Making The Move - Getting Out of The Field So You can Grow Your Business

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Sean Adams, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,597

    You decide to start your own lawn care and landscaping business. You get your insurance, your business cards, some equipment and a truck. You tell your friends, family and neighbors and before you know it, you have some work to do.

    Some time passes and without you truly realizing it, you actually have the makings of a real business here. You have a web site and your phone rings, people recognize who you are, your trucks are lettered, you have more equipment, you have a company logo, and a garage overflowing with parts, equipment and tools, and you even have a couple part time people helping you out more often than before.

    Is it time? You know, c'mon, don't be afraid - answer the question.

    Is it time for you to start working your way out of the field and into a true ownership role? Of course you own the business now, but often times in the beginning stages of a lawn care and landscaping business it is easy to feel as if the business actually owns you.

    It has been said by business leaders and gurus for many, many years. You can either work "in" your business, or you can work "on" your business.

    Working "in" your business in this industry is a little different than a lot of other industries. When you are out in the field busting your hump for 12-16 hours a day in the heat and sun it takes a toll on your body and your mind. It makes it that much harder to then shift your focus to working "on" your business, doing tasks like building systems, accounting, budgeting, estimating, marketing, recruiting, customer retention, etc...

    So how does someone make that transition from being out in the field to being in the office (so to speak)?

    Well, there are a couple ways to do this, depending on your situation:

    1.) Gradually transition your way out of the field. In other words, pick a set amount of hours you will work in the field and be determined to stick to this plan no matter what. Let's say currently you are out in the field (and doing other tasks like equipment maintenace, etc.) an average of 70 hours per week. You decide that you are only going to work in the field 30 hours per week now. You are going to work Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 7am to 5pm - no exceptions. This gives you Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Saturday all day to focus on your business. It also gives you from 5pm on on the three work days to run some errands, tie up loose ends, etc....

    To make this work you need to have employees in place that have been properly trained and can be trusted and will follow procedure. Starting out, it is nice to have at least 2 guys ready to go. More than likely you have already been working with them in the field so they are aware of how things should be done. Also, if these 2 employees have only been working with you part-time or on a limited basis, you have to recognize that you now have the financial responsibility to deal with as well - meaning you will now have 2 employees on payroll full time.

    This means that you cannot waste time while working "on" the business. Aside from getting the business organized, creating structure, etc... you have to create and implement a marketing plan. You need to be placing bids, meeting prospects and making sure that you are getting the word out within the confines of your budget.

    Remember, the goal here is to grow the business.

    At first there will be some issues - you will need to implement a work-quality-check procedure to make sure that your employees are doing things the way you expect them to be done and in a timely manner. There will be questions asked and mistakes made. It's part of the process so don't get too frustrated.

    2.) Option two is probably more effective based on a few necessary factors:

    a.) Your business is not in full-operation year round

    b.) You have some money set aside to make this transition

    For example, if you are in the northeast and your business winds down in mid-December and does not pick back up until early April, you have about 16 weeks to get everything ready to go for the upcoming season - a season that will begin WITHOUT you in the field. This makes a lot of new business owners nervous, and rightfully so. Up to this point you have been the one out in the field leading the charge, making sure everything is done and done right. But now you have enough work to legitimately justify two employees handling the load in the spring.

    The issue here is simple - how effectively will you spend those 16 weeks "off"?

    You have to plan routes, find employees, create a handbook, implement procedures and systems, be prepared to incur the expense (and headaches) of two employees, and oh yea...

    Advertise, Advertise, Advertise.

    Get the work, keep building the business. Be as organized as you can be. Find all options to save money. A very common way is for you to maintain equipment and trucks, you are the one who picks up product, you are the one who does estimates, you are the one who gasses the trucks and equipment in the morning, etc...

    Bottom line - make the decision, stick to it, roll with the punches and before you know it, your body will be thanking you, your business will be growing, and you will have the wonderful experience of getting phone calls at 7 am that your employee can't make it to work that day because his cat stole his keys and he has a headache and his doctor told him he needs to start taking longer lunches...

    To read this blog post and more like it go HERE
    precisionlawns218 likes this.
  2. FerrisDiesel

    FerrisDiesel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 447

    I'm diggin all these post by you today Sean, great stuff!!
  3. KrayzKajun

    KrayzKajun LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,737

    Great read. Definitly saving this one.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,597

    Thanks guys. I love this stuff.
  5. elbow300

    elbow300 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 52

    Good read. Thanks! I run a medium sized company for my market. 2 rigs and about 8 employees, but only 6 in the field. One is an estimator and one is a book keeper / office manager. I am considering transitioning someone into a general manager's position, and stepping back a bit from daily operations to start another venture. Any advice on this stage of the game?
  6. Andrew & Ben's Lawn Care

    Andrew & Ben's Lawn Care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 141

    Thanks Sean, this post is really on time. I'm still trying to figure out the details of how to roll into the employees I need. Been solo, or kind of solo; but it's too big for just me. I'm more fortunate that some, my wife is a professional bookkeeper and a Quickbooks expert. I have 2 sons and each work 1 full day a week, (we home school). With the resources I've listed, I've been leaning towards hiring an estimator/design, and 1 full time mowing crew leader. Would really like your opinion or others thoughts on this type of structure.
  7. Executive Lawn Care

    Executive Lawn Care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    Hey Sean,

    Great read, always enjoy what you have to say. I am a very small business currently going into my second season. I have completed all the work solo to the exception of a few heavy days where I picked up a friend to help out. I have limited my services to lawn care services, eliminated landscaping services. I plan to focus on the managerial side of the business as this upcoming season I will have a full time job. I plan to have 1 part time employee, as I will only service about 20-30 lawns per week (3 days? or so). My pricing is where I want it to be, and most of my customers for this upcoming year are repeat customers, and I have kept a really good relationship with all of them.

    I have a different business goal than most, I plan to get up to 50-80 clients for lawn care, at that point I will no longer accept new clients, perhaps weed out the ones that are less profitable.

    I run this business because I truly enjoy running a business as well as lawn care itself , not to mention small engine's. I am a electrical engineering technologist, so it is not about the money at all. Although the company must remain profitable and not low ball competitors.

    I don't want to aggrevate any one with how I run my business, as I can see the full time guys who do this for a living it may seem "wrong". However I truly believe in quality work, with reasonable pricing. I am very honest, and always care what my customers have to say.

    I appreciate any feedback, considering you started your first business the year I was born.


    Stewart !

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