Starting a new lawn care business can be scary for many would be entrepreneurs. There are so many unknowns with a start up, it’s no wonder so many businesses fail within their first year. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we get to hear some questions and concerns one new business owner has as well as some real world answers from a current business owner.
He wrote “I’ll try to make this as simple as I can. I’m looking at getting into the lawn care business, and have been for about 4 years now. But the reason why I have been dragging my feet is because I’m worried about owning my own business in these troubled economic times. I have a college degree in construction management and feel I have the business management side covered. I have other family members that can help me with graphic designer, legal advise and my father-in-law is a retired CPA. So I am feeling positive about that.
My overall goal is to have enough lawn care customers that will allow me to work all year round and have enough money to cover my overhead and pay myself. I would like to see take home profits of at least $40,000/yr. I want to focus mainly on mowing and snow plowing, but I also would do mulching/landscaping/new bed installs/and other odd job handy man work. I used to work in a greenhouse so I have a good relationship with my local grower (my old boss) and I think it would be a great network to find new clients.
My question is though, how many customers will I need to not only cover my direct costs/indirect cost, but also have some money in my pocket at the end of the year? I will be working by myself at first and maybe adding one employee (very dear friend of mine) in the future or on larger landscape projects.
I have thrown together some rough figures and based my calculations of a 1,500-2,000 hour work year… pretty much an average of 40hr/wk and 50wks/yr. I calculated I would need to charge an hourly rate of between $30-$40/hr with operating costs of about $30,000/yr.
The thing I do wonder though is how long does it take most new lawn care businesses to build a client list large enough to work 40+ hours per week during mowing season?
I not only want to do this because I love it.. but I also want to make some decent cash with it as well. I figured I would start-up this coming Spring and hopefully make enough cash to buy a decent plow set-up to support myself through the winter. I know a landscaper about 2 miles down the road from me that does not offer mowing services and just this winter started to offer plowing service… I was thinking about contacting him to see if I can offer my services in one way or another to him.
The other reason I’m slightly worried is my community is a retirement community with lots of condos and small homes with a few commercial lots. It sounds great right? Well there are at least 6 other lawn care/landscape guys in town and probably triple that on the plowing side! I would say we have 3 big guys and a handful of smaller 1-3 man crews working the area. This city has a population of about 26,000 and has a small college as well. I just don’t know how this level of competition is going to effect my ability to get new customers.”
A second lawn care business owner said “I would think it should take you one season, without hardcore advertising. Though customers tend to fluctuate during the season. You may lose 3, but gain 5. It’s a weird business.
With practice over time, you could become a master at lawn maintenance. Some people take an hour to cut an average lawn, others take 20 minutes. Some solo workers can work 8am-2pm and get 10 lawns done while others may work the same hours and get 20 lawns done, etc.
Next year my company will be making around $937.50 / week with 50 lawn maintenance customers. I will do my best to maintain 50 customers, or find small jobs to keep my income the same (gardens, gutters, hedges, fall/spring cleanups). I will only be working around 35 hours a week with lawn maintenance alone. Getting into lawn service is a chance worth taking. Miracles do happen.”
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