Lawn care is a huge part of the service industry with a potential to have amazing financial returns. The trick isn’t starting, it’s starting correctly and these 6 tips are exactly what you need to set you on the right track to starting a lawn care business.
So keep reading to find out all you need to know to become successful in the lawn care business.
#1 Get knowledgeable
First and foremost for starting a lawn care business is becoming familiar with the market itself. This doesn’t mean you have to know absolutely everything before starting but you should get acquainted with a few concepts and processes.
- Find out about different types of grasses and their basic needs.
- Understand how to properly mow a lawn and create stripes in the lawn.
- Understand the basic elements of keeping a lawn healthy.
- Just as importantly is understanding what might be killing a lawn.
- Familiarise yourself with local factors, like weather patterns or animals that are known to dig up lawns.
These are just a few ideas to get you started down the rabbit hole of knowledge that is needed in starting a lawn care business. That being said, the best tip is knowing that you won’t be able to master all of this overnight and you need to sit back, focus and dedicate yourself to always learning.
#2 Create the foundation of your business
The building blocks of the foundation starts with writing a business plan outlining your core ideals. This is a crucial step if you’re planning on getting a loan because this gives a financial institution an idea of the viability of your vision. Even if you don’t need to get a loan, writing a business plan is still a good idea so you can have your own set guide to follow. Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean there aren’t any rules.
Next is your brand and this is how clients, potential customers and even your competitors will recognise you. This includes your business name, a logo, choosing a color scheme and creating socials.
Depending on your region or state, there may be specialised licenses or permits you may be required to have to operate certain aspects of your business model. For instance, you might need a fertiliser applicator certificate if you plan on applying chemicals to someone’s yard, or even a basic fishing license for trapping crabs that might’ve infested a lawn.
Remember: it can take days to get clients,
it can take months to build your brand,
it can take years to create a reputation,
How you use your funds is the key to any operation and this is especially true when starting a lawn care business. Budgeting can be a bit tricky and keep in mind every situation can be different. That being said, how I’ve budgeted was 60-30-10 split. This is 60% in equipment, 30% in marketing and 10% as reserve for any miscellaneous purchases. This split was enough to get the exposure that was needed to get a few jobs and have the equipment to do them.
After a few months,focusing more on marketing can be a good idea. This can mean that 70% now goes into marketing, 20% to any equipment and 10% still for any miscellaneous expenses. At the end of the day try to create a plan that creates opportunity for you to get noticed and gives you the capability to complete jobs to the best ability.
The great thing about starting a lawn care business is its relatively low barrier of entry when it comes to equipment. There are guys that run a moderately successful business with just a string trimmer and a bicycle. The equipment you may need will depend on the ideas you have for your business but if your struggling to think of it yourself then here are some great starting purchases
Basic starter kit
For a startup of 1-3 persons, with a budget less than $5,000USD (excluding cost of vehicle)
- 21 inch commercial push mower
- Multi-task tool with various attachments
- Straight shaft trimmer
- Pole saw
- Leaf blower
- Bush sword
- Fuel can
- Personal Protective Equipment (gloves, safety glasses, earmuffs)
- Transportation (use whatever you can to get around and fits your budget but a truck or van would be ideal)
It’s ok to rent equipment as the need arises. Don’t expense yourself on any equipment just to have it sitting catching dust.
An often overlooked point is how the equipment will be stored. Having your equipment protected from the elements, critters and anyone who might have ill intent, is vital to sustaining a lawn care business.
This is one of, if not the most asked question when starting a lawn care business, how should I price? I’d say start with a base fee then think of an hourly rate and a charge for anything that will make the job more labour intensive, like wet or overgrown grass. For me it was simple, I remembered the cost of lawn care that I had growing up, and slapped on a few extra dollars for inflation and that was it. This equated to a price around $60 which I then broke down as $30 to show up and $30 per hour. This price worked within my needs and my vision for the business in years to come and it also happened to be somewhere in the middle of pricing versus my competitors.
If it is one thing I’ve realised when it comes to pricing is, don’t be tempted to undercut your competition because it’s usually easier to explain a discount than a price increase. So think about what your goals are, whether it is as simple as affording a new phone or traveling to exotic locations and work backwards from there.
Remember: The people who believe in the value of a service will gladly pay that service.
Understanding your clientele is an important part of the job. Getting clients comes down on how you’ve marketed yourself or the business. Keeping them on the other hand can be just as challenging. In my experience they’re two types of clients, those who only care that you know even a bit more than them and those who expect you to know it all. From the nice old couple just looking for chit chat to another lawn care company looking to subcontract your services. The best ways I found to keep clients were:
- Communication – don’t be afraid to stir up conversation with a client whether that’s asking for feedback or if they might be interested in more frequent mow or even the weather we’re having. When they keep asking questions you might get the job, but when you also ask questions you can get a loyal client.
- Reliability – be able to follow through on whatever you promise. So it should be said not to take on more than you can handle and if you do then communicate with the client and let them know of any delays.
Another thing that may or may not be controversial to many is that the customer isn’t always right. You are the professional and you should be confident in the decisions that you make. Most of the times a client will respect you telling them like it is then trying to suck up to them. And for the ones that are truly a headache it usually isn’t worth it.
Remember: People will tell their friends if you did a great job but they will go as far as telling their enemies if you did a bad one. So treat every client with respect.
Any last notes
Keep it simple, don’t try to do it all at once and trust the process