Yes yes, finally my chance to rant...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by LwnmwrMan22, Sep 3, 2007.

  1. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    Been in the business now for 19 years. Been to the point where I've had 7 guys working, doing 150 commercial / residential accounts / week.

    8 years ago got tired of paying people to break stuff so went back to doing it solo.

    Last weekend (8-24 / 8-26) my wife and I went to Vegas with her sister, bro-in-law and her mom, 5 of us.

    Anyways, we had the plans from May, and went the last weekend in August, typically everything is burned up, skipping most of the properties, and the ones that are green, usually grow about 1" / week.

    Like most places, we've had no rain all summer, so everything WAS dried up, nothing really to do.

    2 weeks before we go, we get some storms through the area. Nothing major, just 10-12 yards have 10 - 15 minutes worth of cleanup to do. Again, nothing major.

    Well, after those storms, which rained about 3" in 2 hours on Sunday, we get another 2+" on Tuesday night. This is the time when all the flooding in SE MN was occuring. Now things are turning to crap in a hurry.

    For the next 8 days, it either rains or is drizzling all day. In the middle of this, the spring on my ramp door for the enclosed trailer breaks, so now I've got to struggle each yard to lift it up.

    Then we leave to go to Vegas and it's absolutely beautiful weather here. Sunny and 80 all 3 days. 3 weeks before this trip I put down my 3rd round of fertilizer.

    I come back home 5 am Monday morning to more thunderstorms. It's raining so I figure I'll sleep until 10 am and put the raingear on, head out to work. The week before I worked 85 hours in the rain gear, nothing new.

    7 am my dad calls, my mom is sick, so I need to pick up the boys. Now I'm on 2 hours of sleep, after getting 2 hours of sleep each night for the last 3 days in Vegas.

    Go pick up the boys, drop them off with the wife, and head to work. Get 2 yards done, and call my mom to see how she's doing. Ask if dad's home yet to see if he can cover the yards he usually does, but no. He had to take my aunt to the eye doctor because my mom was too sick to take my aunt.

    I asked my mom if she wanted me to take her to the doctor (my mom) but she declined, saying she knew I was going to be behind.

    I called my wife (who's also on limited sleep) and ask her to go check on my mom. My wife's an RN, so she's got some idea of what could be going on. She ends up taking my mom to the hospital, who ends up having her appendix taken out on Monday evening, about 11 pm.

    So, now I don't get home until 1 am, and hit the hay, only to wake up again at 5 am to more rain. Figuring I didn't get much done Monday, I get going, get the rain gear on, and try to do some work. Yards that normally take 1 hour are taking 2.5-3 hours, because of all the rain, the fact that the fertilizer is kicking in, and that it's cloudy and 60 with minimal wind, so nothing dries out.

    My dad calls at noon, saying that the doctor that was supposed to discharge my mom at 9 hasn't shown up yet, so I'll have to head home to watch the boys. It just so happens that this is my wife's week to work 5 of 7 days, instead of the 2 / 7. It also just so happens that my wife's coworker who'll watch the boys in a pinch had her tonsils taken out last week, so she's laid up.

    Anyways, head home, watch the boys and the parents finally get home at 5 pm. Head back out, get 2 yards done that day.

    Now it's Wednesday and I'm working on the first 1/2 of Mondays' list. Call up my uncle to have him help my dad mow a school, he shows up, works 1/2 day, heads home. No reason, just decided he worked enough that day. So much for that help.

    Struggle through heavy dew every morning until about 10 am (still) to the point where I should probably just sleep in. Now I'm back to double / triple cutting everything, because it's 10-12 days since it's been cut, and there's only about 90 hours / week of daylight, just no time to get caught up because of more rain and the heavy dew.

    Today we were mowing 4 schools. My new Kubota ZD331 / 72" blew the fan belt at 300 hours. That's dead. This is after yesterday where I got 2 properties done in 12 hours, that usually take about 6.

    It's to the point now where if a customer calls, I don't even want to start to explain everything that's happened in the last 2 weeks, since it sounds like I'm starting to exaggerate. Especially when I say a 70 year old had to have her appendix out and a 35 year old had her tonsils taken out.

    What do you do though... just keep mowing away and hope those 27 degree nights come sooner than later right now.
  2. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,260

    Thats why solo sucks.
  3. JB1

    JB1 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,904

    tell them your dog was hit and killed by a truck and your having a rough time with losing him.
  4. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    Just be honest. Tell them your solo and you took a vacation in the middle of summer.
  5. robbo521

    robbo521 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 601

    man thats some bad luck,sorry to here it.i have seen it like that and just have to suck it up and try to do what you can.
  6. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    It was just as bad when I had employees. None of them ever wanted to work in the rain, let alone on the weekend in the rain to get / keep caught up.

    The worst part of it all, we've had an entire summer of very little rain, like most here.

    Now the grass is literally growing 8-10" / week, and it looks like I haven't been there for 3 weeks.

    I'll pull up to a yard, and if it weren't for the fact that it was crossed off of last week's list, I'd swear I forgot to do it last week.

