Help! New lawn care business owner with upset wife.

Finding balance in everything we do is important. So how do you handle the balance between a family’s desire to go on vacation with a business owner’s desire to grow his business? Where can a business owner find common ground in that situation to make everyone happy? That is the question asked on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. The comments that followed really make you think.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I started a lawn care business this year. So far my biggest problem is trying to figure out how I can make time to go on vacation? I had no vacations this past summer as I was mowing lawns. It was hard for my wife to accept this, so she has been patiently waiting for winter to do some sort of vacation. Well, we want to go on a Christmas vacation, an 11 day road trip.

The last two weeks it has really been snowing so I went out and bought a 2 stage snow blower, threw it in my trailer and contacted my lawn care customers to do their driveways. I have since picked up 2 commercial parking lots (everything is by word of mouth-no advertising) and these people count on me that if it snows their parking lot will be cleaned off before their business opens that day.

Finding balance with your lawn care business.

Finding balance with your lawn care business.

Now the wife is pissed. Last night she said now we cannot go on a vacation in the summer or the winter so that means ‘NEVER!’ and we should probably cancel the Christmas trip. What if it snows? These people are counting on you. So my question is, how do you find time to get away with your spouse’s to spend family time or whatever? I was thinking I would just let my customers know that ‘if’ (big if) it snows for those 11 days I will be closed for the holidays. Mind you, there are only 4 business days during this 11 day period. But is that fair to my new customers as I build my business to just say if it snows during this time your driveways and parking lots will not get done? The wife wants me to drop snow removal altogether. Since it is too late this year, next year do I drop snow removal altogether? So I can be free in the winter to plan vacations and spend general spouse time. What do you guys think?

The wife and I work together M-F at a 40+ hr. a week job. We run a busy, growing, non-profit organization. We’re basically a warehouse organization that serves school districts around the country, so our work schedule revolves around school schedules (slower in summer, and the two weeks at Christmas). The remainder of the year we are very busy. My wife has been supportive and we’ve been able to work around my regular schedule to allow me to get off an hour early, go mow lawns and get home before dark during the lawn care months. One of the reasons I ended up starting THIS business is that we are a bit slower in summer which allows me to do lawn care.

We’ve discussed how to slowly grow the business next year. I have a crew that works for me in the warehouse, so as long as they have good direction, I can take one day off a week, blast through the majority of my existing customers (which were spread out all week this year) and have extra time to spend together. I may still do a few quick mows after work in the evening-which allows for additional new customer growth.

So, you see it’s not just figuring out when a slow time for my lawn care or snow removal will be, but also balancing that with the slower times at our regular jobs. The vacation we are planning for this month is one of the ONLY times we can be gone, which is really at the heart of the matter.

So, as you can tell, my wife and I have given this a lot of thought and are trying to have some of that work-life balance you all talk about.

One more question: if I did hire a lawn care employee to do the snow removal (if it even snows) while I’m gone, what is the best way to go about that? Look for a small company that would be willing to sub out the jobs? My main concern is trusting someone with my trailer and/or snow removal equipment while I’m gone.”

A second lawn care business owner said “your marriage should come first, the business will always be there, you need, deserve and should take a break and spend some time with your better half, you HAVE to have a balance in life and that means taking a break.

I run a larger operation so for me it is no problem, I just assign the task to a staff member. I do this every summer while my daughter and I take off for 10 days. If you notice, I say my daughter because my marriage fell apart on account of me being so focused on my business. I went through a divorce many years ago and I had legal custody of the children. For Christmas I go wherever the kids want to go.

So to answer your question, in my opinion your wife has her priorities in check, just hire someone to look after the accounts while you are gone or sub it out but explain to the property owners what you are doing.

Marriage and life is all about balance, give and take. To me it doesn’t matter if I have been in business 1 or 10 years, there are needs that have to be met, spouse, children, pets, our own property and it is critical to take time to breathe.

There are people out there that we could hire or sub to, in this case how many storms would we get in 10 days, this time of the year. To me it’s a simple answer, he has pounded the hours in during peak season, a sweet commercial account comes along for snow removal, I personally have a relationship with my clients I would simply tell them ‘It’s been a very good year for my company and I have made a commitment to my spouse to visit family from ………. to …….., I appreciate your business and have hired/subbed the snow removal of your property while I am gone to ……… I will resume looking after your lot/driveway when I return, while gone, if there are any issues, please call my cell at……’

Anyhow that is my opinion based on my experience.”

A third added “while I agree with this completely I do believe it is leaving out an important fact. A marriage isn’t doing what the wife says only. A marriage that caters to either party at the expense of the other is no marriage at all.

Having a responsible husband should be celebrated in this day and age. I know too many guys that would take that vacation without worrying about if the business fails.
I just don’t know that a first year business has earned time off yet; it’s just not fair to the customers unless you have someone trustful to handle it while you’re away. I do understand that priorities can change over time but when you start a business it weighs heavily on the priority scale unless of course you don’t need the money and if that’s the case you’d have to be nuts to start a lawn care business.

Also, life has to be balanced. A workaholic is as bad as an irresponsible person. I know both types. I’ll never be either. It hurts too many people.”

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