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Yard/Load Crew

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by lukemelo216, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. lukemelo216

    lukemelo216 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ...
    Messages: 1,267

    So this question/topic is generally geared toward bigger companies running around 5-6 crews or more (landscape and maintenance.) We run 3 landscape crews and 2 maintenance crews and then a few other guys that will float around and do filler work. Right now we are have production meetings to address issues that we have had in previous years and ways to address them. One of the issues that I brought up was putting together a 2 man crew using a few guys we currently have, start them at 12 and then they would work until about 8-9 at night. They would do any pick ups we need, run any material thats needed at a jobsite, handle small issues that arrise etc, until around 3-4. After that, they would return to the shop around the same time the crews would, and handle unloading all of the trucks, cleaning them out/washing them, fueling all equipment up, and pre-loading for the next morning. They would also be responsible for doing daily service on equipment that is brought back (grease, check oil, etc.) and sharpening blades and greasing the mowers.

    The biggest reason is that we spend way too much time every morning with 20-30 guys in our face, loading or waiting around to get loaded before they get out the door, Our guys are usually in by 630, and on the road by 7-715 (sometimes later if theres a lot to load.) Thats about $1500 per week in wasted labor. Using 2 guys, even if they are at the shop for 5 hours a night we would still only spend about $1000 in yard labor per week, would still equate to about a $18,000 savings in wasted labor.

    Anyone else do this? Certainly these numbers all look good when you put it on paper, but what are your real world experiences? What are your thoughts, experiences, etc? Just trying to pick some peoples minds. We have 2 guys who would be perfect for this job, both are CDL Drivers, so if a crew works late at a job and its the last day, we can still pick up equipment, move it to jobsites at nights. One has good plant knowledge and the other has good service knowledge so they two would complement eachother nicely I think.
  2. SRT8

    SRT8 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CA
    Messages: 1,304

    I think its a bad idea and it wont work. How are those 2 guys supposed to know what each crew needs everyday if they are not on that jobsite? Do you have an operations manager? I feel its also the responsibility of thecrew leader to have everything in order on what is needed
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. seabee24

    seabee24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 619

    I personally don't think it's a good idea. I did have this though a long time ago. It opens you up to other problems.

    Example. If the night guys forget to load something, and don't, then it effects the crews production the crew leader is going to be pissed especially if he gets bonuses. Or wait until something goes missing in the truck, and watch how many fingers get pointed back and forth between the crews.

    If your wasting that much time in the mornings I would reconsider the entire process of loading and prepping.

    Maintenance crews should have everything loaded at all times. Oil and gas everyday is about all that should be needed. Those should be checked and filled at the end of the day. I found guys just want to go home at the end of the day, so they tend to do these tasks much quicker at the end of the day. You should also consider how excess able getting the fuel, oil and grease is. If they can't pull up to a designated spot, and refuel in 5 mins your doing something wrong.

    Landscape crews are a bit harder, since the project can be very complete or very different from one to another. Apply the same principle, load at night helps. For landscape projects, and enhancement crews I try to carry just bout every shovel or hand tool at all times, this way the only thing they have to load is equipment and material. Consider putting together "tool kits". A large box with all the tools needed to do a specific type of job. Like a brick install kit. Grab 1 large box, and everything is already in it. All I need is a compactor, a saw, the kit, plus material.

    Have crew leader start 15 mins early to allow talk time, or questions or look over his load.

    If everything is loaded the night before, technically there would be no need to punch the other employees in until they roll out the door.

    Consider staggered start times, to make it easier on Managment in the morning and to avoid people bumping into each other wasting time

    Otherwise, better project planning can fix your loading material issues.

    Consider having someone come in on Saturdays and deliver material for larger projects for the up coming week. Smaller projects can be loaded on the truck the night before and brought with them.

    At one point I had a 24 foot trailer. I used it for maintenance at the time. But I'm looking to buy another. Plan is have EVERYTHING short of a skidsteer loaded in this trailer. Dingo , sod cutter tiller, brick saws, hand tools, nuts, bulbs, screws, nails, pipe, wire. Fittings pull this trailer around there is no more loading. Larger projects you leave it parked at the site, and have the guys show up directly.

    Also, with landscape projects. Consider the logistics of having them show up to the site. Crew leader goes to the shop and loads. Maybe a large project the entire crew loads 1 single day, then after that they all show up to the site. I found most of my vendors deliver for a cost that is similar to my own cost to go pick it up.
  4. 93Chevy

    93Chevy LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 37,804

    Well, for the company of which I work, the crew leaders are responsible for loading up at the end of the work day.
    Grass crews are fairly easy. At the last job of the day, the machines get filled up, trash gets collected in the trailer, tools get properly put away, etc etc. When the crew returns, the empty gas cans get exchanged, weed sprayers get filled up, trash is taken to dumpster, broken equipment to garage,etc. Takes a few minutes.
    Our landscape install and erosion control crews are trickier. Oftentimes property managers fax us or call in work orders late, so we have to switch excavators, skids, tools, materials, etc. It's a nightmare. The crew leaders are still responsible for loading up as much as possible the night before, but sometimes if things get swtiched, it was all in vain. The major fix of that problem is to have everything organized better by the operations manager and field supervisors.

    So, I guess to answer your main question, no. I don't think it's a good idea make two uninvolved low ranking employees in charge of everybody's business.

    Better organization is your key to eliminating loading and travel times. It takes a lot of time to refine that, however.
  5. lukemelo216

    lukemelo216 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ...
    Messages: 1,267

    Thanks for the responses. I guess I should have gone into this a little deeper than in my previous post.

    First of all, we actually wouldnt use "low ranking" employees. Both of them are very good guys who have great heads on their shoulders that can manage themselves without a supervisor constantly watching over them all the time.

