One or Two Man Crews?

David Saulque

Senior Moderator
This will always be a hot topic and should bring out some good information.

First off, I know Gary in Sacramento and he has been doing this kind of work for better than two decades and has a good following. He has elected for his reasons that was stated to down size and cherry pick the accounts that he wishes to service. He works long nights to complete a given selected job.

This is a far stretch from training a new person, to service multi mix stores with a single man crew. Once you decide to go out with no helper your world will change. No longer will you be able to complete two jobs per night, without two days to recover.

When looking at employees all of us tend to remember the bad days and not the good days. Sure we all have storys, but for the most part they do what I expect and I place the authority on my manager to the helper toe the mark.

I tell new employees that I want them to do a good job and I don't want to hear of problems, or issues that have their name on them. I am not their pal and I plan not to spend my off time with them. Show up and do your job. I have monthly safety meeting and we discuss issues that they have.

I am confident that if I told my manager to be in Seattle on July 31 at 10:30-I would see them at the job. The key is they want to work.

Without employees you limit your potential to service accounts that require a more complex application of service. Example would be malls, casinos, hospitals, woods, multi level units and so on.

Employee safety is the main reason two man crews are desirable. You have a person to dial 911-keep a eye on equipment, back door issues, police and alarm calls. My General Manager took a fall 6 years ago and the helpers were able to call 911 and get assistance for him.

Rusty, no single man crew can service $120,000 per year. The number just not there. Lets say you service one unit per night @$300X5=$1500 or $6000 per month or $72,000 per year. That guy would earn his keep.

Just my two cents

Hey what's up David?

The truth is that it can be done, is being done, and has been done for years.

1 person can clean 1-3 jobs per day/ 5 days a week/ 50 weeks a year. Assume $200 profit per job= equals $50 k, $100k or $150K per year profit.

Now once you hit $120K that is the point at which you obviously hire an employee and a helper and they pick up some of the jobs and you keep growing your company.

But what if you don't want employees? At this point you can either charge more per job, cherry pick the jobs, replace the ones that drop off your list (close or go with another company) or not take on any new business.

The key to our success is that we have built this business around husband/wife teams. The wife is the key; she takes the calls which allow the husband to sleep.

Another key point is to know your market and exact expenses per job.

Let's say for example, that I want to make an average profit of $200 per job. I know that for each hour of cleaning I will use about $10-15 worth of plastic, fuel and chemicals. That is a 2 hour job uses about $20-$30 and a 4 hour job uses about $40-$60 worth of supplies.

With this information I know that a 4 hour job can be done for as little as $260 or as much as I want to charge.

Now when one has numerous accounts, some are cleaned at night, some are cleaned in the mornings; some are cleaned in the afternoons.

We're a 1 man operation; we have set up 27 1 man companies so far.

Some of our guys use occasional helpers on the big jobs others stay a 1 person operation and limit the size of the job that they get themselves into.

You argue safety. Good point. Safety is always a concern, whether you have 1 man crews or 2-3 men crews.

David... what expenses do we NOT have by operating our company from our homes, with no employees.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I would rather make 85% of $120k than 10% of 1 million. I will have much less headache and more time to spend on doing the things that I enjoy.

$120K divided by average reimbursement of $230-$240 = approx 500- 520 jobs per year. That is about 10-11 jobs per week, 50 weeks a year.

Another point is this: Your post illustrates exactly why a 1 person operation will not work for you.

You are the boss. You expect your employees to do what you say period. You don't pay them to think, you pay them to show and do the job.

Your employees work as a team (Joe, Bob & Bill). They know that if they wise up and go to the boss with a scheme to allow them to clean using only 1 person, then someone on the team doesn't have a job anymore. They have a good thing going, show up, work, and get paid. There is no incentive for them to get creative and come up with a better way of cleaning your hoods. It's not even their company, and you don’t want to hear what they have to say.

These 2 forces: (Boss- “do it my way”)--(Employee- “keep our mouths shut we got a good thing going”) cancel each other out and you have stagnate growth in your company.

If you are so worried about falling and getting injured, maybe the board can all chip in and we'll get you a walker (this is a joke for those reading this). We are all grown men (well most of us) and we KNOW that SAFETY is a major concern. That is why when we teach our students there are cardinal rules that must be followed. Breaking these rules will lead to injury (almost every time.)

Cardinal Rules:
Looking up under the hood while spraying chemical.
Not properly securing your ladder.
Leaving the back door open while in the restaurant alone.
Not wearing goggles/face shield.
Not wearing safety gloves.
Not wearing safety boots.
Not paying attention to what is going on around you in your environment.

