Understanding How To Make Your Crew Size Profitable

Recently I hired a company to deliver firewood to my house. When the guy came to the door to tell me he was there to deliver and stack the wood, I noticed he had a crew of 6 people. Six people to stack a trailer full of wood that cost me $220. Immediately, my Profit First hat went on and I began to calculate what this guy was losing. He did not need a crew of that size to stack that little amount of wood.



Over the last 27 year, I’ve done the math, studied it and tested it and I’m here to tell you this – “You are much more efficient and profitable with a crew of 2 when working on residential lawns.

This guy with the crew of six is losing money and he doesn’t have to. He can make a change to send out smaller crews and deliver more firewood in a day. Same as you can send out smaller crews and mow more lawns in a day. You just have to take the first step in understanding WHY it will make you more profitable.

Smaller Crews Mean More Accountability and Profitability

One of the main reasons most lawn care and landscape contractors go with larger crews is out of fear—fear that a smaller crew will not complete the job as quickly, efficiently and/or detailed (aka. quality control checks). But the reality of the situation is, the larger the crew the less personal accountability there is for each crew member. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean they aren’t working. What it means is that they are just “staying busy” not productive.

With crews of 3 or more you run into the issue of:

  • Drive time is being eaten up.
  • Too many people not knowing what to do.
  • People stepping over top of each other trying to work.

On crews of 2 or less, where one guy is mowing and the other is trimming, it’s easier for them to hold each other accountable and to finish the job efficiently all while being profitable.

Job Types: Commercial Crews vs. Residential Crews

While residential jobs really only require a 2 man team, commercial jobs can require a crew of 3 or more. As with any job, you must take into consideration the number one factor – size. How large is the job and what’s it going to cost you to do it (yes, you should be factoring in your costs when quoting a job!)?

A reasonable quote for a commercial job will include a crew of 3-4 and 2 trucks. While a reasonable quote for a residential job will include a crew of 2 and 1 truck. Again, I’ve tried it and tested it – you’re only profitable if you are using a 2 man crew on a residential job.

Factor In What Matters Most – Efficiency and Profitability

At the end of the day, you started your lawn care and landscape business so you could make an impact all while becoming a profitable business owner. No one goes into any business saying, “I just want to make a living.” Being successful means being efficient and profitable.

When quoting a job, you need to take into consideration these factors:

  1. Location – mileage, gas, etc. that it’s going to take to get there and back.
  2. Size of the job – size of yard and/or landscaping site.
  3. Equipment that will need to be used.
  4. Labor hours it’s going to take.
  5. Fuel it’s going to take (this is based on equipment).
  6. Materials to be used (if it’s a landscaping job).

By taking these factors into consideration you are setting yourself up to be profitable. Now it’s time to be efficient.

Efficiency comes from the crew you send. An efficient, successful 2 man crew has all the tools they need – proper equipment, fuel, time, checklist, etc.. One of the many things you should consider getting early on in your business, is a software that helps track and hold your crews accountable. It’s why The Green Executive® partnered with LMN Software. This software lets the crew check off jobs in real time – holding them accountable and giving us a way to track what’s been done in order to check in with the client and get proper feedback.

It’s not always about “going BIG” in order to improve productivity, efficiency, and profitability. Sometimes, it truly is all about restructuring your business in order to achieve a profitable outcome.

Don’t be like the guy delivering the firewood. Learn from other’s mistakes and make this quarter your best one yet!

Three Wise Guys™ “The Firewood Story”