I'm had a medical emergency recently right before fall cleanups in my second year of business...help

Pencilvestyer

LawnSite Member
Location
Massachusetts
Well to summarize my situation/predicament, I'm in my second full year, I'm still kind of a one man show (hire temporary help when I can, or friends here and there...but fall cleanups is what i've been looking forward to to make my winter nest egg...I've become well established this year ..especially online and without advertising i'm getting 2-5 requests for fall cleanups on a daily basis...through phone calls and my website contact form equally (i think i got maybe 10 fall cleanup requests last fall total, so needless to say this fall a huge improvement from a year ago...

leaves are just about done falling right now, so now is when people want it done

my plan was to rotate friends/part time help to do these cleanups with me all day every day for the next month (i have a $250 min quote for cleanups..most are $350-$450ish..i can do at least two a day with the help of one or two people @ $15/hr for them)....that's about $16k i was kind of anticipating over the next 5 weeks

so that all sounds good and well...except ...


last week I had a near fatal medical emergency...a pulmonary embolism

(which is very rare for an otherwise healthy 30 year male...and i'm told i'm lucky to be alive at 1/4 or them are fatal without warning...1/3 will become fatal if not treated in time...i waited 4 days to go to the hospital and apparntly that was just in time, as they rushed me to the ICU for x-rays/cat scan/ekg/cardiographs/oxygen tubes/blood thinners/24 hour a day monitoring.... and kept me in the hospital for a week..theysaid if i waited until monday like i was planning before a friend convinced me to get it checked out on a friday night.. i would not have survived until that monday) this was completely out of the blue


but i'm out now, treated, recovering, not dying.... but because of the blood clots in my lungs i can't exert myself for more than 30 minutes without getting dizzy and running out of breath. they said it could take 6 months or so before my lungs recover..and advised me not to work. (or sit for too long..or stand for too long...or cut myself while i'm on a pretty high dose of blood thinners..might not stop bleeding i guess)



soooooo.......aside from the obvious problem of "what the hell am i going to do about money this winter?" (that's a problem i'l have to figure out on my own)


the advice i'm here for is...does anyone have any advice on how i should handle these people contacting me without pissing people off/making people think i'm out of business/carry the momentum into 2017? what do i do about all these calls and emails i'm getting of people who want to hire me? (some are calling/emailing multiple times since i havn't responded sounding DESPERATE to get someone to come clean their yard...apparently there's more people who need a landscaper than there are landscapers to do the work... which again would normally be a great thing...if i could work.


does anyone have any advice on how to handle these people to keep my reputation/online presence strong into the spring when i can work again?

I feel like posting a "closed for business" notice on the website would be shooting myself in the foot.

i'm afraid if i answer every single person and tell them i'm out of commission that would hurt more than help. they're not going to bother ever calling backif i do that i think

should i reply and lie and say i'm all booked up, make it sound like i'm in super high demand?

should i just not respond? let them wonder why im not answering...too busy to even answer? (my other theory behind this is that if i tell them i'm all booked, they'll make a note of it...and unlikely to contact me ever again. if i don't answer at all...perhaps they'll assume i'm busy and move onto someone else...by next year they'll still recognize my name ...see my good reviews...but maybe won't remember if they even tried to contact me... (this happens quite a bit....people calling me thinking i'm someone else, or not remember that we already spoke in the past.....no one can keep track of landscaping companies they called and who said what, or who didn't answer...they only remember you if you give them a reason to remember...in my brief experience anyway..so maybe not answering is better than a "courtesy call" ...just hoping they move on and forget and might call again next year....

that could also backfire as i'm sure at least a few would think "f this guy i called him and emailed him twice and he didn't even respond"



sooo...that's my problem. i was hoping to really expand the business to the next level this year..and have money to survive the winter for that matter lol...banking on $16k to $0 very suddenly at this time of year stings...but my main focus is keeping my business alive at all costs with calls continuing to come in for when i'm healthy again.

i'll have to aim towards next year i guess. but any input on how best to shut down for this year while maintaining the illusion that i'm not shut down/closed.. so i can at least carry the customer momentum into next season?

and how to not piss off the 20 or so people who already scheduled cleanups before i had the sudden medical thing for that matter.


sorry for the long post, a lot of this is me thinking aloud (and wondering what you guys think and agree/disagree with my thoughts? i'm just all sorts of confused what to do (so far, i have just not been returning calls for the last week...as i've been overwhelmed with everything.



on the bright side i'm alive, so i got that going for me, which is nice. :D
 

CrystalCreek

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Northern NJ
Glad your ok and hope you make a full recovery. In a situation like this I can only think of one option. Hire help and pay them well. Bring in a few extra guys and explain what's going on. They work, and you supervise. You really only have to replace yourself. I personally would bring in two guys if you have as much work as you say. Its going to eat into your winter next egg, but you have the rest of your life to figure that out. Maybe you get so busy that you make more this method then you anticipated. Either way, save your image, keep people happy, and most important, take care of yourself. Best of luck and keep us posted.
 

KAZ

LawnSite Member
Glad to hear you are better.

