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Winter work and keeping employees on through the off season

Hi all,

I run a small garden maintenance business and we concentrate on green work.  Lawns. Hedges,  border work.


We are very busy 9 monnths of the year but December, Jan And Feb are very quiet.  

I keep myself going with whatever I can but dont tend to have enough work to keep the 2 guys I work with in full time work during those months.  

Just wondered what other people tend to do during the quieter months of the year.


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  • PRO

    Well... what with the reduced daylight hours, and increased bad weather days we find the schedule is just as pressured in the bleak mid winter as it is the rest of the year.  There is always something that should have been done, or could be done in large gardens. The smaller gardens can also be quite lucrative... throughout the year I'm filling the winter calender with jobs I just dont have time for in the season "shall I put that down for the winter" is a favourite phrase, and often works - if things get really bleak I do a bit of fencing, though last year that wasnt necessary.

  • This year I'm working till Christmas, then that's it, I'm off for 2 months.  Tired of scraping a living during the cold wet winter, pruning fruit trees, digging, fencing etc. 
    If the weather is mild and I can justify a full day, maybe, but bits and bobs in the cold and damp. Nope.

  • PRO

    If you want to run as a fully fledged business, then you need plan winter work in advance - more so if you employ.

    Start the conversation with clients early in the year looking to identify likely types of work or client 'projects' you can push out to winter.

    Be flexible and stretch your skills but clearly depends on your location.

    We generally are more busy (and profitable) during winter than during peak summer.

    It's a time for clearances, revamps, fencing, sheds, jet washing , gritting, planting, maybe turfing etc.

    You've got to be honest with yourself - some will say there's no work, when what they mean is they don't to work winter that's fine but don't fool yourself, your guys or clients.

    So start looking, identifying and talking ......

    • PRO

      I'll add mulching to Gary's list....but otherwise all valid :)

      • PRO

        Timing , Its still not too late to ask / suggest Winter jobs to existing customers to see if they have work which will generate an income before winding down for Winter .

        Many customers need to be reminded about leaf collection on drives and lawns . 

  • All good suggestions everyone and thank you.  


    I was wondering if anybody has staff they lay off during the off season and if so do they usually come back next year.


    Or if any body runs a banked hours scheme to retain staff during the quieter months.  



    • PRO

      If you want lay staff off 'out of season' you cannot expect loyalty, availability and consistency from them.

      If you shut down you are effectively a Seasonal Worker/Business and may find you have to re-establish your client base every year,

      There are a few on LJN who do run a banked hours scheme so hopefully they'll contribute at some point.

      Unless you want to get into zero hours contracts or subbies , your 'staff' deserve the best you can do for them because without good staff you'll have no business......

      • Thank you.  Really appreciate your frankness Gary.  I'm just trying to feel my way with the issue.  

  • How does banked hours scheme work never heard of it before

    • Sorry Jim. Only just seen this.  I think it where they are working more hours in summer than they are being paid for on the understanding that the pay is paid across the winter months even when they are working limited hours.  But I'm not 100% sure as I dont operate this scheme just something I was trying to find out about. 

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