Any new lawn care business owner is most certainly going to have a lot of questions about running their business. Here are a few questions that came up on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum from a new lawn care business owner who was having some difficulties getting started. Below each question are some answers from veteran lawn care business owners.
He wrote “Wow, this is a wonderful website with so much information. My new lawn care business has three partners. WeÂ are all under or unemployed and NEED to work. We are interested in the lawn care business, have lots of personal experience with our own yards and in dealing with lawn care companies as consumers. We have the essential equipment to start, such as mowers, edgers, trimmers, truck, trailer. We have the determination to make it work and the willingness to learn. Out of the three of us, I am the researcher who will be trying to digest as much information as I can over time. Tonight I’ve been reading up on advertising - suggestions on signs, flyers, business cards, myspace, google maps, craigslist, etc. I also have found invaluable information on calculating base hourly rates for job estimates.
Right now this is where we are at. We have come up with a company name, slogan, and colors. We have a tax id number and a DBA with the state. We have a dress code. We don’t have a logo. We don’t have a lot of cash to start up with for professional signs, flyers, post cards, etc. But we want to be as professional as possible with what we have.
My questions at the moment are:
1. Would you say it is smart to start with one “free demo” home in a large neighborhood (it’s a friend) to show our quality of work and display a sign in the front yard?
- Of course! Advertise in any way possible. You might have neighbors bugging you for service in no time. I recommend getting business cards, you can write estimates on the back & it makes you seem professional. It’s better than handing them a piece of paper.
2. Is it ok to start out with basic magnetic do-it-yourself signs for the truck ($20 for 2 at Staples), home-made yard signs made from plywood, do-it-yourself flyers and business cards?
- Yes sir! As a new company I wouldn’t recommend anything more. In the future, you will probably want to change the look & keeping your signs costs down now will allow you do to this without regretting how much you had initially spent on them before you knew what you really wanted. After you feel more comfortable that you want to continue with your business, professional permanent signs for your trucks should be your next goal.
3. Is MySpace better than FaceBook for getting your name on the web? Or does it matter?
- Though both of them require the viewer to have an account. I believe that more adults will be found at facebook. Myspace is packed with younger users.
4. How do you go about bidding on contract jobs? Or finding out about them?
- In my area, unless you carry at least $1,000,000.00 in liability insurance, you probably don’t stand a chance and no commercial customer would even consider using your services! To find them, you need to ask around. You need to network with people and this starts with people you already know because most everyone you know works somewhere and knows other people that work at other locations. All of these people will have contacts and can refer you. You also need to create a referral system. Offer your current customer something in exchange for each customer they bring you. The best way to get people interested in you, is to speak with them face to face, sell yourself in person.
5. How do you approach businesses such as shopping centers, apartment complexes, etc?
- Visit each location and find out who is in charge of property maintenance. You will most likely have to ask for the property manager. Talk to that person. Find out when they accept bids and remember to submit a bid when they ask. Follow up after you submit your bid to see what they thought of it. It also never hurts to go into a meeting prepared with an estimate in hand for lawn care services. That way you could swoop up the account right there on the spot.
6. Is it too late in spring to get a new lawn care business started?
- It’s never too late to get your lawn care business started. Tons of people are hiring lawn care businesses now because they now see the grass growing. In panic, you might get hired instantly & be expected to work immediately. Try advertising to lawns with uncut grass.
7. How do you go about finding low-cost and quality sources of fertilizers, mulches, top soil, etc.
- Google, yellowpages, etc. Call companies and ask around. I have found great interest in organic lawn care products. They might be a little more expensive, but they are concentrated, easy to mix & apply, and easy to sell.
8. How do we find out about all of the licenses that we need to get?
- Visit your township, county and state government websites and search for professional licenses. Most of the time you won’t need a license for lawn care but you will probably need one for landscaping.
9. You know how some business cards will say “bonded and insured”? What is that and do you really need it?
- You will need liability insurance but most likely you won’t need to be bonded unless a commercial or government account requires it. The surety bond would be purchased through an insurance company. Very basically, the bond agrees to make good the default or debt you would owe a customer if you failed to perform your services in the manner you agreed to perform them.”