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  • #16
    Steve,

    For one, yes 3 guys can run that much pe hour but I'll tell ya, seems to me it's gotta be the right 3 guys & on a relatively tight route. If you had a gated community, 2 guys (hussling) could do it too. But I've had a few employees come & go, & if you lolly gag... your probably not getting there.

    I don't have any hard numbers on the profitability for you as my line up changed too much. What I mean is for most of the summer I ran 3 days with 3 guys & 2 days with 2 guys. 2 of my routes were a little lighter & more spaced out, so I decided I couldn't really justify the extra labor those 2 days.

    The problem lies in that I lacked the business this year to buy another full truck & rig just yet, but a 2 man team couldn't keep up. I think the most profitable system is 1 guy per truck & here's why:
    If you have say 2 guys on a truck & run 20 stops that day, for ease of math we'll say each stop takes 20 minutes start to finish, then 5 minutes travel bettween each stop. So during that day you have 6.6 hours per man = 13.2 hrs actually on the jobs making money & 1.6 hours per man = 3.2 hours wasted driving. A total of 16.4 hours labor to complete 20 stops.

    2nd Scenario: 2 guys each with their own truck (trailer, mowers, etc.) running solo. Each guy does 10 lawns, only now it takes each one 40 minutes to complete alone, the travel time remains the same.
    Each guy ends up at 6.6 hours of productivity = 13.2 hours total, and now each man spends .83 hours behind the wheeel of the truck for a combined total of 1.6 hours travel. A total of 14.8 hours to complete 20 stops.

    You save 1.6 hours labor per day in this comparison. Then the question is, how many days doee it take for that to offset the costs of new equipment?

    & other variables play in too, like running solo last summer I peaked out one day at 16 stops alone, the best I've done with 3 guys is 35 stops. Today I completed 25 stops with just 2 of us, and at that, I had a ded battery on 1 mower this morning (25 minutes lost per guy) & we did some trimming & pruning at one clients home. IF it had been light out longer we'd have finished my 31 stop cut list for mondays on schedule despite not having my 3rd man on the truck!

    You gotta weigh out everything in this business, it's a business of minutes & seconds. You have to do a quality job, but 5 wasted mintes per stop can keep you from finishing a handfull of additional lawns per day. That hurts the pocket at the end of a week, month, year.

    How's that for long-winded!?

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    • #17
      When you add a second crew, will you need to duplicate the same equipment of can you have one crew for larger properties and one for smaller? Or what would be ideal? Also what is your plan for truck or trailer needs for the second crew?

      Should all of this be interchangeable so each set of truck and equipment is the same?
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      • #18
        As of right now my intention is to buy an older regular cab "work" truck to tow my current trailer & the main crew (all employees) will run that set up with my current mowers & gear. They will Ideally handle the lions share of the mowing, trimming & pruning.

        I plan to remove the tailgate from my current truck, install a trailer style drop gate in it's place. I'll install trimmer racks to the wood sides to hold the trimmers, blowers etc. I will run this rigg with not trailer handling new estimates, landscape measurements, proposals, 1st time cuts, & pick up any slack from the main crew, all the while being free to roam & check up on them at any time. You can bet that if I'm not on the jobs personally there will be a high standard for quality control, & I'll visit properties shortly after my crews have been there & I'll follow the routes to find them & make sure they are where they're supposed to be.

        I'll run solo again at 1st other than that any new employees will have to train with me for a few weeks before being put onthe other crew. Once things get too busy for the other crew & me alon to handle I'l hire on a helper for my truck.

        I know the dangers of growing too fast & while I think I'm growing this a bit faster than the average company grows... I'm being careful & thinking each move through. Each time you grow as a company (new employees, equipment etc.) your profitability drops a bit at 1st. It's a natural occurance. Growing pains!

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        • #19
          I know the dangers of growing too fast & while I think I'm growing this a bit faster than the average company grows.
          Chuck, you bring up a great point here too.

          How does a lawn care business owner know when they are growing too fast? What are the warning signs they should look out for and what is the upside or downside to growing too fast?
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          • #20
            Well in a podcast about a year ago while discussin this topic another forum member suggested 20% growth per year or less was relatively safe & beyond that he found it risky. Once a business is established this seems like a good guidline. All I can say is watch your numbers! As I said above your profitability drops a bit each time for a while. If you are dumping all your profits into new growth, equipment, man power etc. you can push yourself into the red pretty quickly. You've got to invest some $ back in the business then let the profit level gow to your new increased business capacity. Then repeat.

