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Transition from working solo to having a crew

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by nozzy, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. nozzy

    nozzy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    I started this company late last summer as a part time, extra income type thing. I did go through all of the proper avenues to make it legal and completely above the table. In the last couple months of summer/fall I was getting new work pretty easily even though I felt like my prices were on the upper edge of average. I was doing all the work by myself.

    I was wondering if anyone could offer some insight into the proper timing and method of transitioning from working by yourself to moving towards getting that first crew up and going? Is it better to hire a helper to work with you for a while and try to increase your contracts then hope to put him in charge and hire a helper for him and start sending them out alone? Are there easier (better) ways to go about this??

    What numbers are good to shoot for as far as income vs. expenses and what percentage of expenses is a good goal for labor? What do two guys need to average making each day (after expenses) to justify the hassle of managing a crew?

    Does anyone offer their employees a minimum wage plus bonuses pay structure? I have been kicking around the idea of allowing them to make bonuses in weeks where they get zero complaints, complete jobs on schedule etc. Is this too much of a hassle? I'd rather reward guys for doing a good job, and keep labor expenses at a minimum if guys aren't giving close to 100%. I also thought this might help guys police each other a bit because they will both want to make sure things are being done right as quickly as possible.

    I'm hoping this summer to hire my first employee and any constructive advice would be welcomed.

    CLARK LAWN LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,526

    Been there done that. In all honesty stay solo, employees are nothing but a headache.

    No matter how much you pay them or treat them they just don't care.

    Solo is much more profitable.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. Chris_NC06

    Chris_NC06 LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Sanford, NC
    Messages: 6,826

    Tell that to all those $5,000,000+ companies out there.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. Yea really....stay solo? Nah, def. don't want to be doing that. IMO the guys that stay solo are scared to grow.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. New2TheGreenIndustry

    New2TheGreenIndustry LawnSite Senior Member
    from GA
    Messages: 921

    You've got to be kidding.
  6. Mow Money Lawn Care

    Mow Money Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 762

    Be patient, make sure everything is right before you expand. Have a system for everything. Make sure you have enough equipment, a good secretary, good business software, and of course enough money to back the company should anything go south.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. SRT8

    SRT8 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CA
    Messages: 1,305

    Hire quality employees. Thats what i do and im at almost 20 guys. There are no headaches here, everything runs smooth.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. Jobber

    Jobber Sponsor
    Messages: 345

    Very interesting to see the different opinions in this thread! I just wanted to chime in and say that there is a lot of reading material out there cautioning on attempting to set up bonus programs that are too complicated to keep track of.
    The main points being that:
    1) carefully pick your metrics. You don't want it to be too specific so your employees get 'tunnel vision' and cut corners to be fast rather than the overall job quality for example.
    2) how you measure is very important - needs to be consistent, easy to quantify, and always raise the bar over time so that your business keeps improving
    3) customer satisfaction is paramount - think about following up with your clients after the job with a few quick questions rated out of 10 and use this info (were they happy with the overall job? did the guys work hard? happy with the timeliness? guys were polite and respectful to the clients?)
    4) there is always a time/value spectrum that you'll have to figure out on how much time and effort to put into this. one helpful hint is to only figure out these bonuses by month or quarter rather than daily or weekly

    Well, I hope that helps a bit. I actually used to own a family lawn care business but never expanded beyond the that (I have 4 brothers though!), so hopefully others with more experience will jump in. I find this a very interesting topic and one that I might even write a blog post about soon on our blog. Thanks for the discussion guys.

  9. Jobber

    Jobber Sponsor
    Messages: 345

    Sorry, one quick thing I forgot to mention...
    Aligning the goals of your business with your employee compensation is always a good idea. However, nothing is more important than finding the right people and treating them well. The best way to do this is to tell make them feel like a part of the team constantly with positive feedback. Genuine praise is actually more effective in keeping the good employees that you would like to eventually promote to higher profile positions (and more money for them comes with that added responsibility).

    Mix that up with some unexpected treats to reward everyone like beers after work or the odd pair of baseball tickets after a really tough long job and they will be more emotionally invested and want to work harder for you.

    CLARK LAWN LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,526

    I was running 2 crews plus me and a part timer. Was grossing around $350,000. Worked my a$$ off 6-7a days a week. I went back to solo in 2011 and made almost the same profit as when I had crewsand it was much less stress.
    Posted via Mobile Device

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