    Doing the staggared crew thing, or foreman starts early gig is nearly impossible for us, becasue almost everyone of our guys car pools. Pretty much all of our guys come from the same area, with a few guys that come from other areas.

    The biggest reason we are considering doing this is becasue we have a zero overtime policy. Cutting overtime has helped us through the recession, and its a policy we are going to continue to follow in the coming years. This past year overtime was an absolute must for us from Sept-Nov and it added about 50K in our labor cost. It was a situation where all of these big projects hit us as once, and we did not go about doing them in the smartest of ways unfortunately. So becasue we dont want any overtime, especially with our Union Crews, this makes sense to us.

    We already have a good planning and loading processes (jobs are reviewed 2-3 times before they are started, we create load tickets, tag plants in the holding yard, etc.) Project managers would have to make sure the load tickets are correct for the next days work before they leave for the night, and the guys would load. It would still be the crews responsibility in the morning to check their loads and ensure they have everything on there so they dont forget something, its just putting a system in place that would speed them up. Tha maintenance crews are already set yes, but the main thing is sharpening blades, greasing, fueling up etc. One mower probably takes about 10-15 minutes to go over each night and do all of those things, but there are the times when a maintenance crew might need a truck of mulch, or some seed and blanket, flowers to do a small enhancement, etc.

    Our night crew would mainly be responsible for loading machines (skid steers, dingo, tractors) and their attachements, plants, mulch, soil, blanket or brick that would be loaded at night. When your sending out a 6 wheeler full of mulch and pulling a trailer with 35 trees on it, and then have another International loaded with a couple hundred pots and 15 trees on the trailer, it adds up quickly in the morning to load that up. We already keep our crews stocked with all of their hand tools, wheel barrows, ball cart, etc.

    The other big issue that we run into in the morning is that most of our machines are out on jobsites, so we only have one machine that is in the yard, and 3-4 crews need to get to it so that makes it tough. Again the staggered crews would work, but when car pooling it gets tough.

    I know that the employees just want to go home at the end of the day, and often times get these tasks done quicker at night, however; I also believe it opens up problems becasue they are rushing and could potentially miss something etc.

    I am just trying to open up a good conversation here. In the end I think its a lose lose situation either way you go, however; if set up correctly and managed correctly it will work.
  6. krzys555

    krzys555 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 113

    We are a mainly maintenance company. we do have 1 crew that does landscapes. 4 maintenance crews.

    we have 1 person working at night. 1pm to 9pm.
    he switches the blades, checks and changes oil, and greases everything.
    cleans the mowers off, and cleans the trailers up.
    he is a mechanic so he fixes whatever need to be fixed.

    gas cans are checked, and trash is taken out.
    blades are sharpened every week.
    chain saw chains are changed every time they get used, then they are sharpened and put on the rotation

    the landscape crew gives him a list to load or take off.
    from 1-4 he picks up parts for the shop, oil or grease, or gas.
    he does some deliveries, but he might not have time for repairs that night.
    he is only one person.
    i am also trying to limit overtime
  7. lukemelo216

    lukemelo216 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ...
    Messages: 1,267

    I dont believe this set up is best for a maintenance company, just becasue there isnt a lot going on, however; when you have more landscape crews than you do maintenance crews, or you do a lot of high end maintenance were you are constantly installing new plants or enhancements it would be beneficial.

    Like I said, one guy is mechanical, he isnt a ASE mechanic, but he can do small repairs, oil changes, blades etc at night when the equipment is not working, so we arent forced to take it out of service for a day. Plus, it will free up our head mechanic to focus more on the larger pieces of equipment and the higher priority repairs without letting the preventative maintenance go down hill.

    This is just another way to reduce our non-billable hours, as well as reduce our potential to have overtime. I dont think many companies realize that overtime in the long run does not payoff. Most estimates dont have an overtime rate figured into their bid, and thats why most companies loose money. Just think of this, a 3 man crew who has a $16/hour foreman, $12/hour laborer, and $11/hour laborer costs you $39/hour just in their wages, not equipment, benefits etc. If they all work 8 hours overtime per week for the entire season, it will cost you about 15k per season in just wages (assuming an 8 month season.) Now figure you have 3 crews, your up to 45k per season, plus all the taxes, unemployment, etc. For probably the same amount of money per season, you could add another crew to handle that additional work, plus a little more, and be money ahead.
  8. seabee24

    seabee24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 619


    Is the car pooling your problem or theirs?

    I'll tell you the morning madness with 3 crews needing one machine is your problem.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. seabee24

    seabee24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 619

    The main problem is see with this is, who is going to do the baby sitting of these two guys while your at home.

    I could see it working if 1 of the two was older and had a lot of experience with really good morals
    Posted via Mobile Device
  10. lukemelo216

    lukemelo216 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ...
    Messages: 1,267

    I agree that only having 1 machine is my problem, nevdr said it wasnt. I would love to have another loader for the yard, but we dont so were moving on. The car pooling I can see becoming my problem more if we tell them they arent on the clock right away.

    The nice thing about us being able to do this is

    A. Both guys are very responsible. One is older and one is younger, and both can be left alone to do their work and get it done no problems. Both have worked for us for a few years and are usually working by themselves doijg service work or jobs that dont require me holding their hands all day long. The one guy has been doing this for about 20-25 yrs and is getting older and just isnt like he used to be. This would be a much easier job for a 50 year old white guy.

    B. Generally I am at the office later (6-630) so there will be a manager there. Plus i live about 3 minutes from the office and coulpld pop in whenever to chwck on them.

    C. We have security cameras all over the place so we could monitor those as well.
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