Hear from real lawn care business owners on the pros and cons of the one-man crew.

Hey Clippers! Dave Tucker here to talk about another controversial topic: The one-man crew.

There are mixed opinions among lawn care business owners about one-man crews. Some folks love ‘em, others hate ‘em. I’m not going to take sides, because I’m not the expert on your business. You are. Instead, I rounded up what a few people had to say on the matter so you can decide for yourself. Take a look.

The case for one-man lawn care crews.

One of the biggest benefits of a one-man crew is the money. Some small properties simply don’t need two people, so it’s more efficient to send just one. One of our guys put it this way: “One-man crews are an exceptional value. I use ‘commission’ payroll to maintain motivation. The man will be working harder, and smarter, because he knows that his wages are tied

to his efforts and capabilities.” Says another CLIP user, “Any time I’ve sent a one-man crew, he’s come back with better [dollars per man-hours] than the two-man crew.”

One CLIP user loved the one-man crew idea so much that he went back to being a one-man operation. “About seven years ago, I decided that I would go back to a one-man operation, just me again,” he says. “Now I am billing $400 to $600 per day and looking forward to spending the winters in Florida with the grandkids. No headaches, no stress, and my golf game is improving: I have dropped my handicap a few strokes. And if a larger project comes along that I do need help with, I’ll hire a kid for the day and pay him cash.”

The case against one-man lawn care crews.

One CLIP user makes a pretty compelling case for avoiding one-crews. He cites a few main reasons:

  1. Safety. There’s risk associated with all types of manual labor. But if you have a two-man crew and someone gets hurt, they’ve got a buddy to help them out right away.
  2. Efficiency. If a crew member gets sick, his partner can keep things moving. Our CLIP user puts it this way: “I like the thought that I will be able to get by if I suddenly lost a guy on either of my mowing crews.” He also adds that it’s easier to cross-train people on the routes with more than one person.

However, our friend’s primary issue with one-man crews is that they don’t support his goal of building a hands-off business. “Although I definitely agree that you can generate more dollars per man-hour with a one-man crew, I’m willing to sacrifice the money because I feel it is a major obstacle to running a company on ‘cruise control.’ I want to work on my company more and in it less.” Needless to say, I can get behind that mentality!

How to make one-man crews work for you.

I like how this CLIP user said it: “To say that a one-man crew is best, or better than a three-man crew, is like saying that everyone should like vanilla ice cream better than chocolate!” His recommendation for crew setups is to “know what the job needs to be completed properly and efficiently, with what your company’s assets are at present.”

At least one CLIP user has found a pretty brilliant middle ground. Here’s what he does:

“Take any of your three lead men and combine them into one team. What do you have? The best team in the company. For larger properties, they tie up. For smaller ones, they break apart. Every time my one-man crews tie up for the larger properties, they know just what needs to be done and when. And working on the small properties are top, self-motivated, well paid, quality conscious, small property/high profit employees. Plus, all crews leapfrog each other for safety and quality assurance.”

Of course, I have to mention that he uses CLIP’s routing tool to find the most efficient “zones” for each team!

Ultimately, every lawn care business owner has his or her own goals and ideas. You may find that one-man crews are an excellent fit for your operation. Or you may decide that they’re just not your cup of tea.

Don’t forget, you can always use CLIP to run the numbers and see for yourself. Want to see how it works? Schedule a demo and see CLIP in action > 

Keep clipping!


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