Productivity Increase: From Solo to One Employee

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Mark McC, May 24, 2005.


Solo to two-person crew: What percentage did your total volume increase?

Poll closed Jun 14, 2005.
  1. Total production increased less than 50%

    4 vote(s)
  2. Total production increased between 50% and 66%

    3 vote(s)
  3. Total production increased between 66% and 75%

    0 vote(s)
  4. Total production increased by more than 75%

    0 vote(s)
  1. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,565

    This is not a consideration for me this year, but will be next year. I've had it in my head that once an employee is trained and up to speed (needing a good six weeks, I project), total productivity will increase by about 60%. However, I see that not everyone agrees.

    What has been your experience with productivity increases going from a solo operator to a two-person crew?
  2. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    First of all Mark, 6 weeks is way to long. If the person doesn't fully understand the job in 5 - 7 days, it's hasta la vista IMO. 60% productivity? Way low IMO. You need to rethink your numbers my friend...or pm me and I will cover this in greater detail.
  3. pagefault

    pagefault LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 492

    I'd be interested to know too. I'm still trying to get more efficient, but right now it seems that trimming, edging and blowing take almost exactly the same amount of time as mowing. If there were two of us, there would be fewer trips to the truck, less time required to load and unload everything and more time spent working, so I would expect my time per lawn to be a little less than half of what it is now, if the guy works as hard as I do.
  4. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,565

    Hey Rod, when I say six weeks to train, I mean six weeks until the employee knows what to do on each yard without any intervention on my part. Six weeks is a heckuva long time for just basic training, but to get them working smoothly and seamlessly? I'm not sure, as you can tell. Thanks, I will PM you about this.

    Pagefault, I love the idea that productivity would more than double (time per lawn less than half what you're spending now), but that strikes me as perhaps too hopeful. It would rock if you're right, but that just doesn't ring true right offhand. I'll find out!
  5. pagefault

    pagefault LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 492

    I have no idea. I'm just curious to hear the answer.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    With a good, solid worker you can cut the time on each lawn in half, but as long as you have to drive from lawn to lawn you won't double your daily productivity. If you have 2 hours of drive time a day, you have 2 hours a day, regardless of whether it's just you or you and one or two other guys.

    I figure a week or so to get the hang of things...but to really work in sync, as a team, that can take much longer...or may never happen at all.
  7. Gilla Gorilla

    Gilla Gorilla LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 923

    Hey Mark

    I just had my first employee for this season start last Monday. I stuck him with the trimmer and edger for two days and the blower on the second day. He is in his late 30's and he picks up rather quickly.

    Yesterday we pulled up to an existing customers house and a house that just signed on with me last week to be cut for the first time this week. I told Wayne to come behind me as I would make the first pass around the house and all of the obsticals so he did not have to gauge how much to trim before I mowed in those areas. Well It worked out great. The house that I had been cutting by myself would take me around 30 minutes to do with trimming edging cutting and blowing. We did both houses in 42 minutes and they combine for $78 for each cut. Man if only I could get my route down and that tight or at least have two houses for each time I drop the gate.

    Oh and the new house has a ton of trimming around things but only a curb line to edge not a sidewalk.

    FERT-TEK LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,035

    I fly solo, but have thought about this a bit while out on the back 40 acres and daydreaming.

    Here is my two cents, have you considered how having an employee will affect your bottom line..... profitability because of insurance, workers comp etc. No argument you will definitely be more productive but it will only be worthwhile if you are able to add extra accounts to compensate. The other side of the coin is that adding one employee will lead to two or three and eventually a crew working on its own.
  9. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,565

    Lots of great input. Andrew, right on about the windshield time, I figure a two-man operation can expect 2.5 hours per day in northern VA. What say ye?

    Justin, if you get the right worker, it's a piece of cake, but I've heard horror stories about that, too. Some in this field manage to consistently recruit well. I think recruiting is one of those skills that is essential to grow an LCO big enough to give the boss a break someday.

    I know of at least one LCO who pays his crew $15/hour and crew chiefs $22.50 an hour. That kind of money can buy some quality to be sure, but I'm not sure I'll be able to pay $15 right away. Worth the difference right away? I have no clue.
  10. pagefault

    pagefault LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 492

    Wow. I'm looking at about a peak of 15 minutes for 8 accounts (currently my busiest day).

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