A newbie lawn care business owner’s battles.

Every new start up business goes through a lot to get themselves up and running. Some do seem to have an easier time than others though. A lot of that depends on previous experience, their current situation, and the entrepreneur’s ability to adapt to new situations that present themselves. To help you improve your chances, here is a great discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum that shares some insight into that start up battle.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I’ve recently been laid off and am seriously considering starting my own gig very soon. I have 3 years of previous experience mowing lawns and I am very motivated.

There’s nothing really stopping me right now from jumping into it, I think I’m ready honestly. I really look forward to the flexibility of being my own boss, interacting and meeting various people, and being outdoors. However I’m a little worried that I may be getting too late of a start for this season. I would like to keep things pretty simple for starters, just basic lawn care. So I’m wondering if the slow season would kill my momentum. Also, Ive asked numerous people whether I should start out licensed and insured or should I grow into it? Say after 10 loyal customers then go for all the licenses and what not? I get varied responses to this question though.

I plan on starting with 3 neighborhoods, passing out fliers in the first two, knocking on doors in addition to the fliers for the third. I’ve called various companies and talked to a few residents in the area, anywhere from $25 - $40 seems to be the price for basic lawn care services in my area. When I put out my fliers I wonder if I should put a median price on the flier? I was thinking $30…..

I can definitely do some minor housework, holiday lights, etc. Other than knocking on doors and using fliers, any other simple ideas for getting new customers without breaking the bank? I plan on listing on craigslist and google maps.

Follow up… It’s been about a month since I’ve started this little business. Things are slow, but I’ve got three contracts (verbal agreements) so far. I have done a few one time mowings too. The only way I’m advertising at the moment is on craigslist. Every morning I place 2 or 3 posts on craigslist. Sometimes the phone rings, sometimes it doesn’t.

My fliers did not work at all! I passed out about 100 and got absolutely nothing. Knocked on a few doors, but mostly I got no response. I am trying to price at about $35 an hour. I usually charge about $100 a month for weekly service. I’m willing to spend some extra time playing catch up on the first mowing visit with little to no additional charge in order to get the contract. I always leave a receipt saying thank you in an envelope with a few business cards after completing a new job.

Also, I decided to get licensed and registered the fictitious business name, just to be legit and have an edge on the average mow-n-go guys. Yes I got started but I still have a long way to go.”

A second lawn care business owner said “I believe licensed and insured is the way to go. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. You really should want to do this in a professional manner. Beyond that though, you just gotta go for it. It is never to early or late in the season to get started. I started part time in winter with no hope 2 years ago and now I am looking for a way to hire because of growth.

Early on, we busted our butts trying to get customers. Door hangers did not work but fliers did. Word of mouth did. We bid on everything we could find and when we failed we learned. I started with 3 customers and now have more then I can handle including commercial clients. Never stop man, it’s business and in this economy you gotta make it .

At first I hit family, friends, and neighbors that had lawn services already. It took awhile to talk them out of using the other guys but I had gotten a license and insurance and I knew that these other guys did not. I am not sure why the door hangers did not work but I have not given up on them and will try again during the fall with winterize fertilization services. Nice bright fliers work hung on the mailbox flags or on door knobs worked too. Instead of the litter that the other guys do when they throw their fliers in my yard in a bag of rocks .

I went after residential lawn care customers first until I was able to afford a larger ztr and a guy or two to help every now and again and it also gave me time to build up some speed and confidence. All that prep work made it easier to later transition to servicing commercial clients.”

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