managerial analysis of mowing crews

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by BradLewisLawnCare, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. PLS-Tx

    PLS-Tx LawnSite Silver Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 2,384

    I don't think I would ever run one man crews for reasons already pointed out. More trucks, equipment ect. Also, I think it would bring that one man down knowing he has to do everything alone.

    Most guys like to have someone to talk to and share the work load. I think it keeps them motivated.

    Two man crews seem to be working for us. I think anymore than that is overkill unless it's very large properties.

    I have considered three men at times, depends on that days route, but never four.
  2. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,984

    How much are you paying those guys?

    You get what you pay for.

    Edging and line trimming around obstacles is harder and more skill and takes more time to master then mowing.

    So why is your best man with the skills and the highest pay put in the position of doing the easiest and less skilled work?

    Sometimes I go out alone, sometimes my friend comes out. He is not good as me at edging or as fast. We get to a stop he does the tight areas with the 20" push while I'll get on the 42" rider. When he's done with the 20" he takes over the 42" and then I edge and trim. Whoever gets done first gets the blower. So if I'm blowing he'll load up the trailer and were both done at the same time.

    Work must be matched to the ability of the employee not by I'm here the longest/senior man. He's not getting paid the most money to be doing the easiest work, well he should not be.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  3. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,311

    Dollars per hour, you'll never beat 1 man crews.

    I never made as much money mowing as when I had 2 one man crews and 1 two man crew. There's a good chance you won't either.

    If everything stays the same, more or less, I will be going back to that by next year, if not sooner.
  4. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,759

    I won't run one man by himself unless I have to. IMO 2 man crews are more effecient, winshield time can be a killer but that is up to the manager to make tight routes. One main reason I don't like sending guys alone is if they A) get hurt and no one is around B) something breaks two guys usually have an easier time trouble shoting C) our mowers sometimes get suck at on site sumping areas, with no one around the one guy could be there for an hour or more waiting for the cavalry D) 2 people act as quality control and to pick up wherever there is slack. We have run 1, 2, and 3 man crews and 2 always seems to be the most effecient. On larger properties we have "family day" and we all work together.
  5. agent walker

    agent walker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 467

    why would you turn a new guy loose on a $15,000 mower if he can't run a $300 weed eater??
  6. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,311

    We're not talking opinions, we're talking facts. Time studies have shown over and over and over that 1 man crews are more efficient that 2 or 3 man crews. FOR MOWING ONLY. I did it. I don't run CLIP anymore so I can't get my proof, but I did it and consistently made more dollars per hour with 1 man than 2 man crews.
  7. dhardin53

    dhardin53 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 710

    What your missing in your analysis is the vas potential for unknowns.

    Literally thousands of small and large time consuming events will keep you busy for months trying to get your numbers to show any consistency. And without some kind of stable base starting point you will hard pressed to be able to accurately asses real hard number to help you in pricing. All I ever hope for is a close average. And this is found in 3 or 4 mows. But after doing this for 13 or 14 years it is my experience that I depend on to get a price estimate that is close to real time in mowing.

    May be on a assembly line with a machine set to produce X amount of product a hour is one thing. But to have a plan of consistent profit is frightening for me to think about.
    I mow a lot of large properties, I put a old GPS on my mower and it gave me average speed, time stopped and miles driven. Sweet I thought I had a start on getting some real number to work with. But I like to stripe these big properties so the next time I mowed the opposite direction and took the same GPSS comparison. WOW what a difference.

    Most LCO have a minimum as I do. this minimum charge covers the smallest yards and the next step up in my pricing is in $5 increment. So to charge $25 for a very very small yard that I spend 12 minuets on. It could looks as I am making more money on this yard. Then a slightly larger yard for the same money, Or the yard that is same size yet has many obstacle to mower and trim around I charge $30 for.

    You cant plan on when the customers children will leave there toys in the yard that your guys have to move, Or it rained and the guys had to mow slower. I had gout in my toe last week and it took a lot longer on the simplest lawns.

    Brad I hope your not trying to get your number down to the point that you have a $26.75 lawn charge? It appears you like numbers and are good at them (I am not) I would think a GPS on all your mowers and trucks and hour meter on all your hand held. You could then analyze time worked/income produced. For me this is all I track. X number of minutes worked produced X dalliers.

