There is never a time in your life when you are more hungry for work and are so willing to say yes to a property care job than when you first get your lawn care business started. You have so much energy then. So much enthusiasm and are so eager to please that you may find yourself agreeing to do any job a lawn care customer asks you to do. But as we will see here in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, you can get yourself into a lot of trouble quickly by saying yes too fast. When these opportunities present themselves, take a moment and think about it first. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.
One lawn care business owner wrote “my partner and I started our lawn care business about 3 months ago. So far it seems we both have our strong points and bring different skills to our business. We are based in the suburbs of a large city so there are plenty of potential lawn care customers for us to scoop up.
The hardest thing we have found so far is pricing lawn care jobs and figuring out what to do on jobs that are unexpected. For example we were mowing a lawn and the customer came out and asked us if we could aerate and de-thatch his lawn as well. We don’t know anything about that job and don’t have the equipment to do it, but we said yes to the job anyway. Since we already told the customer yes we could do that, we now find ourselves in a position where we need to rent one of those machines and try to figure out what to charge for the job so as we don’t lose money on it. Should we just charge him by the hour? The customer then said they also want overseeding and some feed or compost in the yard to bring it’s lushness back.
The money we have to spend at the moment on equipment is limited so we are using equipment we already had from our yards.¬† Any advice would be great. I really don’t know what to do.”
A second lawn care business owner responded and said “here are some of the lessons I learned in the first year of running my lawn care business.
It’s gonna cost you at least $1,500.00+ for a commercial lawn mower and not $300.00 you might spend on a home owner mower. It will cost $550.00+ for a real commercial trimmer and not $150.00 that you might spend on a consumer unit. And finally it will cost at least $250.00+ for a good commercial blower. These costs add up quickly and without them, you are going to be breaking down and going through equipment so fast it will make your head spin.
Next I learned it was important to work for another lawn care company save your money to have the needed funds to get started. Getting started with a partnership might be good for you if you can both bring in some starting capital but there is a down side too. Being a partner is going to limit how much you’ll be making at first. If you manage to get 5 customers before the end of the seasons you’ll be splitting all the hard earned money.
To make this succeed, you both need to set goals, personal & team. You both need to put money into equipment & need extra for repairs, fuel, etc.
If you start by renting equipment, there goes your 5 first lawns, no one will be getting paid. Unless of course you rent from a friend.
Advertising is key. What about business cards? Maybe you can advertise lawn maintenance & weeding, maybe even gutter cleaning? I’d also recommend having a Q&A sheet for when customers call, make sure you can answer all their questions. When does your service begin & end? What does your service offer? Is it just mowing? Or do you edge & use the blower to cleanup the mess you might make after cutting?
Always charge the lawn care customer more then the renting fee of any equipment you use. Don’t forget that you need to be paid, as well as your partner!
If your doing any kind of lawn care job, I like to at least make $40.00/hr, but that’s totally up to you. In my opinion, a profit is a profit, although it feels at times, even at that hourly rate I don’t feel fully compensated for all my sweat & effort.
Don’t tell the customer you are charging by the hour, it’ll irritate them. Instead think of how long the job might take you, & multiply it by $40.00, then tell them the estimate.
If a customer interrupts you while your working on the project, & asks if you can soon do another one, you need time to think about it, especially early on in your career. What I do when this happens is say, ‘I’m pretty booked, but I will let you know if I have time to do that job once I’m finished with this one.’
Once you are finished with the first job, reflect & see if your profit was decent. If it wasn’t, your customer is probably going to take advantage of you on subsequent jobs. This can happen and it happened to me early on!
After the first job, you may actually have time to think about taking on another job. Maybe you gave his yard a cleanup, now he wants you to paint a fence? Step on the brakes & think before you say yes. I can understand you don’t want to let him down, and you want to take as many jobs as you can, but you really don’t want to say yes to something you can’t do or won’t be profiting on!
Customers like this can be a good thing, and bring you plenty of business, so be careful not to lose them from making a simple mistake doing something you don’t know how to do and always make a profit.
That’s the best I can suggest now from lessons I learned in my first year operating my lawn care business.”
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