How to Start a Lawn Care Business
By Steven Blades
Starting a lawn care business is not that difficult. Just look at how many young teenagers are running around with a trailer and some pretty nice equipment. It's not rocket science, but you do need to have some direction. Choosing the right direction takes some knowledge and that is what we are going to give you.
What do I need?
The first thing you need is a desire to start and run a successful business. If your heart isn't in it, then you might as well go home. The next thing you need is to write up a business plan for your new venture. This includes coming up with a name for your business, listing your startup expenses, writing a mission statement, and creating a list of short-term and long-term goals. Develop a list of several points that will be key to your success. Finally, you need to lay out the steps you need to take to meet your short-term and long-term goals.
What should I name my business?
Obviously, one of the easiest names to pick is your own, but some people like to get creative and choose names like Razor Lawn Care or Above the Hedge.
What equipment should I get?
This is one of the most important steps to the success of your business. It is the difference between being professional and well... not. You need to get commercial grade equipment if you want to succeed. The amount of use and abuse your equipment is going to have is very substantial. I'm sorry, but Wal-Mart brands are not going to cut it. You need brands like Toro, Husqvarna, and Exmark. To start out with you are going to need a good walk-behind mower, edger, trimmer, and blower. As your business grows you can add a zero-turn radius mower and other equipment as needed.
How do I get clients?
Ok, so you have your business plan, your equipment, and a will to make things work. Now what? Get some clients. Starting out is the hardest time to get clients. The key is to display yourself and your equipment in a professional manner. First impressions are everything. Once you have established yourself, you won't have to work nearly as hard to get more clients. The easiest and cheapest way to get started is to exhaust your circle of influence. That is family members and people that you know. Then you can make some business cards, signs, and flyers. They aren't that expensive and you can pass them out pretty easily. If you're still not getting enough clients, then you may need to start going door-to-door. Remember to present yourself and your equipment in the most professional way you can.
What price do I charge?
Pricing is a sticky issue. Nobody has a set formula that is easy to apply. It all depends on your location, competition, customer, and the job. I personally have a $25 minimum that I charge for extremely small yards that take 15 minutes or less to finish. The price can go up to as much as several hundred dollars depending on the size and difficulty of the job. The key with pricing is to get the job and charge enough to make it a profitable job.
Do I need accounting software?
If you want to make things a hundred times easier, yes, you need accounting software. I use and recommend Quickbooks Pro. It is pretty easy to setup and makes keeping up with your finances a breeze. You can also create really professional invoices to send out to your customers, keep up with when you receive payments, and who still owes you money.
How do I deal with trouble customers?
Everyone ends up getting a trouble customer and there is nothing more annoying than someone who is never pleased with your work and basically demands something for nothing. I always treat these customers with the same respect that I would any customer with one exception. I always charge them more. If they accept my higher prices, then I get paid for dealing with them. If they decide to stop using me, I got rid of them without a bad taste in their mouth because I was respectful. It is a win-win way to handle them.
Keys to Success
Finally, let's discuss the keys to your success in starting up a lawn business. Always do more than is expected of you. Going the extra mile always pays off. It means higher customer retention, referrals, and ultimately more money! Present every aspect of your business with the utmost professionalism. Your image and reputation are everything to your business. Do not do anything to hurt them. Last, have fun and enjoy your work. Take pride in the job you do and you will succeed beyond measure.
You can learn more about lawn care, grass types and ways to increase your lawn business at: http://www.bladeslawncare.com