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What to do with all of these calls?

Ijustwantausername

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Raleigh NC
Folks, if calls were money (and technically they are) I would be in the process of going bankrupt and fast. We are short staffed and I cannot take on anything new until I staff. I am daily getting calls for:

Patios
Retaining walls
Grading
Annual mowing
Landscaping
etc etc

I have a few subs that I give decent sounding jobs to, but staff wise they are in the same boat as I am. Do I just keep turning these things down? Good grief I hate the thought of doing that and losing out on some nice sounding projects.

Our annual contracts are really keeping us busy, especially with seeding time the next few weeks.
 

knoxJRM

LawnSite Member
Location
Knoxville
I’ve been in business for 12 years. Longtime reader but first day registering and commenting. I think our businesses are in similar places. We run 3 two man crews. Difference being, I run one crew. It has taken me 10 months and 9 people to find 5 employees I can count on. We aren’t too far apart geographically so I am sure wage and employee availability are similar as well. I have been reading all your posts as we have had several of the same issues. On this specific topic, are your calls from existing maintenance and repeat project install customers or from new, never worked with before prospective clients?
 
OP
Ijustwantausername

Ijustwantausername

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Raleigh NC
I’ve been in business for 12 years. Longtime reader but first day registering and commenting. I think our businesses are in similar places. We run 3 two man crews. Difference being, I run one crew. It has taken me 10 months and 9 people to find 5 employees I can count on. We aren’t too far apart geographically so I am sure wage and employee availability are similar as well. I have been reading all your posts as we have had several of the same issues. On this specific topic, are your calls from existing maintenance and repeat project install customers or from new, never worked with before prospective clients?
Hello and welcome to Lawnsite! I run 2 two man crews, at the moment one crew is only 1 man until I can get some help for him.

I honestly cannot convey to you the amount of new calls coming in, all are new and never worked with before. It is discouraging really. Granted, after I screen them not all are folks that I'd want to do business with but the majority are.

Some days I just have to hit the red delete button and not even return their call. Its like what is the point of calling to deliver the bad news? Not all days but some I do this.

I just wish there was some way to make money off of these leads.

I would give anything for 2-3 solid guys right now, as I'm sure most everyone on here would. There HAS to be another way.
 

knoxJRM

LawnSite Member
Location
Knoxville
Are you currently in a truck on a daily route? If not, I think this is a time to drastically grow your business. If so, still grow the heck out of it. Last year I was solo with one part time helper. I was having to turn down call after call, not return calls, etc. what you are explaining exactly. I started turning down a lot of calls to realize some of my long time customers were getting bids from other company’s for bed additions, drainage issues, etc. I couldn’t handle that. So, I took advice from my close friend who is a Service Manger at a large commercial HVAC company to bid the jobs, bid them high. If I didn’t have time to go back to the shop draw a plan and come up with a printed proposal to just use a written proposal on the spot with plenty of cushion to cover. Explain to the client I could be 6-8 weeks out and see what happened. It worked. I landed 68.7% of the jobs bid from October2019 to March2020. I took the fall and winter to hire and train the new hires. I targeted guys working on golf courses or already in a service role looking for more money. No ads were posted. It is refreshing to see customers reactions to watching you train a new hire correct procedure. They love it. Yes jobs have taken us longer to complete. There have been days where I’ve came home to my wife and talked about going back solo. The last 10 months have been tough but I can see now the foundation is set. But, I want to encourage you, you can do this too. Bidding jobs is great practice and opportunity to be creative. I’m off to consult 3 landscape installs this evening. Did two yesterday after finishing my field work.
 
OP
Ijustwantausername

Ijustwantausername

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Raleigh NC
Are you currently in a truck on a daily route? If not, I think this is a time to drastically grow your business. If so, still grow the heck out of it. Last year I was solo with one part time helper. I was having to turn down call after call, not return calls, etc. what you are explaining exactly. I started turning down a lot of calls to realize some of my long time customers were getting bids from other company’s for bed additions, drainage issues, etc. I couldn’t handle that. So, I took advice from my close friend who is a Service Manger at a large commercial HVAC company to bid the jobs, bid them high. If I didn’t have time to go back to the shop draw a plan and come up with a printed proposal to just use a written proposal on the spot with plenty of cushion to cover. Explain to the client I could be 6-8 weeks out and see what happened. It worked. I landed 68.7% of the jobs bid from October2019 to March2020. I took the fall and winter to hire and train the new hires. I targeted guys working on golf courses or already in a service role looking for more money. No ads were posted. It is refreshing to see customers reactions to watching you train a new hire correct procedure. They love it. Yes jobs have taken us longer to complete. There have been days where I’ve came home to my wife and talked about going back solo. The last 10 months have been tough but I can see now the foundation is set. But, I want to encourage you, you can do this too. Bidding jobs is great practice and opportunity to be creative. I’m off to consult 3 landscape installs this evening. Did two yesterday after finishing my field work.
To answer your question yes I will be in the truck soon, or at the very least meeting my guys on site at bigger jobs. Overtime will be inevitable soon too.

This week I trained a new guy Mon/Tues (with my solo guy) only for him to say he needed Wednesday to think about it. Wed eve he texted "I don't think it's for me."
Last week I came back from vacation when the guy quit so I had a lot of loose ends to tie up and couldn't be in the field. I worked with all of them on Friday (overtime day) on our biggest job.

Will certainly be in the field the next 4 weeks seeding, planting pansies, etc etc.
 

knoxJRM

LawnSite Member
Location
Knoxville
Awesome time to find the best server where you frequent for materials or food and see if they are looking for a career change. Also, a great time to lead by example for your current crew. Reading the book greatest salesman in the world by Og Mandino changed it for me when I felt overwhelmed. Sounds like you are about to be in a grind!

Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats. Yet each struggle, each defeat, sharpens your skills and strengths, your courage and your endurance, your ability and your confidence and thus each obstacle is a comrade-in-arms forcing you to become better... or quit. Each rebuff is an opportunity to move forward; turn away from them, avoid them, and you throw away your future.
Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World
 

JFGLN

LawnSite Gold Member
Folks, if calls were money (and technically they are) I would be in the process of going bankrupt and fast. We are short staffed and I cannot take on anything new until I staff. I am daily getting calls for:

Patios
Retaining walls
Grading
Annual mowing
Landscaping
etc etc

I have a few subs that I give decent sounding jobs to, but staff wise they are in the same boat as I am. Do I just keep turning these things down? Good grief I hate the thought of doing that and losing out on some nice sounding projects.

Our annual contracts are really keeping us busy, especially with seeding time the next few weeks.
It’s been a crazy year. I was in the same situation earlier this year. Hundreds of calls but no manpower to get any new work done.
 
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