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Growing By Leaps and Bounds


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  #1  
Old 04-19-2010, 02:05 AM
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Default Growing By Leaps and Bounds

Well I have to admit, this year has been a really good. I'm thinking about buying another truck and hiring two part timers. This time last year I had maybe 5 lawns. This year I have 48 and still averaging a new one every day. I'm getting really behind already, and I'm kind of apprehensive about growing so fast. I know this is a good thing, however I'm feeling gun shy about hiring and purchasing this truck. Granted, it's a good used truck and it's coming from a good friend, and it's only $1,500. He took good care of it, and it will be paid for in cash when I get my raccoon job finished next week. I have an older guy lined up for the foreman position (will mow with the zero turn) who is very particular and a good leader, and my part timer (will trim) is the son of a good friend. I will be having them service the 26 apartments that I got last week, and maybe some of my new customers. I make $477.00 for all the apartments (they are all very small yards..too small for my 60" Exmark, but almost too big for a push mower to be efficient...more trimming than mowing) I figure two guys at $10 and hour and if they start at 7am, they should have all of them completed by 4pm. The thing that takes the longest is loading and unloading and driving to each one(between 3 and 6 blocks apart in most cases). What bothers me is, do I hire the two guys and buy the truck (I already have a small trailer) or do I just hire a part timer to go with me on all of them? The only issue with just hiring a part timer to go along with me is I have several mulching jobs, clean ups, plantings, and drainage pipe installs to do and I'm so behind. I am having new customers who haven't had their yards mowed yet and they're getting tall and I'm having to schedule them two days ahead to even fit them in. By the time I get there, I have to spend twice as long because I have to literally mow it twice to mulch up the clumps to make it look nice. The way I'm looking at it, if I start losing money after I buy the truck and hire the two part timers, I can always sell the truck and let one of the guys go and take the other with me. I have the thought in the back of my mind that if I set these guys loose, they won't do as good of a job as I do and I may lose my 100% retention on my customers. The foreman I'm looking at is in his early 60's and is very particular. He'll be good to oversee the work and won't have to work very hard at all because he'll be on the mower all the time, and driving from place to place. The kid on the other hand is ok, but likes to fidget with that stupid cell phone of his all the time and isn't very particular, but has the potential to be. The first rule I will make known and will enforce is that the stupid cell phone will be turned off and left in the truck at all times. I don't know what it is with kids and their ignorant cell phones. I'd like to take one away from one sometime and watch them have a total breakdown just for laughs. Anyway, the foreman would be the only one allowed to have one on and with him in case I need to get a hold of him. So what do you guys think, should I hold off and stay behind and see what happens, or should I take the risk and buy the truck and hire the two part timers so I don't get a bad rep for being too busy and not getting to people quickly? I'm afraid I won't make much money if I hire help, but on the flip side, I'm only losing money by turning people down because I don't have the time to get to them.
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  #2  
Old 04-19-2010, 05:07 AM
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It's great to hear that you are growing that fast!

You may not make as much per location however you should still be making a profit.

Growth can be very painful, I went through this last year and it was brutal, what was supposed to be a company that I could work with my son and maybe one friend at during the summer when he was home from University grew to 16 staff.

At one point I found myself being nothing more than an office manager, the paperwork in this company is nuts as we do everything by the book. Long story short I have people, process and policy down and in place, this year has been far better.
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Old 04-19-2010, 10:01 AM
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Congratulations on all your success!
Quote:
do I hire the two guys and buy the truck (I already have a small trailer) or do I just hire a part timer to go with me on all of them?
I would think the best way to go is to scale it up and hire the part timer first.

Otherwise who the heck knows what would happen if you just hired 2 guys and let them loose!

What's your view on this?

