Should I create a lawn care crew leader position?

Expanding your lawn care company from a one man / crew operation to a two man crew or more, is a delicate process. Human nature needs to be taken into account once you start paying employees you aren’t able to immediately supervise and send them off in their own landscape truck. You need to have a firm grasp of what you are doing before you do it, otherwise you will create an inefficient and potentially destructive mess. Here is a discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum that explains in more detail which steps needs to be taken and how to take them in order to make this process flow smoothly.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I started working on my own late last year after buying the business from a friend. Now I have grown to about the size where I want to start delegating some of the work to my workers. Right now I have one guy who works for me for $12/hr. I trained him myself. He is super efficient and has an eye for detail. I feel he is really trust worthy and I would not mind letting him drive a truck and be in charge of a helper.

I estimate they can finish the same amount of work in the same time as me and my helper. Usually we mow an average of 12 homes in 1 working day. They are well maintained and I keep on top of all my client’s needs.

My question is what is the best way to delegate work? Should I tell my loyal worker he is becoming a supervisor or should I just tell him he is in charge without giving him a raise? The minimum wage in my state is $8 an hour, so the help will be getting that. He is getting paid $12 an hour which is more than the average worker in my area.

I would like to have a second truck to free my time allowing me to work on five of my most valuable clients, while the 2nd truck would be taking care of the rest of the clients. That would also give me more to for estimates, talking to current clients, getting more clients, and supervise the work the guys have done.

Lawn care business crew leader.

Lawn care business crew leader.

What are your experiences doing this? What works the best? I currently maintain 67 homes a week. Please let me know what other kinds of problems may be encountered doing this.”

A second lawn care business owner said “any guy I’ve ever put into a truck to drive, I simply gave him $1 per hour more for driving. Other than that unless that person was running a full crew, I would never consider them a supervisor, as both guys should know the jobs and the expectations of their work.

When it comes to wages, I have found the best practice is to encourage your employees to keep wage conversions between that employee and you. Bad blood is usually the only out come when employees start compare wages among themselves. During performance reviews with employees I have asked them to direct all concerns about their wage to me. After all, I am the only one that can solve wage issues anyway.

As far as crews go, for lawn care services alone, I seldom have more than two employees on any one residential site at a time. For me, a full crew is 4 or more guys being on the same job for extended periods of time. Whether it’s lawn maintenance or full scale landscaping projects. Two or three guys knowing what their part (assuming they have the equipment to keep them busy) will be efficient on their own. I feel beyond that, whether it is 4 or 8 guys on the same job, I lose efficiency. When you get larger amounts of employees on a job site, instead of having a few guys standing around letting others pull their slack, it’s best to know you have one person to take charge to keep them busy or even just help keep everyone focused.

With the experiences I have had in the past, I have learned once someone has an actual title, like ’supervisor’, they assume that responsibility and forget about actually working. They’ll just watch or over think everything and become arrogant and piss the other guys off.

I like to have guys leading by example, though it can be hard making sure several people are doing what they are supposed to be doing and doing it right, there is always room for the lead guy to work. If you find in your situation that there isn’t, then you don’t need that one or two extra less skilled guys on your payroll.”

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