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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

Just trying to get some insight and ideas as to the best way to do things. First some background...

I am a one man band. I explain this to my customers and they take it or leave it. My core business is cutting grass for PP. I do cleanouts and repairs as a fill in. My work load is growing. At the current rate I will have to stop accepting any new work in 4 to 6 weeks. In fact, about a week ago I turned down the opportunity to take over another nearby city becasue it would be just too much for me.

The next logical step is for me to add people and equipment. So...

Those of you with crews. How do you handle picture taking and work that has to be called in from the site? (i.e. something unexpected they found when they arrived)

Do you trust a crew member (lead?) to take the pictures?

What about something that they would need to handle on the spot but would require a phone call to your customer?

My thought would be to train them personally and then give them a route to run for lawns and handle the rest myself. Your thoughts?

I guess my big fear is trusting crews not to damage my equipment.

What about subcontracting work? Do you do this, and if you do how do you handle the subs?
 

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You can ad 2 to 3 guys to work with you before you'll need to worry about a lot of those things.

I'd personally train those two or three guys and when the time came to start another crew you'll know if some one from that group is ready to handle being team lead.
 
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Since you are working by yourself, I would say try bringing them onsite with you for a while and feel them out. You can train them with real work, and see how they handle any special situations that may come up.
 

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Gypsos said:
Hi All,

Just trying to get some insight and ideas as to the best way to do things. First some background...

I am a one man band. I explain this to my customers and they take it or leave it. My core business is cutting grass for PP. I do cleanouts and repairs as a fill in. My work load is growing. At the current rate I will have to stop accepting any new work in 4 to 6 weeks. In fact, about a week ago I turned down the opportunity to take over another nearby city becasue it would be just too much for me.

The next logical step is for me to add people and equipment. So...

Those of you with crews. How do you handle picture taking and work that has to be called in from the site? (i.e. something unexpected they found when they arrived)

Do you trust a crew member (lead?) to take the pictures?

What about something that they would need to handle on the spot but would require a phone call to your customer?

My thought would be to train them personally and then give them a route to run for lawns and handle the rest myself. Your thoughts?

I guess my big fear is trusting crews not to damage my equipment.

What about subcontracting work? Do you do this, and if you do how do you handle the subs?
You hire them on to help you. The good thing for you is that you're turning work away. This means if you bring on 2-3 more guys to work with you, you should be able to get more work done with the extra hands.

This is where you step back and take a field manager approach. Rotate each member of your crew through the photo taking process. Train, train and refresh the training.

As far as tools breaking, of you're doing just grass, buy good tools. However you want to address the use or misuse tools is up to you. Deduct from their pay check of its warranted or just eat the cost. If you have as much work as you say, the cost of lawn tools shouldn't be much. $300 weed eater. $1200 mower. $600 blower. Find a pawn shop.

The way I outfit my employees is this. 4 weed eaters per truck. 2 of them are back ups. (2) echo Pb 770t blowers per truck. 2 self propelled mowers( no need for walk behind or zero turn for most jobs here) plus fuel, oil, trimmer line, burlaps, contractor bags, 2 hedge trimmers and 1 power pruner.
 

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Not sure why you would want to start out hiring employees if your not sure how it will work out. Your on the hook for a lot of expenses before you even turn a dime. Hire some subs for mowing and you don't worry about broken equipment since they will have their own. If your the head cook and bottle washer, contract out your overflow and then you don't committ yourself until you know it works. Printed work orders emailed or hand delivered makes it clear what is expected. You should have the same expectations from your subs that the client has from you, so if something isn't done or photographed as it should be, they go back. Working side by side for a week should greatly reduce the dumb mistakes and oversights from new help.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the comments. Much of what you are saying is what I am thinking about doing.

When you sub out the work there are two ways I have considered.

One is to have them carry the same insurance I do - WC & GL or maybe GL and a WC waiver.

The second is an idea I got from another guy. He simply adds them to his policy and charges them for it. Not sure of the cost or liability it opens up, but it would allow me to be able to make sure they are covered. I have to do some serious research on this one before I would move forward with it.
 

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Gypsos said:
The second is an idea I got from another guy. He simply adds them to his policy and charges them for it. Not sure of the cost or liability it opens up, but it would allow me to be able to make sure they are covered. I have to do some serious research on this one before I would move forward with it.





Now they are your employees. And all the liability is on your policy.
They screw up, and your ins rate will go up.
 

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BPWY said:
Now they are your employees. And all the liability is on your policy.
They screw up, and your ins rate will go up.
They would not necessarily become employees but the insurance companies do have subcontractor insurance if you wanted to insure them yourself.

Insuring them yourself is a huge risk, as far as I'm concerned, since they are not liable for anything once YOU insure them. I would have them insure themselves. If they pay for their own, they understand the costs and liability involved and will, hopefully, be more responsible.

Linda
 

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a1propertyclean said:
They would not necessarily become employees but the insurance companies do have subcontractor insurance if you wanted to insure them yourself.

Insuring them yourself is a huge risk, as far as I'm concerned, since they are not liable for anything once YOU insure them. I would have them insure themselves. If they pay for their own, they understand the costs and liability involved and will, hopefully, be more responsible.

Linda
That is the direction my gut tells me to go. Let them get their own insurance, but it is a new concept to me so I want to research it just for the FYI value if nothing else.
 
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Get your own insurance to cover your subs or employees PLUS have them purchase their own. Either way YOU can and will be held liable at some point. There is a big difference between a sole proprietor and an employer. Its not a question of "if" but "when".
 
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Hire someone for a helper position. Teach them the business. Then set them loose. They need to be stable and have some money to be a good sub. Starving people make terrible subs.

Plan B is hire a sub from another company. Offer them something better.

What I think is most important to growth is a strong back office person. Hire someone that knows the business to be in charge of order submissions.
 
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Gypsos said:
Thanks for the comments. Much of what you are saying is what I am thinking about doing.

When you sub out the work there are two ways I have considered.

One is to have them carry the same insurance I do - WC & GL or maybe GL and a WC waiver.

The second is an idea I got from another guy. He simply adds them to his policy and charges them for it. Not sure of the cost or liability it opens up, but it would allow me to be able to make sure they are covered. I have to do some serious research on this one before I would move forward with it.
I don't know how florida law works but here in cali adding them to your policy still kinda puts you at risk. Your company would still be responsible for any damage caused by their negligence. A policy is only about 1000 a year with a 250 down payment and 65 a month. If they're serious they should have their own insurance and you should also require a certificate stating that your company is the named insured on their commercial GL policy before you sub ANYTHING to them. Yes your insurance would cover it but ultimately you don't wanna be responsible for anyone else's mistakes if that situation arose
 
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I saw this over at blogging painters dot com. Same principles would probably apply in other small service businesses.
 
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