Lawn care businesses quite often hire employees that are skilled in various trades. Sometimes they are out of work carpenters or painters. What should you do if your company has these skilled employees to better utilize their skill set? Should you test out offering various services outside of your core competency? That is what one entrepreneur wanted to know in this discussion at the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. Maybe some of the advice he got could help you consider bigger moves in your future.
One lawn care business owner wrote “I thought of this before but I keep finding more and more out of work carpenters. I give them jobs there overqualified for. Now I’m thinking I should start advertising for work there more suited for. I don’t plan on making a killing or anything like that. I’m just trying to find some better paying work for my guys. The only downside is relying on their expertise instead of my own. They all know more than I do about building and masonry work. On the flip side they know next to nothing about running a business and marketing.
I have the majority of equipment already and what I don’t have I can get from them or buy. So there’s not much of a investment involved. Starting out I have more experience then I did with landscaping. I did general construction for a few years but never masonry work. I pretty much was the gopher of the crews at the time. I would target decks, installing gutters, walks, painting, roofing, siding, seal coating and retaining walls. Some of that is landscape related but I currently don’t have the experience to pull it off.
Over the years I lost a few guys when they found work in their trade. This year I already lost two. I replaced one with a general contractor that has over 25 years experience. Eventually he’ll get an offer to lead a crew and leave too but for now I could really learn a lot from him. He’s the first I talked to that has bidding formulas for each service.
The way I see it I could land the jobs. Have him be the foreman and I would supply a guy or two for the labor. This way I can pay him better than I do now and he’s doing what he’s good at.”
A second lawn care business owner said “I would start out slow with it. Maybe start out this summer and advertise you do custom decks and/or privacy fences. Decks are a part of the landscape. There are a couple companies here in my area that only do decks. I think it might be a good ad on and help the guys do what they most likely miss and raise moral even more. I did carpentry work and I know I miss it. I love mowing grass and taking care of lawns more, but I do love doing wood work as well.
If it works out then next year move into constructing sun rooms, or more.”
A third business owner added “It’s tough to say. I’ve got a painter coming to me for advice on the business side of it. Though, I just don’t feel right if I were to let someone manage a ‘department’ of my company if I don’t FULLY understand it, or I understand it much better than the person wanting to do it under my name.
Painting isn’t so risky, but any interior renovation work could cost you, your company, and more in so many ways! It’s a really tough call.
The best thing a company could do is expand it’s services and find the greatest return on it’s investment, but it’s easier said than done for sure!”
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