Cost to run solo?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by grassbusterdesigns, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. grassbusterdesigns

    grassbusterdesigns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    I've been a long time lurker of the site and have soaked in very much input and information from this site. So I came to the conclusion it was time to start participating and reach out with other owners and leaders in our industry.

    After digging into the forums, I've seen one discussion after another of people mentioning going from one man to multiple crew members. While I've seen many members discuss downsizing from multiple crew members to one man ops.

    I would like to here some insight and peoples opposition on your side of the story. Why did you go to multiple people crews? For the ones that have downsized, why did you decide to go solo?

    I'm currently running three people in the fall weather, but it seems when every summer hits I lose all my good workers.

    I've crunched numbers over and over and it seems with taxes, insurance costs, equipment cost, labor costs, and many other variations factored in that I would be able to net just about the same by going back to a solo-op and downsizing my clientele to suite my needs, while also creating a lot less stress of keeping workers in the summer and dealing with complaints of others that slip or make a mistake. In my eyes and calculator, it seems as if I could generate the same kind of income at a heck of a lot less cost in stress and problems of others.

    Anyone want to shed light or give their input on the situation, feel free.
  2. jsslawncare

    jsslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,673

    I think you have answered your own question.
  3. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,649

    Welcome, Ive alaways been solo and have never considered running crews. Eveyone has their own "unique" situation, dreams and goals etc.

    If you want simply to make a good somewhat hassle free living solo is the way to go. You will have enough to live on and save and invest some.
  4. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,508

    The most often cited answer is workers. Good ones make you money. The minute they are gone your losing money on a slippery slope and praying you can replace them before you start losing customers.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. grassbusterdesigns

    grassbusterdesigns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    Received some good feedback and some answers that left me some hope.

    I was thinking more about it, it seems as if when you put it all on pen and paper and do it mathematically. It seems the jump of when we went from solo to multiple workers would have been a much more difficult transition than going from multiple workers to solo. The way I'm seeing it from my perspective, set all the numbers, aside. When you go from solo to multiple workers you then have to make sure you can get enough clients to bring in the money. But it seems when you transition from going multiple people to solo, you already have a larger client base that you can narrow down to suit your needs. If you see what I'm saying. It seems like instead of starting at scratch and working you're way up, the transition would be much easier starting at a higher level and working down. You see what I'm saying?

    At this point in my life, my inspirations are not to run a "Million Dollar" company. But as someone said above, I'm at the point to where I want to have income for living, savings, investment while also enjoying life and dealing with less stress rather than trying to make that "Million Dollar" company. I'm okay with the long hours that come with the business, but I'm not as much okay with dealing with the more and more stress that comes along the bigger you expand.
  6. 123hotdog

    123hotdog LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    Larry said it all. Amen. I am a solo operation. I have one employee. I am on every job site. Yes I work long hours but my equipment sure does hold up well when I'm the only one using the mowers. I make a great living and sleep well at night.:sleeping:
  7. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    I don't think your definition of "solo" is in agreement with anybody else. "solo" operations cease when you hire somebody else. Your statement says you are a two-person operation, not solo.

    As to the OP's question, I believe the only way to make more money is to have crews working for you. I know, I know, ... several have done the math and said otherwise. I know, I know ... several have said the hassles of employees make the task more difficult.

    Having understood this, the advantage of employees is to leverage their work against the cost of having them. In terms of dollars/cents, the advantage is the gap between revenue generated by the employee and the cost of sustaining the employee. This is pretty basic, and is how any business works.

    I am solo (no employees), and have been this way for 18 years. I chose to remain this way for various reasons. There is no need to bore anybody with the details. But, I worked in other industries for years where our business had many employees, and we made much money on the employees because of the gap. We leveraged their value against the cost to sustain them as employees.

    The problem with this industry is that gap isn't large enough, and cannot be sustained in order to be profitable. The menial work attracts a pool of the workforce that is not reliable, and costs too much to sustain. And, at the other side, the value to the marketplace of these employees is too small.

    The companies that seem to be doing pretty well with employees is offering services where the value of the employees is worth more than those just doing menial tasks (e.g. laying mulch, cutting grass). The business can charge more for these services, the employee is making money for the business above and beyond the sustaining cost.

    All this is pretty basic for any business. But, it does not account for goals, intentions, season of life, and ability to manage a business. There is no right or wrong. But, if we choose one path or the other, we need to understand what that path holds in terms of potential as well as obstacles.
  8. zturncutter

    zturncutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,308

    Location, Location, Location. (IF) you are in the right market and (IF) you are a very good business manager and (IF) you enjoy managing people you will make more money managing employees. After many years of operating a larger company I downsized in 2009 and would never go back, good money, only the hand picked customers from the larger customer base, lots less stress.
  9. Getmow

    Getmow LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 445

    As stated above, you already answered your question. I have been on the "building" side of this business (while working another full time job). When I maxed out (stress) and an unsolitited offer came to buy me out - well the stars all lined up and I sold. I went solo then doing just turf care and after a short time missed the mowing but not the hassles of employess and annual contract bids. I have happily operated solo and seem to have more money and less stress than I did with 3 full time crews working very profitably.

    That is me, it is a personal choice. Some people like "running" a busisness, crunching numbers, managing people, etc. Ohers (like me) are satisfied with working and making a living. The only downside to being solo, and it is a constant fear, if you don't show up to work -you don't get paid.
  10. Raymond S.

    Raymond S. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 996

    Very concise, insightful response. Skip the rest of the posts and read this one.
    Posted via Mobile Device

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