How to manage when you can only be in one place at a time.

Running your lawn care business as a one man show has it’s advantages and disadvantages. When it’s only you performing the work and dealing with the customers, you know you are getting the job done and treating the customers the way you want them to be treated. But what about when you grow. When you add your first employee, you can still keep your eye on them, but what about when you add your 2nd crew? You can only be in one place at a time, so how should you manage the happenings of your business when you can’t be everywhere to make sure everything is done properly?

I posed this question to a member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum who has multiple business operations going on in several states and he shared a lot of great insight I wanted to pass on to you.

I asked, a big issue we see with small businesses is when they try to make the jump from working on their own or working with a small crew, to branching out and trying to operate with a second crew.

You can only be in one place at a time so you can never know for sure if everyone is doing the best they can and representing the company in the best light.

How does a business owner rise above these issues and difficulties? How important is it for the business owner to go from working in their business to working on their business?

What’s the best way to make this transition from one man show to multiple employees and then manage it all?

He responded “The way that I try to combat the problem of not being able to be in two places at once is to make myself available to my customers as much as is possible. At the bottom of every page on my website is the following quote:

‘If our staff is on the telephone with another customer and you are having trouble getting through to them, or if you have a question and can’t find the answer elsewhere, please feel free to call me on my personal line, seven days a week, from Noon until midnight, EDT.

I own this company and your satisfaction is my number one priority.’

If you call our toll free number and listen to our automated PBX system’s greeting, you will hear that one of the extensions is directly to my cell phone. It states that I can be reached any day of the week, including weekends and holidays. There is also an extension for customers to leave messages regarding our website as well as our employees performance. You can never trust the employee to tell you the truth about their interactions with the customers. That sounds cold, but it’s true, like it or not.

If you have an employee who is not treating the customers as they should, give them one chance (maybe 2) and then get rid of them. They will do nothing but hurt your business and your businesses reputation in the long run. Keep in mind that NOBODY is irreplaceable. Don’t ever get the feeling that one of your employees is so knowledgeable about your business that you can’t get by without them. The worst that will happen when you shed your company of them is that you will have to spend the time to train a new employee. I assure you that will be less expensive than allowing an employee with a bad attitude to hang around. I speak from experience. I actually fired one of my step daughters because of poor job performance. As you can imagine, after that happened, everybody else straightened right up. I guess they all thought, “Damn…..he would fire his own daughter, what would he do to us?”

The fact is that I would not fire a person for something trivial, but regardless who the employee is, I have to look out for the welfare of the business FIRST. Without the business, neither I or the employees get paid.

As for making the transition from a one man show to a multi employee operation goes, just don’t get ahead of yourself. Only hire enough people to cover the contracts that you have. Don’t hire based on “expected” contracts. The hardest decision is whether to ramp up the advertising and then hire people, or to hire people to prepare for the ramped up advertising campaign. I always advertise first, and hire after I see the results of the advertising. You may miss out on a contract or two because you can’t get to the job as quickly as the customer would have liked, but that’s better than hiring a bunch of employees and then finding that the advertising isn’t going as well as you had expected, and now you still have to pay these new employees for their time.”

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