Do you work "In" your business or "On" your business?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by MDLawn, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. JContracting

    JContracting LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,878

    I enjoy plowing, within a few years I'd prefer to not really do much of the plowing & shoveling, I'm hoping to be at the point where I'm out of the field during storms for the most part, except for salting lots after my guys handle the plowing. There can be long hours though, however imo, its worth it as you bid right. February has been a great month for snow this year, on some properties I've gone out 10 times this month. $$
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  2. ryde307

    ryde307 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 540

    I think this is a good thread.
    Working on your business instead of in you business is a big thing that most struggle with.
    Let's face it. This industry is fairly easy to get into and requires very little business knowledge.
    As companies grow it becomes a learning business on the fly situation. This is where some will learn and get it others will probably never get there.
    You do not see alot of well business oriented people jumping into the lawn field. Most realize there experience and knowledge can be implemented in other business fields with less competition and better returns.

    I will say we are somewhere in the middle of working on and in. I would say that myself and business partner are causing a lot of growth in the business but at the same time the biggest hold back to larger growth. The reality is you can only be so good at so many things. When you stat to max out your skills it's time to bring in the people that can do those things better than you. This becomes very hard for most for all sorts of reasons from trouble letting go, money and cash flow, and having trust that others will put in the effort you know you would.

    It's an exciting time for our business and I truly enjoy learning more about business everyday. Excited for this upcoming season and wish other luck with there's.
  3. SydneyLawnCare

    SydneyLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69

    What I never understood is when people say they get a lot of work and cancel it because they're scared of fast growth. All you have to do is hire subs. That's it, lol. Make the large amount of cash and sit back but always hire quality subs.
  4. GMLC

    GMLC LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,345

    The key word here is "quality subs". You will find it takes some good networking and relationships to find quality subs willing to work below market pricing so you can take a piece of the profit and still do quality work. It took us a few years to nail down our subs. Lots of trial and error and bad subs in between. It really is a partnership between two companies. A bad sub can really hurt your company's image. It can take years to earn a good reputation but only minutes to destroy it.
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  5. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    Ok guys here is another curve ball. Again just throwing things out here to chew on.

    For those that complain of bad employees, subs, etc..... Did you have a plan to avoid these types? Did you have a process to hire these people? And not just anyone, but the right person? Or were you just rushed to hire? (You don't need to actually answer this or any questions, more just a debate for your own head)

    This is the point I've got in my head from reading and this is stuff that should be applied to any business. What are the plans, strategies, and how are you executing these things to avoid potential conflicts? Of course nothing is perfect and things arise. But this is the whole working In vs. On that I have in my head. How many of you actually do these things or are you just worried that your ad in the newspaper is in on time because you need to hop in the truck and start your spring clean ups. Are you missing opportunities to do something better for your business because you're sitting on a mower rather than improving the process (not putting down stripes although that could be the process of mowing) of doing things better than everyone else?

    Let me make this clear. I'm far from where most of you may be, as in full time lawn, landscape, hardscape, etc... companies, so take anything I say any way you wish. After reading a few books I critically look at everyone on this site and locally to see what they have done. And most seem to have no plan in place other than "Ok it's 2013 time to get the mowers out again. I can't wait to smell that fresh cut grass." That was/is my problem too....

    I think about the process that was in place to hire myself at the place I currently work. Yes my career needs a masters degree, multiple certifications, and plenty of experience. They needed to make sure that I was a good fit. Why not do the same thing when hiring your next laborer? Do you just ask them a couple of nonsense questions? Do you actually take your time to find a blueprint of questions that eliminates people? Streamline the process to make it easier for you......

    Again I'm far from an expert but these are the "working on" you business things that are in my mind. For sure I'll need to do field work without a doubt. But I'm thinking of what can I do to make it so that I can easily put someone in the field to keep the ball rolling.

    And for those that have a skewed view of working on your business as sitting at a desk watching ESPN all day while jotting down a few notes from time to time. No thats not it. You still spend a ton of time everyday evaluating, improving, etc... Just not a lot of time "laying great stripes", or driving the truck and using the zero turn all the time. Why not let an employee learn how to do these things so you DON'T have to? Yea I like using my truck, mower, and some of the cool equiment I've rented. But it doesn't help me much and only makes my lower back worse every year. I've had people help me over my years and I like knowing things in the field get done without me needing to be there all the time.

    This is what is going on in my head. I'm not going to go into this just because. I better have a plan in place, even if it's very simple to start. But all this takes time to figure out.

    I hope we can all improve some of the processes in our business this year......

    And for those who will continue to be a sole proprietorship because they can't stand employees, want to mow grass, and drive the truck. That's fine too. I just couldn't stand the limitations.
  6. GMLC

    GMLC LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,345

    The process of finding a good sub/employee is not as simple as having it in your business plan. Its a matter of finding an honest sub that does good work to represent your company. This can be done through referals from other business owners you have worked with or customers. Then you need to meet that sub to see if its the right fit. The problem is nothing is usually as it seems. They may talk the talk but cant deliver. A perfect example is Sydney, he talks as an experienced businessman yet has no business, employees, equipment or funding. He has read a lot of millionaire books and knows just what to say. A customer would see his fancy hanger, give him a call not knowing nothing is in place. To help avoid this I ask all subs for references and to see some work. I also try to find projects they have done that are not from their references. So my whole point to this rant is its not as much of a system as is trial and error that takes time. Thus the need to grow at a sustainable rate so everthing is in place to deliver.
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  7. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    Good points for sure..... What do you use subs for? As in what work? Just curious...
  8. GMLC

    GMLC LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,345

    My company handles all the maintenance and I hire subs for chem. apps and hardscape. And they sub me for maintenance. So we have a great working relationship.
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  9. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    For sure. I wont be getting into the chemical side of the business so that I'm sure is a bridge I'll need to cross at some point....

    Thanks for the input. Just improves the process :waving:
  10. GMLC

    GMLC LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,345

    Start networking now with your local chem guys to get a head-start for when your ready to offer that service!
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