How Do I Pay My Team Through the Winter


How’s it going? I got my computer in front of me here, I’m gonna look down at my notes a bit. So here’s the question. It’s actually really simple, I barely need to look at it. How do I pay my team through the winter? So I did make a couple of notes of some services you could provide. There is no silver bullet here, it depends on your market, it depends on where you’re at. So you’ve probably heard of some of this stuff. But I do like the idea of focusing on keeping the team on payroll. And what I mean by that is through service autopilot, through academy, I’ve worked with some awesome people, awesome people that have the skill set, have the mindset, they’re totally capable of building something big and interesting. But they’re just failing in every possible way. And one of the reasons they’re failing, is they’re in markets in the lawn care industry that go dormant after six or eight months and they need to roll into snow and they don’t roll into snow.

So basically they have all these team members that serve the client through lawn care, fertilization, we control whatever the service offering is that’s outdoors. Six, eight months and then what happens is, snow season starts, they don’t participate in that game so they let their team go for four or six months of the year and then they have to rehire everybody next year. Well you can’t build an interesting company wherever you’re getting a bunch of newbies on your team with no experience and no knowledge of the business.

And so, in those types of businesses, while you might think the snow business sucks, what option do you have? Well, the only option you have is either play the snow game to solve your labor problem or figure out some other level of service. One of the things I talk about in Service All Pod Academy, all the time, my vision of the future, is if you’re only identifying yourself as a lawn mowing company, an outdoor services company, you’re thinking way too small. I believe in focus, I believe in simplicity, but let’s be honest, the future of your company is probably not just mowing lawns, probably not just fertilization, we control probably not just mowing, probably not just installation. If the companies that think bigger, that don’t just put them in the lawn care box or the outdoor services box. That eventually once they get to some level of skill add in other service offerings where there’s money and they can actually recruit employees to work in those areas. Those are the companies, the individuals that are going to win.

All right, so there’s a real risk of saying, “I’m a lawn mowing company, I’m a bush trimming company, I’m a landscape install company.” When you put yourself in that little bitty box, that winter sucks all right. So my suggestion would be that you say, “I am a service company and what does it mean to survive and keep my team on payroll through the winter?” That could mean, you’re pruning back perennials, it could mean leaf cleanups, it could mean snow, it could mean gutter cleanups, it could mean gutter installs, it could mean landscape installs, it could mean Christmas lights, it could mean handyman services, it could mean building decks, patios, outdoor kitchens, it could mean outdoor lighting, it could mean anything. It could mean cleaning homes, it could mean power washing. What is it? So if you in your mind have said, “I’m a lawn mowing company. I only know lawn mowing.” Well then you’re screwed. There is no thing I can tell you to fix your off season business if you’re just lawn mowing. There’s nothing I can tell you. I’m in Texas and my off season is three to four months for mowing.
Now if I keep going south, it gets a little better. If I go to Florida, it gets even better. But we’ve built a very significant company on a lot of outdoor services and our biggest revenue generator is lawn mowing and lawn mowing is still a eight, nine month a year service in my market. So I gotta think of all kinds of creative ways to keep my team busy. I don’t have that problem solved and there is no snow. We can’t shift to snow gear, it doesn’t exist. Snow just, it happens, but it shuts down everybody and nobody has snow plows here.

And so my point is that, that means we have to go into other service offerings to solve the labor problem. And so if you just say, “I’m a mowing company, so I have to find something very similar, congruent to mowing, to solve my three, four, five, six month labor off-season,” then you’re screwed. You have to think in a totally different way. You have to say, “I’m an outdoor services company or I’m a services company, what does that mean?” That means we can do all those other things I described earlier. Now those other things are a distraction. Those other things are a complication and I would encourage you to think about simplification. I would encourage you to think about focus. For me and the majority of my business career, I’ve done a lot of stuff.

While it has set me up to be highly successful now and to be able to give good advice now, it did not set me up to be highly successful back in the day because I was here, there, everywhere. And so I can’t say it enough. Focus is the game, but within that concept of focus, what is it that you need to do to keep people on your payroll, keep them working so that you can grow your business and you can continue to evolve and coach and build your team? A team that comes back year after year, that helps your company get better and better serves your client.

You’re gonna have to find other services outside of the thing that you think you are right now, to do that and that’s what it requires. We are in the outdoor business, not gonna change, weather’s not gonna get better. It’s probably not gonna quit being unpredictable, it’s just gonna get worse and so you better bob and weave and do whatever it takes to find those services. And so for some, they might have some inkling of ability towards construction or handyman services and so you have to cross train your lawn mowing team or your bush trimming team or your fertilization and weed control team, to do these other things and that’s the only way you create a bigger, viable growing company.

So think out of the box, question your assumptions, question who you are now and say what else could we do and if you don’t know how to do it, that doesn’t mean like, “Well, screw it, we’re screwed, we’re done, like we can’t build this.” No go freaking learn how to do it, like learn how to do other things, go read books, read audiobooks, hire a mentor, get a coach, study, get licenses, it doesn’t matter. If you’re a business owner, then that means you’re a problem solver. If you’re not a problem solver, you’re not a business owner. Because I can predict the rest of your business career. It’s all about problems, like the rest of your entire business career is solving problems, fighting fires. If that’s not what you’re up to, then you’re not a business owner. Get out of the game now.

If you’re a business owner, then you’re about solving problems and your problem to go solve is what else can we do over the winter? And I gave you some examples but I don’t know you, I don’t know what your skill set is, I don’t know what you’re attracted to. Think about that stuff and then go figure out how to do those services, but take yourself out of the lawn mowing, lawn care, outdoor services box and figure out what else you gotta do and then once you figure that out, try to keep it as simple as you can without being too distracted and losing focus.

And if that doesn’t make sense, then please post some questions below this video and just say, “Hey, I don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about or can you elaborate on this?” And I’ll do my very best to answer your questions. Good luck.

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