Lawn care business growing pains.

A one man show can only take on so much work in a day. Then going from a solo operation to adding your first employee can be a huge step. This one member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum shared with us his angst as he tried to figure out the next step he should take to allow for more growth.

He wrote “I’m going through growing pains with the business. I have been declining all sorts of work lately because I feel I would personably be responsible for too many accounts as I am already running out of daylight each day, and hiring help right now I feel is too financially risky.

I have narrowed down my next step to either:

a) Hire help, wait for more lawns, pray the additional work pays for the growth.
b) Try to work faster and take on more work, then hire help.
c) Take on a part time evening job to make more money, save up the cash, and then feel more comfortable hiring help.

One side of me feels if I hire help before I get enough lawns, I’d be throwing money away. On the other hand If I wait for more lawns BEFORE I hire, I’d have to do a lot of work myself before hiring a new helper can be justified. This means the quality of my work would go down, as I would be personally overbooked and feel rushed.

With a part time evening job, I would be able to hire help with less risk. My time would obviously be limited further, though the money I made from it could help pay staff to take care of my stresses. I’d be busting my butt, but the aftermath just might be worth it.

Eventually I hope the business will grow big enough I can hop back into it, drop the part time job and just profit profit profit! I can just imagine, paying for all my new lawn care equipment, repairs, etc with this job…

Why didn’t I ever think of this before?!?! Anyone have any experience balancing two jobs?”

A second lawn care business owner suggested “forget wasting your time with an additional part time job. If you are already turning down work, you should focus your time more on performing the most profitable jobs you can get your hands on. Then you need to find employees that will take the bull by the horns and run accounts the way you would. I know it’s easier said than done and I have experienced severe growing pains in the past as well.

When I was in your situation, I ended up hiring the grounds keeper of a large golf course as my first employee. Next I hired the groundskeeper of a camp ground as my second employee. Then a client’s brother moved here from another city. He was the manager of a landscaping company. All three are worth their weight in gold. I never have to concern myself with them as they now take care of their group of employees and business as I mainly focus on excavating while they look after landscaping and lawn care.

Over the years I learned the value in paying performance bonuses. It can be difficult to do this if you only offer lawn mowing as the profit margins are tight. In my case we offer so many services that have massive profit margins, it all works out in the end and allows me to do this. Bonuses are an incentive that really pay off.

The spot you are in now is simply about experiencing business growing pains. It hurts, trust me I saw it for almost 16 years. I went through it with all. My lawn care/landscaping/wood chipping company has been the most painful business I have ever been involved with, but the dust has finally settled and we are running on all cylinders. I will be honest, I nearly had a nervous breakdown from stress a few times getting to where I am today, there is no easy cut and dry answer to what you are going through. I wish there was. The industry you and I are in is a tough one at times, but just stick with it and look for slow steady growth and you will be fine.”

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