I’m sure that each one of you have your own “Cardinal Rules” that you follow that has allowed you to clean hoods safely for all of these years.

I'm chipping in my 2 cents and now this thread is worth 4 cents.

Look, I don't want to get into a food fight-but don't try to tell us that a single man crew can service 3 jobs per night and come out with $150m per year-you are posting to people who know better. You are showing how little you know.

3 jobs per day. not 3 jobs per night.

If you're going to argue with me, at least read my post so that we can discourse accurately.

FACT: Roger does this 5 days a week. Clean 1 in the morning, and then 1-2 in the evening/night. Sometimes he just cleans 1 a day, sometimes 2 a day, sometimes 3 and even sometimes 4 a day. On average 7-12 restaurants per week for the past 11 years with 1 person doing the entire process, from set up, cleaning, and then tearing down.

This isn't hypothetical or even wishful thinking on my part, this is based on 11 years of hood cleaning.

Calling all 1 man crews, Mike Elmore, Gary, & others have posted that they work as a 1 man crew, please join in with this discussion.


Look, what ever he does is "The Super Hood Guy". Would like to see some pictures of his jobs. I know job times, and my people are fast and good-you can't tell me this single person can service what a two man can service plus one job-no way. Jobs are small or your guy is skipping a steps.

Our jobs consists of inner and out hood, filter, frame, vertical, horz. and doors plus all fan systems. Wipe out and polish along with condition reports.

David I don't think you can apply this process to your company. I looked at my accounts way back when the first hood cleaning school post started, and I can say that roughly 70% of my jobs would not work this way, some of them are to big and involved, and probably most important is I didn't sell them that way.
I think what Rusty is saying that you haven't grasped yet is this. For a one man crew to work you can't get involved with the more labor intensive jobs, your customer base has to be more targeted.
David you have to be more open minded, I think you are having a hard time with this because in your experience it won't work, I was the same way for a while. It won't work for us because our customer base won't allow it. If you start at the beginning and only take on smaller jobs and keep yourself limited, I think it can be done. It sure would be hard to turn down that $500 job when you are a young struggling company.

Rusty, how many sales calls do your guys go on and turn down because they are a one-man operation?
David I reread you last post and I have to add something.

You mentioned something about skipping steps to get the jobs done, Why couldn't one man clean a 10' hood, short duct and one fan, and do it in three or four hours? Hell I'll even throw in a short horizontal run with access panel.

See now you've done gone and made me side with Rusty.
I agree with you, but to maintain work over a given time you will need a full mix of small to complex job or you will run out of jobs. One man can do small hand pick jobs-but not full line jobs day in and day out? In fact I have a three man crew that smokes and I turn jobs faster with less hours. The key to this is the manager. Single man crews, in starting out without a trade base is the only way to go. But if you have a strong trade mix, I don't think the idea is a good one by a long shot.

If one guy worked 25 days with a average of 2.25 jobs per 24 hours he would be walking dead in one month. At $300 per job thats $675 per day or $16,875 per month or $202,500 per year. Now thats a worker-NO WAY!!!!!!!

You will always run out of jobs, unless you stay on the edge of having to many, and yes it would take a special person to do it.
I can't imagine starting up and having to go bid jobs in the daytime, then go out and do them at night.
I wonder if a good way to go would be to have two of you, who could do job separately, and team up when necessary.
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There are about 20 good work days in any given month.

That assumes that you work a Sun thru Thursday work week.

We have a mix of restaurants, churches, yacht clubs, schools, factories, nursing homes, gas stations, bowling alleys and etc. in our area that have all different times that they open and close.

We also have the keys and codes to about 45 plus restaurants in our area which allow us to pick up a restaurant on our way home from our last job.

Now obviously for simplicity we state a $200 profit per job. In reality, our average profit is more than that.

We have numerous jobs that are well over $600 and a few that are in the $1000 plus range.

Our target is to create a profit of $600 per day. There are approx. 240-250 work days in a year and if you average $600 per work day, then 240 x $600= $144,000-$150,000 profit per year. This assumes perfect weather on every work day (not going to happen). So in reality there are about 200 good work days= $120,000 PROFIT per year.

To earn $600 profit per day equals 3 $200 profit jobs, 2 $300 profit jobs or 1 of the big jobs.

We average profit of $100 per hour. So to earn our average we must clean for about 6 hours per day. The other 2-3 hours are driving time/ breaks/ meals. Also our jobs may not be consecutive. We may have 1 in the morning. Go back home, putter around, make calls, take a nap, eat, garden, build things, etc. Then Roger will go out and hit one of his jobs that are in the afternoon/evening and then if the scheduling is right, do a midnight job. Then depending on if he needs the money that day or not, he'll hit one of his key/code restaurants on the way home.