Also,

Quote:
Growing By Leaps and Bounds
What would you attribute this too?
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Old 04-20-2010, 01:41 AM
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Well, upon further thinking, and re-thinking, I think I'm gonna hire two part timers for one or two days a week to get started off with. I have a buddy of mine who has a little extended cab Ranger that already has the tow package and he also has a small trailer, which I'll supply with the Toro Zero Turn, trimmer, blower and fuel cans, etc. He offered to work for me a while back and I think I'm gonna take him up on the offer. I figure this way, all I have to do is buy some magnetic signs for his truck and reimburse him for fuel. I'll alternate him with the kid through the week on my residentials with me, and I'll have the both of them do the 26 apartments plus one other account on one day. I went to Home Depot and bought another trimmer today. It's the Ryobi 4 cycle and man is it cool. It sounds like a 4-wheeler! This is actually an experiment because I'm going to purchase the propane conversion for it and see how that works out. For about $40 you can convert it to run off a small propane bottle, like the ones you use for a small camping cook stove. They're cheap and from the reviews I've read on them, they last much longer than normal fuel. I've had good luck with Ryobi trimmers in the past, however I prefer Stihl for the business as they're definitely more commercial style. We'll see, but I think it'll work out pretty good. Right now I'm running gang busters, so it'll be a while before I can get around to getting the conversion and getting it installed, but I'll definitely keep you guys informed as to how it goes.
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Old 04-20-2010, 01:50 AM
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Oh, and Steve to answer your question as to what I would attribute this growth to...Quality, Quality, Quality. When I service a lawn, I do the best I can do and treat it like it was my own mother's lawn. I literally treat each and every customer like they were my own family and I always give them small freebies when I can to make them feel special. Anytime they need something like a few small weeds sprayed in the driveway, or a few small limbs picked up and hauled away, I always do it for them for nothing. I think it makes them feel special and appreciated. I always make time to visit with them and be sincere when I ask them how they are. My work is always flawless and I never do sloppy work. The clippings are always blown back into the lawn, I never blow grass from the mower or trimmers up against a house or outbuilding or onto the neighbors lawn, and I always keep my lines perfectly straight with the mowers. They pay me to do quality work, and that's exactly what they get, consistently, every time. I've had 100% retention on all my customers because of this, and I have yet to ever lose one because of my work. I tell them up front that I am a professional lawn service and I may not be the cheapest, but my work is the best around.
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Old 04-20-2010, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
I would attribute this growth to...Quality, Quality, Quality. When I service a lawn, I do the best I can do and treat it like it was my own mother's lawn. I literally treat each and every customer like they were my own family and I always give them small freebies when I can to make them feel special.
What got you to the point where you figured out that was the key? It seems like early on in any new business venture, most business owners are simply in a mad dash for quantity. They want as many customers as they can get.

But at a certain point, you would figure they would need to bridge that gap to quality.

What was your view on how that all came together? Do you feel you went for quantity first and then went after quality?
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Old 04-20-2010, 08:49 PM
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Here is what we do:

1 Truck
3 workers
2 of the 3 are running mowers(one in front one in back and they help the 3rd guy once they finish)
3rd guy only trims, edges, and blows

120-200 Lawns a week
30-50 lawns a day

We mow 4 days a week. The other 3 days are left for side jobs and catching up in case off weather or break downs. We sometimes have a 4th guy help out in spring because the grass grows out of control.
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Old 04-20-2010, 11:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdexpd View Post
Well, upon further thinking, and re-thinking, I think I'm gonna hire two part timers for one or two days a week to get started off with. I have a buddy of mine who has a little extended cab Ranger that already has the tow package and he also has a small trailer, which I'll supply with the Toro Zero Turn, trimmer, blower and fuel cans, etc. He offered to work for me a while back and I think I'm gonna take him up on the offer. I figure this way, all I have to do is buy some magnetic signs for his truck and reimburse him for fuel. I'll alternate him with the kid through the week on my residentials with me, and I'll have the both of them do the 26 apartments plus one other account on one day. I went to Home Depot and bought another trimmer today. It's the Ryobi 4 cycle and man is it cool. It sounds like a 4-wheeler! This is actually an experiment because I'm going to purchase the propane conversion for it and see how that works out. For about $40 you can convert it to run off a small propane bottle, like the ones you use for a small camping cook stove. They're cheap and from the reviews I've read on them, they last much longer than normal fuel. I've had good luck with Ryobi trimmers in the past, however I prefer Stihl for the business as they're definitely more commercial style. We'll see, but I think it'll work out pretty good. Right now I'm running gang busters, so it'll be a while before I can get around to getting the conversion and getting it installed, but I'll definitely keep you guys informed as to how it goes.
not sure of your local laws,but you have to be sure buddies insurance for his truck is ok with him using it for your business .
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Old 04-20-2010, 11:47 PM
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Quote:
Do you feel you went for quantity first and then went after quality?
Actually the way I saw it was the quality would get me the quantity. I believe that if you do great work, you'll get more customers. I've always been particular about making things look the best, and that's what I do with my lawns. The way I see it is this: Any moron can mow a yard. It takes a professional to manicure a lawn. I keep my work one step above the other companies. I'm always paying attention to the ways they mow and trim, and I go one better. When I push mow, I make those lines perfectly straight. When I trim, I never leave a blade of grass standing, and I always turn the trimmer on it's side and edge the sidewalks and curbs on every account. When I blow the clippings, I also blow off their patios and porches, whether they have my clippings, or just leaves and dirt from them not sweeping them. Customers notice this kind of stuff and that's why they seek me out. This ain't just a job, it's a passion and I'm doing it because I want to, not because I have to.
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