As the operations manager of her business, Hazel will have many responsibilities which will include forecasting. There are several things that Hazel can forecast for so that she can best run her business and still maintain the service and quality she provides to her customers. Among these things, Hazel can look back over the past year to see what growth she has already had within her business. She can take this information and look back also on the new services she has started to offer and look to forecast the possibility of offering more new services and potentially growing her business even more. Doing this will allow Hazel to forecast the need for more equipment, and even more important, the need for either more part-time workers or the possibility of hiring full-time workers too.
In addition to looking towards growing her business in the future, Hazel also has to maintain her current inventory and quite possibly she will have to acquire new and/or additional equipment. In her business, Hazel would most likely have on hand lawn mowers, trimmers, edgers, blowers, tools that can be used for digging, cutting, measuring, marking and grading. Safety equipment would also be necessary in the form of proper uniforms to prevent overexposure to the sun as well as safety glasses and ear buds too. The main thing that Hazel must rely on is what she is using to get her equipment to each job site, her vehicle and trailer to transport the equipment are most likely the costliest items she has. I think that the items she must make the most decisions on would be the lawn mowers. How many will she need? How large are the lawns she is servicing? Will she need ride-on verses push mowers? Should she have a combination of both, and if so, how many of each? The smaller items may not be as costly and while the vehicle and trailer to transport would be the most expensive, with proper maintenance Hazel would get the most life out of these items. While maintaining the mowers properly would allow her to get the most life out of them, I believe these are the biggest decision makers because so much of her business will depend on these items and no matter how well she maintains them, if the business continues to grow, she will have to continue maintaining and purchasing additional ones.
Running your own business requires a lot of time, energy, planning and scheduling. Hazel will have to schedule not only what lawns are taken care of on what days, but what workers will be needed to maintain these lawns. Since some days may be busier than others, scheduling the proper number of workers to help will be the biggest scheduling responsibility after scheduling the day’s workload. The workers’ schedules may raise the need to reschedule lawn care service if a worker should call out with an issue on a scheduled day but if Hazel has anyone that can fill in as back-up, she may be able to continue with that day’s schedule. I believe the biggest reason that would disrupt scheduling would be the weather. Hazel will have the weather forecast available when scheduling, but that doesn’t mean that nature will be on her side. If there is an unexpected storm that comes through, Hazel will have to reschedule all the lawns that could not be taken care of on that given day.
One of the major items that Hazel needs to always be on top of is quality assurance. This has to be the biggest concern for Hazel as the future of her business will relate entirely to how satisfied her customers are with the service she is providing. This is of the utmost importance now also since her business is still in its beginning stages. If Hazel is not able to maintain the degree of satisfaction her customers expect, she could lose business and not only this, but this would also affect the prospect of new business. In this type of business, most of the work Hazel receives is probably from word of mouth and referrals from current customers, all it takes is a few bad customer reviews and Hazel’s business could start to decline instead of grow.
To maintain the best quality of service, Hazel will have to always be on top of the maintenance of her equipment. Looking back on the items that were discussed in Hazel’s inventory, these items will need to be maintained. Regular service of the lawn mowers to include sharpening of blades, oil changes and regular inspections to ensure the mowers are working properly. Not only will the mowers need regular maintenance, but even the cutters, sprayers and any safety equipment that the workers use should always be maintained for both the quality of the work provided and the safety of all involved. While the mowers may be the biggest decision that Hazel must make, the main items that may require the most maintenance are the vehicles and trailers used to move the equipment to each work site. Not only will maintaining these items allow the work to continue, but even more importantly, the use of these on the road will be the safest if properly maintained. For example, if a tire were to blowout on the way to a job site, and an accident were to happen, Hazel would be responsible not only for fixing the issue with her vehicle, but any damage to another person’s self or vehicle too.
Hazel’s customers will most likely be comparing and judging the quality of her work based on the jobs she is completing in their immediate neighborhoods. Hazel will want to make sure that the same quality is being provided at each worksite so her customers aren’t comparing the quality her other customers are receiving. Hazel’s customers will also be comparing the service she provides from week to week, or even month to month depending on the arrangements she has with each customer. If the customers think that the work she provides in slowly diminishing, they may decide to go back to big name service providers that are able to provide the same quality of service each and every time.
As Hazel continues to work for herself, there will be some considerations she will have to make as there are trade-offs that she will have to consider. One of these would be looking at working for a company instead of herself. If Hazel were to decide that she wanted to go back to working for a company, she would have to take time from her business to go back out and find a job. This would take away from the money she is currently taking in and it would put her back in the situation she was in to begin with, running out of money. One thing she can consider in this area is still running the business but also going back to working for a company. I think if this would be a consideration it would be foolish as she wouldn’t then be able to maintain the quality of service she provides to her customers. There is also the other side of working for a company instead of herself though too. Hazel wouldn’t be the primary responsibility should something go wrong on a job, she wouldn’t have to worry about all the maintenance that is needed for the equipment nor the responsibility of having people who work for her which would remove any stress with payroll. This also has the flip side though too as she may really be concerned with letting her employees go and possibly putting them into the same situation she was in when she started her business.
