What Came First? The Chicken or the Egg or the Employees or the Customers?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Tucssarg1005, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. Tucssarg1005

    Tucssarg1005 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 176

    Solo guy, but eventually I’d like to cut back on my hours and be able to take a vacation with my family from time to time, etc.

    Problem is, I have no idea how to grow my business. Do you take on the customers and work yourself to death until you can find the right employees to help? Or do you you hire the employees and take a major pay cut for a while, paying them until you get enough new customers to cover their salary and then some?

    I had a bad experience a few years back, adding a big account, hiring someone who quit a month into the season and being stuck with too much work for one person and being burnt out, stressed out, and not really making more money due to not having enough time and energy to stay caught up with all the lawns.

    After that I swore off employees and have been solo since. But, eventually I’d like to have a little more freedom.
  2. South Hills Lawns

    South Hills Lawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 87

    Quality > quantity of customers is number one.

    If I have a vacation planned the upcoming season, like next year for instance, I know I’ll be out for 7 or 8 days I’ll email my client base and remind them that I will be out that week.

    Do you have good rapport with any other business in the area that can assist you while you gone?

    Perhaps a close friend you could train and trust to run your route while you’re gone?

    I would never want employees besides one of my friends for larger landscape jobs. I feel as though it’s more of a headache unless you really wanted to scale into something much larger.
  3. 13Razorbackfan

    13Razorbackfan LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    It's not easy let me tell ya...what ice been doing is adding customers first then adding employees. Finding good employees who can drive a 42' rig with a good driving record you can trust is literally 1 in a hundred. The rest are worker bees and most are flaky and have tons of baggage
    hal, Jeff@diyokc and Cam15 like this.
  4. Mumblingboutmowers

    Mumblingboutmowers LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 935

    I sure would not hire employees unless I already had the work to keep them busy. I sure would not tell my customers that I am going to be gone for a week because I am going on vacation. I would not have a competitor service my lawns while I take a week off even if I have a good relationship with them. A good friend that you can trust, maybe that would work.

    Sacrifices must be made when in business for yourself and one is long vacations during the busy season. Plan your vacations for the slow times of the year or shorten them for the busy time of the year and pound the hours before you leave and after you get back.
    13Razorbackfan, hal, hort101 and 2 others like this.
  5. Jeff@diyokc

    Jeff@diyokc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 176

    Every response here is accurate! Good, dependable employees, as you already found out, are difficult to find! After a few years on lawnsite reading and responding to this question, I don’t know what to say that the guys responding haven’t said! People don’t come with guarantees unfortunately, and as @mumnlingsboutmowers said, running a business comes with sacrifices of time, which is now a precious commodity for you!
    hort101, Mumblingboutmowers and Cam15 like this.
  6. JFGLN

    JFGLN LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,655

    Just hire a helper for now. You can train him really well as you will be spending a lot of time together.
  7. That Guy Gary

    That Guy Gary LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,170

    Ideally you pack your schedule, hire a helper, have a fully trained employee at the end of the season.

    Next year you sell your ass off pre-season to try and pack your schedule again. Rinse and repeat.

    Reality is more like you sell your ass off, helper or even better trained employee leaves, and you're pulling your hair out trying to get everything done when your poor new guy can't even trim properly.

    The only advice I can offer is put the helper on the mower when it's crunch time.
    Cam15, JFGLN, hal and 1 other person like this.
  8. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 11,810

    While the cats away the mice will play. So true when it comes to just about any business. Been there , done that. Cost you $$$$ to go away. Not sure you could have a good time wondering what the mice are up to. Only way is to find a "company man or woman" manager. Pay them most of your profits. Otherwise, I would just shut down for the week and pay the price. Lost income and a back load of work when you return. Messed up schedule. Or you could go get a job with benefits like paid vacations. No worries except getting sun burned.
    I think many of us went into being self employed season workers. Not considering all the drawbacks to such an endeavor. I just want to be outside and play with toys! I wish there was a Lawnsite when I was thinking about getting into the business
  9. snomaha

    snomaha LawnSite Bronze Member
    from midwest
    Messages: 1,647

    I think its really tough for anyone to tell you when you should hire more employees. When we were a smaller company, hiring for me was a very intuitive decision - if it felt like putting off hiring was going to hamper growth and damage relationships with customers, I hired. Now, we have indicators that help us know when to hire based on revenue, profitability...

    What kind of business do you want to be? If you want to hire employees, you need to be prepared to give up some margin/compensation temporairly while you bring that person up to speed. A larger business with multiple employees may not be for everyone, especially if you got into the industry because you love doing the actual work. As you grow, you elevate and delgate responsibilities to employees and may end up in purgatory because you arent doing what you loved about the job/business early on.

    After 28 years in business, I can't imagine not having employees. Growing and scaling a company is what gets me out of bed in the morning. The ability for me to take 4 weeks off this summer to attend continuing education events, family vacations and personal time off does'nt suck either!

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