Sub-Contracting

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by thomaslawn, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. thomaslawn

    thomaslawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 88

    Does anyone use subs for lawn mowing or other services such as mulch jobs, cleanups etc. We are looking into this, as our main issue is not obtaining clients, but servicing their needs in a timely manner. It seems as though by subbing out the majoirty of your work this would free up time to devote to sales and marketing.

    If you're dealing in a high volume business, it seems there would be great money to be made by keeping around 20% of the service performed. We are at the point in the business where we either need to expand (buy additional trucks & equipment) or stay where we are at for another year.

    If anyone currently uses subs, how is it working for you? Thank you.



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  2. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,995

    you can't sub out quality.

    you can sub out pieces of the business that are techinical or equipment heavy, but to just be the reseller for all services, would be a nightmare.

    Scheduling for one, getting reliable subs,for two. Getting your insurance company to go for it for three.

    And lastly, getting 20% is about 10% higher than most sub work gets and by charging that much of an upcharge you are gonna price yourself out of the race.

    Just food for thought.

    I sub out chem apps, tree work, and other big (one time type) jobs. I make minimum of 10% but rarely over 15%.
     
  3. PTP

    PTP LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Posts: 1,383

    I sub out about 50 properties or so. The price that the customer pays is the regular price. I take 30%. It works out well. I do all the office things and the sub does the labor.
     
  4. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Posts: 3,065

    When we started out we subcontractors for a large landscape company. I'll never do it again! We did better work than his guys and he had us bid on over 100 properties and come Spring time he hung us out to dry by not letting us know until a week before mowing was to start that he was going with just his guys, so that sent us scrambling for customers. That was years ago but it still pisses me off! But I guess if you sit down with them let them see what your actually getting for the lawn and come to a fair price then great.
     
  5. jkelton

    jkelton LawnSite Member
    Posts: 243

    I suppose I have a different outlook on this, since in 95% of the work we do, we are the subcontractor. IMO, I think subcontracting works the best when you have a particuliar job (or several jobs) that can take up too much of your time and manpower to be efficient, or they come up at the busiest time of the year. As a sub, I am not looking for, or really want, all the jobs a particuliar client has to do throughout the year - many of the jobs are too small for us to make money on, plus trying to meet everyone's schedule can be brutal, especially when trying to schedule several large jobs back to back (had experience this issue this year).

    You, as a contractor, need to have a "plan B" in case the sub cannot make your deadline. We have incurred more equipment breakdowns this year than previous years and some jobs we were not able to meet the desired deadlines. Most of my clients understood our delimma and had the "plan B" in place - I hate that they had to resort to this (lost revenue for me and it diminishes confidence), but I was grateful that they were prepared just in case.

    BTW - we are a mulch blowing company.
     
  6. lawn_pro

    lawn_pro LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    we have done subcontract work for a couple of lco's around town, the first time- a few years back, a smaller lawn service had a couple of thier mowers break down..I knew the owner and decided to "help" them out. No problems, I think we did all of thier accounts for a couple of weeks-we got paid on the spot. We are currently mowing a large association (120 units) for a fert only company, I would saw the arrangement is fair at best. I have to call him every month wondering were the money is...I always get paid, just a pain in the butt. On the other side, we have contracted out various landscape projects to a couple of different companies in town, I take a percentage off the top and make the sub-contractor aware of this up front to avoid any problems down the road, if possible they are paid as soon as the work is complete. My best advice- be careful and make sure everyone you are working with is on the same page.
     
  7. Cantona

    Cantona LawnSite Member
    Posts: 51

    We sub out all tree work and some large grading, drainage, or paving jobs. Some major tree work we can make 500-1000 on just our mark up. Using subs for services we cannot provide keeps everything in our control. It allows us to control every company that goes on the customers property. In return for them occaisonaly spending a few dollars more they do not deal with the headache of talking to multiple vendors and the scheduling involved.

    On the flip side finding companies to sub out to that are reliable, have good quality, and are easy to work with is the hard part. In the long run I believe subing out work has helped us keep a lot of our customers with us rather than shopping around
     
  8. noseha

    noseha LawnSite Senior Member
    from MI
    Posts: 554

    I Sub With One Guy Only At A Time ! If You Get To Many You Spend More Time Checking Out There Work Then Doing My Own Work And It Seems To Me You Can Never Get A Sub To Do Your Kind Of Work. But I'm Very Picky. MY WORKERS SAY I'M ANAL OR JUST A ASS!
     
  9. Cantona

    Cantona LawnSite Member
    Posts: 51

    We do a large amount of business a year, and once we established which subs are reliable and can trust their work. It was no different than going around and checking my crews.
     
  10. thomaslawn

    thomaslawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 88

    Thank you for all of your responses, it sounds as though it works well for atleast a few of you. PTP and Cantona, where did you find quality subs, I guess that is the next big step. Finding a company you can trust must be challenging. How did you go about doing this? Thank you everyone for your input, I greatly appreciate it.
     

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