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Scoop me on subcontracting.....please.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Gr grass n Hi tides, Dec 2, 2003.

  1. Gr grass n Hi tides

    Gr grass n Hi tides LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    I had a local LCO that I'm on good terms with casually mention to me that he might have some contracts (residentials) he could possibly subcontract out to me next year. The reason he gave me is that he's got a couple of big jobs in the works that if he lands, would make it difficult for him to keep all of his current work. For some reason, he seems to want these larger contracts.

    I've been talking to this guy for several years & I think (I said think) he's on the up & up. We have built good rapport. I know this much - he knows how to bill. I'm a little cautious because, first of all, if I were in his shoes I would not want to put too many eggs in one basket, so why go with fewer accounts? Maybe I'm over-thinking this.

    He's got one full time crew in the field & has told me many times (even before I launched) that he would never want to be a "big" company. That's just his gig.

    So, hypothetically speaking, if I go look at his accounts & see that he's got them billed at about $60/hr., & he's ready to give me.....say 15-20 of them in "bulk", what would be a fair rate for this "subcontract" work? I know how to go out & get my own business, but part of me thinks that a boost like this might also be a good thing?

    Any thoughts? Any experience with this?
  2. Tonyr

    Tonyr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,973

    Interesting, I don't know how to help you exactly on your question, but I subcontract slashing work to a contractor as I haven't got a slasher, but as a mowing contractor I get asked to slash and used to turn them down hense missing out on money, now knowing the guys rates I can quote jobs easy and be ahead.
    I have only just started this and no probs yet, easy money for a couple of calls.

    Your deal is different I know, but anything subcontract can only be a step forward....

  3. Southpaw

    Southpaw LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Posts: 88

    I have actually done this and it has worked out well for me so far. I am friends with a girl that works in the office of a large outfit. They do all sorts of outdoor work and only a small portion is in lawncare. It's not their main gig and don't care for it really. She answers the phone and hears calls all the time about lawn care, whether one timers or yearly contracts. They won't even start up their trucks if they don't get $50 per man hour and they never run less than 2 crew members, so many of these residential customers are not someone they care to deal with. So she will call me and give me the lead, and I take it from there.

    She wants me to talk directly to her boss, but I fear that he wants to hire me to work for him. I kinda like it being on my own though and like it the way it is now. I don't want to go and work for them when I can do it on my own and keep more of the profits. So she calls me and gives me leads and I take care of her in return.

    You might be able to benefit very much from this guy. Just stay within your own set price range and he may open up doors for you that you never had before. Good luck!
  4. I'll bet you have put more thought into this than he has.

    I'd go along with just about anything he suggests. Because he has more work than he wants so someone else will get some of it.

    He's calling it subcontracting. But he's not providing you any service such as; insurance, tax withholding, office staff, etc. Contractors typically get as much as 20% for this. But you're getting nothing.

    He's just wanting you to watch over his accounts 'till he's sure about the new accounts. Then he'll give you those accounts.
    He'd about have too. Unless he's figured out how to get you to pay him to mow someone else's lawn. I mean, what's he doing for you? He's going to collect the money then give you some of it?

    But for now I'd button my lip, nod at whatever he has to say. It would be easier to "claim" those accounts if you're already mowing them.

    Gr grass n Hi tides likes this.
  5. jeffex

    jeffex LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,933

    I agree don't over think it . let him give you a price first. If you are underutilized in your own business then it may be worth doing for 70% of the gross. Assuming he is collecting from his customers then all you do is mow and go. No customer hassle or collection worry. Do a great job and don't let the guy go more than 1 cut without paying you. DH is right they may become your accounts so treat them well.
  6. bayoulawn

    bayoulawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 211

    Exactly as I would say. Those people have friends that he probably doesnt service, so you do your best and maybe youll get some of them too.
  7. STAN1366

    STAN1366 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 334

    Maybe one thing you can discuss with him is what are you going to tell "his customers" when they ask you how come you're mowing their lawn and they're paying the guy who's not there? It won't take long for these people to figure out that you've got to be doing it for less than what they pay the other guy. If you're doing a good job, they might as well hire you, right? If you maintain these accounts for an entire season and don't lose any, I think that you've "bought" them for whatever amount they other guy made on them. Discuss this with him before you start. A few years ago, I needed some one to take over my accounts for a 5 month period. Up front, I told him "this is what I get for them, bill the same amount. I could have made something on them, but I didn't want the phone calls or any hassles. At the end of the 5 month period, I came back and picked up where I left off. My accounts got serviced, I didn't "use" this guy and make $$ off him and my customers were happy when I came back. Good luck with whatever you decide.
  8. cklands

    cklands LawnSite Senior Member
    from MA
    Posts: 360

    I do this for a guy right now. I used to work for him. He is only doing fert now and subs out the rest to me. Only once did someone come out and ask who I was. I just told them that we were going to be helping out with the mowing and clean ups etc. because we better equiped for the work. I have no idea what he is charging them and I don't care. I make what I need to make and that's all that matters. It's no different then when I give them a price for the fert program. I take what he is charging me and then add on what I want on top.
  9. Gr grass n Hi tides

    Gr grass n Hi tides LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    Thanks for the feedback, guys. Ya'll have given me a few more things to consider & I appreciate it (even though I probably am over thinking it!!!) Yep, I've done some head nodding so far and just kept it laid back as far as details, but also let him know I'm keen on the idea. I'll see him again tomorrow and ask him a little more what he has in mind.

    One thing he and I do have is mutual respect, which counts for a lot in my book. We've got similar notions about things. I was thinking that I might be prepared to "buy" the accounts at the end of the season for say, one week's worth of service. Even if he doesn't ask for it, I think the good will would go a long way plus it would cost me time and money to advertise, do estimates on all of the accounts, etc. I think this way he would be happy that his people are with somebody they like (hopefully) and we help one another out along the way.

    I'll let ya'll know what he has to say. Any more thoughts are welcome, of course.
  10. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    that one thing that you might be prepared for is a non-compete clause. All more subcontractors I require them to sign a 2 year non-compete cause, from the date of termination, before they can even touch foot on the property.

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