Getting started with $20 lawn mowings?

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of expenses you have to operate your business. In fact, most first year business owners probably have no clue what their true costs are. That would explain why the vast majority of them go out of business before the end of their first season. Here is a great discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum on how low cost mowing and business sustainability don’t mix. You can’t cover your expenses if you’re not charging enough to perform your services.

One lawn care business owner wrote “it’s kinda funny how I started out. I lost my job and my roommate was about to kick me out. He was joking around and told me I should mow lawns here in our neighborhood. Well it started with one old broke down mower and 2 customers. Now 2 months later, my buddy had to start helping me out and I had to buy 3 more mowers plus a rider and 3 weed eaters! I’m now up to 12 regular customers but now my business seems to be slowing down. So to push forwards I came up with a one time $20 a mow campaign that I put on a flyer and hit the streets to put them out like crazy.

I got a lot of those early customers with flyers so I figured why not do it again. Where I live, there are lots of illegal businesses running around so I have to work 3 times as hard to stay above water.

The flyer was printed on bright colored paper and included the following:

Lawn care help is here!
$20 Full Service Front and Back yard! That’s right, $20.
No matter how big or small the yard.
• Add pressure wash for just $15 more.
• Add a mulch change out for just $40, including price of mulch.
• Add fertilizing and watering service, just $10.
We are slashing prices in all services we offer, Call today to find out more!

On average, it takes me 45 minutes to one hour to mow a lawn. With a 2 man crew, I can do more than 10 lawns in a day. Once we get more customers, I plan on raising my prices after a while. These yards are all post card sized neighborhoods. We have some yards that could be done with weed eaters alone and a few other customers that pay $40 to $60 a week.

We are trying to get word of mouth going cause that’s how we feel we will get more weekly customers. The problem we are having is we need more customers for the business to sustain itself. Hopefully with the $20.00 one time deal we will get more customers to sign an annual mowing contract.

After handing out the new flyers, we are finding they don’t seem to be working as well as we thought they would. We usually devote 2 days a week to handing out flyers alone but can’t really think of other ways to market ourselves. We have a website, which few competitors in our area have, as well as awards because our first customer got ‘yard of the month’ twice since we started caring for his lawn but now it seems like were spinning our wheels in the mud. Not gaining but not losing any customers either.

Out of the past 100 flyers handed out, we got 1 call but now it’s drying up so to speak . I am not sure what we are doing wrong and I just don’t know what to do next.”

A second business owner said “you are charging $20 to mow a property that might take two people 1 hour to service? After all your expenses, that’s going to be maybe around $5.00 an hour per person in salary, if not less! No wonder you are not finding the business is able to sustain itself.

You are going to have to charge more for your services. If the customer base in your local neighborhood won’t pay for higher services, why not market your services to higher end properties in your area that will. With better quality, being licensed and insured, and having a more professional appearance, you should be able to stand out from the start ups.

You can also offer a broader range of services the local start up businesses can’t or won’t offer themselves. Services that may have a little higher barrier of entry may help you charge more.

Another thing to consider is marketing the fact that a property you are caring for had won yard of the month! Did you send this photo and short press release to the local paper? What about to the local home owner’s association? How about including it in your flyers? Are you marketing to the neighbors of your current customers? Are you asking your customers for referrals? All of these steps can help you attract more customers.

As you get more calls for estimates, experiment with pricing the jobs higher. At a certain point, you will be able to replace your cheap customers with ones who will pay you what you need to make your business sustainable. Keep at it.”

Order the book “The Lawn Care Business Can Get Dirty, Ugly, And Mean.: Stories Of Survival And Success To Get You Through The Rough Times” today.

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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