Cant get myself to hire a helper?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by lasher66, Oct 3, 2004.

  1. lasher66

    lasher66 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 399

    Right now I am a solo op. But for the last 2 years I have been saying that I am going to hire someone to work with me, but I cant get myself to do it. Right now I do about 75 residential accounts. The problem I am having is with the income that will be generated and I am not sure how many more customers I can handle with a helper. I cut about 15 a day by myself. Do you think it would be crazy to think that 25 a day with a helper would be to much. With drive time, I cant see myself being to take on this many customers a day. Which brings me to my next question. (money?) Anything less than doing 25 accounts a day would just be paying my helpers wages and workers comp, matching medicare taxes, etc. So is it worth hiring a helper?

  2. sanfordandsonfan

    sanfordandsonfan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 103

    The only thing I could say to this, is that I have had someone working with me for the past two years. Last Thursday and Friday, I was by myself, and did not get near the work done, and I was wore out. The money thing for me has been a problem, but I worked it out with my employee, and they get paid once a month like I do. Soon as my invoices come rolling in, I pay him first. He likes it because he can actually budget his money, and has been able to save a little bit. I know that it would not work for everyone, but it has kept me in good shape for two years. Just having someone to blow off the driveways and cut the back yards is worth seven or eight bucks an hour. Your not going to get someone with tons of experience, but you may get someone you can mold into a good helper for a couple of seasons.
  3. Greenservice

    Greenservice LawnSite Member
    Messages: 76

    Another consideration would be how you were going to do all those additional lawns by yourself if the helper quit suddenly.

    How big are these lawns that you're cutting 15 a day with a 52" machine?
  4. Ability

    Ability LawnSite Member
    Messages: 90

    Get the clients, hire a helper, give it a shot. If it doesn't work you can always go back to the way you are doing it now.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    From my experience, the second man typically increases productivity by 50%. So you would be looking at 22 or 23 lawns per day.

    Assuming you charge $30 per lawn, you would do an additional 37-38 lawns per week. That's over $1,100 extra per week. Seems like that would cover your additional expenses with money left over. If you could pick up the additional customers where you already have customers, you would eliminate a lot of drive time.
  6. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,725

    I feel the advantages out way the disadvantages when it comes to employees. One it does up your work out put even if after expenses he’s only making you and extra 100 a day that’s still 2000 dollars a month more then you would have had. Two the what if you get hurt factor it is real the odds are against it but accidents happen as a solo guy if you take a serious injury where you can not work for 4-6 weeks your out of business. Three its some one to talk to in the day I work by myself sometimes Ill have 2 crews going plus I'll be on my own for the day and personally I go mad being by myself in a truck or on a lawn for 8-10 hours. Four it makes your life a lot easier I don't know about you but I personally like not picking up a weedwacker for 95% of my lawns.

    If you ever had a real bad boss remember everything you thought he did that made him a jerk and don't do that. And your be fine its quite easy to have someone like to work with you and still get plenty done at the end of the day.
  7. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey LawnSite Member
    Messages: 107

    Kelly's said it better than I can but while money is very important it's not everything. The quality of life issues are important too. Not using a weed-eater all the time, talking to people at work, doing more estimates, and more home time. I had a cool boss once and he used to say a business is only doing two things growing or dying. I know this is a moot point for a solo company. But if your goals are to grow there's no time like the present! Good Luck with whatever you decide.

  8. lasher66

    lasher66 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 399

    Thanks for the replies,
    I will try to hire an employee next spring and see what happens. Just like Ability said , I can always go back.

    Greenservice: Most my lawns average about $30 a cut. So there not too big. Maybe on the average 1/4 acre .

  9. mbricker

    mbricker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 505

    Lasher, 1 more thing to think about: are your lawns scattered around, or grouped together?

    Last time I had a helper, about 4 years ago, I had a lot of solo lawns, most averaging about the same as price you mentioned, $30. When you have 2 men doing solo $30 lawns, you will just about have as much windshield time as work time. I paid my man by the hour. After a while I ran some numbers and realized I was paying him almost as much, most days, as I was making. And my day was longer, because before or after his work hours, I was doing paperwork or equipment maintenance. I also ran the numbers on the few larger jobs and saw that was the only situation where it really paid off to have a helper.

    If your lawns are grouped together, the pay off is the same as for larger lawns. If your lawns are scattered, consider paying commission, not hourly. Some lco's in this area pay a percentage of each job completed, instead of paying by the hour. That is, no pay for breaks, lunch, drive time.

    My lawns currently are grouped together much better, and next year (provided there is a next year) I will probably drop at least 2/3 of the solo lawns, since my schedule is too full to try to pick up a new customer beside each of the solo lawns.

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