Work effeciency calculations? Drop customers?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Doogiegh, Sep 23, 2002.

  1. Doogiegh

    Doogiegh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 871

    Ok guys,
    I've started using a clock so that I time-in and time-out for every house that I do during a day. I write down the starting time for the day (When I shift the truck into (D) for the first time, and then the time I arrive at each house. I also write down the time I depart each house. I then write down the time that I finally shift into (P) for the day.

    I put this all up on Excel as a simple work spreadsheet. Tells me the time that I spent at each house, in minutes, and calculates what I am charging at each house therefore giving me an hourly wage. I also figure out the TOTAL elapsed time from my family, compared to how much I gross from the day so I know how productive I was overall. I make quick notes is anything is out of line, such as at 1 house, I re-loaded the trimmer with additional line, all hand-held equipment with gas, and stopped for 1 slice of pizza, etc.. This way I don't penalize that house, but it is all "In-transit" time.

    I also look at this compared to a map to see if my route layout is productive or not and could it be better. I know that just by hitting 1 traffic light between houses could cost you 2 minutes which could sku the whole report as far as traffic goes, but I'm running this now for about the last 4-5 weeks.

    I am also reviewing who my top paying customers are (hourly) and who I believe I should be dropping.

    It is ** AMAZING ** to see what seems like good money, ISN'T and what seems like cheap pay and a waste of time is actually some of the better accounts...

    I am trying very hard to NOT let myself think of "Well, heck I don't make a lot of money here, so I'm gonna do a crummy job.." but rather that I'm going to do the best I can do here so that they will be more willing and accepting of a price increase if I need to pass one on.

    Other accounts that I now know I am doing very well with I won't mind taking away a couple of SMALL downed branches or doing a small little something extra.. I know that ANYTHING additional needs to be billed (Time and materials), but you know what I mean when you say you take best care of the people that take care of you.

    Do any of you guys do that same kind of "Work Effeciency evaluation?" Do you do it all the time or only for a couple of weeks?

    Do you drop people off of the calculations (lowest paying houses go, as long as they are not smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood that you will be going past anyway?)

    What do you do with a customer who is smack in the middle of your range, buy pays SLOWLY? Is that an instant DROP or do you tolerate slower paying, but acceptable wage customers?

    I'll go into more detail of the spreadsheet if anyone is interested.

  2. gene gls

    gene gls LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,213

    Sounds like you are setting up a "peice work" schedual. I would not expect to service any property the same each week. There are too many veariables durning the day to interfear. I have a "ballpark figure" and as long as its 15 min one way or the other then its OK. It usually balances out at the end of the day.

  3. Doogiegh

    Doogiegh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 871

    No, it's not a piecemeal schedule or evaluation.

    It's weekly cuts.

    Just figuring the time that the gate drops to the time it goes back up.
    Surely I've seen it on here before where guys time themselves at .... 19 minutes... for a property.. And i'm sure they figure out what they are getting on that property and is it worth it.

    Otherwise if you don't know how you are doing on a property, you may well be operating at a loss, not know it and it could be hurting you.

    Always gotta keep trying to get the better paying accounts and lose the ones that don't..
  4. roscioli

    roscioli LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 749

    I like the sounds of your system, I do time myself, but nowhere near that formally, just look at the clock and say to myself, hmm.. 20 minutes for $35, not too shabby, or 50 minutes for $40, yuck. I keep these all in mind when it comes time for a new season's price increases (or staying the same), but I dont write it down. Hearing your system is good motivation though, I like it.
  5. kppurn

    kppurn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 426

    Nothing can take the place of good record keeping. Some may see it as a bit extreme......but why not know which accounts are the most profitable.
    More importantly, which ones are not profitable.
    There are other factors involved also. You may have an account that isn't all that profitable mowing wise, but the add on services sure are.
    If you have a full schedule, then raise the price on the accounts that don't provide an adequate profit. Especially if there are no add on services involved. I like to know averages. Spring time, summer, fall, etc. Try to account for all the variables. As G.I. Joe said, "knowing is half the battle" ;)
  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I actually take more detailed notes than Doogiegh. I note what time I arrive on the property, what time I start and stop mowing, edging, trimming, blowing, and what time I leave. If you do this all the time you can get an average for that account, much more meaningful than just a few times. I make a point of knowing who my top 3 and bottom 3 grossing accounts are per hour spent. The bottom 3 are on the cut list if I get a better account or if they pay slow. The top 3 I make sure I hold on to.

