What's your crew size? Pro's & Con's on expanding.

Discussion in 'Employment' started by WarriorLandscaping, Jan 21, 2018.

  1. WarriorLandscaping

    WarriorLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 174

    Hey gents!

    In your experience, what was your 'sweet-spot' for crew size, employee size, account size etc.
    I am expecting a very strong year of growth in my area, and I am ready to take on more accounts, employee's, responsibilities, etc.
    My question is:
    Is there a silver lining in the size of your operation?
    If you grow too large, is there financial drawbacks?
    Does the stress, managerial responsibilities, overhead all make it worth the big $$?
    When did you hire a payroll person, an assistant, etc

    What is your ideal Operation size?
    Ie. 60 accounts, 2 employee's, 2 trucks?
    100 accounts, 5 employee's, 3 trucks, 2 towns, 3 towns?
    150 accounts, 10 employee's, 5 trucks?

    I am thinking of my second truck this year and more employee's, a shop eventually.
    The goal is $250,000 of revenue, I finished 2017 just shy of 6 figures.
    Crazy goal I know, but I got in good with a large home builder in my area that will be contracting us for all of 2018, and that's just one commercial account.
    I want to be very ambitious this year and give her hard while I'm young and able!
  2. prezek

    prezek LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 444

    Number of accounts will differ depending on size...I have 3 crews, 6 of us total, small commercial and residential. Finished last year around 450 regular customers.
    WarriorLandscaping likes this.
  3. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,566

    i can't draw you a graph... but imagine a piece of graph paper, starting in the lowest left hand corner thats you... as you move right and to the left, thats your growth vs pros curve.
    The farther you move right, the more liability/overhead/operations costs you take on.
    Past a certain growth point you have to move right, before you move up.
    So the "curve" starts looking like "steps" if you get my meaning..so what happens is you hit these plateaus...and some of the treads on those steps are loooong (more so for some people than others) and the rise on the step relatively shallow when compared to earlier gains.

    Now all of that is relative to volume as well and also your age and life balance is a factor.

    EVENTUALLY you grow to a point where you go fishing and help raise grand children and you still have a steady income.
    The other thing I mentioned is age.
    Im 46..I can still out perform 20 year olds... not because Im a stud, but because they're lazy couch potatoes.
    If I had their energy, stamina and fitness now, with my experience... Id be what a lot of the guys here on lawn site think they are....unstoppable.

    But the reality is, age catches up to you.
    As I mentioned Im 46.
    Ive got an achy knee, a tweak in my back about three wish times a month, I get slight headaches I never used to have and some arthritis in my right pointer finger (don't ask me why..too much nose picking??)
    I also have a semi collapsed arch on my right foot that has bothered me twice this year..but as seemed to heal, but prevented me from catching a thief that broke into our shop... I KNEW I had him...yea well maybe 6 years ago.

    My point is...Im 46... what about 56? 66?
    It's unlikely to get better.
    With more gym time I might be able to elongate the plateau I'm on... but Im not 20, 30 or even 41 anymore.

    So who long can you keep doing everything?
    Eventually you need to grow to a point where you can maintain other people to abuse their bodies instead of yours.

    Which means you have to accept a certain drop in efficiency per man and a certain lower level of competence (they are never going to do it as well as you can)

    So whats the sweet spot.
    Depends on your expenses and what you want to make.

    If you ask me I think it's four crews.
    Thats about a million in sales (maybe more depending your organization specifics)
    You can make (take home owners salary) between 100k and 200k properly honed and managed....thats not a guarantee, but it's a probability.

    Wanna be rich?

    You can do 10 million in work, and bring home...150k to 300k... yea ummm... see what I was saying about those plateaus?

    Sure there ARE people who do better, many who do worse.
    Im speaking generally about probability.
    Mitty87, Johnny79, Scagtastic and 2 others like this.
  4. WarriorLandscaping

    WarriorLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 174

    Very interesting..

    Much to ponder!

    I think growing naturally is my goal, not forcing anything.

    Thank you for your input
  5. grassmonkey0311

    grassmonkey0311 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,402

    Am I reading this right? Didn't make it to 100K last year, but want to be at $250K this year?

    Not bashing you, but wasn't sure if this was a typo? That's quite the jump.
  6. Greencuts518

    Greencuts518 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,035

    I'm solo and it's sweet:weightlifter: but I love reading about the larger companies on lawnsite so best of luck to you.
    ThorsGrass likes this.
  7. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,566

    Yea that is double

    I just bid half a million yesterday
    But that’s relative to business size

    We were talking about maintenance contracts and what that revenue might be in residential landscapes as well and after some quick math I laughed.... yea, I’d need 71 sales in residential landscape and 150 (average) maintenance sales ... hold your breath I’ll work on it!
  8. JFGLN

    JFGLN LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,233

    In my town there is plenty of work. I could easily grow 25% per year. What holds me back it finding the right guys who are willing to do this kind of work.
    WarriorLandscaping and hort101 like this.
  9. Scagtastic

    Scagtastic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 155

    Where do you see your company and yourself in 5 years? 10 years? Do you have a 5 year plan? As was mentioned in an earlier reply you will eventually hit plateaus, I've used this analogy myself. Easiest way for me to define it is how a former CPA put it; The trucking company that is one truck one operator is making money as he has low overhead, the trucking company that has 300 trucks is making money with volume, the trucking company that has 25 trucks is likely still struggling. That's pretty basic I know and there could and will certainly be other variables involved, but in a "nutshell" there it is. I left a corporate job with a good company, had been there for 21 years, was not unhappy, job secure. End of the day I didn't want to be retired thinking "what if" "if only" I had no intentions of remaining solo or in relative terms, small. That may not be for everybody, I mean if it was easy the world would be "chock" full of business owners and few workers. This will be my thirteenth year and I still have a 5 year plan, 10 year plan. Those plans have evolved but the desired end result has changed little over the years. I enjoy working in the business, I look forward to coming into work. I also enjoy the flexibility to be able to take a day, a week, a month off and know things will roll right along. I love how another poster referenced "The Sweet Spot" That's a great book, so what is the sweet spot for you? I know what it is for me professionally and personally, that doesn't mean I've reached the pinnacle (that never happens) or discovered some secret. Its more, at least for me about setting goals and developing a map of how to get there and enlisting or surrounding myself with capable people that "buy into" those goals to the point that they become shared to a high degree.
    Tara Ann and WarriorLandscaping like this.
  10. WarriorLandscaping

    WarriorLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 174

    Yes sir, you have to THINK BIG. I have no fear this year, I'm 30, healthy and have set myself up for maximum revenue this season. If not this year, then when?
    I have all of the resources and grit to make it happen, we will see how she goes.
    My goal is 50 - 70 residential properties and 5 - 10 commercial properties.

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