Would like to hear from the 2-3 crew companies about expanding

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Right Touch, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Right Touch

    Right Touch LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 382

    I feel like there is a huge void in all the publications I read/view online and in magazines. There is a lot of talk about companies in the $1,000,000 plus categories with their 75 employees and 20 trucks on the road, etc... and at that point there are obviously systems and personnel in place to handle that. There is also a lot of talk about the 1 man and/or 1 crew companies. I feel all of the information is valid no matter what size you are, though I feel like I never hear from anyone who is in the same boat as me- 3 crews during busy season (1 mowing, 1 design/build, 1 service). I'd like to hear from anyone out there about this size, what your short term plans are, how to grow from here, and long term goals.
  2. grassmasterswilson

    grassmasterswilson LawnSite Platinum Member
    from nc
    Messages: 4,948

    I agree you mostly read about the huge guys in magazines. I'm only at one crew but am growing at a rapid pace.

    Those big guys are advertising for brand recognition in hopes that if someone has a problem the remember their add. Me on the other hand can't afford direct mail every month and I attempt to gain the bulk of my new customers with 1-2 late winter/early spring mailers.

    I think turf magazine or lawn and landscape mag does a few profiles in their issues about different size companies. May be worth checking into.
  3. Southern Heritage

    Southern Heritage LawnSite Member
    Messages: 169

    I have 2 mowing crews 1 install crew and 1 crew that does enhancements. I've backed down to 13 employees. I had 17 at our peak season. I think and it's a big think that most of the time you don't hear from guys this size cuss they work 80 hrs a week. For me at least it's hard to hire a full time office Personal. You've probably been doing it your self for the history of your company. It's also hard to pay or find those key guys that you can turn loose. Your not a big boy yet so a lot of guys with talent look for bigger company's sometimes for less money but for job security. Saying all that you check on all your trucks, estimate and deal with customers all day then go home or office and work on the business side all night. I also think a lot of people this size quit or fail cuss the can't balance both. I've made huge mistakes since I got this size. Forgot clients little needs that we strive on not doing, overtime with 3 guys no biggie overtime with 10+ cost thousands, spending also is a challenge. When you have one maybe 2 trucks and 2-6 employes there easy to manage your cost. You get 20 grand in the bank you can buy a mower or update that trailer etc. You get 20k in the bank with 15 guys you make payroll. You have to account for everything going up in price fuel, Equitment etc. Yes you make more money but no it doesn't come quicker. It cost to grow. I never go through a day with not something broke. No matter the condition or age. No I don't ever go a day with not taking 30 calls a day. Also last thing your comment on $1,000,000.00 a year big shots. That shouldn't be far from where your at.

    I know that was babbling but hopefully helps.
  4. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    I have two crews, a design build and a mowing crew, currently I have room to double with this set up. At least that's what my numbers are telling me.
  5. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    If your selling the right kind of jobs why don't YOU have job security for your guys? The big boys aren't paying their guys any more so what's the issue?
  6. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    What doesn't make sense here is why are the same amount of guys producing the same revenue?
  7. B-2 Lawncare

    B-2 Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 263

    We could have the work to add a another crew. But employees are the biggest problem we face. Here in Wyoming its hard to find and or attract guys that have experience. We also have to try and compete with oilfield wages.
  8. Clean Cut Lawns

    Clean Cut Lawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 132

    I'm in that same boat almost word for word...I manage about 16 employees
    I did have part time help in the office for the last 4 years
    This past year I bit the bullet and hire a full time office person...there were some plus's to that but I didn't get a good office person...sooooo many screw ups that cost me a lot of time to fix....since it winter coming around I parted ways with that office person and will try to handle the winter on my own with a little help here and there from the gf. I do plan on hiring full time office help in the spring it hard to keep them busy full time.
  9. Right Touch

    Right Touch LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 382

    So basically what I am hearing is confirming my thoughts- it seems like you are either going to be a small company and be happy making enough money to get by and wonder every day if you will ever be able to retire or you will be a large company who starts taking on large commercial work and starts the snowball effect of "I have to sell X amount every year just to pay this huge loan I have from the bank", OR you will be pushing yourself in this mid size range wondering every day if you chose the right industry? I feel like I wonder that every day. Do I grow and sink myself further in or do I back off, choose a select number of customers, hire someone to take care of it all, go find a full time job somewhere else (with benefits, 401k) and just make some side income off it? Hurts to think that a business I have had since I was 15 isn't panning out the way my "dreams" imagined, but we are living in a different economy since 2008 and it just doesn't seem possible.
    Weird coincidence- after posting this question I got 3 phone calls from various companies I deal with (2 equipment rental and one towing) and all 3 started the conversation with a sob story about issues they were having. The towing company told me he didn't have enough money to put gas in his trucks and he may not be able to open his doors the next week.
  10. Right Touch

    Right Touch LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 382

    I tell you what though- it is comforting to hear from you guys in the same size as me and know that we are all dealing with almost the exact same thought process daily. I've had two kids in the past 3 years and have basically had to give up daily responsibilities to my construction foreman. It has forced me to concentrate "on the business, not in the business" which for growth, is essential, though tough since I haven't touched a mower or shovel all year, gained about 15lbs whereas before I couldn't put on an ounce if I wanted to, and don't think I've even broken a sweat all year. I think when we are "in the business" working every day, that physical exertion and being outside makes you feel good and like you accomplished something, so as long as you have that feeling you are comfortable. But stepping outside of that as I have has really made me look at it as a business that sells services and look back at all the "freebies" I've given customers to be a nice guy and such. A big one is the "while you are here" add ons that you don't price separately because you are already on the property. Since stepping back I've been able to process this more objectively rather than emotionally, but no matter how much more I seem to make, that much more seems to break.

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