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What is the smart decision on this?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by DFW Area Landscaper, May 29, 2006.

  1. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    This happens over and over.

    We have a 2 to 3 week wait on our shrub crew. They are totally swamped.

    It never fails, about once a month, someone will call and say "Hey, I just removed a lot of branches from my trees and shrubs and I need to get it hauled off. Can you help me out on this?"

    What they aren't realizing is that cutting the limbs off the plant is the easy part. Its the disposal of those branches where the real work comes in.

    So they've got this giant mass of dead limbs on their lawn. They want it gone immediately. I explain to these people that our shrub crew will run the branches through our chipper. The chipper basically spits out mulch on the other side and we then rake that into 30 gal trash bags and leave it by the curb for trash pickup. We charge by the hour for this labor.

    The delimma is this: I've got customers who have been waiting patiently for us to do the entire job, not just the disposal. If I don't get to the dead branches soon, the homeowner will find another way to dispose of the branches and I will miss out on the revenue from this opportunity. On the other hand, if we run over there and do it right away, we get the revenue, but it isn't very fair to the clients who have been waiting patiently for us to do the entire job. If the good cleints knew about it, and none of them do, but if they did, they'd probably be mad enough to cancel over it (I would guess).

    So who's best interest should win out here? My interest for more revenue or the client who has been waiting patiently for us to do their clean-up?

    DFW Area Landscaper
  2. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    Well you should have said no to the ones who just want disposal because they bring in LESS money than the ones who will let you do the whole job and pay for the whole job.This is a classic case of deciding between quick money and lots of jobs where your crew is running around like chickens with their heads cut off....or money that takes longer to make but is twice the amount . You are overbooking
    in your need/greed to get ALL the money.
    I suggest you do the jobs when you said you would do them no matter who pays more.Your new clients should have been told about how long it was gonna take before you can get to them.
    If you did tell them that but can't possibly get to them at the time you told then ..then you need to call them and tell them and let the money go in someone elses pocket.OR hire more crew or take on less work .It's OK to say we are booked and I am not taking on any further work untell we are caught up.
    Am I answering your question? I am not exactly sure I got your drift.
  3. newz7151

    newz7151 LawnSite Silver Member
    from Tejas
    Messages: 2,419

    Maybe try and sub it out to another jobber?
  4. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    The thing about shrub trimming and clean-ups is, it lasts about 90 days. Work will still trickle in after the first of June, but we are swamped with work in March, April & May.

    We are running one man for shrubs & clean-ups. Last year, we ran two men for that. We had to lay a guy off around the middle of June last year and it is something I don't want to do again. His reward for showing up to work every day on time, in uniform, never calling in sick and working his butt off was a firing. I NEVER want to do that again and I will avoid it all costs.

    I made a concientious decision after that lay-off. The people who wanted shrub trimming and clean-ups in the spring could wait and that is precisely what they are doing. I've already figured out you can't tell a customer the wait for shrub trimming is 3 weeks because they will get out the yellow pages and someone else will get the revenue. But if you tell them it is around 10 days, seldom do they think it's an unreasonable wait. Few are so antcy that they actually remember to follow up on the work when they realize they've already waited more than 10 days. If they do remember, they are expedited ahead of those who haven't followed up with us.

    Mark my words, there will come a time at some point, probably this fall and possibly this summer, where my shrub man will come into work one morning and there'll be no work for him to do. My mowing crews will be busy but my shrub man will be without work. I just hope it isn't too many days. But it is coming, that is for sure.

    I am leaning heavily towards expediting the debris disposal to the front of the list to make sure we get the revenue.

    At the end of the day, the residential clean-up and design/install is somewhat of a fool's game. I see countless crews out in March & April every spring doing flower bed installs, tree pruning, etc. Then, starting around the middle of May, you see very few crews out working on Mondays and Tuesdays and then bam...Thursday & Friday roll around and every 5th car on the road is a lawn mowing crew. They are sitting there starving with no work to do for 2.5 days a week and we all know how much residential work there is for 4 months a year. Those crews that I'm talking about were busy 5 days a week in the spring with clean-ups eating up half their schedule. Then spring fever ends and they starve.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  5. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    I do residential installations year round , tree pruneing is Fall and Winter work ,clean-ups I used to do Right before and right after winter .I have never done just disposal , I don't think it makes enough money to be worth it.
  6. drmiller100

    drmiller100 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 562

    why can't your mower guys help with hedges, and your hedge guy with mowing?

  7. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    Two of the mowing crews have been helping with bed clean-ups, but I do not equip them with anything other than their bare hands. If the customer just wants a bed clean-up and no shrub trimming, they are being serviced by one of the mowing crews.

    I would guess the cost of the equipment (chipper, chain saw, hand pruners, pole saws, etc.) is around $10K all told. Then there is the storage requirements too. Doesn't make sense to have enough equipment to outfit more than one crew with this stuff. As I mentioned earlier, it doesn't even make sense to hire an extra worker for the dedicated shrub crew that I already have in place.

    I will add another mowing crew over the winter and I anticipate the customer count required for that crew will bring me to the point of needing another worker all year for the shrub crew. I think that might be the right ratio to make this work...4 two-man mowing crews and one two-man shrub & fert crew. Then if add a 5th crew the following year, I will have to re-invent the wheel all over again.

    The bottom line is, with shrubs & non-recurring work, you need more poeple in the spring than you do the rest of the year. The winter months are equally as challenging because you need someone in place to do a clean-up here and there but it certainly isn't enough work for him to feed a family.

    We are able to make the winters work because of the fert & squirt in the winter, but in the spring that is what is causing us to have a 3 to 4 week wait...we have to get an application down in March and another one in May.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  8. Idealtim

    Idealtim LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 939

    Id go with the complete service guy. If the home owner wanted the mass moved immeditely, they should of hired you for the whole thing.
  9. JJLandscapes

    JJLandscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 682

    Im sure you have customers who you know are patient and wont call you once if tyhey are there for 4 weeks do the pain in the ass people who call you daily first

    I dont know what kind of piles these people are making that you are swamped cant you throw them in the truck when your maintenance crews go out?
  10. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    And if we throw them in the back of our truck, what are supposed to do then?

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