Use Your Customer Base To Grow
Apart from online and traditional marketing, good old-fashioned word-of-mouth is a powerful way to expand your customer base. Ask your best customers for testimonials you can post on your site and incorporate into your promotional materials. You can also ask them to mention your company on social media or leave a review on Yelp or Angies List after wrapping up your work. Discounts are also a great way to get your customers to leave a review, but some sites may prohibit compensation – make sure you double-check!
In the end, starting a lawn service is all about persistence. If you follow these six steps, put in the hours to stay on top of your workload and work constantly to improve your service, youll put your company on the path to success.
Customizable Models For Lawn Care And Lawn Care Services
The lawn maintenance business is adaptable to many different models. From the simple model of sole proprietorship that calls upon you to perform all aspects of the business, to the entrepreneurial model where you choose to run several garden care teams and complete employee scheduling from the comfort of your office.
You can target residential contracts or commercial contracts, depending upon the job sites available and your own business profile.
Answering The Phone Correctly Is Vital
When your calls start coming in do not let them go to answerphone. You will lose over two-thirds of your leads. You need to answer the phone polity and promptly. I have spent time in the advertising industry and one major problem that marketing companies have is getting the owner-operators to actually answer the phone and deal with the incoming call correctly.
You can be miles ahead of the competition by simply doing this well. I feel that this subject is overlooked by a lot of businesses. I will not go into that subject here as I have already covered it in an earlier post. If you want to learn more please read this article How to Turn Incoming Calls Into Quality Lawn Care Leads.
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What Does A Landscaping Business Do
Landscape businesses design, build, and maintain outdoor spaces for homes and businesses. They can range in scope from basic gardening and mowing lawn services to full-service landscape installation of elaborate gardens complete with water features, patios, and lighting.
A landscaping company can be as small as a single person with a lawnmower and some shovels, or a large multi-team business capable of providing a range of landscapers services.
A lawn care professional isnt just a manual laborer. Theyre also experts on which plants are suited to their climate and how to make them flourish. Theres a creative aspect to the job, as well, working with clients to design their ideal outdoor environment.
Some of the things you might do as a landscaping business are:
- Garden and lawn maintenance
- Maintaining and trimming trees and hedges
- Grooming golf courses
- Designing gardens to customer specifications
- Laying out and constructing walkways
- Installing retaining walls
- Building decks and patios
Basically, anything involving the land around a home or business is the domain of a landscape professional. While larger landscaping companies will provide all of these services, others specialize in one area, like lawn maintenance or flower bed design.
What Are Some Of The Biggest Costs
If you stay small, say around 50 customers a week, you will be able to control costs to a manageable and predicable level. However, as you scale your business and begin hiring workers to help you with the work load, costs will escalate. You will need to consider factors such as rising minimum wage issues, payroll taxes, healthcare taxes, and workmans comp insurance. You will also need to spend on administration and bookkeeping of all of these costs because they can add up to more than most people realize. Probably the most burdensome aspect of running a labor intensive landscaping or lawn care company is the rising cost of labor and everything that goes with it.
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Can I Start A Lawn Care Business
Might just be the last question you have on your mind, well youre in luck! Mowing lawns is a great way for anyone to make a living or fill in gaps in their income. It is an effective way to make a tangible difference in the lives of the people around you and grow skills that are applicable to all forms of business. The lawn care and landscaping field notably has the lowest barrier to entry out of all the service based industries and after reading this you are already a step ahead of your competition. The best part is youre not alone, there is a thriving community of professionals online that can teach you all you need to know. Leaders in the industry like Copper Creek Cuts and Lawn Care Juggernaut have built communities of like minded individuals to learn from and grow with. While business entrepreneurs in the space like Mike Andes have built courses and material to give anyone the building blocks it takes to run a successful business. Your future may be closer than you think. Lawn care might just be your ticket to building generational wealth and a legacy for you and your family.
The First Thing You Will Need Is A Vehicle
The first thing you will need is a pickup, a truck, van or car with a tow bar. If you already have this then this is great you have just saved yourself some money. If you have not yet bought a vehicle then you are going to have to do this
I have been supplying lawn care leads to a guy who is starting off in my area in the last week. He has been operating out of a station wagon with a mower and line trimmer in the back. He has secured nine new accounts this week and this weekend he is off to pick up a van.
