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What came first, the work or the employee?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by kppurn, May 13, 2005.

  1. kppurn

    kppurn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 426

    All right, bear with me here. I'm finally at the point where I'm maxed out as far as work load for a solo. I have one day that I can pick up a few clients for mowing, but other than that my schedule is full. I started a guy part time a few weeks ago, but I had to let him go. He may help me with mulch here and there, but he is way too slow and inexperienced for mowing. He did more damage with the trimmer in two hours than I have since I started.

    Anyway, I had a gentlemen approach me the other day while I was mowing looking for work. He was with the crew mowing next door. He started with this company at the beginning of the season and is running one of there crews. He worked for Brickman for four years, so he has experience. He must be trustworthy if he is running a crew for his current employer. He said he doesn't care for this company though because of the volume of work they are expecting. He said he is stuck with two guys that have no clue what's going on and they expect them to mow 30 properties a day. He said he constantly has to grab the trimmer after mowing and show these guys everything they missed, or do it himself.

    After talking with this guy for a while, I would love to give him a try. My problem right now is that he's looking for full time work with a small quality oriented company. I know I don't have enough work to keep two people busy all week long. My predicament is that I need someone to take on anymore work, but I need more work to take on someone. Make any sense?

    For those with employees, how did you jump this hurdle? Did you just use part timers until you had enough work for someone full time? That makes sense to me, but I can't find anyone looking for part time work that is worth paying.

    I just think the opportunity to hire someone that loves the work and has experience probably doesn't come that often. Any of you guys have any advice?

    I appreciate the help.


    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Kevin- Sounds like I'm in the same situation as you...have a part-time guy, not really working out. He basically pays for himself, but what's the point of that? I hired a better guy to start in about a week. I figure, worst case scenario is, I'll have time actually to concentrate on bringing in more business. Right now it's just work, work, work.

    I think at some point you just have to take the plunge, much like you did when you first started your company.

    Actually sounds like we have the same employee...maybe my guy goes to Indy on his days off from me?
  3. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    I pretty much made up my mind to start the year that I was going to hire someone. Fortunately, by early April I was at my limit for solo work and made that step. I hired a part timer, and then worried like crazy that I wasn't going to have enough work. Fortunately again, the work came after I hired him. I know that in the past I have just turned down work once I got to the limit point, and I'm sure I could have supported an employee before. Once I got the employee, it was easy for me to add work.
  4. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    I agree hire the guy and the work will be there or at least he can do some of your work while you take some time to bring in more work or give you enough breathing room to do some of the other things that come with running your business.
  5. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    First Law of Marketing...get the work first and then buy the equipment and find the people to operate it. Period
  6. Mueller Landscape Inc

    Mueller Landscape Inc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 489

    If you get work without getting your systems in place then you will find it difficult to maintain the additional work and probably crash and burn and fall back to the time when you had no employees. Having employees, equipment, training the new employees, marketing and advertising, etc is part of the systems. It is all about the timing and planning. That is the risk! If everything works right, you will have the systems in place to handle the additional work. In order to have these systems, you need to have working capital.

    So first the systems, which employees are part of, then the marketing, then the customers.

    How many restaurants advertise their food before they have a building location and employees to run the place?
  7. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    Hate to rain on your parade John, but you have it exactly backwards.

    Without customers, you have no need for the systems, employees, or marketing. Your entire company is built around the work that has to be accomplished (your client base). From there, you then decide how many (employees) you will need to accomplish this work and what tools (number and size mowers, etc.) to do the work.

    Going out and hiring people and/or buying equipment without having any idea of who you will be servicing first is suicide to say the least IMO.
  8. Mueller Landscape Inc

    Mueller Landscape Inc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 489


    I do not consider the target customer and the actual work as being the same thing. I think the question was about getting the actual work before or after having the employee. Your last sentence is correct with regard to knowing what the target customer is but if you are suggesting that you market your business and sign customers before you have systems in place to handle those customers, you are wrong and you will crash and burn.

    Can you give one example of a company that gathered work before any systems were in place? Remember that solo guys have employees too.....(they are the employee).
  9. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    Fine...but that is exactly what I did 11 years ago when I started my company.

    We now have 170 some props that total close to 400 acres a week in just mowing. My father was president of a large management and marketing consulting firm here in the NE. My favorite saying from him was, "Problems of volume can be solved...it's when you have no volume you have a problem!" So from that, my strategy was to go out and get the work (customers) and once that was accomplished, I would figure out what people and equipment I would need.

    So far it has worked btw...
  10. Mueller Landscape Inc

    Mueller Landscape Inc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 489

    That's the way I started too. But I was doing the work. I was the employee. I was part of the system. Were you doing the work at the beginning? If you were, then it could be said that the employee existed first. If you didn't do the work, then it could be said that the manager/you (who is also an employee) existed first.

    You cannot solve the problem of volume without having the systems to handle the volume whether those systems are your creation or someone else's creation. That is business 101. The real problem is not having the system in place to begin with.

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