I am really confused why your options all include not doing any work? Why don't you hire on a couple guys and sit in the truck every day and watch them do the jobs? It sounds like you want to micro-manage the jobs (maybe not, but the vibe you gave off shows that work 'can't' get done unless you are there). Hire some guys and supervise them doing work. Pay them a normal rate (if $15/hr is normal for you than pay them that) and you get the rest. Pretty simple stuff really. Don't not answer the phone, that is the most unprofessional thing in the world... You are not out of business, so don't tell people that either. What I do when clients call and my company can't take them is tell them 'let me get your full name, address, and phone number and when we expand to service your area I will personally call you with a discount you can use on your first service!'. Do something like that, none of the options you gave are good at all.

Just my $0.01.
 

JLSLLC

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
The Garden State
Glad your alright. Man thats scary. I didnt read through the entire post but you should consider helpers and try to do as little as possible. Let yourself get better before doing anything.. Seriously bro. Hang in there
 
OP
Pencilvestyer

Pencilvestyer

LawnSite Member
Location
Massachusetts
Glad to hear you are better.

I am really confused why your options all include not doing any work? Why don't you hire on a couple guys and sit in the truck every day and watch them do the jobs? It sounds like you want to micro-manage the jobs (maybe not, but the vibe you gave off shows that work 'can't' get done unless you are there). Hire some guys and supervise them doing work. Pay them a normal rate (if $15/hr is normal for you than pay them that) and you get the rest. Pretty simple stuff really. Don't not answer the phone, that is the most unprofessional thing in the world... You are not out of business, so don't tell people that either. What I do when clients call and my company can't take them is tell them 'let me get your full name, address, and phone number and when we expand to service your area I will personally call you with a discount you can use on your first service!'. Do something like that, none of the options you gave are good at all.

Just my $0.01.

thanks for that input (also yeah, without getting into it too much..i definitely need to be there or the work won't get done lol...well not only that i don't see it getting done unless i'm both there and working myself too...i'm not a micromanager...im super easy to work an get along with, i try to keep anyone working with me enjoying themselves/not miserable....and as equal as possible. i hate barking orders at people.

i had some good temp workers who are no longer available for different reasons (plus i couldnt provide them consistent enough work through the summer to expect them to be)

.now....it's just that...i can't find an reliable competent people at this time of year that i can hire for 4-5 weeks....so the crew i'm juggling (one good worker but only available 1 or 2 days a week...and some just friends doing me a favor at this point to finish the year...mostly with no interest or experience landscaping...but blowing leafs i figured they could learn fast enough and not screw around if i pay them fairly)...but let's just say .....they need leadership...lot of leadership...that's putting it nicely heh.

also i like and appreciate your phone idea. thank you my friend.
 

MowDaddy

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Grand Rapids, MN
thanks for that input (also yeah, without getting into it too much..i definitely need to be there or the work won't get done lol...well not only that i don't see it getting done unless i'm both there and working myself too...i'm not a micromanager...im super easy to work an get along with, i try to keep anyone working with me enjoying themselves/not miserable....and as equal as possible. i hate barking orders at people.

i had some good temp workers who are no longer available for different reasons (plus i couldnt provide them consistent enough work through the summer to expect them to be)

.now....it's just that...i can't find an reliable competent people at this time of year that i can hire for 4-5 weeks....so the crew i'm juggling (one good worker but only available 1 or 2 days a week...and some just friends doing me a favor at this point to finish the year...mostly with no interest or experience landscaping...but blowing leafs i figured they could learn fast enough and not screw around if i pay them fairly)...but let's just say .....they need leadership...lot of leadership...that's putting it nicely heh.

also i like and appreciate your phone idea. thank you my friend.

I use to drive school bus for 6 yrs. many of the drivers were looking for parttime jobs that fit into a drivers schedule. Their morning route is done at 8:30 am then afternoon route starts at 2:30. So it was always hard for them to find a job to fill in 6 hrs. Go down to the school bus garage and tell the transportation director what you are looking for. Have help wanted poster in hand. If he/she allows it. Put poster in breakroom, Nice thing with bus drivers is they all have passed, pee tests, and criminal background checks. and they all know how to drive.
 

tonygreek

LawnSite Platinum Member
Location
Connecticut
but i'm out now, treated, recovering, not dying.... but because of the blood clots in my lungs i can't exert myself for more than 30 minutes without getting dizzy and running out of breath. they said it could take 6 months or so before my lungs recover..and advised me not to work. (or sit for too long..or stand for too long...or cut myself while i'm on a pretty high dose of blood thinners..might not stop bleeding i guess)
On the plus side, it sounds like you didn't have an embolectomy, so you're getting the standard run of treatment.

What you want to absolutely make sure you do is follow the doctor's orders. If you push your activity, your body will let you know, so that is a bit of a safeguard against trying to get back in to the field too quickly. The downside is that, not only can it be a lengthy recovery time, but you're now at high risk for future recurrence, especially over the next couple of years. Definitely work with your doctor to figure out what might have caused this in the first place and do what you can to eliminate future risk.

Re: how to handle inbound leads, I would simply say you're booked and try to get their info for next season's work. Not answering your phone, or not returning messages, will not inspire confidence in you to warrant another call in 2017.

With this year's 20 cleanups, you're going to have to contact them and tell them the truth (be brief). That's the issue with being self-employed and not having an emergency plan already in place (such as a partner company to help sub and cover you)

Trying to get your potential guys to cover for you and you having to micromanage them is going to go against what the doctors have told you to do. Being in the field, at all, is going to A.) Not be resting B.) Potentially put you in a position where you need to help. It sounds like your candidates are going to be the type that force you to do just that.

Best of luck.
 

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