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Commercial Lawn Care Business - Simple Ways to Decrease Labor Costs

I have witnessed way too many commercial lawn maintenace businesses that forget to take into account the costs of travel time when calculating a job.  The less downtime your crews have riding between jobs in the truck, the better.  I know...common sense, right?  You'd like to think so, but sometimes commercial mowing businesses forget about these costs.  You need to maximize the time your lawn maintenace crews are actually on site producing work and NOT sitting in the truck.  How can you do that?  Here are some tips:

  1. Minimize morning load time and evening unload time by leaving equipment on your truck if possible.
  2. Think carefully about the growth strategy for your lawn maintenace business.  Are you attempting to grow in a dense geographic area to reduce travel time and costs or are you just taking anything the crosses your desk.  A strategy that focuses on saturating a limited geographic area will greatly reduce travel and associated costs.
  3. Make sure you use the right size equiment for the job.  For example...you just can't be competitive if you are using a 21" push lawnmower to cut a 40,000 sq.ft. lot.
  4. Make sure you route your crews efficiently by using one of the routing tools like routeforme.com or routist.com

This all sounds fairly simple, but my experience is that many commercial lawncare companies don't do a great job with this as they grew their businesses haphazardly with little thought as to how the next customer's location related to other accounts already in the schedule.  We often don't pay attention to a little bit of time here and a little bit of time there.  We have to, it all adds up.

Let's look at how quickly it can add up with one 3 person crew.  Let's say you are routing inefficiently, your crews are not incented to minimize travel time and everyone takes a bit longer than you would like loading and unloading.  Let's make some quick changes:

  1. First, let's leave the equipment on the trucks each night and secure the trailers with a locking system or inside storage - Savings = 15 minutes daily x 3 men  = .75 man hrs. gained
  2. Second, let's use a routing software and cut out 30 minutes of ineficient travel time each day - Saving = 30minutes daily x 3 men - 1.5 man hrs. gained

That's 2.25 man hrs. gained per day.  If we pay a simple $12/man hr., that now saves us $27 each day.  Not a big deal, right?  Now let's extrapolate that over a lawn mowing season.  $27/day saved x 4 days/week x 48 weeks/year = $5,184 annual labor savings for just one crew.  If you have multiple crews, the savings just multiplies.  That's alot of money or at least enough to make you look twice at how you handle things. 

A few simple changes and you can save thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of dollars annually which in turn leads to increased profits and peace of mind as a small business owner.  Take a look.  What can you do to reduce your labor costs?