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I have a problem...

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by grassrootsinab, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. grassrootsinab

    grassrootsinab LawnSite Member
    from up here
    Messages: 215

    I know I shouldn't be griping but this spring I seem to be overwhelmed with new customers. I teach full-time and cut in the evenings during school and a couple of days per week in the summer. I'm really at the point where I can't keep up and need to hire an employee. The problem is that I only have enough work for 1 guy for about 25 hours per week. Any ideas? The last 4 years I've had a high school student help for 3 hours a night for about 4 nights a week (I was always on site) and that worked great, but now I have too many for even that.

    I hate to pass up jobs, especially referals (" I talked to so-and-so and they said you do really good work and I really need someone to look after our yard") from loyal customers. I really want to grow this business and manage it and hire some summer students. I guess I need some advice from guys that have been in similar situations. Thanks.

  2. walker-talker

    walker-talker LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 4,771

    I am not in this situation yet, but have you considered giving up teaching? Is having someone mow for you an option?
  3. marko

    marko LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 963

    If you hire someone just be aware of the maintenance (calls during the day from him, not showing up etc.) If you look at some employee posts here, you can tell it's not that easy to find a good employee. If you have enough work to hire or consider hiring an employee for 25 hrs/week, why not use your students as you said you did in the past? 3 students @ 2 hrs a day per week = 30 hours. Its just till you get out for the summer, right?
  4. grassrootsinab

    grassrootsinab LawnSite Member
    from up here
    Messages: 215

    Yeah Marko, I really feel the crunch for May and June. The problem I have with hiring some High School students is the maturity issue (trust with the truck and trailer etc.). They are great workers when I am on site but to leave them to themselves is a HUGE trust issue. I think that finding the right person to do the "labour" is the best option. It's how I got started...I worked for a guy (accountant) that started his mowing company in university. My cousin and I worked for him and now I've spun off my business in a different town. I'd really like to have a university student do the work and then I can grow my business to 50 or 60 clients. Right now...counting my wait list I have 35 so I think it's very doable.

    I have thought about quitting teaching. The problem up here is I only get 4 good months (Late April -Sept) where the lawns are actively growing so I'd have to find something to do through the winter (subtitute teaching isn't an option...) I'd have to spin off landscape design etc which would be interesting but isn't in the cards right now.
  5. Littleriver1

    Littleriver1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 811

    Raise your prices! Your probably not charging enough.
  6. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    Learn to say no rather than get yourself so overbooked you have to drop jobs or give them away.It's hard to say no to $$ knowing it will go into somebody elses pocket,but you have to know your limits too.
  7. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 4,205

    Saying "no" also helps keep you out of the funny farm................... :D
  8. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,281

    Im still in high school, and have managed 50 accounts in the past 2 years with my grandfather helping me. Dude you just gotta bust ASS till school lets out.
  9. grassrootsinab

    grassrootsinab LawnSite Member
    from up here
    Messages: 215

    Thanks for the input guys, I appreciate it. I have a line on a former student (in university now) who is coming home to work on their farm....might want to supplement income a bit.

    Little River, I don't think I can raise prices. I service mostly small residential lots in my town (50' x 110' with an average 1500 sq ft house +driveway) so the actual lawn area is quite small. I see posts here that cut 1/4 acre for $30-45 so I am definitely in line with that price.

    There was one other fellow cutting part time in our town and he and his wife closed shop this spring. I'm getting most of their customers...that's where the growth is coming from mostly. I'd hate to lose the "monopoly" in my town by passing up work. I know I need to set a limit but if I get an employee to do the cutting I can continue to grow at a reasonable rate (love to have 100-130 clients total and 2 employees within 4 years). Thanks for letting me vent...I know it runs long sometimes.
  10. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Messages: 4,040

    Hi grassrootsinab,

    I hear you. I agree with Littleriver1 though. Maybe if you raise your prices, some may say no but others might say yes and then you could focus on a limited number of high paying customers.

    Just a thought.

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