1st year solo success. 2nd year hire a crew?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by sticklelm, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. sticklelm

    sticklelm LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 336

    I did ok my first year as a solo finding work through mainly craigslist as i acquired about 50 biweekly lawn maintenance clients a a hand full a weekly cuts. I extended my services and have been landing small mulch jobs, clean-ups, hedge trimming, and leaf removals to boost profits. leaves have kept me somewhat busy the past month or so. But im trying to get an idea of what i need to do for the next year. As i said, last year i was working solo for the most part so marketing was hard to focus on. i was getting avg 3 to 5 calls a day for work only using craigslist but i want to know if its wise to get out of the field and really attack the market to try to grow my business. What do you guys think i should do?
  2. LandFakers

    LandFakers LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Messages: 6,309

    I dont think you should hire an employee let alone a whole crew until you cant do the amount of work you have by yourself. Part of being a business owner, especially a new one, is that your job is never done. You may work 7am-3pm, but thats when the second half of your job begins. I work all day then go home and bill if neccesary and then put an ad on craigslist, and go online and order door hanger, and then once they come in Im out passing them out once im done cutting for the day. Its a 24/7 job and hiring a crew so you can go %100 marketing is not such a great idea. Marketing can only get you so far. You can plaster your name everywhere bud the work has to stand up to it. Good luck with your decison
  3. T Scapes

    T Scapes LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,225

    unless you need them i wouldnt if it just so you can work on marketing. I have to hire guys so i can go and do other jobs so i dont fall behind like i did this year. I was working 6 days a week with 1 guy and we were getting more work then we could handle. If i could could only have 1 guy with me cutting lawns and doing side jobs i would do it. I wouldnt pull yourself out of the field this early in your company
  4. Landrus2

    Landrus2 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,020

    Slow with employees that is a total different game. Pay roll Workman's comp look into it first:waving:
  5. sticklelm

    sticklelm LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 336

    Thanks for all the advice guys. Every bit helps... considering its my first year with this and im 19. So far from what im hearing is that i need to continue doing as much as i can by myself and grow the business as well until i get a super full schedule to where it comes to not being able to grow anymore or i end up slacking on the work...which is not how i want to do things. :nono:
  6. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,763

    Unless you're grossing 150k plus off of the work you have hiring 2 more guys isn't reasonable. One part time guy maybe depending on how large the lawns are etc. Welcome to business ownership :drinkup:
  7. Greenboy24

    Greenboy24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 297

    This question really depends on your current financial situation and your goals for the future more than anything else.

    First off I don't think it would be wise to one day be in the field and then the next be completely out of the field. You will need to groom someone so that they can manage the job quality to your level of satisfaction. If you suddenly jump out of the field and entrust someone to do the work its almost guaranteed to substantially suffer

    As already mentioned employees are expensive but there are a lot of pros that come from employees as well. If you end up decided to grow your company your job will eventually become managing people more so than landscaping. That's the nature of any business in a sense. As mentioned above make sure that you have a very firm grasp of what the cost of having employees is. Talk to your accountant. A few hundred dollars in consultation fees will save you major headaches down the road if you aren't familiar with the real cost of employees.

    So should you hire employees now? Well you need to answer a few questions first (which you may or may not want to post here but the answers will guide you towards the best decision for you.

    How is your business legally set up? S Corp would be my strong recommendation because of the tax savings and liability issues. I never understand why anyone has their business set up as a sole proprietorship or a partnership even solo the liability exposure is far to great. If you plan on employees an LLC or S corp structure is a must and there are some initial costs associated with setting these up.

    In my opinion the company should be paying the owner a regular paycheck, the amount can be determined by you but you have to pay yourself first. This could be just enough to cover your living expenses or it could be a more lucrative amount. Whatever it is you should pay yourself regularly. Personal and business finances should be separated. Have at minimum a checking and savings account for both the business and yourself.

    How much work did you have last year? What did you net off of that? Did you have a full weeks work every single week? Were you turning jobs away because you didn't have time or were you taking whatever you could get? If you didn't have the work coming in regularly then you may want to hold off until you have it.

    Employee selection will be key when you get there. Did you ever have a helper this past year? That's how I would start. They can work under you so that you can show them the ropes, it could be part time to start although if they are any good they won't be around long if all you have is P/T work. Take your time before hiring someone and make everything extremely clear to them. If it doesn't seem like they are the right fit early on chances are that they aren't simply move on and try and make a better selection next time.

    If you can get a firm grasp on the financials of your company. And I mean I really strong grasp so that you know where every dollar went and is going to go then you will be able to make a smart decision based on where you are now and where you would like to go.
  8. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,678

    Are you a landscaper or a businessman. I realize your 19 and have no experience to speak of but the question remains do you like the business as a whole or do you prefer running one more or working in one more.

    My first year my partner and I hired employees first thing and after about 2 months found the ones we had were more of a drain then a plus. So I pulled him out of the office and made him work with me and let all them go. We brought them back for fall clean ups but ran it lean that whole first season. Year 2 we hired a crew again and grew very quickly in to the size needed to justify the added labor.

    If you want to try employees I say go for it hire ONE and work with him each day. Put one foot in-front of the other and take the step. It may or may not work for you but I can tell you this. You can't get work for 2 of you then hire a second man. It is not practical the work needs to get done on time and if you have more then you can do by definition its not getting done on time. You are taking a risk you are investing in an employee and with any luck the time it frees up will allow you to increase the work and over a few weeks perhaps a year if it goes slow have enough work for 2 men. Business is a risk hiring one guy isn't that big of one though worse case you don't make enough to pay your self and you have to step back to solo. But you will have learned valuable lessons that need to be learned and are best learned hands on.

    Best case it works and you max your self out this year with an employee and next year decide to add a second one. The important thing your doing here is your taking your first employee and working him for a few years and seeing what you got and if he even has the ability's to have responsibility. If he doesn't then that is going to make expansion harder isn't it but its nice to know before you take a much bigger risk and add 20-75k in equipment trucks and trailers only to find out you have no one that can be trusted with them.

    We are not retail this isn't a store where a kid with an 80 I.Q. can be used since your only a hundred feet away and can jump in if there is a problem. No this is a trade where if the guy you give the keys to cannot solve problems he's nearly useless. So if fast speed growth is your dream this trade may be a dead end. You need to have equipment and employees in place to acquire and service accounts and you need to figure away to take the next step once you succeed at that.

    I had 2 two man lawn crews my second season but 9 years later haven't managed to take the next step so what do I know:)
  9. Greenboy24

    Greenboy24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 297

    Good advice here
  10. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 7,961

    It does add a whole new dynamic. SUTA / FUTA Workers Comp. Reports to file too.

    If you are not going to set up the employees like a legit business then just stay solo.

    Go to SCORE and they often will have some advise and assistance to start up businesses as well as even some free classes on accounting and quickbooks.

    Read some books like Vander Kooi has on his website.

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