supervisor or owner ratio to # of crews

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by HBFOXJr, Mar 11, 2002.

  1. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,712

    How many crews can one effectively sell for and supervise?
  2. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    This is what I'm struggling with now... as we go from "3.5" crews to 4 crews this year within the company (one construction and 2.5 maintenance crews now, going to three full time maintenance crews - for a total of 11 guys over four crews), looking to be at 4.5 to 5.0 next year.

    I'm struggling with the job responsibility issue. If you give him the ability to hire/fire, than their people management skills have to be excellent, as you entrust the future of your company with their decisions. Otherwise, a strong right hand man can provide good job supervision, but would have to be open about communicating employee concerns if you're not there to get them first hand.

    I am looking to make my right hand man, a senior foreman, flexible with his scheduling so he can work around to the various properties and give feedback as to how they are being maintained, yet remain as billable as possible. I do not want him to become overhead.

    With respect to sales, I don't have a training program established... or guidelines for how/what to sell. I will have to use him as a guinea pig in some ways to see what I have to teach, as I have just learned through experience over the last 15 years. I don't want to just throw things at him. However, our foreman do upsell to the customers on their routes. So, they are selling now - but just not new sales.

    Tough question... I'd be interested to hear how people use supervisors to watch over foreman. What type of job responsibilities are they given? How do you monitor their progress? How do you evaluate their performance?
  3. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    There are a few folks from whom I'd love to hear on this topic.

    Because we do no maintenance, there really are no regular, steady cash flows for us. That means that each year I have to sell everything we do, and I'm at the point where I need to be more selective with the appointments I take, because I'm maxxed out on the number of appointments I can take in a day/week/year. There just aren't any more hours in the day to squeeze more in.

    Unless I turn over more of the production to others, leaving more of the daytime open for appointments.

    Otherwise, without better lead screening or decreased production load for me, we'll be stuck at the current sales level forever.
  4. stslawncare

    stslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    from DE
    Messages: 1,484

    isnt this the same exact question that was asked about 5 threads down? it was a great thread with great answers and we all agreed on them? am i missing something or confused?
  5. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    sts, unless I'm missing something, it's different. The other thread is asking about # of laborers per foreman, while this one is asking how many crews can a single person sell for, and supervise (as in the person in question supervising foreman, not laborers).

    Sort of the next logical step in company growth, if I understand it correctly.

    Also, if I understand it correctly, this question can likely be answered well by only a small number of people here, because there are few that have more than a single layer of mgt.
  6. Lanelle

    Lanelle LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,361

    I think this is a different question. The previous thread talks about how many laborers a foreman can supervise. This thread is taking it to the next level. How many crews (foreman/laborers) can a manager/owner supervise and sell work for. Once a company gets to the multiple crew size---developing a way to adequately oversee the work performance while also selling new work and assuring customer satisfaction can become a challenge which can be met in various ways. This is when reports and systems become more important, even if they aren't terribly formal.
  7. garydale

    garydale LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 813

    Don't you just love growing pains?

    Just a couple of points:

    Be careful promoting your best worker to sales/ oversite or you could lose a good man. It takes special skills and mentality to do sales.
    I would try to determine what you personnally like to do most and then plan to deligate your lesser duties.

    I believe you are ready for a full fledged salesperson. Someone who likes people contact,is experienced and a self starter.

    They do not need a lawn/landscape background as much as a strong sales desire. You will need to train he/she about how you do things anyway.

    If it turns out that you love sales, then find a good operation guy.
    Good luck, Gary
  8. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,712

    Yeah, watch that promote from within stuff. Some guys just wanna do the same old same old and look like deer in the headlights when faced with the sole task of managing others and sales.

    I've had 2 guys in the last 2 years that turned down the opportunity. One, I called his bluff because he wanted more money so I said he needed to take more responsibility. When I outlined what I expected for the big, fat dollars he was gone to a place where he could just work more OT as a foremen. Didn't want him anyhow.

    The other guy ha sbeen here since '83 and said he was happy the way things are now. I had asked him about more winter work contcting property managers, companies, past leads and exisiting customers about fert & irrigation.

    I find it difficult to sell and manage more than 4 crews. Three is comfortable considering the nature of our business is all small work such as fert programs, alittle mowing one day, irrigation service and some installs of varying sizes.

    If I were to grow with a full time manager we'd have to double our operation to 6-7 crews to support him.
  9. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    Gary - how true, how true.

    One thing that I learned/heard in a class is that good technician does not necessisarily make a good foreman. I suppose the same theory, a good foreman does not necessarily make a good supervisor or salesperson.

    One of the things I've considered is breaking up the task of managing relationships as we grow. Not that the title matters, but calling these "managers" relationship managers (or something akin to that). Their first priority being to satisfy our current customer needs, assuring they are satisfied by scheduling/following up on work that needs to be completed for them. May that be maintenance, fertilizing, enhanements or installation. Not that they would necessarily over see or manage each job, but they would be the customer's advocate within the company. They would take on new sales for their "area" as they come on.

    This doesn't mean supervisory job responsibilities, it's probably more sales based than anything else. But the Relationship Managers would be working on customers properties. So they would have to be skilled in a lot of areas. This would take the emphasis off of having to have highly skilled maintenance foreman, which seem to turn over only slightly less frequently than the laborers on the crew. Mowing foreman would not need the same skill set as someone performing enhancements with perennials, annuals, ornamentals, etc. Diagnosis, being one of the more difficult skills to aquire, is helpful at the crew level, but in this scenario, not required.
  10. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    Harold - you make a good point as well. There is always that growth plateau (spelling?) that you hit. It's like the decision of having to add your first employee. Going from that first $70,000 in sales and then having to leap frog to $120,000 plus to make it work. My numbers may be off... but the point is the same. It's difficult to ease into employees by taking them on a part time basis... though that's what we all do. I suppose that means you ease into a part time supervisor. It's just seems more difficult to establish their job description, job duties, role and responsibilities.

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