When to scale back your lawn care business.

Every lawn care business owner dreams of being swamped with worked. Of having such effective lawn care marketing that you just have too many lawn care customers. But as we will see in this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, sometimes you reach the point of too much and when that happens, changes need to be made.

One lawn care business owner wrote “yesterday was just insane for us. I had all my 17 lawn care employees at 5 different lawn care and landscaping job sites and then a wicked thunder storms arrived around 3:30pm. So everyone worked up until then and went home. I was so exhausted last night for some reason. Lately I have been feeling more and more drained when it comes to finding the enthusiasm I once had for running my lawn care business.

Today I don’t have a lot to do because of the continued rain. It has been non-stop thunder showers late yesterday all through the night. Trying to move top soil in rain like this is a nightmare and the sod becomes desperately heavy. I have only finished about 60% of the jobs scheduled for yesterday, none today, and tomorrow we are all going to have to be working double time to catch up.

I had a meeting with my son last night as this has been heavy on my mind the past couple of weeks. I am coming to the realization we have to make some changes with the lawn care business as it seems adding more staff is doing little more than throwing fuel on the fire so to speak. We have to downsize as I am getting tired of putting the hours in that I do, 80++ a week and really falling behind in administrative work.

Sure we could find someone who could handle emails, lawn care estimates etc. but there is only so much we can do. We are very efficient with our lawn care routes, mowing equipment, we have a lot of gear but could use more. However one has to decide just how large you want your lawn care business to become.

Last week, a crew finished a landscaping job. I went to pick up the loader to move it to another site when I saw the owner was there. He is a super guy and we have done a few landscaping jobs for him in the past. He has the largest printing company in the city, so we got to talking on the topic of business.

He informed me his wife’s brother owned a large landscaping/lawn care company about an hour outside the city and went through what I am going through now, two years ago. He had gotten so burnt out that he sold everything. Then took a break for two full years before he went back into business.

This year he decided to start a new with three lawn care employees and refuses to take on work more than two weeks in advance for landscaping and will not grow larger than 50 lawn care clients. This seems to make sense to me. If I were to go this route too, it would mean we could sell some lawn care equipment, scale back, and I could then have a life again.

It’s been an interesting ride but at the same time, I have far too many lawn care customers waiting for jobs to be completed. Most are patient but when you are booked 11 weeks in advance, two or three bad days a week because of weather or what ever has a real negative effect on people at the bottom of the list in pushing their projects off further.

I have avoided working full staff Saturdays due to burning people out and overtime but it looks like I will have no choice. I have tried subbing out some landscape projects but from my experience, referring people to other landscaping companies has not worked well. We just haven’t found the right company to work with and I don’t have time to look.

Isn’t it fascinating how in the mind of many lawn care business owners, they would love to have a huge company and be very busy, but when you get there, you find that it takes way too much energy.

What I do know is I decided a long time ago if a job wasn’t fun, I would leave or make changes. The lawn care industry tends to require a more hands on approach by the owner than compared to other companies I have owned or run.

I think having a balance of life and work is very important. When you have to put too much time into something, no matter what it is, it becomes not fun because you can’t take a break and do something else. This lawn care business of mine is becoming all consuming.

I want more Freedom! It’s the reason I started my business. I need freedom. Freedom of choice, freedom that financial security affords, freedom of time restraints, etc.

When I wake in the morning and can hardly wait to get to it, that is fun to me. But working 7 days a week, 12 to 16 hour days and not being able to keep up is very frustrating. I appreciate all the business I have, however managing this many people is driving me around the bend.

If I could offer any advice to other lawn care business owners out there, it would be to pace yourself. Grow at a comfortable speed. Only grow as big as you want and don’t forget to take time off and find other interests to balance your life out. If you have too many customers, scale back on your lawn care marketing. This will help you prevent burnout and allow you to stay the course for the long haul.”

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