Newer lawn care business owners tend to start by mowing residential properties but dream of working on commercial properties. I am not sure why. Maybe it has to do with, when they look around, they see bigger accounts mowing commercial properties but here is a lesson we learned on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum on why you should stick with residential accounts.
One lawn care business owner shared with us his experiences when he wrote “For 11 years I did nothing but comercial lawn care work. But I scaled back once I started to crunch the numbers and found that I make more money off of residential lawn care customers. With commercial clients in my area, you’re capped at $35hr but I can bring in $60hr on residential accounts. Plus on the commercial jobs, your bid number is all they care about. Residential lawn care customers want service.
I currently service three counties in my area. I’m don’t want to tell anyone not to travel but you do want to go where the money is at. You want to cherry pick the neighborhoods you work in. So to build out my routes and make them more profitable I will flier 2 or 3 homes that are close to where I am working and then move to the next spot. It’s not bad to travel to an area, but once there, you don’t want to be running all over the place. You want to drop your gate as little as you can. Each time you do, it costs you money and eats into your profits. So get as many homes as you can that are near each other.
Early on I went after commercial lawn care customers because that’s what I always did when I wasÂ working for a big competitor. The lesson I learned though is every lawn care business owner needs to look at their books. It shouldn’t take you long to realize which pays better. If you get 8 houses in a row and knock them all down in 3.5hr. Even if your mowing them at $25 each, your doing more than $50hr. I also feel that residential lawn care customers are much more loyal.
I bill my customers year round and in the winter there are weeks when I just don’t have anything to do. But they still pay. If you did this with a commercial account, they would have a fit. Plus if a residential customer likes your quality, they won’t care if a competitor is cheaper, they will stick with you. On commercial property, the property manger could love you, but if the company wants to save money, as they always do and puts out for new bids, there is a good chance you’re gonna be out.
Sure there’s plenty of money in commercial mowing if your production is right. But I feel you will make more profits on residential accounts with smaller, efficient crews.
Your productivity and profits really depends on the crew’s you run. If you have really detailed guys but they aren’t the fastest, you should focus on residential lawn care accounts. If you have fast guy’s that can keep it going all day, maybe consider going big commercial.
Where I live, you are gonna bring in $5,000 a month per guy on commercial accounts if the guy’s are top notch. That’s 1 apartment complex per day with a 3 man crew being billed around $3,000 a month. Now those same 3 guys can do an easy 30 houses a day if they are next to each other and if there are no fences. So if you bill $25 a house that comes out to $750 a day or $16,250 a month. I know you could get more out of them in both situations but this is pretty close down here.
I now focus on either hi end residential or zero lot line homes. The hi end homes just pay more per visit. But with the zero lots you make money on time since there are no fences between the properties, no fence saves alot of time. I also am not afraid to do the lower pay ones at first when I am in a new area but as I grow and fill in my schedule with more desired properties I slowly let the lower pay ones go.
We call houses that aren’t allowed a fence, zero lot. In reality it is when the property line on one side of the house touches the house next door. Then on the other side it’s the opposite. So basically the client only owns the grass on one side of their house.
If you get 10 zero lots in a row you can knock them out in no time at all. You mow in long strips from the first house all the way to the last on the outside curb blowing in. Then come all the way back down to the first starting against the house, and blowing away from the beds. You do this till it’s done. Then you start line trimming on the right side of the house and go all the way around to the corner of the other. Then jump to the right corner of the next and repeat till you reach the last house. Then you come straight down the front of each till you get back to the truck.
In hi end homes I have found there is a lot less competition. Simply because these folks dont worry about your price as much as they value their interaction with you and your service. If your quality is top notch then your rate probably is as well. Plus many hi-end communities in my area are gated, so you just can’t drive into the neighborhood unless you are invited.
The loyalty you will find with hi-end customers is pretty amazing. For the last 2 years I got $600+ in xmas bonuses from these clients. You won’t ever see that doing commercial lawn care.”