You know, when I talk to people who don’t really know my business and tell them that you can make millions in lawn care… they look at me like I just ripped one at Thanksgiving dinner!
To most people, they see a lawn as a single lawn. They see a couple of guys mowing it once per week, know that they’re paying maybe $150 per month and they scratch their noggins and just can’t imagine how that becomes a 5 bedroom house with a pool, a Mercedes for the wife, a brand new Corvette for you and 3 weeks in the BVI’s just for starters.
Well, good! Because we don’t want them to know our secrets, right?
I bring that up because maybe you see things the same way. Sure, you know that if you bust your hump, you can make a nice living. Yet to go from $60K per year to maybe $600K per year might flip your lid.
If you, a single guy, can roll up your sleeves, do the work and make $60,000 per year, then what if you had 9 other guys doing it with you?
Can’t 10 guys make a total of $600,000 per year?
How about 20 guys? Or 100?
Oh, but how does that help me, you ask? 10 guys can make $60K, but how does that make me richer?
Well, for one – those other 9 guys aren’t making $37.50 per hour like you are.
Let’s suppose that you paid each of those guys $20 per hour, yet they each generate $78,000 per year for you – just like you do now.
And okay, we have to add some expenses and a bit of payroll tax. Fair is fair. So let’s use the 28% we used in the previous book.
Hmmm… where does that leave you?
That’s your profit for each guy. So if you had 9 of them…
Whoa! Add that to your $75K and you’re over $300,000 per year!
So if you had 90 guys working for you, then you’d be earning over $3 million! Is that possible? It sure is, and I’ve done it myself.
Now I’m not promising that. I’m just using those numbers as an example. In reality, you’re not going to pay everybody that works for you $20 per hour. You might pay a crew chief that and a helper $15. And you will probably need a minimum of 2 guys per crew to do the same work you can do, at least at first.
Theoretically, two men should be able to do twice the work that you can alone, right?
Yes, that’s theoretically true. However, the reality is that it doesn’t quite work that way. A more conservative estimate is that a well-trained 2 man crew can probably do 1.5 times the work you can do.
So after expenses, your crew might deliver $40K or $50K in profit to you personally. When you think about the goal of this book, which is to leave you with two independent crews at the end of the year and working on a third, you could be talking about a personal income of something over $150,000.
Not a bad step up from working your butt off to earn $60,000 – or as mentioned in the intro chapter, $75,000 take home because you’re making sure to bill 2,000 man hours per year by now.
So how do you make this happen? What’s the magic secret to earning this kind of scratch while actually reducing the amount of time you’re chasing a mower?
Well, that really depends on what I’m about to talk about…
I know that I explained this briefly in the intro, but I want to go into it a bit further now. Because this is a vital distinction and it’s where a lot of new lawn entrepreneurs stumble and fall.
If you’re like me and pretty much every other man or woman who’s ever started their own business and gotten pretty good at it, then you probably believe that nobody can or will run your business as good as you do. That’s natural. After all, this is your baby. You’ve loved it and cared for it and why would an employee go that extra mile the way that you have?
So many people find it hard to grow beyond what they can earn on their own because they can’t let go. They either plateau at a certain income level or try to do too much work and burn out altogether.
That’s why you need to understand what a business truly is and how to transform your single man job into one.
What we’ll call a company, which is a self-employed person either by themselves or maybe with a handful of employees is made up of people.
But all businesses have people, you might say.
True enough – but the vital difference is that with a company, you dictate and manage everything. You tell people what to do and hope they do it. You have to be there to make sure the work gets done.
In a true business, you create a set of systems which are rules that guide everyone and everything that happens in the business – even you.
The goal is to create systems dependent business and not a people dependent business.
To put it another way - because you are following my methodology step by step, you will build your business right the first time. A business that delivers extraordinary results to your customers through ordinary people.
When you have a business with systems in place… when the rules are established and followed or else… you can walk away from the day to day stuff and the company will run the way you want it to
Now when we’re talking about a huge corporation like GM or Bank of America or McDonald’s, we’re talking a huge number of systems. So many systems in fact, that these companies actually have systems to manage systems
Think about McDonald’s – they serve billions of people each year. They make billions of dollars each year. Yet this entire massive organization consisting of tens of thousands of locations is all run by teenagers.
Of course, for your lawn care business, the systems are much simpler and at least for the purposes of this guide , still require you to make them work.
Eventually, as you grow, you’ll transform your personal efforts – how you find, hire and train a new employee, how you keep the books, how you deal with customers and so on – into systems that another guy or girl will be able to follow and do. You’ll be able to create a management team, in other words, who does things the way you want them done.
Its crazy , but most guys and gals that try to grow their lawn care business do so with no plan of attack and don't even think about what systems they need to implement.
But you're not going to make that mistake because you're following this guide.
By now, you should have figured out a lot of things in your own company. You know how to make Mean Green work and make the money it should.
You’ve learned how to cut the lawns well.
