Roles of Office Staff - Managing Growth

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by CSR, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. CSR

    CSR LawnSite Member
    from AB
    Messages: 34

    I've been bouncing around the last couple years with doing most office work myself, to last year trying to hire someone that could handle taking calls, input some schedules, help with receipts, etc. But he wasn't experienced in any of this at that point, so I didn't save as much time/money as I thought. But I'm to the point where I can't wear all the hats anymore and keep things running smoothly. We are generating sales of about $350K-$400K/yr right now. We do landscape construction, fert/weed control, mowing (res and comm), and plowing in the winter. The saying "do one thing well" goes through my head a lot. I could sell off lawn care equipment and focus on landscape and weed control, but I now own all the lawn equipment (no payments, except for a 1-ton), so it's hard to sell it off (4 mowers, zero turn, trimmers, aeration, power rake, 3/4 ton truck, blowers) when the opportunity is there to make money off it. Personally I would rather keep the landscaping and weed control side of things, and if I had to sell lawn care, but I would rather keep all of it if I can.

    If I keep the equipment, how do you utilize office staff and make it worth it? Or is it too soon to hire more help financially? What roles are they actually playing in the office? Do you hire an in house bookkeeper that is also a secretary? Should I take on the management of landscaping and they oversee the lawn care crews, scheduling, etc? Do they need to have experience or can you train them? What roles do you as the owner make sure to not delegate, or always delegate?

    I've felt the effects of burnout and losing any motivation to keep things going as a result of losing traction because of the mundane and day to day tasks that keep me from actually growing, strategizing, and just simply having too much on my plate. If I can focus on leadership, numbers, strategies, etc. instead of emails and maintenance I could make some progress in cutting expenses, efficiency, marketing, and on and on. I know there is potential for growth if I manage things properly.

    For those with the experience, I would love to know how you grew into hiring the extra help in the office and what that all looks like.
     
  2. AGRinATX

    AGRinATX LawnSite Member
    Messages: 177

    Our receptionists/admin assistants/secretaries/whatever you want to call them handle calls, billing, small job scheduling, route prep, lead conversion, and customer service. Our office manager handles larger install scheduling, crew management, sod procurement, and higher level customer service (also fire putter outer). Our different division managers handle their own material procurement, customer service as needed, and scheduling on the micro level. There is some overlap and we're in a period of growth and reorganization, but the office staff is CRITICAL to our success. There is no way I could do my job if I had to take on even a portion of their work load.
     
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  3. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Male
    Messages: 11,585

    the trouble with key personnel is you need to hire them BEFORE you fully need them.
     
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  4. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,552

    And it makes for so little stress...
     
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  5. CSR

    CSR LawnSite Member
    from AB
    Messages: 34

    Thanks for the replies.

    At what point did you hire staff? Was it once you hit a certain number of employees or revenue? Or just once you felt you could't handle it anymore?

    Another question, simply because of my inexperience thus far, how do you deal with such office staff getting sales and converting leads while they make an hourly wage? Have you ever had them say "I got you all these sales and help with leads, I want a cut of that." Do you give them a cut somehow or just say I'm paying you to do that?
     
  6. Gus McGee

    Gus McGee LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    Unless you want to burn the candle at both ends, you have to hire and delegate tasks to other people.

    You have to factor in opportunity costs. It made sense for me to begin hiring others when I realized I spent far more time in an office not generating revenues or sales than out in the field generating new business or revenue.

    It depends on where you live, but basic administrative assistants can be had for as low as 9 - 10 an hour. After taxes, workmans comp, etc, it comes out to like 15 an hour. Every hour that assistant is costing me 15 an hour I can generate 50 - 100 per hour, or end up landing new contracts. I come out way ahead by having an assistant.

    You have to do a cost benefit analysis of everything you do. If you decide to free up some time to sip martinis instead of generate revenue or sales, it will not make financial sense to hire someone. You also have to determine what your stress levels and free time is worth to you.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
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  7. CSR

    CSR LawnSite Member
    from AB
    Messages: 34

    Thanks, I'm realizing that the time comes when I can't focus on getting sales. If my office tasks are greatly reducing my time to focus on bringing in customers and focus on strategy then time to hire help! Thanks!
     
  8. Efficiency

    Efficiency Banned
    from zone 6
    Messages: 1,854

    My personal opinion says youre not ready for admin overhead at 350-400k per year.

    What ive always found useful when i get overloaded is the list all the things i do. There are 2 columns, the me critical things and the monotonous things i should be offloading to my staff. Once you have that list, its a starting point to help you define and streamline those tasks (need to develop written processes if you haven't already) and it also helps shape the job description youre hiring or promoting someone into.
     
  9. BrendonTW

    BrendonTW LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Oklahoma City
    Messages: 822

    I agree. I started having assistance around the 700k mark. If you have the margins you can do it, but it will potentially slow you down a bit due to the added expense even with good margins. Good margins on 400k might be 40-60k. A “cheap” part time assistant will cost you 10-15k, which is a big part of your profit. And that’s with “good” 10-15% margins.

    How many dollars in revenue do you want to grow by next year? How much time will it require you to sell that much? Will having an assistant 20 hours per week truly free you up to get that business, or will it free you up to do more work with your crew? If it’s option two, considering hiring another crewman and/or train one of your guys to be a foreman so that you’re prepared to start another crew.

    Growth comes EASY when you’re small, so get ready for the growth. It will come your way without a ton of time/energy/money. It’s a lot easier to grow by 30-40% when your smaller than when you’re big. Just ask @Efficiency

    Wait to bring in the extra overhead until you truly don’t have time to do the other stuff.
     
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  10. Efficiency

    Efficiency Banned
    from zone 6
    Messages: 1,854

    If you asked me today, I would tell you growth will be the end of me. We got a single inch of snow. I was so close to telling off a property management company that gives us over 200k in snow work. My lawn care operations manager pointed out to me later that I am the problem with snow. Sometimes it takes a true friend to point out the issues in our way. Guess i need to hire a snow ops manager now.

    Growing 40% on 300k is easy. Growing 40% on 2 million sucks. I got the t shirt
     
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