It is better you sort out the vehicle soon rather than later as it can become a bottleneck for your business and you could find your vehicle holding back your growth.
You dont have to buy something really expensive. In fact, I would recommend that you buy something that looks tidy and has low miles if possible.
If you need to start with a wreck, then do that. Just make sure you park it on the street when you quote. You dont want the potential customers to see it, and you do not want to leave oil stains on their driveways. If you need to do this to start then plan to get into a half-decent looking vehicle as soon as possible.
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What Services Will You Offer
Before you do anything else, you need to know what types of snow removal services youre going to offer.
Think about your area and how much snowfall and ice you get every year. Do you get more snow or ice? Knowing this will help you decide if you want to do snow or ice or snow AND ice.
Then, decide if youre going to do residential or commercial accounts.
As youre first starting out, you dont want to do both. You should consider picking one or the other. Then, later on down the road you can expand into other types of accounts.
Residential and commercial snow accounts could require different types of equipment. In other words, if you start out by doing both, then you may have to buy twice as much equipment.
If you own a lawn care business too, you should probably pick the type of accounts you work with in lawn care . Oftentimes, those same clients can become your snow clients too.
What To Charge For Gardening And Landscaping
While most landscapers charge based on lawn size, there is also the option to charge a total project fee or a monthly maintenance fee. In general, you should have an hourly rate decided on, and then you need to determine the size of the property and make an educated guess as to how many hours the project will take you to complete.
Make sure that you research what other landscaping businesses in your area are charging for the same services so you have an appropriate range to choose your hourly rate from. While it can be tempting for a new entrepreneur to undercut the more established local landscaping businesses, you dont want to end up getting burnt out and resenting your new business. Stick to the middle of the range when youre first starting out, and dont forget to take into consideration all of your expenses when determining your rate.
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The Better Approach Would Be To Ask This Simple Question:
Am I better off buying this piece of equipment at this stage of my business or would it serve me better to borrow it from a fellow landscape professional or rent it and pass that cost directly through to my client on that job?
It’s this kind of questioning about spending money that will help you avoid leaking all your profits out into purchases that may not be the best use of working capital at that stage of your business growth.
Market Your Small Business
Now the fun part: landing your first landscaping clients!
To attract potential clients, youll need to market your new business and get it in front of your target audience. There are quite a few ways to market your business both online and offline.
Here are some of the best marketing strategies for your new, small business:
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How To Be Successful: Lawn Care Business Tips
provide an outstanding service that meets your customers’ expectations
- Set up a Google My Business account. This will help your business to show up when somebody in your area performs a Google search for ‘lawn care services’ or similar. It will also give you more control over how your business looks in the Google results.
- Ask satisfied customers for online reviews. We’ve already mentioned the impact a negative review can have on your business – but positive reviews can be just as powerful! If a customer mentions how pleased they are with the job you did on their lawn, why not politely ask them to leave a review on Yell or Google?
- Go where your audience are. Think about the people you’re targeting, and focus your advertising efforts on the channels they’re most likely to engage with. For instance: is there a local newspaper that specifically focuses on your service area? Are your potential customers using Facebook, or would Google Ads be a better use of your online advertising budget? Could you benefit from more old-fashioned promotional strategies, like letterbox flyers and magazine ads? Is there an upcoming networking event that could land you a couple of lucrative commercial contracts? Ask yourself questions like these, and the answers will help your business to grow.
What Kind Of Services Should I Offer
Most lawn care businesses have approximately 25 customers they see each week and offers services like these:
- Adding mulch
And of course, these old standbys:
- Fertilizer application
As you can see, theres plenty of landscaping services you can offer. Just remember to always provide an superior customer service experience for everyone you do business with.
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Protect Your Lawn Care Business
Once you start providing lawn care services, make sure your business is legally protected. Having a legal business entity is not enough. While an LLC, for example, can protect you from some liability, its called a limited liability company for a reason. If your personal finances and your business finances arent rigorously separated, you could find your personal assets liable in the case of a claim made against you.
Wait, you might ask, what can go wrong with lawn care?
