Rain delays for mowing crews can be a challenge for any lawn care company. Here are a couple of ways to stay on top of the game and keep the revenue coming in.
If you’re frustrated with all the rain and rain delays… If you can’t figure out how to route and schedule your mowing crews because of all the rain, you’re in the same boat with the rest of us. Everyone deals with the exact same problem. There’s a lot of different ways you can handle it. I’ll tell you what we do and then I’ll tell you what some other companies do.
We run five days a week. Some companies will run four tens, meaning they work four days a week for ten hours, and they try to stay out of overtime and they use Friday as a catch up day. For us, we have to work in overtime. We pay overtime. There’s no way around it because we can’t find enough people fast enough to grow the company the way we want to grow the company, so we have to absorb the overtime. We work five days a week. Saturday’s a catch up day. Sunday’s a catch up day. For our lawn mowing crews and for our bed and bush crews, they’re the two sides of the company that predominantly have to work the Saturday/Sunday. It’s not that spray techs don’t work Saturday, but they would never really have to work on a Sunday. Whereas, if it rains for three days, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, then that means Thursday and Friday we’re mowing until dark. Saturday we’re mowing late into the day. Sunday we’re going to mow until we’re finished. We have to get the work done. It’s especially true for us.
Some companies are commercial. They’re under a contract and if they get so much rain, then they’ll skip a week of maintenance or they’ll really change up their schedules. They’re going to get the same revenue regardless. For us, we’ve done the math and it’s more profitable for us to be pay-as-you-go and not put our clients under contract. That’s a whole different video on why, but there’s a lot of reasons why we are one hundred percent positive it’s the more profitable route. For that reason, if it were to rain Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and we don’t mow this week, then we lose that weeks work of mowing, and that’s a big deal. We have to do whatever we have to do to make up the revenue. Also, to keep the properties nice. Then, if we don’t take care of the properties, you know, you’ll pay the price in the second week when it’s really growing fast. Especially during the spring.
There’s no magic. The only solution is to do the work. The only days remaining in the week are Saturday and Sunday in our world, so we have to do the work. When we hire somebody they know the deal. That’s how it works. There’s just nothing you can do about it. When it rains, yeah you get a temporary break the day of the rain, but we’ve all got to suck it up and do the work and get it done. That’s how we all get paid. That’s what we do. Again, there’s no magic. Some companies are trying to avoid the idea of working on weekends or they would never work a Sunday, and in a perfect world that would be the case, but we’re outdoor service companies and we don’t have a choice.
Now, if your fertilization and weed control or pest control irrigation … outside of an irrigation emergency … you’re not going to lose the revenue by delaying the job. If you have a whole round … let’s say you have several thousand applications that need to happen within a round, like round three, yeah you might not finish on the day that you thought you’d finish all of those applications. For example, you thought you’d have all the applications for round two done in beginning of March. Maybe it takes you a few extra days into March than you’d expected because of so much weather pushing back some of the applications, but you can still capture all that revenue. That’s a little less of a concern. Just to be clear, for us, we’re not going to work on Sundays for that type of work. It’s not necessary. It is necessary for the revenue that if you don’t perform the work you’ll never recapture that revenue. Meaning that if you miss a mowing this week, you can’t make it up. It’s impossible. That’s how we handle it. No magic.
Now, how do some other companies do it? Some work the four tens, meaning they’ll work Monday through Thursday and that gives them a Friday and possibly a Saturday to fall over to. Some will bring their crews in and do maintenance, training. Some in light rain will still do some mowing. We do too. You can do some light mowing in rain, as you know. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. From our standpoint, it’s a big marketing watch-out that if you’re mowing when it’s too wet there’s a perception problem. If the work doesn’t look as good, then we’re not viewed as the level of quality that we want to be viewed. We’re not viewed in the like that we want to be seen. I think it’s a real watch-out to mow in the rain or when it’s too wet. It can just lead to too many problems. However, bed and bush crews can still do some work. You can hand weed. You can do maintenance. You can do training. Now, I’d just say watch out because you can quickly get yourself into some overtime by doing these things.
Where we’re at in business at this point, we have maintenance crews. We have people to do everything, so when our mowing crews can’t mow there’s really nothing to let them do because everything’s taken care of by other people. In that case, what we do is we don’t have them come in. If the weather clears or the rain moves out, we might call them in at eleven in the morning and do what we can for the day knowing we won’t finish everything. Then, start to catch up on the following day. That’s how we handle it. I hope that gives you a few ideas, but know there’s no magic. You just got to do the work. Your team has to be educated when you hire them to know, “Here’s how we deal with it. Deal with weather delays. Here’s what we do and there’s nothing we can do about it.”