5 lawn care business startup questions.

Sure you may have a lot of questions when you are starting up your lawn care business but here is a great collection of 5 questions one new entrepreneur had. He asked them on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and got a few great responses to help better direct him as he sets off in his new career.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I have a bunch of questions and would appreciate any responses I get. These are probably stupid questions as I tend to over think things, but I’m just trying to make educated decisions. Well here goes:

1) How many of you started out or are still doing just mow and go?

2) Trailers - enclosed or open and why?

3) How far from your base do you usually limit your travel for jobs?

4) How receptive are customers to prepaying a month at a time? I’m thinking of offering a 10% discount to prepay and a 10% discount for the first month of a new season for signing up for the next season early.

5) I read somewhere about a guy who makes up postcards and puts them in a ziplock sandwich baggies with a couple rocks. He then drives around and throws them onto potential customers driveways much like a paperboy. It is much faster than doorhangers but is it worth doing?”

A second business owner said “to answer some of your questions,

1) I am not a mow, blow and go company. It’s more profitable to have customers scheduled for a complete season of services. This avoids customers letting their grass grow a few feet, and wearing down your equipment. Plus there is more profit in all the additional upsells you can offer.

2) With landscape trailers, I prefer enclosed. It takes a little more time to grab your equipment, but only by a second. Other than that, the advertising space on an enclosed trailer is superior. You don’t have to unload the trailer at the end of the day either and no one will steal your equipment. It is safer and better for business at a higher cost.

3) I don’t like to travel more than 30-40 minutes away from my home base. Especially if I’m not strong in a certain area. There is no point in driving for an hour only to make a few bucks.

4) Many of my lawn care customers prefer monthly prepaying because it’s simple for them. Monthly prepays are a lot easier of a sale than prepaying for an entire season. You also get a chance to talk to your customers each month when they pay you and catch up on what he/she is feeling about your services. Though if a customer has a problem with it, they usually tell you right off the bat. Other than that, I wouldn’t lower my prices to get prepaid.

5) DON’T stick any marketing material in baggies with rocks. It actually is littering and you are just preparing your ad for the garbage bin.

I personally would be pretty angry with whoever had me walk onto my lawn to pick up their mess/ad. I would consider them very LAZY rather than clever. I’d think, ‘why couldn’t they just put their ad in my damn mail box?’ Right to the garbage it would go without a peek, that’s it.”

A third business owner added “1) Mow and go as you put it was my business plan as of last year. I changed it once I got some cash coming in to offer a host of other services. Had I not changed that plan, I would have been out of business by now. I now have a lawn care side that supports 6 f/t employees but it took some time to get it there.

2) Trailers - we use both types and they both have advantages over the other. I like enclosed cargo as you can keep the gear locked up. But you can’t easily load up an enclosed trailer with materials like mulch or topsoil. That is where you will wish you had an open trailer.

3) My limit is about 15 miles from my home.

4) I never ask a customer to prepay. Generally it is a sign of poor cash flow by the company offering the service. How many people pre-pay for cable, telephone etc a month in advance? On Landscaping/excavation a 50% deposit is required, everything else is paid as soon as we are finished.

5) That lawn care marketing method is tacky. For our target market this type of approach would be shooting yourself in the foot. I am not afraid of cold calling and it has taken my company from two employees in April of last year to 22 employees in May of this year.”

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