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Down sizing back to one crew

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by jeffslawnservice, Jun 15, 2014.

  1. jeffslawnservice

    jeffslawnservice LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 830

    Here is my dilemma, up until this year we always had one crew. We would cut 2-3 days a week and then landscape 3 days a week with a total of 3-4 guys including myself. Over the winter I bought out a guy who was getting out of the business. That doubled my mowing accounts to now mowing 4 days a week. On paper the numbers worked and the new work would be profitable.

    So currently we are running a grass crew consisting of 3 guys that use a truck that is currently being rented off of a buddy and use a 6x12 trailer which doesn't hold all of the equipment, and a landscape crew consisting of 3 guys that does mulch hardscaping landscaping installs ect that crew is run by me. We're using a f-450 regular cab dump that is less than a year old. At first everything started off fine and both crews were profitable. Lately the mowing crew has been taking longer and longer to finish the route for the day, more equipment has been breaking down due to neglect or abuse, and in the last week the quality of work has dropped. The guys that work on my crew landscaping have been slacking off lately hen I leave to get materials or run out for an estimate. It's getting to te point where I'm working longer hours trying to keep everything running smoothly and the profit margin is starting to drop.

    My solution I'm thinking is to trade in the dump for a crew cab dump and run both crews together cutting 2-3 days and landscaping the rest. I would also be adding a larger trailer to accommodate all of the equipment so less unloading and loading every morning and afternoon. Or are the employees the issue? They all work hard when I'm around and the quality is there and jobs get done right and profitable. If I continue what I'm doing the way I'm doing everything I will probably be out of business and have a lot of equipment for sale this time next year. Any advice is appreciated.
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  2. Dennisaduval

    Dennisaduval LawnSite Member
    Messages: 31

    Sounds to me like they are capable. Do you have a leader in the group who is responsible and being held accountable for what's going on? Sounds like it isn't so much like a bad crew as it is bad management on your part, no offense. Most crews will screw around to some degree when the boss isn't there. Could be that you need to communicate the goals better with them and hold them highly accountable to meeting those goals. A lot of times when you try to be the "cool boss" who is easy to work for, you get taken advantage of. Can you offer an incentive or bonus to the crew if all the goals are met for the week? Something as simple as a free meal on Fridays could do the trick. Thing is to set clear attainable goals for the crew and have a system set up to track the progress. Some one on one time with each crew member could also help you determine why your goals are not being met. Ask each one to come in at reasonably close intervals and have a conversation into what they think about their job, the equipment, the co-workers, and the company. You could find that there is a good reason for the slacking and/or get some great ideas from the crew on how to improve the efficiency.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,736

    what kind of equipment do you have on your mow crew?

    Renting a truck from a guy, really? That's lame.

    1) drop the third guy from the mow crew. you don't need three.
    2) reevaluate the equipment for the mow crew, make sure you have the right mowers and the right trailer.
    3) a mow crew is a leader responsible for the work, and a helper. NOT a group of buddies whom no one takes responsibility for.

    Landscape team ALSO needs a leader to whom the guys answer to.

    YOU need to lead the whole company, not landscape/cut grass.

    A landscape crew consists of a Foreman, a Lead Laborer and a helper.
    Sometimes it's necessary to take the foreman away from the job, possibly to show him the next one.
    The lead and the helper continue on whatever task is before them.

    Eventually, 1 foreman should be able to run/focus on two job sites, each with it's own lead and helper.

    If a job site needs materials, get it delivered.
  4. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,281

    Your definetly at a point where you need a good crew leader. Is this the job description of the guy currently driving the mowing truck? or is he just a laborer who drives?

    Your always going to have a hard time running around getting lawns cut in x amount of days only to have landscape jobs on top of that. What do you do when it rains?????? I would give the extra work up if I couldn't get a decent guy to run one of the crews.

    And the profit always drops when you get bigger you just hope that more money nets into your pocket.
  5. Service.com

    Service.com Sponsor
    Messages: 804

    1) drop the third guy from the mow crew. you don't need three.
    2) reevaluate the equipment for the mow crew, make sure you have the right mowers and the right trailer.
    3) a mow crew is a leader responsible for the work, and a helper. NOT a group of buddies whom no one takes responsibility for.

    ^^ Agree with all three of these here. Two guys should be fine for a lawn crew, and we only run 3 to catch up from rain. Similar situation, we bought out a company and doubled, but we started slipping a bit. I had decent crews at the time and slowly weeded up to a better one. But we started taking on too much and things got stressful and quality dropped. We scaled back and things are much more stable.

    Also, not to blatantly sell you anything, a system like Locqus or something similar to keep everyone in the loop in the field would help too. We run it through Shamrock and it helps immensely. You could keep tabs on both trucks/employees real time etc. Random spot checks to help with quality might help as well.
  6. Green Finger

    Green Finger LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 839

    Sad to say that you can be the best manager in the world.. it doesn't stop slackers. I think your problem is you bought the other company and you didn't take the time to grow into the size you are now. When you have one crew and you are running that crew that's when you groom your foreman, crew chief, manager etc.

    You are going to experience problems with equipment some drop off in the quality of work. However if you were cutting those properties you will know how long it's going to take to cut those yards. (watch out for the clock milkers)

    Suggestion: you have to become a micro-manager owner go over everything, watch everything, put GPS trackers in the your trucks,

    or cut back to one truck to gain control over your payroll and become more profitable.
  7. thegreenskeeperkc

    thegreenskeeperkc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    I also agree with these 3 points. And you will also have to be a manager along with being an owner. Clearly communicate your expectations, and then hold people accountable if they aren't being met. That doesn't mean that you have to be a dick to them.
  8. Glenn Lawn Care

    Glenn Lawn Care LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,645

    Lay down the law, tell your guys if they don't step up and get stuff done right that you'll find someone who will.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. roberthathaway7

    roberthathaway7 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 115

    I agree with greenskeeper and his agreement. I am working on expanding and starting a new crew apart from my own. This may or may not work for you- but I am in the process auditing each yard to see what the MAXimum amount of time each yard should take is. Literally, I use a stop watch. I start as soon as I back the mower off the trailer, time the mow, and time the trim/blow separate from the mow. Figuring on having a 2 man crew, I expect the lawn to be done no slower than the part that takes the longest- usually mowing. I even have some in-yard routes set up to where if possible all blowing will be done before mowing is done (save open spaces for last). To me it works well that the trimmer gets done before the mower because they can get a breather sometimes, IF all the gas tanks are filled etc.

    Add on 3-5 min for load up/load out/fueling/incidentals and you have your time that you can give them per yard for expectations. Just remind them- quality before speed. You can't expect quality work by rushing a new guy, but at least they'll know where they need to be ASAP. Of course you have to figure for travel, but that's up to your own judgement.

    If I get this crew going, I will give them a fair load of logistically sensible accounts, keeping the ones that are large with an odd trimming/mow ratio for myself. No need in paying someone to sit around if not needed. On top of that I will be working on all incoming new accounts so I can become familiar with the yards/clients, and that will ensure that I have a firm grasp on each yard I have, and I can pass them on to my crew as I feel comfortable.

    Like I said, this is just my plan, hope it helps

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