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Transitioning to employees

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by thecolorgreen, Jul 16, 2005.

  1. thecolorgreen

    thecolorgreen LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50


    Here is my situation: I can take on about 4 more accounts (residential) before I'm maxed on what I can do solo. (I do full service maintenance)

    I know some of you are die hard solo op's and wouldn't add employees ever because of the headache. My goal is to grow, get good employees to train for regular maintenance (lawn, beds, ect) and I run the business, do the seasonal pruning, one time cleanups, renovations, etc.

    Where do I begin to start to prepare for hiring emloyees as far as budgeting goes. I know a 2 man crew doesnt equal twice as fast as 1 man crew. What's the best way to make this transition?

    I'd appreciate any and every bit of advice and opinion I can get.


  2. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,137

    You need to learn about labor laws. Find an accountant to do the payroll, or learn to do it yourself. Talk to someone who has had employees in this business for a while who can point out the issues with having employees. Come up with a set of guidelines for employee conduct. Acquire the equipment to facilitate another crew. Think about scheduling and all the problems related to scheduling. Then pray you get good workers.
  3. Lumberjack

    Lumberjack LawnSite Member
    Posts: 180

    if you arent legal... forget it...aint worth it.

    There is the partnership option but choose your partners very carefully....

    Payroll is your first headache, there are a lot of rules. Learn "legal" bookkeeping or get a bookkeeper. What you dont know can and will kill your company.

    If you havent incorporated it is time to think about it, incorporation can protect your personal assets like your house from suits caused by your employees.

    check over your insurance situation. employees can increase the costs and so forth. There is also the dreaded heath care issue. You need to setup workers comp as well.

    figure out a make/break amount that you need to reach before you turn a profit on the employee. Think of the employee like a very expensive new mower purchase. how much work can you get out of them before they break and how much work are you gonna put into thier upkeep? the worker must be profitable to have in the end.

    consider what incentives you are willing to offer for the worker. minimum wage does not cut it in most areas and dont expect them to slave away for peanuts while you ride around in a rolls. also dont expect them to care about you or your company, in the end its only a paycheck.

    If you want good workers you need to hire good people and treat them well even when things get tough. after a time they will become far more important then the equipment and be harder to replace.

    It is true workers can be a pain but there are only so many hours you can work but no limit to how many workers you can have. You can personally make each dollar or you can pay others to sweat for you.....

    Dont hesitate to pay for a consutation with lawyers and accountants during your ramp up... it is far cheaper to get it right the first time.

    Incoherant as always.....
  4. jtrice11

    jtrice11 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 380

    I believe a 2 man crew is twice as fast as a one man crew. If your goal is to grow and be a large outfit, then take on the work and hire someone. You just have to use common sense when "interviewing" them for the position. Make it clear what their obligations and responsibilities are. Also, what the other guy said---be legal. Insurance, registered name, licensed etc....
  5. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,563

    i will say go with employees... even though they are a pain in the butt.. this year we are having more employee headaches than we ever have, BUT.......

    i will make over $70K this year becuase of the employees.....and the primary owner will gross the same as me for doing only paperwork....
    we have new trucks and equipment, an office, benefits, etc.....
    all becuase we can multiply hours with employees.....
    if i get sick or injured, then I will still have an income from my employees work...
  6. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    I have never been beat by any 2 man crew I've ever done "side by side" jobs with over the years. And the quality on most of them was horrifying (mowing bermuda in tight areas and discharging clippings everywhere). I'm sure some guys who work with a helper do pretty good, but two actual "employees"....no way...not consistently. I work fast and don't waste a minute. They have little incentive to work that hard.

    I see a lot of standing around, talking, walking back and forth, and steady but not fast work. Crews also mean someone is likely to be using a less than optimal machine for the job. (ever see one guy on a ZTR and another with a 36" mowing the same large lot?)

    But it's not on-site that the inefficiency shows...it's those stops at McDonald's, the "siesta" that always happens the minute the boss drives off out of sight, the late employee who everyone has to wait on, the no-shows that throw your schedules into chaos, and the foul ups that cost you money in terms of broken equipment, angry customers, etc.

    Employees make sense on big jobs, when doing tiring labor you don't want to be doing, and doing things that aren't perceived as worth top dollar (hand weeding and spreading mulch are examples around here).

    I am very price competitive working solo with companies who have crews. I believe that for the majority of small/med companies, the bulk of the profit is made in the corners they cut in costs (paying cash to illegal workers, primarily, but also including just hiring a constant stream of short term legal aliens at cheap wages, and stuff like performing work to less-than-spec and hoping nobody notices), and in pushing their people and customers like an SOB.

    But then some of these guys would have made great sweatshop owners, too.

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