Now can he do this everyday? No. Does he average $600 a day/ 5 days a week? Yes.

David you make valid points. But you can't or won't admit that it can be done.

It is not uncommon for our guys to earn from $4000-$8000 a month cleaning hoods as a 1 person operation.

Would I rather earn that kind of money with no employees and not have to split the profit with others? YES!

A valid point was made earlier that this WILL NOT WORK FOR YOU! Your mix of clients will not lend it self to a 1 man crew. You have set yourself up in the business of using multi person crews. You will not be able to switch back unless you go after specific clients that meet the requirements of being a 1 man job.

We have no problem picking the jobs that we can do and leaving the jobs that we don’t want to do for you to pick up. There will always be a place for big expensive cleaning crews to clean the large jobs. I know that Matt specializes in crawling through duct work to clean every square inch. We will always leave the jobs that require duct crawling for you and Matt to take care of. Matt has found his specialty as you have.

Another technique that makes this possible is that if you know your market place and client base, and have been cleaning for a number of years, you can within reason, bid most jobs over the phone. Sometimes you underbid, but in general you are within a $50-$100 range of what the job would have bid out anyway. So by saving time (not driving to bid every job) by bidding over the phone, you free up hours a day. The key to bidding over the phone is asking the right questions so that you have a good idea of what is involved.
Guy starts a burger stand and cook all the burgers. He has a choice to make as he moves along. Do I hire help so that I can keep up with demand or stay as I am-I do make the BEST BURGERS? Once he decides for help he is expanding his operation. If he decides just to stay and make the burger himself, sure he will save on labor, he his business will decline in time. Lots of examples and a few exceptions.

This trade is similar. No one said that it would be easy. People 50 years ago were talking about the poor labor standards, the Romans said the same thing. You just have to search for the right people.

Read my post about on the job accidents and imagine that guy with his fingers gushing blood, unable to use them, on a job late at night and alone? One man jobs. NAHHH.

Does Roger ever come and read this board? He could probably lend something to this conversation.
Roger is not what we would call a computer person. I did print out the Hood Cleaning School thread for him to read a while back.

He thinks that it is pointless for him to argue about a 1 man operation since this is what he has been doing for the past 11 years.

I'll print out this thread and see what he has to say about it and post it for him.

Look-your man vs. a two or three man crew would be embarrassing. We would have that job completed and out the door before he went to the roof. In fact I would even give him a hour head start. Even with only 11 years on the job. Time is money and your package lends itself to very small jobs-that require low skills and minimal times.

Rusty you can't defend this position with a straight face and you know it. One man crews are slow and lack the safety protocol of a two or three man crew. I am sure that OSHA would be interested in your product.

I would like to know what Roger would do if he feel at 0230 hr. Who would pay the bills, but mostly who would dial 911.

Nice to know that with only 11 years he finds this public outlet to be a waist of his time. No wonder he is a single man operation.

Dear David,

Don't take it so personally. You could never do a 1 man job anyway. You don't have the skills, knowledge or ability.

You are limited by the way that you clean hoods, which absolutely requires that a crew of men clean them.

The fact that we have been so successful where you have failed doesn't mean that we don't know what we are doing. It just means that you haven't figured out why we are so successful yet.

I'm patient and will give you all the time required for you to see that it can be done with 1 man, safely, efficiently, and to the NFPA 96 standards.

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I'm not sure anymore what you are arguing here. I think you are losing sight of the fact that this is already being done, unless you are calling Rusty a liar. Yes you can argue about safety which I agree with and the extra time (which with only one man is less of an issue with fewer people to pay)

For anything meaningful to come of this discussion I think we need to change the tone, and maybe it will become an open discussion with more participation from everyone that is setting back and just reading. If this arguing continues it will become old really fast and defeat the purpose for starting it.
I am sorry that I even started the subject. Someone said that I was in fact helping Rustys marketing. End of subject.

You are in fact not helping my marketing.

I do appreciate the fact that you are passionate about your beliefs. It tells me that you are hard working, honest person who has stong values and isn't afraid to stand up to what you believe.

I am just like you.

Okay, I just read the whole thread.....why is a husband/wife team a "one person operation"? I'm so close to cutting loose a rant (not to mention a hissy fit). We can, and do, hire people to handle the services, but if I'm not doing my part, business stops. Completely. But the wife doesn't even count as a person????
(just cause I'm not out getting dirty doesn't mean I'm not vital)