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Everyone enjoys a pleasant-looking front lawn with finely-trimmed hedges and freshly mowed grass. So there is a massive opportunity if you want to start your own lawn care business.
As of 2022, there were 632,895 active lawn care businesses, and that number, we’re sure, is only going to continue to grow. And from 2009 to 2017, the average spend on lawn care services was $503 per household.
But starting a lawn care business isn’t as simple as dusting the cobwebs off your uncle’s old lawnmower and knocking on every door in the neighborhood.
Starting this kind of business requires meticulous planning, legal arrangements, financial management, deciding on specific services, recruitment, and even marketing.
But before you make any big decisions, it’s worth weighing out the pros and cons of starting your lawn care business to determine whether or not you’re truly ready.
The Pros and Cons of Starting a Lawn Care Business
- Guaranteed repeat business: Your clients are perpetual, so you will always have ongoing, consistent work. Usually, clients need their lawn maintained weekly, so you have a stable means of income or extra cash.
- Providing additional treatments is necessary: Your clients aren’t just going to need their lawn mowed; they need it maintained. Their lawn needs special fertilizer, weed, and bug treatment every four to six weeks. Missing just one “session” can cause chaos in their yard.
- You don’t need much initially: The startup cost for opening a lawn care business is relatively low. You only need equipment and a way to arrive at clients’ homes – like a cargo van or pickup truck.
- Lawn care businesses are scalable: First, you start by offering one service, like mowing lawns. And then you can gradually add on from there, like gardening, weeding, tree trimming, landscaping, and so on.
- Seasonal work: If you want a business that runs year-round, you must diversify your offerings, for example, by offering snow removal services during the winter.
- Plenty of competition: Your area will probably have more lawn care businesses. You need to research the demand before starting one. If there are many businesses, you could consider reducing your prices initially to gain clients. However, check that this won’t affect your revenue.
- Seasonal work: If you live in an area with harsh winters, you may find that your customers just don’t need your services for that period.
- Cutbacks: Depending on the economic situation, you have found yourself losing clients. For example, when times are tough, people cut out non-essential expenses like their gardener.
At this point, you should have a pretty good idea if starting your own lawn care business is the right move. Weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. If you’re ready to take the plunge, then carry on reading.
There is plenty to consider simply regarding getting your lawn care business up and running.
Our Tips for Starting a Lawn Care Business
Start Your Lawn Case Business Legally
Like any business, you need to tick a specific list of legal boxes to get your lawn care business up and running.
Register Your Company Name/Structure
Once you have a structure for how you’ll run your lawn care operations, you can register your business (and its name) accordingly.
There are three main types of business structures to choose from:
- Limited liability company (LLC): This structure protects medium or high-risk businesses from personal liability.
- Sole proprietorship: For those who choose to run their business alone and want full control.
- Partnership: Running a business with 2+ people still legally registered as self-employed. This structure requires an employer identification number (EIN) for tax reporting purposes.
Once you’ve chosen which structure to run your business under, you can submit your business name to your regional government. This varies from country to country, but you can trademark and register your business name in the US if no other business is using it in your state.
Get a Business License
You can’t start your lawn care business without a license. Business licenses can usually cost between $75 and $400 USD annually. Contact your local Small Business Administration (SBA) or Chamber of Commerce to learn which business license you require.
In the US, lawn case business owners need a license to use any product that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regards as a pesticide. In some states, you may need to take a pest control safety education program to be qualified to use such products.
Get Lawn Care Business Insurance
In order to cover damages, incidents, and injuries, you need to make sure that your lawn care business is properly insured. Typical insurances that apply to this kind of business include:
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Get Business Banking and Accounting
It’s crucial to keep your professional and personal finances separate in any business, including lawn care. A business bank account allows you to:
- Simplify bookkeeping
- Create a business credit profile
- Oversee cash flow in your business
- Maintain healthy tax practices
You should also build a flexible budget for your business that takes supplies, insurance, payroll, marketing, and other expenditures into consideration. You should also register your business with your country’s relevant revenue service for tax-filing purposes (IRS in the US, for example).
Choose Lawn Care Services to Offer
Not all lawn care businesses provide the exact same services to their clients. Deciding which services to provide will determine your budget and which equipment you’ll require.
It’s worth starting with fundamental lawn care services to lock down your first clients. These include:
- Mowing and trimming
- Edging and weeding
- Fertilization and weed control
- Seasonal services (like snow removal)
As time goes on and you start to generate stable revenue and a healthy customer base, you can start to provide more advanced services, such as:
Understanding what competitors provide and what your customers require can help determine which additional services to provide.
Use the Right Lawn Care Equipment and Tools
At the bare minimum, you require a lawn mower to get your business up and running. Typical lawn mowers include:
- Riding lawn mower: Users drive the machine like a vehicle. Lawn tractors are operated in the same way but can cut more width. Ideal for large-scale lawn care.
- Push mower: An ideal choice for starters. Cheap and easy to use (estimated price between $170-350), but better for smaller jobs.
- Self-propelled mower: Can move independently and cover more ground more efficiently but are more expensive than push mowers.
Mowers can’t reach every single blade of grass, so we recommend having a string trimmer (est. $20-80) and an electric edger (est. $100-175) at your disposal. This allows you to sculpt lawn edges and trim grass in tight corners.
Additional services require other equipment such as:
It’s also worth driving a truck or trailer to transport your equipment from one client’s home to the next.
Price Your Lawn Care Services
You need to find a balance between lawn care service prices that seem reasonable for customers to pay but that are competitive and profitable within the local and wider market. To determine your prices, you should:
- Calculate labor costs
- Decide on profit margins
- Learn more about local lawn care rates
- Make sensible estimates for every job and project
- Work out equipment, material costs, and general overhead.
