Having a large local social network can be a real asset when it comes to starting up a new business. As we will see from this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, a new entrepreneur was pleasantly surprised when his first few customers came to him through word of mouth, even before he bought his first lawn mower.
One lawn care business owner wrote “I haven’t even officially started yet, and I already have 2 mowing accounts with a possible 3rd already lined up. I’m still planning, pricing equipment, figuring costs, and all that. I have 4 more people I’m going to give quotes to next week and I don’t even have a mower yet! Plus I lined up 4 snow removal accounts.
Of course I have mentioned my new business to my family. They tend to talk at work, as all people do, and from the word of mouth they created, at least three people have mentioned to family members that they are unhappy with their current service and would like to give me a try. I have since talked to each and gave them an estimate on mowing, trimming and blowing, the basic service.
I asked about spring clean up and 1 of them said no, they enjoy doing that part of the job because it’s spring and it’s a nice project and it’s good to be outside after the long winter, but they hate the weekly maintenance. The others said yes on the spring clean up.
This is pretty cool, I didn’t even have to do anything for my first clients! That really takes the biggest pressure off that I feel I was facing, getting my first client.
When my sister has her yearly neighborhood garage sale coming up soon, we’re going to set up a table with free donuts and coffee and hand out our business cards and fridge magnets to people.
I’m planning my business, I’m working my regular job full time, and I’m going to school full time, plus I have been training for a half marathon I have to run this Sunday. All in all though, I feel like I am doing good so far. It’s all motivational. I’m kind of feeling like a kid a couple days before Christmas!”
A second lawn care business owner said “here are some lessons I learned through my first year in business. I would make sure those new customers sign a contract / service agreement. You should have seen how surprised I was when I showed up to mow my very first customer’s lawn and there was another company there. I signed them up during a fall clean up but come spring I was forgotten.
When it comes to pricing jobs, if you are inexperienced at bidding, I would suggest you go a few bucks higher than what your gut is telling you. Early on I looked at yards and thought I’d be done with a yard cleanup in less then 4 hours when the job actually took 10. Surprisingly that was a small yard. Working around hedges doubles the amount of time you need. I find it faster to do a big wide open yard than a compact yard with bushes. I would base your time off using a rake. Then use your blowers, vacs whatever you got. The rake does work the best but it takes the longest.
If you can charge by the hour and by the dump. Then you can figure it from there. I know a lot of people who don’t like per hour estimates but it can really save your but, especially early on.
Getting customers through word of mouth is really ideal. If you can continue to generate buzz as you are doing now, that will keep the amount of time and money needed to be spent on marketing to a minimum.”
A third shared “if you’re in a populated area/city, you’ll be fine. There are plenty of people who want someone to do their lawn work for them.
I may use a service agreement next season. I found one on the forum and I modified it to suit my needs, but never actually implemented it. I’ve been lucky enough to have excellent clients so far who don’t need the threat of a $20 fee for not cleaning up their dog poop ahead of time - they just do it. Late payment charge? 99.9% of my clients have their payment ready when I arrive on site and the ones who forget sometimes toss in an extra $5 for my trouble when I need to stop back for it.
Where I did have problems was with estimating my leaf cleanups. I learned it’s not a bad idea to at least do a few of them your first season to get a feel for things. I say this because when my first fall came, I was all geared up for leaf removal but I really didn’t know what to expect. I never had to deal with leaves before.
I didn’t know how long it would take to clean up a yard, what to charge, what method worked best. When I did my first real leaf work I had to clean up 7 properties, mostly small ones, but one had lots of obstacles like shrubs and fencing that made it take a lotÂ longer than I had anticipated. I think it took me two and a half hours and I only charged $35. That was my initial estimate - assuming a 30 min job and I stuck to it.
All the other leaf cleanups I did in my first year just needed me to blow the leaves to the curb with the understanding that I’d be back a few more times before the final cleanup. This worked for me because I could learn as I went. I did a bunch of small clean ups through out fall and didn’t get stuck with one massive cleanup all at once.”
Read more about Lawn Care Business Bidding Tips, Upsells, And Disasters To Avoid. Learn how to improve your bidding process with this book and be prepared before hand by knowing what you should be looking out for before a problem occurs.