Solo vs employee's

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by smallstripesnc, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    Hello everyone,

    While I have some down time I have a question to ask all of you that may have been down this route.

    I started my business solo and have been doing great. This fall I hired a close friend to help me with leaf removals. Without help during leaf season it would of been very difficult with my current set up since I have to lift my leaf vacuum off the tailgate and unloading the leaf box on the back of my truck would of been a real pain.

    For the upcoming mowing season he plans to work with me but after doing the math I won't really be making more with the help. If anything I'll see a loss in income for myself.

    Here's the breakdown.

    10 yards a day at $25 per lawn: $250
    Per week: $1250
    Per month: $5000
    Expenses: $500 per month
    So I pocket $4500 before taxes

    I expect I can do 14 per day at $25 per lawn: $350
    Per week: $1750
    Per month: $7000
    Expenses: $800 (with 2 36in mowers going and more driving)
    Employee pay at $12hr 40 hrs a week: $1920 mo
    Pocket $ $4280 before taxes

    I know the difference isn't that much but I shouldn't be taking a loss when I hire someone. I figure I really can't do more than 14 a day with help. Maybe I can do more than 14 a day with help but I'm really not sure since I know I can do actually 11 a day solo. Now with the expenses of hiring help (legal wise) and knowing I'll be losing cash actually and taking on more lawns and wear and tear on my equipment is it worth it? I DO want to expand my business and hiring help is the only way to expand but I want repeat business every season because I do a very good job not go so fast and have employees mess up so they hire someone new every year like a lot of people do.

    Any advice on my situtation?
  2. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    I recall a fellow I worked for way back in high school telling me that one thing a person always has to remember in business (this was a retail business, but the principle is the same), is that anytime you add an employee, you have to generate enough additional business to not only cover the costs associated with that employee, but turn an extra profit, as well.

    In other words, there are times when it makes sense to hire an employee, and times when it doesn't. Only you can make that decision. There are other things to consider as well, though. An employee is like a renter. Nothing in the world any better than a good one, nothing any worse than a bad one. A good employee you can trust can be a valuable asset, covering for you if you are ill, etc, so there are times when it isn't necessarily all about dollars and cents.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  3. Forever Green Landscaping

    Forever Green Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 138

    What equipment are you using and size of the properties? Those numbers sound really low for how many can be done in an 8 hour day or you have a separate stop for every property and drive a lot
  4. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    Two 36in hydro walk behinds redmax8500 and br600 blower redmax trimmers. Use trimmers for edging as well.

    Im working on my route but yes seperate stop for most properties. Few are next to each other but some are in same developments but not walking distance.
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  5. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I would expect to take in more than an additional $100 per day for adding an employee. I don't see you factoring in taxes on your employee, or is that $12/hr with taxes included? Personally I would look at increasing my productivity by looking at my equipment and see if it's really the most efficient for the work I have as well as weeding out those accounts that are less profitable. I know things are different in different areas, but $25 per lawn seems really low to me. I have one lawn at that rate and it's tiny, less than 1,000 sq ft. And if you don't actually have the additional work, it's all a moot point anyway. In my case, I have part-time help in the summer for my mowing route (sons), as needed. It's usually only 4 or 5 hours a day for 2 or 3 days but sometimes more. I could do it without the help, but it's just easier for me to have help so I'm not busting my tail for 10 or 12 hours a day. Yeah I make less, but I'm willing to make that trade-off.
  6. dhardin53

    dhardin53 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 710

    Before you hire anyone, first spend you money on better equipment. The time savings with better more appropriate equipment will make you fare more money than having to hire someone to use your slow production equipment.

    One man with the best and fastest production is priceless. Two guy working there a$$ off going the same job is NOT cost effective. Having said that even the best and most productive equipment will not fix all problems. Many times it is the mind set of the guy running the equipment causing slow downs.

    Just my opinion and experience.
  7. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,725

    I don't care for your numbers either but using your numbers if you increased that from 14 to 16 that's an additional 1000 dollars a month. Bump it up to 17 or 18 per day and now you got your extra profit 1500 to 2000 more than you budgeted for and you ought to see an increase in your income.

    You just caught me at a time when having employees has a real benefit and if I was solo I would be in real trouble this week. I got about a dozen more clean ups to go and on Saturday I managed to crack a rib working. I was trying to push a metal flex tube on the vac and as I held it in my arms I must have had to much pressure against my side because I snapped a rib and I heard it with my headphones on. Now If I were solo there is no way I could finish my clean ups this will take about 2 months to heal so as much as their slacking and bad work habits drive me nuts right now I am glad to have this week.
  8. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    $25 a lawn is a little low but I do have properties that pay $35 or so. Also my issue isnt getting the jobs either. I turn down tons of work because theres simply not enough hours in a day.

    As for equipment I have all I need to run solo. I only use 36in mowers because mostly all ny properties have gates and they also are all less than 1/2 acre. Most are 10000sq feet or less but few are bigger.

    Now I would be using an additional 36in walk behind so two mowers at once.

    I know I couldnt do over 15 a day with help because of the dtiving unless i got a really tight route which takes time.

    Getting more work isnt hard at all. So I know I would be covered in that sense.

    Im just scared to mess up a friendship since he's a close friend and needs the cash. At the same time I want to watch out for myself.
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  9. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Not sure you'd need another mower. What about one guy doing the mowing and one guy doing the trimming/edging/blowing. That's how I do it and how most in my area do it as well. The trimmer/blower guy will sometimes have some down time, depending on the lawn, which can be spent keeping the truck & trailer organized and the handheld equipment fueled, wind trimmer spools, etc.
  10. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    For me the issue with that is I can trim/edge and blow within 5 minutes average. So really I would be standing around a lot if I were the one doing that.

    Like I said its not that I am against an employee but I know the legal cost of having help and not being able to do that many more lawns means my profit wont be as much as doing it solo.
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