Different lawn care services need to be based on different pricing models. These include:
- Hourly rates: If you’re unsure how long a job could take, it’s best to pay your workers hourly. This rate includes overhead and labor costs per hour.
- Flat rates: If you know exactly how long a job will take, you can afford to set a fixed price.
- Square footage rates: Determined not by the time of a job but by how many square feet are being covered.
The final step of lawn care pricing is to develop a chart that clearly shows how much you charge for flat rates or per square foot or hour. This level of pricing detail creates transparency and trust between you and the client.
Market Your Lawn Care Business
In order to get customers quickly, you need to implement some marketing techniques. It can be something as simple as going from door to door and dropping flyers about your business.
Whatever format you use, it’s important that the following marketing measures are put in place:
- Create a brand for your business: This is the ultimate way to give your lawn care business its own unique personality and language. Having an attractive logo, name, motto, and color scheme on your uniform can go a long way in separating you from the rest of the pack.
- Market your business online: It’s imperative to promote your business online. An official website, social media accounts, and search results on Google are all effective ways to gain brand exposure.
- Devising a marketing plan: It’s crucial to work out who your target audience is, what your message is as a business, the value you will bring to your customers, the problems you can help solve for them, and the marketing tools you’ll use to convey it all.
Hire Lawn Care Employees
Building a team of employees is a vital component of any lawn care business. You need different roles for different jobs.
The more hires you have who can effectively take on the hands-on aspect of lawn care, the more time you can dedicate to off-lawn activities such as marketing, scheduling, employee management, and more.
A few things worth considering when hiring lawn care professionals:
- Devise a job description that clearly states the responsibilities required for the role.
- Decide which jobs should be made for subcontractors, part-time, and full-time employees.
- Share job openings through online and offline media (job search websites, newspapers, magazines, social media, etc.).
- Carefully read every submitted resume and ask for references and background checks.
- Have relevant interview questions ready.
- Prepare a methodical training program for hired employees.
Use Lawn Care Business Software
Once you have got the basics of your lawn case business up and running, you need to find an effective way to manage employees, regardless of their location or work hours.
Everything that needs to be managed in a lawn care business’s day-to-day is available at the click of a button in this kind of software:
- Time tracking is efficient as you usually pay your employees by the hour, and when your team clocks in and out using an employee time clock on their mobile phone, their GPS location is immediately tagged for a more efficient and accurate timesheet and payroll.
- Employee scheduling is easier to manage and is rich with information like all the job details, location, specific tasks, and even recurring jobs for customers who need their lawn being taken care of on a regular basis.
- Digital forms and checklists mean that reporting all the details about the job, including before and after photos (which can also be shared with the client), can be done while on the go.
- Internal communication is more streamlined through updates, employee team chat, surveys, and more which is super important when you’re not right there with your team at every moment.
After Starting a Lawn Care Business: Dos and Don’ts
After starting a lawn care business, DO:
- Maintain amazing customer service: The only way a customer will refer your lawn care business or write a review is if you provide amazing customer service. It isn’t just that you did a good job; it’s that YOU and your team went above and beyond. You were kind, patient, and attentive. You didn’t leave a giant mess behind; you were on time and responsive. It’s all about presentation.
- Look to up-sell: If you offer additional services, then look for any opportunity to up-sell. Sometimes your clients aren’t aware that they need additional work. For instance, a client of yours runs a day camp, so they probably need kid-friendly fertilizer and weed treatment, or maybe they could use a fun garden that the kids can enjoy.
After starting a lawn care business, DON’T:
- Forget to communicate with your clients: Ensure customer service stands out. Customers shouldn’t only hear from you when they take you on or when you are waiting for payment. Make sure you communicate with your team before and after the job – clue them in, so they know what’s going on, what the timetable is, who is working on their lawn, etc.
- Forget appointment reminders: Whether it’s through email, text, or phone calls, remind your clients about their upcoming appointment. This prevents last-minute cancellations.
- Forget to follow up: Don’t disappear after a job and the payment hits your bank. Send a follow-up email, text, or call. This improves customer service, ensures repeat customers, and makes it easier for the customer to want to refer your business.
- Ignore the weather: Track the weather channel and prepare for days when the sun isn’t shining. You may have to postpone or reschedule jobs if the wind or rain makes it impossible to do your job. By being proactive, you make sure that your business isn’t hurt by bad weather.
How much do lawn care businesses make?
Lawncare business owners’ salaries can vary depending on their team size, services provided, efficiency, profit margins, number of customers, and other factors. But salaries can range from $10,000 to $100,000 per year.
How much does it cost to start?
Generally, a lawn business can be relatively cheap to get up and running. If you already have an appropriate transportation vehicle at your disposal, then the starting business cost can be as cheap as $755-1,360.
Typical starter expenses include:
- Liability insurance – $500-$600 annually
- Push lawn mower – $170-350
- Registration costs – $75-400
- Basic flyer marketing – $10
But more advanced businesses might require further expenses, such as trucks, additional equipment, and more sophisticated marketing.
The Bottom Line on Starting a Lawn Care Business
Starting a lawn care business can be a rewarding endeavor. People love sitting in their gardens in the summer, having kids outside, and having BBQs with friends and family. When your customers sit outside, their lawn is freshly cut, and their plants look healthy, they enjoy their outside space because of you. Lawn care is an important job and can change the way people feel about their homes.
Now that you understand all about how to start a lawn care business and some dos and don’ts once it’s up and running, you are able to go into this venture with both eyes open and the right tools at your disposal (including a lawn care business app).
Remember that there is a huge opportunity for growth in this industry, so you have the power to really customize its ins and outs so that it reflects your desires and needs.
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