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Solo Op vs 2 crew op.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by kaufmaninc, Apr 14, 2003.

  1. kaufmaninc

    kaufmaninc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 168

    Can a solo operator be competitive against a 2 crew operation. If not, why? It would seem to me that overhead just escalates expotentially with with the above. What's your 2 cents worth ?
  2. adrianvbarrera

    adrianvbarrera LawnSite Member
    Messages: 163

    I need to gather more numbers on that to get a clear picture how things work.

    My thoughts are that when you go from being solo to a two man crew you do the lawn faster but your overhead for travel doubles on each trip because you are paying your guy while he sits on the truck on the way to the other lawn. You are paying him while you talk to the customer about the weather and such.

    As the size of the lawn grows.....the doubling of travel time becomes less damaging.

    When I expand I am looking into having several one man crews.

    I think that if you are paying for travel time then you need less people. Unless of course the lawn is huge then more people need to be there.

  3. scott's turf

    scott's turf LawnSite Senior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 949

    You must also remember that having several one man crews means that you will have to have several trucks, trailers, and all the other equipment to furnish it.
  4. adrianvbarrera

    adrianvbarrera LawnSite Member
    Messages: 163

    Yes I did take that into account.

    I figure that taking in a second person increases your production about 30%if all else stays the same.

    If the profit margin is the same with two complete outfits then that is what I will do. Rather than try to increase efficiency by only 30% and increasing overhead.

    I really need to look more into this.....all my answers I'm shooting from the hip.

  5. musselman

    musselman LawnSite Senior Member
    from utah
    Messages: 301

    This is a tough question....I found that that I lost money at the beginning because I did have to much work for 1 man but not enough for two guys, but I did keep picking up accounts so later it was profitable, but it was not worth the headaches employes cause from not doing it right down to paying the taxes and insurance for them...I went back to a one man operation that hires a buddy occasionally if I get behind and Im much happier and making almost as much money
  6. fox

    fox LawnSite Member
    from MN
    Messages: 57

    the last service i owned, i employed 6 employees on 3 mowing routes servicing 240 accounts weekly. i now run a solo operation servicing 55 customers weekly, and i take home the same amount of $. the key is productivity, close accounts, efficent machines, and a healthy work ethic. it works for me, but has taken me a decade to get too. seems liuke i still have room for more.
  7. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,491

    I'm a solo and always have been (since 1989). All I can tell you is what has happened to me. I pull up to one of my accounts and there's another 2 man crew cutting next door. Same size house, same size yard with about the same amount of trimming on both lots. This 2 man crew is already cutting when I get there. I unload and edge, mow and then trim and blow. Guess what? We both leave at the same time. We both do a good job. Either I'm incredibly effecient, or the 2 man crew is just coasting along taking their time or downright goofing off. I have always felt that the most effecient operation is the the 1 man operation with the husband/wife team running a close second.
  8. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    A solo operator can do X amount of lawns. A 2 man crew (which I have several of) can for the most part do twice as much. If I am paying my men $15 an hour (and billing at $65 an hour), won't I make more money in the long run vs. a 1 man crew?

    It seems that way for the previous 9 years now...
  9. MacLawnCo

    MacLawnCo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,847

    You need to realize that your overhead is not going to change either. (should not) You all ready have at least one trimmer, edger, and blower. While you are mowing, the other stuff sits. Pick up another guy and that equipment moves as you move the mower.

    Try this for example.

    you do a $30 lawn in 30 mins. that is $60 per hour gross and $45 per hour after wages.

    you and a helper do that $30 lawn in 20 mins. Thats $90 per hour gross with only an additional $15 max in wages, resulting in $60 per hour after wages(2 at $15).

    If you have the right helper, as i did, we were cutting my times exaclty in half. that grosses $120 per hour and you may then want to up thier wage to $20 or so, leaving $85 per hour after wages($15 and $20).

    *note, these rates are based on time spent on the lawns, since thats how i have my rates and budget set up.

    You are correct in saying that your drive time cost will double, but look at the big picture.

    If you mow 6 hrs per day, with 2 hours window time, that results in:
    -at $60/hr billable and $15 per hour labor...... $360 gross, $240 after wages
    -at $90/hr billable and (2) $15 per hour labor.....$540 gross, $300 after wages
    -at $120/ hr billable and labor at $15 and $20....$720 gross, $440 after wages

    ** the numbers are just theoretical, but may be close.

    I know what i am going to choose, hopefully this has helped at least one of you since 30 mins has just passed i should have been writing my paper with.
  10. Now I only have one crew with a big mower.


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