    Much like that syndrome they talk about with pilots flying in clouds, when they lose their direction, except for the gauges, if I didn't have my list, I'd probably end up cutting the same 10 lawns every 3 days right now. :dizzy:
  7. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    I'd just come up with a short simple explaination.

    I'd explain that the rain put you behind and the growth surge caused by all the rain is slowing you down when you are able to work, so the schedule is out the window and you are at the mercy of mother nature trying to get caught back up and on normal schedule again. Also explain that it might take a while because on top of it all, your babysitter is recovering from emergency surgery and your backup babysitter is recovering from outpatient surgery.

    Ensure them you are doing all you can and will do your best... and thank them for their patients.

    Now, my man-to-man advice to you is this...
    Sometimes you have to buck up and stop being the "family gopher" you are usually expected to be because you are the self employed one. Extreme situations call for extreme measures. It's probably high time by now that the wife takes the call and misses a little work...or you two call in a favor elsewhere for child care. After all, you are the one with the career that puts you farther behind every hour you work.

    Businessman-to-businessman, I have route-based, priority-based and size-based recovery plans in the event something throws me far behind.

    Route-Based> For one thing, every day in the morning I drive to the far end of my route and mow my way back unless it looks like I am driving into rain. The same is true in the evening on days I have morning/evening routes. I do likewise when recovering from falling behind.

    The reasoning is the same for this... I get the farther away stuff knocked out first on every route so that if I can't get it done, the closer ones are left to do. Makes it quicker and easier to drive back out. Doesn't matter if growth is slowing you down to the point you can't finish, or if you get totally rained out...etc...

    Priority-based > Also, I look at many angles of priority when trying to catch up... because lets face it... sometimes it's impossible to get them all before the next week rolls around.

    I look at them based on the customer, their ways, their location, the growth rate on the property, how well-drained the soil is, etc... Customers I do not like do not get priority service. I will skip them in a heartbeat to get on to the next customer on the route that is great. Standing water or soggy soil is a 'pro-opinion' reason to let one go. Accounts that grow slower, I'll pass them by in a heartbeat to get to the one I can hear growing in my sleep, etc...

    Size Based> Sometimes I will let a really large account go so I can get to a larger number of smaller accounts and put out more fires. Same goes for several accounts near each other that I may not be able to get all of them in the same day. I'll pass them all rather than mow a few and have the rest burning up the phone. Other times I will hit the larger accounts first to knock them out before they grow any more because it is easier to recover on the smaller overgrown lawns. Sorta growth based in that respect.

    In any event, I totally switch modes to whatever is totally most convienent to me and most helpful to me to get caught back up. Sometimes that might mean that if you were scheduled monday and I didn't get you, chances are you might not see me until next monday because I might not want to run behind all week for everybody just to suit you. Then again, you may see me tuesday or wednesday but not next monday if it is my best interest to stay on top of the growth the best I can until it slows. Whatever suits me.
  8. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    WOW. I know you are not B.S ing us because I know what the end of that system did for my lawns which are 5 hours from you. I am a very small scale operation compared to many and I am also fighting the 1" growth per day but I haven't been slammed with the rain like you.
    I know it seems like you can't catch a break but I am praying that things get easier for you. I got spoiled by just cutting the irrigated lawns and taking much of the summer off because of the brown out. I made beans for profit but got to enjoy some time with the family. I look at it this way, most of my customers didn't water so I didn't have to mow. (please don't write about yearly contracts, I am doing OK) I therefore will mow at my convenience when Mother Nature makes the grass grow. I have had no complaints. I definately know what you are going thru on a smaller scale. The morning dew is stretching a 15 minute cut into almost 45. What a feast or famine industry we are in but all in all it beats sitting at a desk or a paper machine. Set the deck high and come back next week, like you said it will be nice to see those 27 degree nights. Good Luck.
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Oh hey super tall grass is the easiest thing lol look here what I do is raise my cut height by 1/2" or so for that one cut, then schedule the next cut sooner than planned and 2-3 cuts later you're back on track. So you spaced it out and now you bring them closer together, see it all adds out to the same number of cuts in the end so why kill yourself trying to play catch up with clumped up crap and headache?

    I did it for many years, killed myself like you and got all mad and frustrated, still to this day I don't got the solutions to it all but I tell you when I find something to relieve the stress, I do it. So back to your thing don't feel bad, I just came back from a family reunion, in Europe... 8 days I was gone, 8 lousy days I am telling you for what it cost I could've stayed gone a month! Come back here and it's the same basic story as yours... Like yourself I did the best I could as I do believe it helped prevent the worst of doom, I am sure you did the best you could too.

    Just take it easy, do the best you can and know you did your best, beyond that I just let the cards fall into place and be kinda lalala about it and try not to worry about it too much, all you can do, but DO remember the good times you had while you were gone and feed off that and everything's ok.

    Now I need some attitude like this for the times in between vacations. :)

    I lol'd
  10. Dunn's

    Dunn's LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,534

    Sorry but I don't get it? It says your time to rant. I don't see a rant.

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