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Going from employees to solo this yr-worth it?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by K.Carothers, Sep 19, 2005.

  1. K.Carothers

    K.Carothers LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,124

    In the spring, I read on here that some of the lco's decided to trim down and go solo. If this was you, did it pay? Would you do it again. Less headaches?
    Did you put more in your pocket with less?

  2. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    If you are considering it, you are very likely a good candidate.
    Catch my drift here?

    Solo or Solo + 1 Dang fine helper.
  3. thecolorgreen

    thecolorgreen LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    I wonder if it has mostly to do with whether you are good at and enjoy managing people. In other words:

    If you don't want to be doing all the grunt work all of the time and you at least have the will to learn how to effectively manage people - you should be growing your business into multiple crews


    If you don't have the patience to manage people and you prefer working alone or with a helper - you should stay small

    Is this accurate?
  4. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    Yes and No...

    For many many many reasons.
    Some to do with what you listed.
    Some with opposite or nothing to do with it.
  5. gorknoids

    gorknoids LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 316

    If you're strictly a mow/ edge/blow guy, two guys can make some bucks. Even if you throw in some major shearing/trimming operations, you can get it done via creative scheduling. Throw in a few landscaping jobs, aeration, fertilization, and seeding, turf and ornamental spraying and time gets short.
    You have to have a no-sh*t pain threshold, both physically and economically. Promote like hell, and cherry pick in a very diplomatic fashion. I made $250 in one hour this past Saturday on an aeration job, but this Thursday we'll spend 6 M/H's detailing a large property for $75.00. It's a contract which has been in the company for about 15 years, and due to some bizarre sense of loyalty we haven't shed the nag yet. I spent a year as a foreman for a prestigious landscape architect, and the biggest headache I saw was the inability to reliably schedule a week's worth of work. The company employed crackheads, drunks, teenaged parents and thieves. Of course, none of that was on their job applications. Not knowing whether you can complete a job with the desired results is worse than never getting the contract.
  6. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,004

    how do you manage people when everyon in the state are potheads and worthless white boys and you never know if someone is actually going to show up the next day. hell i had 2 people this summer disapear and never come back for their last and only paycheck with me.
  7. SouthernYankee

    SouthernYankee LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 789

    I think its better to have a full time or part time helper if you can do it that way. Even if your helper isnt very skilled, you can move much faster on things like shrub trimming because you can have them clean up as you trim.

    I am in the middle of trimming over 100 shrubs and I really wish I had some help cleaning up . It would cut my time on this job in half and I would be on other jobs that I had lined up.

    For mowing, I have several huge yards that require about 30 minutes of trimming and yet again a helper would cut my time on these yards in half.
  8. K.Carothers

    K.Carothers LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,124

    Its not a question of small or large. A bunch of lco's on this site said they are going the solo route this year and I was checking to see how they did. I had 1 crew this year while I opened up a pizzeria in the spring and sold it last month. During the bulding of the pizzeria, I only kept my top customers (20) and sold off the rest to my crew. I am now solo again and after looking at the profit/loss comparisons along with all the headaches with a crew I am going to stick with the solo route.

    Any other crews to solo operations out their?
  9. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    I went back to being full time solo last year.

    Over the years I've had up to 7 guys working / summer.

    Right before I went back to being solo, I had my cousin working with me for his 5th year. Each year, it SEEMED like he got lazier and lazier.

    It could have very well just been me thinking he should know what to do now, and him not knowing what to do.

    However, for the last 7 years, I've basically been doing the same yards each year, give or take 1 or 2. After doing the same yards, week after week, basically a trim / mow / blow, I was expecting him to know what to do on each yard.

    Anyways, last year and this year I'm working solo. This year I raised my prices between 10 and 50%, depending on who I wanted to keep, and ended up keeping them all, plus adding 4 more accounts.

    Earlier this year I was working 90-110 hour weeks, but then it got real dry and I was down to about 50 hour weeks. Now it's raining again, and trying to finish up round 3 of fertilizing and spraying I'm back up to 70-80 hour weeks.

    There's not enough sun in the day anymore, especially when the dew doesn't burn off until 9 am or so.

    I'll end up grossing about $12k more this year, just over $135k, but I'll probably net about the same, by the time you figure increase in fuel, insurance, fertilizer, etc.

    Personally, I'll never go back to having employees.

    TURFLORD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 834

    I used to have up to 8 guys. All were worthless in their own way. Even the crew chiefs were iffy at times. Now I do all the cutting and applicating by myself. If I need help for landscape or maintenance work, I hit the local "union hall" and pick up as many amigos as I need. If they're lazy, well, there's a hundred more just waiting for work." managing employees" is the same no matter what you do. Americans have to be bullsh!tted into doing a days work. For example: Walmart cashiers are called "assosiates", first assistant to the vice-pres of marketing used to called secretary. Even saying vice-prez of anything used to be called manager. I got tired of training people to be my competition. I don't have to here employees whine about working in the rain, or not show up, or break stuff, or rip me off in general intentionaly or just through stupidity. I don't mind working it keeps me healthy whereas mental stress will kill you. I make just as much know as before with this formula and am much happier for it. I don't need to be the big dog anymore or impress anybody but myself. Go solo and you'll have alot less hands in you pockets.

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