Market drops , 2 customers cancel

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Mdirrigation, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    I too have adopted a "lean and mean" business strategy.
    Reduced employee headcount, account acquisition based on mid level commercial properties targeting full service where I have all of the grounds based maintenance programs except the school district which is strictly "go and blow" service.
    I can, with one laborer, complete two campuses in under seven hours, at an average yield approximating $750.00.
    The high end accounts I have are relatively stable but here too I have addressed the full service approach in order to become the "reliable" service provider verse cheap cost.
    So far this all seems to be working as well as objectively viewing the accounts under contract and not being afraid to re-negotiate slightly downward on price towards service(s) provided since the drought is curtailing time on site.
    End result is I am getting more work based on the above strategy to the point my work week is almost full - meaning these accounts not only meet my revenue requirements but I am making essentially the same profit per week. All with less staff with the only downside being I am spending more time in the field.

    Beats flipping burgers and getting grease burns unless we are talking about fat chicks. Then the "beer goggle" cost off sets that target rich environment.

    Messages: 18,668

    Always seemed to me more field work and fewer guys was more preferable to more guys and more office time. Some people regardless of how well they grow their businesses need to always been in the field for healthy peace of mind.
  3. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,226

    Depends on what you are looking for. I need time away from the field. I haven't used a shovel in 3-4 weeks and won't work again in the field until blow out season. One, I just don't want to. Two, the knee surgery.
    Here is my yearly work schedule:
    April through June - in the field 3/4 time, office 1/4 time (may be closer to 2/3 and 1/3)
    July - 1/2 and 1/2
    August to September - 1/4 field and 1/2 office, if that. August things slow down so I may not even be in the field 1/4 time, and this year is zero time. The remaining 1/4 is me taking off to play.
    October to November 15 - 3/4 and 1/4
    November 15 to March 31 - no field time
    And sprinkled in there are plenty of trips, long weekend get aways, and turning the phone off at 2:00 for hiking or playing

    Works for me having the my guys do most the work, and still make a good living.

    Messages: 18,668

    I agree Dana. Owning a business allows one to design their lifestyle. One of the perks. I've always preferred manual labor to office work. try to do 2 hours of manual labor a day. Right now I'm repairing rotted soffett on a carport. After about 2 hours my listing gets so bad the ladder starts toppling a little then its time to quit.
  5. txirrigation

    txirrigation LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 977

    This year I have been at almost 0 field time. Seems a lot of people are window shopping systems because of the drought and I spend 2-3 full days on bids.

    I try to keep an unpredictable schedule so that I "pop up" at job sites randomly. Although I have great crews, it is always good to just pull up un annouced a few times a week.

    Lean and mean has always been the way I run things. If they are coming back from a day of maintanence with smiles, and joking around it is time to cut the fat. I need a small smile and sweat to know they are working hard.
  6. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 23,168

    Same way I ran it. I liked to wire and did all the clocks and valves. The majority of my time was spent billing, designing, estimating and making sure taxes and payroll was on time. As a sage once told me, "you only make wages unless you have employees."
  7. txirrigation

    txirrigation LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 977

    Also I can provide better customer service when I do not have to be the one in the trenches. When I get a call about a system we have installed it makes the customer happy that I can show up the same, or next day to address the issues. Most of the time it is programming issues,they tried to adjust heads, or "added a garden" and blocked a turf head; but it still translates into referrals when you show up promptly and they get to talk to the owner.
  8. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 23,168

    Yup, that's how to keep the "1 percenters" happy. Many, many times I'd get a call around dinner time, drop my fork and go look at the "problem". Most of the time it was a matter of adjustment, but even if I had to schedule the crew the next day, the clients were pleased that I showed-up, which is 90% of the gig.

    Messages: 18,668

    You can make some serious money as a one man purely service company without employees in Texas or at least in Dallas if you do it right.
    Here is the math
    215 work days a year
    7 hours billing per day on average
    current rate 95/hr

    Then add material profits on that.

    Only problem is how long can you do that physically. I pulled it off for 15 straight years and would have gone another 5 or so except for some unfortunate events.
  10. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,226

    I could not handle the 7-10 hours in the field, PLUS the 2-4 hours in the office and on the phone each day. With our spring and fall rushes, I can get 50-80 calls on a Monday. And that's just the ones that leave messages. I did not want to be a full time worker bee anymore, and would rather manage and delegate, for the most part. Too bad we can't get the $95 an hour here though. Between getting burned out, physically worn down, and mentally worn down, I scaled back my field hours. It was taking its toll on me and the GF. Still does during spring start up time.

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