How to Start and Grow Your Lawn Maintenance Business
Owning and operating a lawn maintenance business can be a lucrative and fulfilling business. The demand from home owners for quality lawn care and maintenance has never been higher. Most home owners do not want to take care of their lawn, preferring to pay lawn mowing companies instead.
So with this increased consumer demand, how do you get start and grow a lawn mowing business? Let's dig in!
Create Goals for Your Lawn Maintenance Business
When first starting out, it's important to identify exactly what type of lawn business you want to create. Do you want to go big and have lots of trucks and crews? Do you want to keep the business small with only yourself and maybe an employee or two? Somewhere in-between?
It's good to identify exactly why you are starting this lawn care business. Not only deciding how big you want to make the business, but deciding if you want to do it part-time or full-time is also important.
Don't forget about the paperwork side of the business: taxes, business licenses, legal docs, payroll, etc.
All of these factors need to be thought about before you get rolling. Most of this stuff is pretty easy to do, and you don't have to have all the answers right up-front. It's just important to understand your personal goals to help you with creating a business.
Identify Your Ideal Lawn Customer
After you have defined and created goals for your new business, it's time to define and identify your ideal customer for your lawn maintenance company.
Finding your ideal lawn customer has a lot to to with your business goals. For example: Are you going to offer expensive or cost effective services? In other words, are you going to compete on price: Expensive or Cheap?
What type of service do you envision providing? High-touch service, where you contact the customer often and explain what you're doing... Or, will you provide a low-touch service, essentially working in the background with little customer contact?
Answers to these questions will help you determine what customers to go after in your marketing.
If you're going to offer high-touch services, you might want to focus your marketing efforts on the more expensive parts of town. The owners of these homes typically want more communication from service workers than normal.
Target Customers in the Same Geographical Areas
One tip for first-time lawn maintenance business owners is to target your marketing in very specific, close neighborhoods.
Doing this will make your operations run so much smoother. You'll be able to hit more accounts in a given day, and you'll save a ton of cash on fuel for your trucks.
If your accounts are spread around town, you'll be wasting lots of money on fuel. And, you'll be spending more time driving around in the truck than you spend cutting lawns.
Remember, you're starting this business to make money. So, if you're driving around town all day long, it's hard to make money.
Targeting lawn accounts in close proximity to each other should be a no-brainer.
Buy the Right Lawn Equipment Needed to Compete
What lawn mowing equipment do you need? After you have decided on the best customer, you'll need to get the best equipment for the job.
How do you choose your equipment? The best advice is to talk with other lawn care professionals about what they like and don't like. Walk in to your local small engines business and talk to the pros there. Ask them what equipment they like. What do they enjoy working on? What equipment has the most problems? The least problems?
Doing research on the internet is also a must for choosing the correct tools for your business.
Remember, these are tools you'll use day in and day out to run your business. So, take your time and choose the best equipment for your business goals.
If you're just starting out, there is no need to purchase an expensive "stand on" mower at this stage. Get a good mower, but don't blow the budget on this. The goal is to work up to getting the absolute best. Buy equipment that will help you finish accounts fast so that you can complete more jobs.
You'll also want to limit the time and money you spend on repairing and maintaining the equipment. (That's why talking to your local small engines pro is a must).
If you're starting out on a budget, read this post:
How to Start a Lawn Mowing Business With No Money
Gorilla Marketing for New Lawn Accounts
Getting new lawn maintenance accounts isn't as hard as you might think. It's actually pretty easy. But, it is time-consuming and a grind. Get ready to do a lot of walking and talking.
First thing is to make sure your business attire looks professional and is clean. This means wearing nice clothes—not a suit and tie—but, put on a professional golf shirt and a nice pair of shorts.
First impressions mean a lot, so if you show up dirty, with grass clippings all around your legs, smelling of gas, you're not going to get many new accounts signed up.
Get some magnets with your business name and phone number made. Put those on the side of your truck or car. Leave those on at all times. (You never know when someone might see your business telephone number and give you a call).
Next is printing flyers so you can stuff them in mailboxes and under front door mats. You should create the best flyer you can, however not everyone is super creative. That's where a service like Fiverr comes into play. You can get a professional looking flyer designed on Fiverr for a minimal amount of money.
