What would you do?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by EJD Lawnpride, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. EJD Lawnpride

    EJD Lawnpride LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 313

    In the past we have mowed 4 days a week and left one day for projects or rain day make up. This year i was thinking of mowing 5 days and just do projects on weekends or trying to find someone to run a little crew for the projects for the week. The only thing would be purchasing a small truck to carry items. Would you bother mowing the 5th day or try to do what i mentioned? I don't know what the "recession" will bring, less mowing customers or less projects?
     
  2. Grits

    Grits LawnSite Silver Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 2,994

    Personally, I am thinking about mowing 5 days and doing landscaping on the weekends.
     
  3. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 778

    4-10's would be ideal but around here, new laws, anything over 8 hours a day is time and a half.

    That being said, I'll be lucky if I have even one full time guy with me this year, at least in the middle of summer.
     
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,842

    I don't know your operation, but I am assuming it's just you - or just one crew?

    I agree that 4 days mowing and 1 for side jobs is the way to go. I have 3 maintenance crews and they all do it that way. It's great. On weeks where we don't get side jobs, they just get 40 hrs. But on weeks where we have side jobs, I get an extra bunch of dough and they get some good OT.

    But if I just had one crew, I wouldn't go to 5 days. For one thing, that would mean OT every week, no matter what. Unless your guys clock in and clock back out within 8 hours, 5 days means 50 hours, basically. So side jobs would equate to even MORE OT. That makes for some big paychecks. Not so good for the owner...

    So what I would do is break it into 2 crews. Hussle and get as many maintenance accounts as quickly as possible this spring - then break off another crew. 2 crews working 3 x 10 hour days. Then they have 2 days each week for side jobs. Then focus on getting at least 1 day of side jobs for each crew each week. That would be a very profitable arrangement.
     
  5. EJD Lawnpride

    EJD Lawnpride LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 313

    Yes Jim, I have one crew. It consists of me and three guys. We mow 150 accts. in 4 days. We get the mowing done in about 35 hrs. i don't know how really,we just move ,it also helps having two z's. I don't know if people are going to be more likely to give up mowing or projects if there is a recession. So i don't know if I should concentrate on one aspect more or less.
     
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,842

    Hmmm. I dunno. That's a pretty good setup you got there. I guess it would be a little difficult to break into 2 crews. Sounds like the one you have now has great operating efficiency. So maybe it's not a good idea to mess with a good thing.

    First thing - I personally don't worry about the recession a whole lot. I've been doing this long enough to have already gone through a pretty good recession once and we still increased our sales that year by 45% from the previous year. I think if you do good work, have an established name that people recognize, and have a good plan, you can't help but grow - recession or not.

    I will not only be raising prices this year for my maintenance clients as well as our labor rates for installs. But I also plan to grow again by another 15-30%. We've grown by at least 30% every year we've been in business. And I just keep getting better at this thing so no reason to think that's going to slow down now. I think a recession just means maybe we'll only grow by 15% instead of 45% like we do some years. But I don't think it means we'll go backwards.

    So with that mindset - one of growth - and with your company setup I guess you really have two options.

    1) You can start to grow your company an split into two crews. Maybe keep the one crew you got now and just hire one guy to replace you. Then form a second crew with you and one helper just for side jobs only. That would be a profitable setup.

    or

    2) You could keep the same setup you have now, raise prices 5%-10% across the board on both your maintenance customers and your labor rates for side jobs. That will result in maybe losing a few customers at first. But the few who drop out will make room for some new ones who will be at the new, more profitable rates. This is how bigger more established 1 crew companies make so much money sometimes. As demand for their company grows, their rates go up. As their rates go up, they start to lose the old customers who can't afford the higher rates. As they lose the old cheap customers they are quickly replaced with richer customers who CAN afford their higher rates and because of the demand, are willing to pay it. That's how you keep getting more profitable without really expanding your crews or vehicles.

    So I'd make a decision and go with one of the two routes above.
     
  7. Grits

    Grits LawnSite Silver Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 2,994

    You are a wise man, Jim Lewis.
     
  8. EJD Lawnpride

    EJD Lawnpride LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 313

    I agree with Grits, every post of yours is nothing but wealth of knowledge. I was hoping to hear your ideas,thanks.
     
  9. EJD Lawnpride

    EJD Lawnpride LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 313

    Also, I have friend who has a truck that he can use. He is available three days a week,so i might ask him to do the projects three days a week with a day laborer. This will allow me to mow 5 days, and get three days of projects a week. What do you think? I hope it will work out for this year,but I know that eventually i will need a full time project crew,which is a good thing. Jim, we too have grown a little every year, i went from 15 accts. to 150 in 4 years.
     
  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,842

    Well, that's kind of a quick fix. It's not going to help your image to have some guy in an unmarked truck going around town doing side jobs for you. It will help financially, sure. But you also have to think long term. If you're growing that quickly and plan to grow into a big company, than you're eventual goal is to get well-known in your community. I can't tell you how important that is. I get jobs all the time - from big installs to monthly maintenance accounts - just because we're so well recognized in the area. At the estimate time when I am trying to impress them about our company, people will actually stop me and say, "Oh. I've seen you guys around town for a long time. I've had friends who used your company. You don't have to explain. I know you guys do great work." And I don't even get to give my "schpiel" and already I got the job.

    So having two company trucks going around town that look identical in terms of color and lettering, helps establish that long-term branding. Having a friend in his truck does not.

    I guess we still have the issue of whether you really want to start growing your company into a big company or not. Not everyone wants that. So if you don't that's cool. But it seems like you are already heading that way. So assuming that's true, I think you need to start taking yourself away from daily mowing and moving into operations instead. When I was where you are, I quit mowing, broke into two separate crews, and I focused all my free time on landing more jobs and keeping my 2 crews busy all the time. It worked very well. But you have to stop focusing on the "work" part of your company and start managing operations. Personally, I'd advise you in that direction. It's either that, or just stick to one crew and keep making it more profitable from year to year. You gotta decide. But you can't keep one foot on both sides of the fence. You're going to have to make that leap into management sometime soon if you want to grow.
     

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