Our morning routine was a waste…
It ate into our lawn care profits, and made the whole day slower. Essentially, we were losing about an hour per crew… per day.
With 5 crews, we lost 25-30 hours of billable time each week. That’s like paying an employee to sit around every Monday and do nothing.
Here’s how I killed that “wasted time” in my morning routine and saved my profits:
The 3 Major “Slow downs” Every Lawn Care Business Suffers From
There were three major problems we needed to solve:
- “The Ice Problem”
- Fill the Tanks Faster
- Cutting Out the Mid-morning Rush
I’ll show you how we solved each of these, starting with the morning rush:
Problem #1: the Early Morning Rush; a.k.a. the Least Profitable Part of Your Day
The picture above was taken at 6:55 am on a Monday. Can you spot the problem?
6 lawn care trucks, with trailers, sitting around at the gas station…
Do you think they’re in a hurry to get out of there?
To be fair, it’s not always their fault.
How many times have you had to wait on “regular Joes?” You know that guy: he leaves his cars at the pump while he grabs a gallon of coffee from the convenience store.
For us, the answer was – “Too many times.”
There were days when our competitors would be waiting for us at the pump, too. They would take their sweet time … or, if they were really bad mannered, they would block us with their trailers.
It was frustrating for a number of reasons:
- wasting our time
- wasting our money
- clogging up our entire schedule
I’m going to show you how I fixed this problem (and saved my business ~$1300 per crew per year) in a moment…
…but first I want to talk about the other problem was crippling our morning routine (probably yours, too).
Problem #2: the Early Morning “Drag”
On one crew, I’ve got three guys. Steve, Jorge, and Roman.
They’re great guys. They do good work, and they always show up on time.
But their morning “quickness” leaves a little to be desired. Here’s the routine:
- Jorge drives the truck up to the pump at 7:00.
- Roman and Steve get out to use the restroom and pay for some ice.
- Jorge wants a snack. He doesn’t feel like waiting outside, so he goes in too.
- Even though the truck is filled, Jorge, Roman, and Steve are still in line at the cashier, in no special hurry to get out the door.
Now it’s 7:20. I just lost 20 minutes, per employee. That’s an hour of billable time, just gone. Evaporated.
I didn’t make any money during that time, but I still had to pay my crews because they were on the clock.
Solution #1: Why Deal with Mornings?
When we sat down to solve this problem, we realized the solution was simple:
“What connects Problem #1 and #2 together?”
“Both happen in the morning.”
The fix was easy – we moved “refueling time” to the Evenings.
This provided several immediate benefits:
- Quicker. The gas stations were less busy.
- More efficient. Nobody wants to screw around at the end of the day.
- Less wasteful. Because it was no longer part of the morning routine, we could skip refueling on certain days (thanks to our dense routes)
However, this “fix” left us with one major problem…
Problem #3: “The Ice Problem”
It’s Texas. It’s Hot with a capital “H.”
Maybe we’re no Arizona, but it’s still Hot. Our teams need water and ice.
They had to get it in the morning, so it would still be frozen all day.
But we couldn’t exactly store all the ice ourselves…
…or could we?
You’ve probably had this idea before. It’s not new, it’s not genius. But most lawn care owners shoot this idea down instantly because “it’s not realistic.”
Here’s some quick math:
Each crew pays about $6.50 for water and ice, every morning.
$6.50 X 5 crews X 5 days per week X 40 weeks per year
That meant we were spending about $6500 on ice and water, every year.
So, we built a shed…
And we saved up about $2500….
And we bought an ice machine.
Isn’t it beautiful?
Inside view of the “Ice Box.”
This “Ice Box” idea has saved us countless hours and more than $6500 per year.
Actually, you can see in the picture above there are TWO ice machines.
Why? Because our first Ice Machine saved us so much money (and time) in its first year…
Our team kept growing (thanks to the strategies in this hiring guide). We were very willing to buy a second ice machine to keep up with the demand.
One Last Lesson to Cut Down on Wasted Time
This problem-solving process is the key to our success.
When we find a bottleneck, we don’t throw our hands up and walk away.
We don’t say, “Welp, that’s just the way it’s got to be.”
I’m not going to say the Ice Machine was a work of genius, but it highlights the exact kind of problem-solving you need to throw at your business. This identifying of problems and increasing efficiency is some people’s idea of a good time, like Certified Advisor and Business Consultant Mike Callahan.
Any time you want to improve something in your business; you can.
For example, we kept moving forward on this solution: could we pay someone else to sharpen our blades at night? And refuel our small gas tanks?
We started a program that brings in (trustworthy) high school kids to do just that.
I can’t tell you how much money you will save by “killing” your morning routine…
But I can tell you that it will absolutely help your lawn care business grow faster, and more profitable.
Related: The Ultimate Lawn Care Pricing Guide
Patrick Hoffman is Marketing Director at Service Autopilot. He specializes in managing marketing campaigns and giving marketing strategies to the Lawn Care, Landscaping, and Cleaning Industries. When he's not writing, he's reading books on marketing, self-improvement, or science fiction.