    Don't forget to consider how much you gross from each account monthly too. I have one account that is the 2nd from the bottom as far as money per hour, but 2nd from the top in gross sales/month, so I don't mind so much, especially since it's irrigated and gets mowed every single week. Call it a volume discount if you will.
  7. Turfdude

    Turfdude LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,899


    Most of the lawncare software programs have the "start & stop times" listed on their sheets (or you can automatically enter it in a palm pilot. I too check over the crews times and see which are more profitable than others. Some (not many) of my average paying mowing accounts I make up the difference w/ all of the other services (clean-ups, mulching, pruning, fertilizing, annual flower program, etc...). I have a very tight routing schedule that really minimizes travel time, and always try to get at least 2 accounts per stop. I know what I have to gross per man/per day to get by, do good, or do very well. I keep trying to adjust my schedule to avoid the foremost. There are way too any variables (especially in my neck of the woods) to try to keep the same time for a property in the srping as in August, or later in fall as leaves drop (which is also why I charge for leaf removal per visit when applicable as opposed to just spring and fall clean-up only).

    Just keep on time tracking and do whats best for you. If a client pays slow (w/in 45 days, but always pays, just make sure to assess a fair late payment fee & put it in your contract - just get deposits for any job requiring materials first). If your price is too low, raise, or drop account. An out of the way account w/ a lot of travel - try to pursuade client to help you sell to some neighbors or again drop - the loss of time willl kill you alone.

    Good luck.

  8. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Messages: 1,540

    Good thread! :D

    I have found that time management and assesment are very important towards boosting the ol' "bottom line".

    Using several of the methods given above I have been able to increase my gross by about 43% over the last two seasons... while maintaining the same number of customers. Drop a funky one...and replace it with a good one, re-configuring my route, figuring out ways to save time at each stop, ect............

    It is true..."Time IS money". :)

    Now, if I just had a nickel for every time I looked at my watch and jotted down the time...... ;)
  9. Doogiegh

    Doogiegh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 871

    Roscioli - You really can keep tract real simple on a sheet of paper on a clipboard time in and time out. Doing the math is real simple, and if these are weekly or bi-weekly customers, you know real quick what you are getting paid. I tell ya, next time out, take notes on it for each house.. You'll be amazed at how what you think is great, isn't, and vice-versa.. You never know what you are really making till you do some quick number crunching and analyze WHAT you are doing.. Otherwise if you never do, you'll wonder why you are working like a dog and going bankrupt..

    kppurn - I'm doing an average right now of the number of jobs I did by week, by month and what I averaged per month.. I also figured out that if I did only 40 jobs in July but did 75 in September, what was my comparison gross and did I do better money wise in July or September? I know lots of guys say "Show me the leaves" cause that is profit... Well, are you working 30% longer hours to get that profit, so really it is the same as simply grass cutting? Hmm.. <G> You could also calulate yourself till death which does no good, but it's good to know the top 3/bottom 3 and when the oppurtunity knocks, who to drop.

    Darryl - I don't do the trim/blow/mow detail yet, but I like it.. Maybe mount a clipboard for a day to the back of the trailer, with a watch fastened right next to it so you know what's going on.. I like that idea..

    I DON'T neccesarily like your "Low gross, volume discount" idea. Why cut someone's grass 5 times in one month (say $25 per cut, $125 in receipts, $5 profit per cut equals $25 per month profit.), when you can mow someone 3 times at $40 a cut ($120 in gross receipts, but at $10 per mow profit, which is $30 total profit).

    I'd rather cut less, but more profitable then by wearing and tearing up my machines to get nickles and dimes... I know it's easier said than done, but I'd have to disagree with your volume discount idea.. Unless of course there are other savings like you are already within .2 miles in the same neighborhood, etc etc..

    Turfdude - Will you offer your customers "Pay up front discounts" or "Pay for 10 cuts, get 1 free" kind of deals to your best customers? Do you do per occassion or monthly billing?

    Thanks guys, Gary
  10. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    Hope you also keep track of the time you spend keeping time!:D

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