Imagine your client has asked you to install a new lawn and treat it with pesticides. Youve sprayed the one-acre expanse as requested. Should this practice lead to your clients child suddenly breaking out in a rash, they could claim its from exposure to the pesticide and sue you for bodily injury and medical costs. If this happened, you could be held liable.
Bodily injury isnt the only thing you could be held liable for, either. If you get distracted while riding your mower and this leads to you damaging a part of your clients property, you could be liable for the replacement or repairs.
Thats why lawn care professionals need general liability insurance. General liability insurance can protect you in the event of a client or third partys claim of bodily injury, medical costs, or property damage related to your lawn care work.
How To Start Your Own Small Lawn Care Business
Starting a lawn care business requires basic lawn equipment, advanced knowledge of lawn care techniques and a degree of physical fitness. Experience with pruning, trimming, fertilization, watering and basic landscaping is also required, as you will often be expected to offer these services. The necessary skills and knowledge can be acquired through experience or books, or you may take courses offered by local continuing education schools and lawn or garden associations.
The lawn care business offers diversity in customer types and services, so you may choose to specialize in one or more business aspects and customers not properly served in your area.
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Structural And Legal Expenses
Business License You dont need any type of permit specifically for a lawn care business, but you do need to get a business license for your company and a name. An LLC typically costs around $100. In some states, you can file a fictitious name fee, also known as a DBA, which costs around $50. Other expenses might include legal fees for setting up a corporation.
Taxes You also have to register with the federal government and IRS to get a number for withholding taxes.
In addition, most states require you to collect and pay sales tax on services completed. Check with your states department of taxation for the requirements of your state.
Insurance You also have to get insurance if you plan to hire staff. Workers compensation insurance is mandatory. Workers’ compensation rates range from $0.50 – $2.00 per $100 of covered payroll.
You also have to pay any company or employee insurance premiums, which are usually based on estimated income. Youll also have to open a business bank account for your company to process checks and make cash deposits so that you can pay your bills with business checks. The alternative is accepting cash only, which will severely limit your customers and make it impossible to offer expensive services.
It may sound complex, but it is possible to complete these procedures in as little as one day. With all of the resources available online, its easier than ever to get started.
Check With Your Town To See If You Need A Business License
Once you have a good feel for what your customer base might look like, its time to get official with the town your business is located in.
Each state has different requirements around getting a business license, which, lets face it – can be pretty annoying to find.
Fortunately, you can check out our Business License by State hub, which lists everything you need to know about getting a business license for your lawn care service in your state.
Simply choose your state and follow the instructions in the resulting blog article.
Its really that simple!
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Define Your Target Market
What kinds of clients do you want to work with? What kinds of people or business owners would be most interested in your services? What areas are you going to serve? It’s important to know the answers to these questions.
While it may seem like theres the most earning potential in casting a wide net, theres also far more competition if youre up against a larger pool of lawn care companies. Thats why its in your best interest to hone in on your target market and brand your new company accordingly.
Check Out The Competition
Dont fire up the mower just yet! First, take a look at the demand for lawn care in your area. Are you near a few residential neighborhoods with big yards? Or maybe theres a call for commercial jobs, maintaining green spaces for local businesses.
Commercial or residential, remember that potential clients may already work with an established lawn care company. That means you should look not just for possible customers, but for ways to differentiate yourself from your competition. What can you offer that they cant?
To answer that, youll need to do some research. The easiest way is to start online. Google lawn care and check out the local business listings. Take a look at their websites, especially the services offered and any price lists.
If you want to start your own lawn care business, you probably know at least a couple of people who are already working in the industry. See what they think: How hard is it to find customers? Is there a demand for specialized skills, like working with pesticides or fertilizers? Youd be surprised how helpful a simple conversation can be.
Whatever the answers, make sure you have a solid understanding of the market before you begin.
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The Basic Rules Of Lawn Care Pricing
When you first start your business, it can feel like youre guessing, pulling prices out of thin air. You dont have to guess, you can KNOW how to price your services, but only if you consider the following:
Set an hourly rate for your labor, even if youre the only employee. Build your pricing around how much you’re paying lawn care employees its going to be your single greatest expense in the future.
Start considering your labor burden on day one.