While adding employees seems like a great way to grow a business as the needs of the company grow, expanding too rapidly can have the potential to do harm. Andrew Weilbacher, owner of Weilbacher Landscaping in Millstadt, Illinois, says that as his business grew he thought the next step was to add more people. But in only a short time he began to feel overwhelmed by managing too many crews.
“It just became too much,” Weilbacher admits. “It originally felt natural to be adding employees as I grew. But I quickly began to feel as though I was losing control. I have since found that growth doesn’t always have to mean adding more people. It can mean working smarter with the people you have.”
Weilbacher says that one of the biggest issues he had as the company grew was losing that hands-on touch that he had always offered customers. And they noticed. It was as though the business suddenly went from Weilbacher being heavily involved in projects to spending his days putting out fires.
“As the number of people I had in the field increased, my involvement on projects decreased — and that didn’t end up working out for me,” Weilbacher says. “I was getting more complaints than I’d ever dealt with before and I was suddenly running around dealing with those.”
While many business owners desire to reach a stage where they begin delegating most of the work, Weilbacher says he built his business by being involved in projects and that still seems to be part of his reputation — and his success.
“I think my customers appreciate that I’m so involved on their project so to switch from that model is difficult,” Weilbacher says. “It’s part of who we are and I think our customers have come to expect it.”
Today, Weilbacher is finding a way to manage his growth and success while also remaining involved. He says he’s learned that the two go hand-in-hand.
“I ultimately think I grew so rapidly because I was so involved on projects,” Weilbacher says. “So, to suddenly take myself out of the equation was not the right approach for us. Today, I’m focused on still overseeing our projects — primarily hardscaping and swimming pools — and managing crews. It doesn’t mean I don’t delegate at all but I’ve also found that it’s important to stay involved.”
Our Like a Boss series highlights some common business challenges landscape professionals face and how they conquer them.