You’ve learned how to keep customers for the long haul.
You’ve learned how to market yourself to get new customers.
You know the value and the proper way of keeping the books and maintaining the equipment.
As of now, most likely, all this stuff is in your head. It’s intuitive. You’ve learned through trial and error how things should go for the best results.
That’s great – you’re probably a lean, mean mowing machine right now.
Yet you also want to expand. You want to hire more guys to help you. And you want them to be as good as you are at whatever tasks you assign them.
And that’s where we find our first potential stumbling block.
Because let’s face it – a guy who’s willing to cut lawns 40 or 50 hours per week for $13 to start isn’t going to be as gung-ho as you are. He’s not going to make an emotional investment in your company the way that you have.
Yet you need him to approach the work with the same attitude and the same attention to quality that you’ve developed, right?
There are several ways. And these will become the foundations of your systems as you grow. See, it’s not just telling him how you want him to work, you’ll actually be creating a set of guiding principles that set him up for success.
Because if your new helper gets good at his job and does things the way you want, you’re going to eventually make him a crew chief. Now he’s making more money and has some responsibility. He’ll not only be able to go off on his own and do things the way that you want, he’ll be able to train his own helper as well.
It’s about duplication and repetition. It’s also about incentives, which we’ll get into later. But you can always get long term guys emotionally invested in Mean Green by giving them some extras for going above and beyond – bonuses, paid vacation time, profit shares, etc.
I want to reinforce this – in order to create a system, you have to have something that works to start from. That’s going to be the core of the rest of this book… creating systems from what you already know.
Along those lines, here are the basic fundamentals of a good business system:
It has to come from something that works.
The system must be tested.
It should be tweaked as you grow.
It must be followed, at all times and by everyone – especially you.
The first point is obvious. And now that you’ve completed your first year with Mean Green, you should have a set of rules and guidelines in your head and heart that you go by.
The second part is taking what you know and writing it down. Turning your intuition and knowledge into a rule and then testing that rule to see if it works.
Here’s a really simple example – let’s say you want to make a system to make sure your mower blades are kept nice and sharp.
Right now, let’s say, you check them pretty regularly whenever you feel they need it. This could be every month or every three months. But now you want to set up a rule so that you and anyone else running that mower or mowers keeps the blades sharp. So you might do this:
Come up with a regular schedule, every month or based on use hours.
You set up a reminder on your smart phone, make a note on a printed checklist that goes in every truck or even use your CRM program, like GreenPal, to text or email this reminder on a regular schedule.
So your rule might look like this:
15th of each month / Every 150 use hours.
After the day’s work is done, remove mower blade.
Replace blade with sharpened spare / or sharpen blade immediately and replace.
Note completed task in task manager / checklist.
Then you can test your system. Maybe you find that the blade is still pretty sharp after only 30 days or so. So you might change the timeframe. Maybe you find that while the blade is still okay after 30 days, it’s beginning to show wear so you sharpen it anyway.
Do you see how easy this systems thing is ? The crazy thing is that 90% of lawn-entrepreneurs don't think this way
To make it a little more complicated, if you want to simply replace the blade with a sharp one, then you need to adapt the system to make sure the blade that was removed gets sharpened before the next swap.
That’s an example of tweaking as you grow. You may even add to this rule and state that each blade is replaced with a brand new one every 6, 9 or 12 months regardless of condition, etc.
Finally, the system has to be followed. It’s a good idea for you to follow your own systems for several reasons. First, it’s a good habit to get into. Second, you’re leading by example. Third, It creates an atmosphere of regularity and organization in your business.
Believe it or not, people like that. We human beings are pattern seekers and appreciate things that are organized, categorized and set in place. It gives us a feeling of comfort.
Okay, we’re about to get into the nitty gritty. Before we move on to the juicy stuff, I want to introduce you to a simple idea that’ll help make this easier for you.
A lot of talented and knowledgeable writers have talked about creating businesses and systems. They all have a bit of a different take on it, but at the end of the day, they all encompass the same things.
So for Mean Green, we’re going to follow the simple P.O.W. business systems model. P.O.W. stands for:
Those are the 3 basic components of your expanding business. Of course, each of these has some sub-categories related to systems.
For example, the “P” systems include hiring, training, promoting, managing and unfortunately - firing of employees.
The Operations systems include things like customer care, marketing, information technology and management.
The “W” or work portion relates to such concepts as how lawns are cared for and how to bid on jobs.
It probably seems pretty complicated now, but that’s why I will break everything down into bite sized chunks. It’s like the answer to the old question, “How do you eat an elephant?”
…One bite at a time!
The good news is , I'm going to show you step by step.
Now I’m not necessarily going to talk about P.O.W. in order. Actually, I prefer it like this: W.P.O. But “Pow!” sounds cooler!
I think that doing it W.P.O. will help make things clearer and a lot of these concepts build on each other. So strap in, buckle up, bear down, home in and pucker up, cuz’ this shit bout’ to get real!