How do you manage your lawns if you go out of Town?

calvinslawnservices

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Grand Rapids MI
I just went on a week long vacation. I had a good friend take care of my lawns, he worked with me before so he already knows the route. As for payments everyone mails in payments so it sits in the po box till I got home. Only one small hiccup and he resolved it without me. Find someone who you can trust and either have people pay you twice when you get back if you collect every cut or just let them give the money to your worker.
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RyanA97

LawnSite Member
Location
SW Florida
I just went on a week long vacation. I had a good friend take care of my lawns, he worked with me before so he already knows the route. As for payments everyone mails in payments so it sits in the po box till I got home. Only one small hiccup and he resolved it without me. Find someone who you can trust and either have people pay you twice when you get back if you collect every cut or just let them give the money to your worker.
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For someone who will be doing the mowing, do you pay them 100%. How much do you keep?
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MOturkey

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Bolivar, MO
I've done this 4 times since I started my business a dozen years ago. First time, one of my best friends covered for me. I paid him a percentage, 50% of the gross, if I remember correctly. He got the yards done, but really rushed through them, especially the trimming/edging.

Next year, hired my same friend again. This time I told him I would pay him $15 per hour (he was making $10 at his regular job at that time) instead of a percentage, because I wanted him to take his time and do quality work. I told him to charge me for any time he was working, driving, buying gas, changing blades, etc. I didn't really care what it cost me, I just wanted the work done better than the year before.

Called my wife while I was on a hunting trip 400 miles from home, thinking to stay another day or two. She told me my friend had just dropped the mower off at the house. I said, "Oh, he is done already?" She told me that no, he didn't get all the mowing done, but he needed to go somewhere with his wife, so didn't have time to finish. I drove on home that evening, and went to mow the next morning. The blades were so dull I, literally, couldn't cut the thick grass on the lawn I was attempting to mow, so had to change them out. Only time I ever had to do that while on the job.

Next year, I talked to another friend, a retail business owner who also had a mowing business. Told him I'd just give him 100% of the gross since he was going to be using his own equipment and truck, and would pay him for his time if he went to bid any properties while I was gone, if we didn't get the bid. If we got the bid, and he mowed, then he would get all the money. He actually did okay as far as servicing the properties, but he didn't go bid one job, a lady who had called my wife, and I found out later that he bid one account, got it, then just kept it as his own.

Last time, I tried another friend I worked with for many years. He, at one time had a mowing business, and I had worked for him a couple of years for extra money before I bought my own mower. He knew I was needing someone to cover for me for a week, and actually volunteered. I knew he was busy with a 50 hour plus job, and a part time home repair business on the side, but he assured me he had plenty of time, and wouldn't schedule any other work the week I was to be gone.

Well, as the time approached, he started remodeling a home for another guy who worked at the same company as we did. Still, no problem, he said. While 700 miles from home, I had been watching the weather forecast for here, and saw that heavy rains were forecast starting on Wednesday. I knew my buddy had a relatively short day at work on Tuesday, so called my wife that evening to see if he had been able to get everything done. She said, no, he didn't show up and had called to tell her that he had laid tile on his remodeling job and had to go back and grout it. My wife, who had recently had foot surgery, and was keeping a 3 year old granddaughter that week, hooked up the trailer and went and got most of the mowing done before the rains hit. I was furious. You can grout a kitchen when it is raining, you can't mow yards, so anyone with any common sense would have done the mowing, then done the grouting on Wednesday.

Hey, I know this is a long post, but wanted to point out how difficult it is to find someone you can trust to cover for you. Good luck.
 

sjessen

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Knoxville, Tn
Solo op here. Don't go out of town unless/until all of the lawns are cut. Do start earlier than usual to get some cut ahead. Most time ever off from work is Friday-Sunday. Yep, pretty tied down.
 

calvinslawnservices

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Grand Rapids MI
For someone who will be doing the mowing, do you pay them 100%. How much do you keep?
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I pay them hourly, why would you give them all the money? He keeps track of his time on each lawn, I know how long each lawn takes and if he is milking the clock or not. I''m a solo op and that doesn't stop me from going on vacation. It's all about finding the right person and trusting them.
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Jimslawncareservice

LawnSite Platinum Member
Location
mn
I just got big enough to have an employee. good thing because I was out 3 days last week. work got done as usual. even went on a cruise in june. piss on this solo stuff
 

xstatikplus

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
toronto ontario
Ideally you can trust an employee especially you right hand man. Grease that guy a little with a bonus for covering. The rest of the employees it's same as every other day. Same hourly rate. If you are solo suck it up and don't go on vacation or try your luck having someone you know cover you but as past poster said that is hard to find with no headache. Maybe work out a deal with another solo guy and cover each other but beware of contract bandits :)
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Roger

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
McMurray, PA
For those getting other LCOs to cover, how is that the other LCO has time to fit in your scheduled work, along with their own? Are most LCOs that slack of work that they can just fit in another's schedule along with their own?

I'm solo, and haven't take a day off during season since starting 19 years ago. It is my business, and would not think of trying to find somebody to fill for a week. Any LCO in my area that I would agree to have on the properties is also pretty well filled on their schedule. I know of nobody that I would trust that could just add my work together with theirs. There are plenty of others around that I would never permit to mow my properties, (1) crappy work, (2) they would attempt to steal my customer base.

If another LCO would ask me to fill for them, I would never consider. I have my scheduled well packed out for six days per week, and hardly have enough slack to get my own properties serviced, let alone adding some from another LCO who is gone for a week. The peg board is full.

I know of one LCO that stalks me like a hawk, and desperately wants to take my customers. He does less than average work, and would try to snap up my base if given the chance.
 

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