Can your employees run your lawn care business?

Have you been wanting to start up your lawn care business but just seem to have the time to do it? Maybe you got creative in your business planning and thought if you hired a few employees, they could run and build up the business for you. If this were possible, you could then have time to focus on other things. As we will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, certain business plans may work out better than others.

One entrepreneur wrote “here is my business plan / idea so far. I want to start up a lawn care business and hire 2 men to do the work for me while I go to college. Then a couple of years later when I graduate, I can put more time towards it. I have about $4,500 in the bank to buy a used truck, trailer, and mowing equipment. I will also get my DBA, set up a commercial bank account and be ready to start to mow lawns. Will this plan work?”

A second lawn care business owner said “my lawn care business is well established and has been operating for over 10 years. My company makes well over a million per year. With that said, I think you are crazy to try and start a business while in college such as this one. There are many things you could do while in college that do not demand so much of your time or money. In this business you need to be a part of the business until you build a solid customer base. If you are not out there with your crew, what is to stop them from taking your customers and making the money on their own? What happens when they screw up a yard? (and they will trust me.)

My company’s chain of command is Me (owner), Operations Manager (salaried employee $50,000 year), Landscape Designer (commission approx $60,000 year), Arborist and Botanist ( commission $50-60,000 per year), Crew Leader ( $30,000 per year+ bonus) and hourly employees ($8 per hour). You need more than $4,500 in lawn care equipment, truck and trailer to get started. You can’t seriously do this business without a minimum investment of $10,000 plus 6 months of payroll. If you miss paying your guys one time, you will have no crew. Plus you will have the state breathing down your neck.

On top of all of that, you will need someone to do scheduling, collections and invoicing and that is another $30,000 per year on the low end. Sure you could do it yourself, but if you are going to school full time, you may miss something. I am in my 40’s so picking a leader is easy for me. They have certain attributes that are easily picked up in an interview. I can’t teach you that, it is instinct. On top of that you have to trust them with your vehicle, equipment, and business. Your employees are who your customers will see on a daily business.

There are other expenses involved too like commercial insurance, workman’s comp, and taxes. Insurance runs for a small business at least $500-800 per month. You need a minimum of a $1 mil policy for regular households and at least a $1.5 mil minimum for commercial accounts and HUD homes. This insurance protects you, in case a rock you hit, takes out  windows on a house, car, or kid. Or if your employees cut a lawn too short and it dies, etc. Workman’s comp protects you should one of your workers get injured.

Then there are state and federal taxes. You have to charge sales tax and pay it quarterly to the state. Don’t pay? They freeze your accounts and can take your house, vehicle, or anything else of value. It’s the same with federal taxes, but that is on income. Don’t pay those? Go to JAIL.

My suggestions? If you are looking for a business that is easy to get started and needs a little less time, why not try a dog walking/sitting service. My oldest child did this in college and made over $50,000 his first year. He advertised in neighborhoods, vets, grooming services. Of course you are working holidays and in the summer when people vacation, but you can do several families at once. You must be good with pets of all kinds and have a veterinarian you can use in an emergency, but it is simple and easy to get started.

My daughter is in college and she runs a shopping/errand service. She left flyers at food stores and people pay her to do their grocery shopping, errands etc. She also set up a deal with local restaurants and at night she delivers food from those restaurants. She set up a phone number and has a receptionist answer phones for her while she is on class. She tacks on 1-2 per item plus charges a delivery fee of $5.00. She made $65,000 last year.

The key to success is finding something you can do with the time you have to give. Especially in the beginning, you have to be fully involved in the start up phase. After that you still need to stay involved or everything will deteriorate around you.”

A third business owner said “here’s what I would do, and what I did. Pick up a used mower for $100. Buy a new weed eater for $150. Buy a new handheld blower for $100. Buy some rakes, shovels, garbage cans all at yard sales for $15. Buy a new 4′x8′ trailer for $250. You are in business for $600 and if you have a truck, you can do it without the trailer.

Now go out and start knocking on doors. Talk to as many people as you can and let EVERYONE know what you are doing. You never know who will be your next customer.

You know your school schedule, so schedule your new found customers around your schooling. Try to find a friend that you can count on to help you out hourly ($15 per hour or something) when you need an extra hand. I have a few of these people around and if one isn’t available, I can call the next. A valuable list in my opinion.

I started this way about 4 years ago. From these humble beginnings, I now support my family of 5 and things are going well.”

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Lawn Care Business Books And Software.
How To Get Lawn Care Customers Vol. 2
The landscaping and lawn care business plan startup guide
A rebellious teenagers guide to starting a landscaping & lawn care business
The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show Episode Guide.
Stop Lowballing! A Lawn Care Business Owner\'s Guide To Success