The question is, “What are the top 5 must do’s when starting up a lawn care business?”
That is a great question.
Number One: Marketing and testing. Go buy some marketing books to learn how to effectively market your landscape company. You want to do street mailers. You also want to have a website and start doing pay-per-click advertising with Google ad words or through Bling or Yahoo. Start marketing early and test what works for you.
Number Two: Go into the business planning to get out of the field as fast as you can. This is a mindset. Along with that, go into the business telling yourself that your job is sales and marketing. A lot of people don’t like sales and marketing, but your job is to build the business. And, even if you plan to hire sales people or consultants, you still need to have a basic understanding of what works so that you can hire the right people that won’t lead you down the wrong path.
Understand that this comes from my wanting to see you make real money. I want to see you be really successful and make a better life for you and your family. I want to see you have incredible experiences in life and, all that comes from building a real company, not a job.
Number Three: Learn finance. It is incumbent on every business owner, no matter how much they hate it, to understand finance.
If you don’t already know, you need to know how to create and read a P&L. You need to know how to read an income statement and learn cash accounting versus accrual accounting. Figure out what it means to manage debt, what it means to have a line of credit, and how to manage money correctly.
Accounting is more than looking online at your bank statement and writing checks based on that. You need to get to the point where you understand finance so you can job cost your business and understand the profitability of your employees, your crews, and the services you provide.
Number Four: You’ve got to have software…some piece of foundational technology that can run your business. I work with a lot of people that have built companies to hundreds of clients, and they are absolute disasters because they don’t have software. They’re far less profitable than they would have been had they had software from day one. Plus, switching software systems when you’re a million dollar company is an extremely tedious task.
I really recommend getting a software system that can run everything from your marketing and websites to your job costing and scheduling to your equipment tracking…all the way down. You need one system that can do it all and tie into your financial system. It is critical.
Number Five: Build a great team. You’re an entrepreneur. You’re a business owner. You are charged with building a team around you. Your team will take you to the next level and will run your business while you are on your dream vacation.
You will have to train and educate your team and spend some time working with them to build them up into the right people for your lawn care company. You will hire some people, and you will fire some people. Your job is to build your team and so, for the rest of your days in business, you will always be looking for guys that will be on your team…maybe today…maybe a year from now.
You start with employee number one. As you progress, you’re going to find out what a good employee is, and you’re going to become smarter and smarter about your hiring decisions.
Think about those five things, and I think you’ll find that it will lead to true success.
Hey! It’s Jonathan.
The question is how many lawns per day should my landscape crews be mowing?
I cannot answer this question, but I can tell you how to figure it out for yourself. The reason I can’t answer it is that there are too many variables that factor into it. We all have different clients with different properties and are all located in different types of areas.
In my market, we’ve got everything from small residential properties, to 1 to 2 acre residential properties, to small free standing commercial properties, all the way to hundred acre commercial properties such as the EDS and Frito-Lays of the world. So, lots of variants make it impossible for me to answer that question.
Most often, when I receive this question, it is in regard to smaller properties. You’re probably not bidding the 10 acre commercial property.
What you’re actually asking is what should you expect of the guys you hire? Well, you should expect a little bit less from them than what you are able to do. Generally, this is true having employees in any facet of your business. You hire employees to replace you as you move up in your own company. That is how you grow a business and take it to the next level.
Generally, they’re not going to do it as well as you did. You’re the boss…you’re the owner. There’s a reason you’re the guy running the company and they’re not. That’s not always true, but generally, you’re the guy that’s inspired to work late, work long hours, and you’re super motivated. This is your baby. It’s not their baby. They’ve got a family and they have things going on in their life.
The basis of figuring out how long each lawn should take a crew to complete and how many yards they can do in a day is to put it back on you. How many can you do in a day?
The absolute, most efficient way to do a property is to have 1 person do the property. I am speaking solely of the utilization of people, not utilization of assets.
How many can you go do by yourself? Because, just by yourself is the most efficient. You will have no down time because you will not have to wait on another guy to complete his work.
Once you figure out that it takes about 40 minutes to do the job by yourself, divide that by the number of people you have on your crew. Keep in mind that there will be some efficiency lost because your guys won’t finish at the same time.
The job takes you 40 minutes and now you introduce 2 people into the equation. Theoretically, you should be able to do the job in 20 minutes…2 people times 20 minutes is 40 minutes. That won’t really work that way because they won’t finish at the exact same time. 1 guy will finish in 18 minutes and another guy will finish in 22 minutes because one was mowing and one was edging and weeding. You’ve just lost a couple minute of efficiency.
Another issue to consider that effects efficiency is that your crews may not have the passion for the business that you do. They probably won’t be as fast as you. Immediately adjust it down. Maybe their performance is going to be 10% less than yours. That’s going to affect the time.
You will have to actively manage your crews to make sure they are staying on task and sticking to the routes and routines that you have trained them to do to keep at their most efficient.
Then, when you start using software to track how long it takes them at and in between each job, they become even more efficient. They know they are being watched and you will be able to stay in front of a crew if their time slips from one week to another.
When they know they’re being watched and when you track their time, you can drive more efficiency into the whole thing. As long as they are staying within a certain time frame…not too slow, not too fast…all is good.
First, you start out making some assumptions based on what you can do. Then, you start tracking it. You track what they’re actually doing and then, you get out there and watch them doing the job. As you watch them, you help them become more efficient. You can start setting benchmarks by square footage. You can then compare your crews that are doing similar properties to see how their times compare. If there is a time discrepancy, figure out why. You start looking at your business like that and then you can start really getting these efficiencies in there and you can figure out what to expect of all your people.
Hope that helps.