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            • #21
              Oh yes, I remember that discussion now. Thanks!

              As you are now expanding further, have you thought of more ways to keep your employees motivated to doing a good job and to help sell more services?

              Have you thought of employee incentives ideas that might help this?
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              • #22
                yeah Steve I have, though I won't roll out any programs till next spring.
                I was thinking about setting up a bonus structure based on a crews collective production. If they are hitting my targets & I check to verify that their quality of work is good, I'll probably have an available spiff or bonus. If they don't they don't. But if they don't perform at the levels they should then I'll have to find out why or "who" is causing the slower pace & fix the problem. I plan to make the goals within reach but high enough that they need to perform at optimum levels regularly. If equipment troubles slow them down or the get a mower stuck & it slows them down then they may not hit for that day. but that's the way it is for me now! So they can live by the same rules. If something breaks & costs me an hour or 2 down time I don't do very well per hour that day & it hit's me in the pocket. So they need to help me keep the gear well maintained & inform me of any problems or unusual sounds to stay "on target" or it could hit them in the pocket too.
                Not sure if I'll do it weekly or monthly yet. We'll see.

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                • #23
                  Do you think there could be some simple incentives a newer lawn care business could institute?

                  If so, what should they institute? Should it be some kind of percentage?

                  What about an end of the year bonus to get the employees to stick with you all year and then have money for the holidays when they need it?
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                  • #24
                    clients

                    Hi Chuck

                    Well if you are have a proable with to many clients .them you can sent me sum to. be like sent to you
                    Barry's Lawns N More

                    Barry

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                    • #25
                      Chuck-
                      Are both of your employees full time? I have always looked down on having part time employees in this business for several reasons. However I ended last season with 2 part timers after running Me and 1 full timer employee for the first half of the season. Both guys are in college and plan on coming back this summer. One day in particular we are really going to need a 3rd guy this year, but are only going to need me and 1 guy the rest of the week. (starting out). Having part timers allows me to bring in a 3rd guy on certain days, but stay as lean as possible on others.
                      Logan Hershberger

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                      • #26
                        Well last year I had one on full time working 10 hr days mon-thursday (if all went well) & the other worked the same hours but usually mon-wed. Fridays were used to either catch up if we got rained out, or something broke down, or somebody didn't show up. If all went well then fridays were used for trimming, pruning, & landscaping jobs. The 2nd guy was told at the time of hire that it was seasonal & that hours may vary a bit from week to week. I layed him off in mid October. The 1st guy was really good & I planned to work him as many hours as I could posibly justify to keep him on & hopefully make him a crew chief next year. However the dip**** got himself arrested has since made things worse for himself & I don't think he'll be coming back anytime soon. So right now It's back to just me. I can handle thing for the off season along (though I really didn't want to) So for the last couple weeks & probably the next couple months I'm running my *** off solo. I'll start to ramp things back up with hiring in march I suppose.

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                        • #27
                          aahhh the joys of reliable green industry labor! All of us who have employees know exactly what your going through.
                          Logan Hershberger

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                          • #28
                            Seeing how this is a seasonal business do the employees collect umemployment during the down season?
                            2010 Ford F150 4x4 STX
                            6x12 Trailer
                            Exmark Turf Tracer HP 48"
                            Exmark Viking 48"
                            Craftsman push mower 21"
                            Echo Trimmers
                            Echo Blowers
                            Echo edgers

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Great Question.....
                              I technically hire my guys through a day labor service so they are employees of the service not mine, so I don't need to carry unemployment insurance. Yeah you could get hit with that.
                              I hire my guys on at my choice though, send in their application & the company gets them on the books in about 5 minutes. I've never just called & gotten a "day labor guy" to come work for me.

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                              • #30
                                Wow! I never thought of that. What's the average charge for a day labor? What about workmans comp? Do you have to provide it or does the day labor service provide it?
                                2010 Ford F150 4x4 STX
                                6x12 Trailer
                                Exmark Turf Tracer HP 48"
                                Exmark Viking 48"
                                Craftsman push mower 21"
                                Echo Trimmers
                                Echo Blowers
                                Echo edgers

                                Comment

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