doing things differently this year

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by rmmllc, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. rmmllc

    rmmllc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 222

    I just thought I'd lay out some ideas and get feedback from your experiences and opinions.
    This year I am expanding into spray applications and foundation pest control. I bought an Isuzu NPR (used- got a great deal on it), and will buy an Exmark Navigator. I had about 60 residential and 5 commercial accounts last year and hope to get about 80 res and 15 commercial this year. If it is more than a 3 man crew (not including me- I hope to manage more than mow- I also have a real estate business) can handle I'll do 2 two man crews.

    Here is what I'm getting at- I am writing a policy handbook and training manual, and will have a quiz that goes along with it. I know it sounds like elementary school, but I think employees will read and retain it if they have to write answers to questions. I also plan on making a training video. That should take about 2 weeks off the learning curve for new hires, and decrease down time for my crew leader to train them on each different scenario at all the lawns on the route. It should also increase quality even if I have some employee turnover- try to systemize training.
    I'm also going to do some profit sharing to keep moral high and keep employees thinking about improving the bottom line- since they are affected by it. I'd have a weekly staff meeting in which I would train and get feedback and suggestions- to improve the business and let them feel part of the process (give job satisfaction).

    Anyone have suggestions or comments? Things I may not be considering?
  2. greenazkeeper

    greenazkeeper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    I have a similar plan. I have a girl call my current clients to see if they have any friends or family or anyone that they feel could use our services. Having good success with her. Once I get the name and number I call them and let them know that a current client has suggested I call them to see if they would like our services. I ask them about their current landscaping companies faults and assure them that they wont be an issue with our company... Just a little bit of sales on the call and they are willing to make a move.
  3. rmmllc

    rmmllc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 222

    I have a girl I am going to have call all my clients I've done anything for (I aerate and stuff, too) and ask them if they want fertilizing, foundation spray and mowing. That's a good idea about asking for referrals- it doesn't take much more to ask that.
    Thanks for the idea.

    Any others about training/ managing/ motivating employees. I think they are the most unpredictable aspect of the business. If you get good ones, your business thrives, if not it suffers. I'm trying to refine hiring and training to the point that if I need to hire a new guy in the middle of the season he will be up to my quality standards very quickly. I think a policy manual helps, then you aren't the bad guy when you tell them "no", but rather you simply ask "what is the company policy on that?" The training video and manual should cover the "how", and they will know the basics in about an hour. The quiz should help with retention of information. That's my plan anyhow.
  4. bj1bmx

    bj1bmx LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 76

    are these very large accounts ie. several acres each? i only ask because i cut 75 properties by myself in 3 days where i live and wouldnt even consider hiring one full time employee unless i had over 100 accounts. just trying to get a grasp on the differences across the country.
  5. rmmllc

    rmmllc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 222

    We have a lot of residential lawns- many we do with 21" walk behinds. We are targeting larger lawns this year so we can use the Navigator, also will be targeting commercial. We are in a rural area, so more driving,too.
    75 lawns in 3 days= 25 per day (yeah, I can do simple math:), are they small? Close together?
    Many of ours are .25 to .5 acres- some bigger, some smaller. I figure about 5-8 minutes drive time when I'm around town, more like 10-15 in the county. Doing 12 per day that's about 2 hours driving, which leaves 6 hours working (minus lunch- I don't take a lunch, but figure my employees will want to), so 5.5 hrs- that's 27 minutes per lawn. Most don't take that long, but the bigger ones take more like 40 to 45. The commercial ones take longer, too.
    So I guess what kills me is drive time, but we live in an open area of the country (and wouldn't trade it for anything). Just doing these figures helps me know I need to target areas around where my existing accounts are. Also, margins will be higher doing bigger lawns since they take the same amount of time with a rider as the small ones with a WB, but you charge more.
    Hope that helps.
  6. rmmllc

    rmmllc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 222

    That 5.5 hours work time also includes loading, and emptying grass (we mulch when possible, but can't always). I hope to avoid loading time this year since it will all be in my NPR box truck. I am even going to mount a grinder on a work bench for sharpening blades in the box (maybe an inverter or maybe just an extension cord for power).

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