    The last time i check my number in a days work I averages $1.15 per minute. That is actual machine time, on the customers ground working. Ok I stared at 10 am and finished at 3:30 =5.5 hour day. But I worked mowing 3.57 hours to generated $250. (This was a good day) BUT in a day when I generate $175 ( slow day) I still average a $1.00 to $1.15 per minute. This is all my little brain can analyze and of course dose not account for all the daily unknowns and imposable factors that keeps one busy in a day.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  8. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 7,961

    Not considering windshield time....

    You would be hard pressed to prove to me that 1 man is more productive than 2.

    You are not going to get much of an improvement with 3 for Mowing on residential lots.

    The variables are - Solo operator that does not worry about Workers Comp or have to match FICA for the second guy.

    The lead guy mowing should take some time showing the guys how to run the whip. There are areas the mower is not going to get and that is a point of contention on some crews.

    The main purpose of running 3 and 4 man crews on smaller properties is to train. That is going to cost you money. I will also run 3 man crews when they do a mix of property sizes. I would dare say a 3 man crew can be equally effective as a 2 man crew.
  9. BradLewisLawnCare

    BradLewisLawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 279

    I am only trying to establish "problem" customers. I think that is the main concern. I looked at my 10 worst lawns last night in terms of being off from a percentage of what the labor costs were to service. All of them had unnecessary obstacles. One the lady makes us enter through the garage because the back yard has no entrance. so push only. Another has a 48 inch gate so we can squeeze in but you can't just start mowing again. you have to do your border. Another has tenants that want a golf course and a landlord that wants to pay for every 2 weeks. something there has got to give. 2/3 of the 3 I have let politely told them i'd mow until they find someone else. They have found someone else already.

    Along with problem customers, its nice to know what the average time for a certain lawn is so when employees take 30 minutes longer I have no problems asking why. Or having records. My brother who mows keeps a record book for his times at all properties. He enjoys doing this on the side and has nothing to do with me. He likes it and challenges himself. The only thing I require is to log in/out at every property. I know driving time because i can see the gaps in the logs. I don't penalize a property for its location. not in analysis. that factor will be adjusted after.

    so I am willing to tolerate up to a 25% discrepancy in what i want to make and what i am making. i.e. $100 lawn selling for $80, but when its selling for $60 I have to bring it back in line. The 80->100 property can be made better through efficiencies and getting better at the property. This analysis is intended to include toys, customers chatting and all other information. The point is I want to know what It costs to be there. I have to pay people to be there. I am a $5 per increment guy and have a minimum (y-intercept :us flag:). We have from $25 --> $175 (with our largest being $300 a 5-6 man hour cemetery). So at the cemetery we are billing $50-$60 per hour.

    Now the question how much am I paying people per hour? I have 8 guys on payroll. They range from $7.50 for a laborer and grunt worker to $13 for our mechanic/landscaper (no mechanic degree, but has his name on the wall at the local mavis discount tire as a certified lift operator and went to high school with him). All guys are paid 1.5X labor rate after 40 hours in a week.
  10. BradLewisLawnCare

    BradLewisLawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 279


    Per man hour. doing $400 in lawns solo or $600 with 2 guys ($300 per guy /day).

    I am growing and have enough demand and equipment to send 2 guys separate for 2 $400 days. If separate they can bring in $800 by running another truck. Todays example. one guy is scheduled for 11 small lawns and the other is scheduled 7 larger lawns. the small lawn guy is scheduled for $330 in revenue. The larger is scheduled for $385. Friday the small lawn guy has 14 for $460 and the larger lawn guy has 7 @ $545. so 2 guys could bring in $715 and $1005 on consecutive days when separate. I wonder if they could do 18 and 21 with the driving necessary to get to these places. I'm cutting window time in half and sending them to locations with equipment necessary. could be totally different than the areas everyone else is mowing. We have a lot of 2000 sq ft properties. We get $25 for and some take 6 minutes to do. but 2 guys at a 6 minute lawn can only be cut down to 3-4. One red light would costs you more than servicing it.

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