How To Start A Lawn Care Business

The fact of the matter is that millions of American homes have some type of lawn. It’s also a basic fact that millions of people don’t like mowing their lawns. Especially families with a large yard who are short on time.

This also means that there’s a lot of opportunities out there for ambitious go-getters who are willing to turn a tidy profit by starting their own lawn care business. Most homeowners do not have the skill, tools or desire to take care of their own lawn, yet they want to have the curb appeal. Some typical clients you could target would be:

  • Homeowners who have large yards, and work often
  • Out of town homeowners
  • People who are retired
  • Snowbirds with more than one home
  • Landlords with rental properties

Neighborhood Lawn Mowing Service

At the entry-level, there is the ambitious teenager with a push mower and a goal. Knocking on neighbors’ doors and offering cut-throat prices. It’s a great way to kill a summer afternoon and start stashing away money for buying that first car.

Things You Need & Need To Do When Starting A Neighborhood Mowing Service

  • Determine your rate per yard
  • Keep records of how much you make per yard
  • Keep track of how many hours you use the lawnmower
  • Perform basic maintenance according to the hours of operation and owner’s manual
  • Advertise by word of mouth, knocking on doors, or a neighborhood pamphlet

Starting A Professional Lawn Care Service

Now you shouldn’t think that lawn care services are limited to plucky teenagers saving up for their first car or enough money to take their special someone to the movies on Saturday night. There are a lot of legitimate businesses.

Right of the bat, one of the nice things about starting a lawn care business is the relatively low cost of startup. Of course, we are still talking about more than just a push mower you walk down neighborhood streets. You will still need at least $10,000 to perhaps $20,000 in basic equipment costs depending on the size you are looking to scale, however, if you want to start small and local, as long as you have a mower , a trimmer and gas, you don’t need much more than that to start.

Equipment Costs To Start A Professional Lawn Care Business

Before the mower, you should consider things like gasoline cans, oil, promotional materials, website

Commercial Grade Lawnmower

The price here can vary from $3,500 to $8,000. On the low end, you’re talking about a quality riding lawnmower. On the high end of the scale, you’re looking at a professional-grade zero-turn riding lawnmower.

Equipment Trailer

Depending on the weight of the lawnmower, gas cans and other equipment, you might be able to find a quality used equipment trailer with tie-down anchors for as little as $500. Though a new equipment trailer could run you as much as $1,500.

Tow Vehicle

If you are just moving around one lightweight equipment trailer, you can get by with a mid-size SUV or a light-duty pickup truck. Just keep in mind that if you’re using your daily driver you won’t get as much of a tax break as you would by purchasing a separate work vehicle.

The good news is, a used light-duty pickup truck can be had for $5,000 to $8,000 with a lot of life left in it to pay for itself in two or three years.

String Trimmers, Blowers & Other Equipment

Most lawn care companies will invest in blowers and string trimmers to clean up a client’s lawn afterward. A clean manicured look with no stray grass growing around trees, planting beds, and retaining walls is a great way to improve customer satisfaction. It’s also the sort of thing they neighborhood boy with a lawnmower is less likely to do, so you can hedge out the 14-year-old competition.

This is an area where you should buy new equipment. While you can get by with a cheap string trimmer around $75, you might want to pony up and invest in a high-quality gas-powered blower engineered for silent running. This will cost you in the neighborhood of $350 to $500, but it will go a long way toward securing a loyal customer base.

Insurance & Licensing Costs

This is one of those areas where it can be tempting to cut corners. Especially in the early days of getting a lawn care company off the ground. The problem is, all it takes is one accident on someone’s property or one fine for violating local business license laws and you lost all that possible savings anyway.

You should also consider that a lot of potential customers view things like “Licensed and Insured” on a business card or company vehicle as a sign of trust. They are far more likely to go with you over someone else. In that light, it’s almost like additional marketing.

Attracting Clients & Securing Contracts

These days social media and online marketplaces make it easier than ever to market your services locally. You might also want to try putting up a color flyer at the grocery store’s community marketing board.

These things should attract you a few opening clients with almost zero overhead spent on marketing. Though chances are the overall profits you’ll pull from this small scale marketing won’t be impressive.

The other problem you run into here is that people will tend to call you on short notice to have you cut their grass. This can be extremely inefficient if you have a large service area and your schedule ends up being at other people’s whims.

Setting Up Long-Term Lawn Care Contracts & Referrals

In the early days of starting up a lawn care business efficient scheduling and word of mouth advertising is worth its weight in gold. As you start to build a relationship with a new client, be sure to advertise things like discounts for long-term contracts and referrals. Something as simple as $5 off per referral might get them telling the neighbors about the great job you did.

Then you can set up the contract with terms where you will mow their lawn and trim the landscaping once a week for the 3 to 4 peak months of the summer season. You can then set up the schedule in a way that works efficiently for you. If they refer you to their neighbors, you can lock in your schedule even more efficiently.

Then instead of driving from Point A to Point B based on short term demand, you can block out sections of time to mow all your clients in a particular neighborhood every Tuesday afternoon. This will save you drive time as well as fuel costs, and marketing.

How Much Can You Earn With A Lawn Care Business?

While there is really no limits how much you can earn, it’s going to depend on how many clients you can handle per day, and the size or complexity of their lawns. Figure if a typical lawn you charge $25 per mow which takes you 20 minutes, then working 10 hours a day is about $75 an hour or $750 a day. If you can work 7 days a week that’s around $273k a year. Of course you need to factor in travel time, fuel, equipment repair,  employees, breaks, etc. This is where you want to figure out what add-ons to include besides mowing that go along with a typical mowing job to increase your earnings. Also you need to consider if your area is seasonal because of snow or cold weather. Speaking of weather, if it’s raining, don’t expect to mow, since you shouldn’t mow wet grass. This will have a significant effect of your earnings and time.

 

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