Once you have your flyers, it's time to canvas your target neighborhoods.
Start at your target neighborhood. Then, working from house to house, put a flyer in each mailbox. If the home does not have a mailbox, put a flyer under the mat at the front door.
You'll be amazed how many phone calls you'll get from doing this gorilla marketing. But, be prepared to deliver quality service. Otherwise, all your hard work will be for nothing!
Delivering Quality Service
Most entrepreneurs starting lawn maintenance companies don't think too much about the actual service they provide: maintaining the lawn.
They think: "I'll just run the mower over the grass. Use the weed eater for the edges. Blow off the clippings. Done."
This should not be your mindset.
There is an art to mowing lawns. Making sure to overlap the mower on each run back and forth... setting the trimer at the correct angle... planning the work on each account... et cetera.
Quality is not something that takes more time either. Once you get the hang of "how" to mow the yard, you'll be even faster than when you first started.
It's super important, as the owner of the business, that you set the quality standard. This will help you as you hire employees because you will know exactly how to train them to your standard.
Leverage Your Current Customers
If you've completed your first round of gorilla marketing, you should have a stable of lawn accounts.
If you want more business, it's time to leverage your current customers.
To get more business you'll need to ask your current customers for referrals. This method of new business generation is super easy, and should be one thing you do every week.
There are a lot of ways to ask your customers for referrals. Each time you send them an invoice, also include a personal note ask them to send friends your way.
This "word of mouth marketing" is the most cost-effective method of marketing! You're essentially using your current customers to do the marketing for you.
Don't be afraid to ask your customers for exactly what you want. Social media and the internet are great places to have good customers reviews of your business. Ask your current accounts to write up a review. Most are happy to do so.
Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil! So, make sure to ask your current accounts for referrals early and often.
The most important part is delivering a quality service. If your lawn mowing skills are not good, don't expect to get any referrals. In fact, don't expect to be in business long. Quality is super important! Most customers will be happy to tell their friends, if they're happy with your service.
Building a Solid Lawn Maintenance Crew
If you perform quality work, talk with your customers on a regular basis, and are smart about keeping your expenses down, at some point you'll have to hire your first employee.
Who you hire will have a massive impact on your business, good or bad. Your goal is to minimize the bad hires.
A lot of home service companies are so busy, they will hire anyone who passes the "mirror test". In other words, they will hire anyone who can walk. This is not a good strategy!
Hiring employees can make or break your lawn business. Get good ones, and you'll be putting more money in the bank. Hire bad ones... well, you'll find out soon what happens.
Your first employee will be your most important hire. That's because, after you hire the first employee, you can ask him/her to recommend other employees. So, make sure you perform your due diligence on that first hire.
Run a background check. Ask for references. Then call each reference!
Also, don't shy away from hiring Spanish speaking employees. A lot of business owners won't hire Spanish speaking employees because they are afraid of the language barrier.
The good news is, if you're using Sagenine to run your lawn maintenance business, English to Spanish—and Spanish to English—translation is built in! Your employees can speak updates in Spanish, and you can read the updates in English.
Use Lawn and Landscaping Business Software
If you want your business to be successful right from the start, you need the best lawn and landscape business software.
Managing and lining out crews each day should be easy. Invoicing customers and getting paid should not take a long time each month. Scheduling jobs and keeping track of job tasks should be second nature.
The good news is, Sagenine does all of these business tasks. Our lawn and landscape software will help you:
- Manage Customer Information with Sagenine's CRM
- Automate Daily Crew Routes with Sagenine's Smart Mapping
- Schedule One-Time and Recurring Jobs with Sagenine's Service Scheduler
- Collect and Manage Data from your Crews in the Field
- Keep Crews and the Office on the Same Page with Sagenine's Mobile App
- Automate Billing with Sagenine's QuickBooks Online Integration
Improving your lawn and landscape business operations is just one part of Sagenine's field service software.
At Sagenine, we take the guessing out of making business decisions. Our software will help you determine:
- How many jobs can your crews complete each day.
- Find and set the optimal service route for each crew.
- How much money are you making on each account.
- Do you need to charge more for certain accounts?
- Should you fire some customers?
The best thing about Sagenine is, we offer a free plan for companies that are just getting up and running.
So start for free. Then we'll grow as you grow. Win win.