show or will quit. He pays $28k-30k/year which is pretty decent for around here. He also staffs 1 full time tech just to deal with customer complaints in the field.

    The other larger guys I know all refer to their company as "a beast that constantly needs fed". Maybe they overstate it just for the drama factor, but they sure seem to do a ton of advertising to try to make up for their cancellations.

    Should be an interesting thread!
     
  4. reliablelawn

    reliablelawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 138

    One thing to think about, is adding another management level to your company. Right now it sounds like you have 4-5 techs. Are you their oversight and managing them? If so, maybe you can get to 10 techs and it would be worth hiring someone to manage those 10. Maybe promote a current tech who has a lot of experience and knows what it is like to be hands on. That way you can step away from that responsibility and focus on bigger and better. Growth is all about systemizing and delegating responsibility to others so you, the owner, can focus on growth and not be stuck in the day to day operations. I wish you luck, it is never an easy task.
     
  5. Cadzilla

    Cadzilla LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 899

    Great post KL.

    My take is that you need to figure out how much is enough for you personally.

    Do you need to go bigger? Do you need more income or do you wish to provide good jobs for Michigan workers and have some personal philosophy? Are you trying to create some legacy for your family and children? How much do you want to manage and baby sit other peoples children?

    I see no real good reason why you can not translate your small town feel and service level into a larger company if you wanted too. It would be a challenge but it can be done.

    The employee thing is percentages. You're gonna have a few bums in every season and every lot.

    #babysitting
     
  6. greenlawnpro

    greenlawnpro LawnSite Member
    Posts: 28

    same deal for me
     
  7. TTS

    TTS LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 615

    You're at a major tipping point in business and you know your 2 options. You have to decide how big you want to be. Its difficult but possible to expand without losing service quality but you will have to commit yourself to making that happen and stay away from everything else for a while. With good systems and management structure you can continue your growth. You will increase overhead if you go that route so you need to account for that in any growth strategy. If you're relatively happy where you're at it may not be worth the time effort and money to keep expanding and just perfect what you're doing now.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  8. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,843

    Agree, but if you as the owner LOVE to be working in the day to day ops, then that is something you have to think about. I know I would not want to just push paper all summer long....
     
  9. reliablelawn

    reliablelawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 138

    That's very true. Funny thing is, now when I'm solo working 60 hour weeks I can't think of anything but being out of the field. When (if) that time comes, I'm sure ill be thinking about being back in the field.
     
  10. Efficiency

    Efficiency LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 6
    Posts: 1,517

    If you grow correctly, your cancel rate should come down each year as you refine your processes and systems. Things that help your cancel rate

    Selling on price is a big no no - "what's your best price from someone else, we will beat it by $5". Nope, you're now a commodity.

    Selling with huge discounts first year - nope, you've now created a revolving door where people are looking for the best deal each spring. Don't count on repeat business from this crowd.

    Not accurately measuring each lawn. Nope, now when you bring accurate size / price to client year 2, you're gone.

    Setting unrealistic expectations from sales people. Have heard others say 2 aaps and violets are gone. How do you keep that account with violets next year?

    There you go. Don't do those things, sell more more than those moving or dieing and you'll have a growing and successful enterprise.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     

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