I am lucky enough to interact with many new lawn care business owners who are just getting started. Most of the time they seem to ask two questions. How do I get commercial accounts and how do I figure out how much to charge to mow a lawn. Let’s look at this example.
Trisha: “My husband and I are just starting our business. He is plowing now as a sub-contractor. I know we need to get going getting landscaping business for the spring, but we have no idea where to start. How do we go about getting commercial business? How do we know when they are accepting bids? Do we just call and ask? Or is there a certain time of year that everyone does it? I will be doing most of the lawn care, and he will be doing pruning, hardscapes, anything more difficult. He went to school for landscaping and has been doing it for almost 10 years. I went to school for business, so I’ll be taking care of that end of it, but I love to be outside too!
I am new at this and I am trying to find out what the the going rates are for mowing, edging, blowing, and mulching.
Any advice is appreciated!”
Steve: Let’s start with the topic of going for commercial customers when you are just getting started. It seems most lawn care business owners would advise against it and here are some insights as to why.
Chuck: “You can make more per man hour on residential lawn care customers versus commercial work, so you might want to stick with residential lawn care customers for a while.”
Keith: “Getting your feet wet with residential lawn care clients is preferable for many lawn care businesses.
If you slightly mis-bid a residential lawn care customer or two you can easily recover. However a bad bid on a large scale commercial lawn care account can sink you before you even get out of the gate.
Start small and build gradually. Slow and steady wins the race.
As far as timing for getting clients; right now is the best time. Customers are already beginning to think about late winter clean up of their yards.”
Steve: “Next when it comes to pricing, you should base your price on your costs. Now I know most new lawn care business owners are not interested in hearing that. They want to hear a solid figure. They want to hear charge $30 a lawn or $35 to mow. You can call up local lawn care business owners in your area and get a few bids to cut your home lawn or a friends lawn to get an idea but that can be a bad idea on many levels. Let’s see why.”
Keith: “I personally feel this is a lousy method of determining what the going lawn care rate is.
First of all, you are wasting time and expense of others in the lawn care business. If you have no intention of giving them business don’t make them come to your property to give an estimate…that’s just wrong.
Secondly; how do you know what their costs are? If they are lowballers doing $20 lawns will you drop your price to $18 just to undercut them? This method gives a completely skewed idea of the profit potential of lawn care if you provide professional service and they are hacks.
Lastly; this is not a good way to make local friends in the business. How would you feel if you spent 30 minutes of your time driving to an estimate and speaking with the “customer” only to see him the next day with a lawn mower in his truck? It wouldn’t make you feel good.”
Keep all these things in mind when you are just starting your lawn care business. If you would like to join in on this discussion further visit this post at the GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Forum.