Hazel will also had to consider the prospect of expanding her business and in this consideration she has to think of how much she may have to put into the expansion with regards to time, money, purchasing more equipment, hiring more employees and also how much more energy and attention she would have to give to her business to allow it to grow. In doing this, she may have to take time away from any family responsibilities she may have, or even just time away from her personal life. However, if the business doesn’t expand, Hazel has to consider if she will be able to continue living as she currently does without the prospect of additional funds coming in from expanding the business.
One way that Hazel can expand her business should that be the decision she makes, would be to launch a website. This has both pros and cons though too which include the cost and maintenance of launching a website. Hazel could consider creating and building her own website but if she isn’t familiar or comfortable with the IT field, the website may lack functionality for the purpose she is creating it. Ideally one would launch a website to promote and grow their business, but if the website looks amateurish, it may affect the probability of obtaining new customers. In this area, Hazel may need to hire and pay someone to create and launch a website that will attract new business and in doing so, will also have to maintain the site should when she adds new services or even changes the cost of the service she is providing.
Owning your own business can be taxing on oneself. Not only do you have to maintain your business and its growth, you must also take into consideration any laws that may change in the area you work or your business is located in. Let’s discuss the probability of the town Hazel works in adding an ordinance that would prohibit her from putting any grass clippings at the curb for pick-up. If this should pass, Hazel would have to consider how to dispose of the clippings so that she isn’t going against this new ordinance. One major thing that Hazel could propose to her customers would be to create a compost where these clippings could be added to. Even if a customer doesn’t want to go this route, Hazel could collect the clippings from the different job sites and provide them to another customer for their compost. Should this be done, I wouldn’t even charge the customer to receive the clippings as there are doing a huge service to Hazel by accepting them in the first place. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this ordinance being passed that Hazel will have to take into consideration when deciding how to proceed. A few advantages would be adding the service of creating a compost area for her customers, or as mentioned, providing the clippings for a customer’s compost. Another advantage to this ordinance being passed would be to leave the clippings right where they are! Doing this would actually provide nutrients to the ground below the grass and would allow the customer’s lawns to grow less quickly but still be healthy and green too. A few disadvantages of the ordinance being passed would be centered around cost. If Hazel had to remove the clippings from the customer lawns it could take additional time to complete each job or she may have to hire more workers than she anticipated. Another possibility would be having to purchase new mowers that would collect the clippings and then she would have to find a place to dispose of them. The amount of space Hazel has on the trailers would have to be considered if she had to transport the clippings elsewhere. I personally think in this situation, it would be best to try and find a way to use the clippings that would benefit her company instead of affecting it negatively.
In looking for ways to grow her business, Hazel found herself with a dilemma on how to proceed with the proposal of a bonus she made to her students for their ideas to help the business to grow. The dilemma she faced was whether or not to send the student with the best idea a $25 bonus she had promised since the student now works for a competitor. In this situation, I believe Hazel should still contact the student whose idea she chose and provide the bonus as stated. I say this because it is the most ethical and moral thing to do. I believe in doing so, Hazel may actually attract that employee to come back to work for her and since this student had one great idea, the potential for the student to help with other ideas is great. The student could also view this as a way to grow in Hazel’s business and if that student were to go back to working for Hazel, that student could potentially move up from a worker’s position to a supervisor’s position as the company grows. Even if the student doesn’t come back to work for her Hazel knows that periodically providing a bonus for great ideas not only benefits the students, but also the business in allowing it to grow.
In owning your own business, there are variations that have to be considered on a daily basis in addition to ones that are periodic. The day to day variations could include new workers that have been hired and making sure they have been trained to complete the work as Hazel’s customers expect them to be completed. Some periodic variations would deal mostly with weather, including rain, extreme heat, extreme cold and in some cases, snow. For example, if Hazel’s business should grow to become a major one that is offered in different states, she would have to consider the fact that some states may not get snow while others do. The contracts for these customers would then be different as their lawns may need to be serviced year-round instead of seasonally. These variations could potentially affect Hazel’s supply and demand in the sense of the number of workers she has available. In those states where more frequent lawn care is needed, she will have to make sure she has the appropriate number of workers to complete the work. Also, in the areas where the work may be seasonal due to snow during the winter months, Hazel may look at offering a service to these customers that would then differ from those living in states where it doesn’t snow. Adding these services would then require Hazel to look at acquiring different equipment and training for the employees who will be dealing with winter weather.
Being in the lawn care service, Hazel may want to consider making her business one that is more sustainable. In doing this, she would have to look at a few ideas to include the grass clipping scenario. If Hazel were to use the clippings for compost or such, it would cut down on the waste and/or need to recycle these clippings. Another way she could look at being sustainable is to use items that are more environmentally friendly. This would include looking at a diesel lawn mower verses a gasoline powered one, or even a mower that runs off a battery, as well as looking at any lawn care chemicals to ensure that they won’t negatively impact the environment. Hazel may also want to consider how she advertises her business. For example, mailing out advertisements could use hundreds of trees over the course of the company, instead Hazel could look at other ways to promote her business such as launching a website. Since technology and how we search for things has moved from sending out advertisements to that of doing a Google search, advertising in the electronic format would be the best and most sustainable option to Hazel.
In completing this assignment, I have come to realize that owning your own business entails much more than one thinks when day dreaming about starting a business. I have tossed the idea around with friends in the past, but I believe if this is something I should ever truly consider, it would have to be with the right person to ensure that everyone benefits in the end.
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