Starting a lawn service shows very little barrier to entry . . . all you need is a couple of hundred bucks to buy equipment and you are essentially a “business”. This creates additional competition as well as increasing the difficulty of finding employees that are willing to work mowing lawns. Many employees feel like being they are being ripped off being paid $10 an hour when they could mow a yard and “make” $25 a pop obviously neglecting the costs of doing business.
Top 7 Reasons Lawn Care Companies Are Not Scalable
The owner created a job not a business – there is s very big difference between job and a business. What normally happens when a lawn company is started is the owner realizes they like working outside, they are good at mowing lawns, or they realize how easy it is to get 5 or 10 customers so they start mowing lawns. When this is the method for starting a company you have really only created a really hard job for yourself with generally low pay. A business is an entity that can exist without you. You work ON a business and not IN a business. Working on a business involves growth strategies, projecting sales, training employees etc. . . working IN a business involves waking up at 6:30am to mow yards until 5pm then sending out invoices, trying to find time to do estimates etc. . . You must start your business with the end in mind and create processes that allow you to work on and not in your business. Try reading The E-Myth. For just $12 you will find that it will transform the way you look at your company.
Owner is too much the FACE of the company – While customers enjoy being able to connect a face and a story with a company you should not place yourself as the contact, face, and person behind every operation of your company. Once you do this it becomes nearly impossible to step back and work on your company. Do not name your company after yourself and allow your employees to answer phones, talk with customers, resolve problems, and do estimates. Not only will this provide them with a greater sense of ownership, but it will also create an environment where the company does not revolve around you at the center. A well designed lawn care logo that does not highlight an individual can help with this.
Employees are not trained – Untrained employees require more supervision. Spending time training your crews will allow for them to function without you at all times which will free up more of you time to focus on growing your company. Spend just 10 minutes each morning training your crews on a given topic. Send out emails with quality information to your employees to allow them to be able to respond to customers questions. Knowledge is power! Providing your employees with knowledge will give them a greater sense of ownership in the business and help them to feel more like they have a job rather than just a means to an end.
Processes are not in place – A process should be in place for every function within your company. Think about McDonalds . . . at any one of their thousands of restaurants a hamburger is made the exact same way. There are pictures of how to create each menu item. The same should be done with your company in order to make it scalable. How are mowers stored in you trucks, when should you fill your takes with gas, who refills the weedeater line, etc. . . process remove the chance of human error and will greatly reduce lost time in the field. If you are worried about your lawn care business not being scalable one place to start is with your processes. Write them down and share them with your team.
Your processes should be detailed even down to what type of lawn service marketing for your company and how you manage each aspect of your business.
Employee manuals have not been created – Along with processes you must also create employee manuals that outline all aspects of the company. A general manual that outlines start times, disciplinary actions, uniform policies. Download THIS EXAMPLE of an employee manual. Make it your own and don’t just copy the words of another company.
New hires are not given expectations from the beginning – another major reason that a lawn care business is not scalable is because because new people are often hired from craigslist.org who are desperately seeking money and will often come in for a day or two. The craigslist posting often is worded saying “need lawn care laborer tomorrow . . . must have experience”. They show up and you through them in a truck with thousands of dollars worth of equipment and put them on your hard earned clients lawn! This practice will lead to failure and a completely unscalable lawn service. Put new hires through the ringer! Hire for company fit and ambition rather than experience mowing yards. Beyond that you must have a new hire manual with your expectations and the job description fully written out so that there is no room for error. Hiring is the most important function to your company and you must insure that your employees know your mission and the purpose of their position.
Delivering Happiness is a fantastic book regarding company culture and how to develop an atmosphere that helps your employees feel invested in you lawn companies culture.
A pipeline of leadership is not created – a leadership pipeline involves creating a system where leaders can be created from the inside. Jim Collins often refers to this aspect in his business books. A leadership pipeline means that from the moment a team member joins your lawn care service you are training them to become a crew member, from there an area manager, then to eventually take over your job as you move out of the company. This comes back to creating training and trusting your employees to handle tasks that will give them the experience to move further up the ladder within your company.
If you follow these steps you will quickly see that you have created a highly scalable lawn care company that will be able to thrive without your presence and can grow endlessly. These are not cure all solutions but can greatly improve your chances of success.