How did my first year in the lawn care business go?

Have you made it through your first year running your lawn care business? If so, how do you feel you did? That is what one entrepreneur was wondering when he asked for advice on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the job he was doing, or the amount of customer he attracted that was the problem. It appeared the way he was categorizing his employee was a matter he needed to investigate further before he found himself in trouble with the IRS.

One lawn care business owner wrote “where I live in Ohio, my mowing season started in early April. This was my first season as an official business.

When things started to pick up mid-season, I began to get backlogged so I contracted someone out to help. I decided to do this so I didn’t have to pay worker’s comp, SS, or any of that. I worked with him for a while this season and his work output is great. It was well worth the money. That was the first major decision of running my business and it turned out well.

I ended the season with 25 residential accounts and a couple of commercial accounts. Next year I want to double that amount of residential lawn mowing accounts and add more small commercial accounts. I feel like I am one step ahead of the local competition, because a lot of them do all kinds of odd jobs. They know the basics of mowing, but aren’t into knowing more. They just do the work to get it done. Mow, blow and go.

To differentiate myself from them, I bought an edger attachment and have been using it on new lawns to get them looking better as soon as the customer signs up with me. Next year, I’m planning on edging driveways and sidewalks regularly on all my mowing jobs.

As a test, I sent out 30 lawn care marketing postcards to residences in my area. I got 3 calls from them and got one job. The customer liked that I edged his lawn and said he would stick with me for the rest of the year. So that paid itself off. Referrals have done wonders. I had a local car insurance branch call me to mow their lawn thanks to the referral of a friend of a friend. A few days later, an insurance agent at that facility, called me to mow her home lawn. It is an easy yard to mow and that was easy money.

I asked who referred her to me and it was 3 or 4 people! Two of them hired me to clean their gutters. If they liked me that much, for a tiny job like that, can you imagine how much they will like me when I show up to mow their lawn and I also edge it! Word of mouth is by far the best. But postcards seem to help get the word out.

I know everyone says it is more important to send out a smaller amount of postcards to the same group of home owners and hit them multiple times throughout the year than it is to send out one large mailing. I would have sent out more postcards but I felt overwhelmed with all that I was learning throughout the year.

Next year I will get a better handle on my marketing. My plan is to send out 6 different groupings of postcards to the same 300 or more residences. I will see what type of response I get from that and scale it up as needed.”

A second lawn care business owner said “you seem to have done pretty good in your first year. My only concern is how you are handling your lawn care employee. You can’t really contract out an employee in order to avoid paying social security and workman’s comp, etc. You had better read up on the rules that differentiate an employee from a sub-contractor. Make sure you are using the proper category.

The downside to what you are doing is, you are making what sounds like an employee pay their own additional taxes that you should have been withholding. If they put a call into the IRS about you, you could get yourself into trouble. Why bother with doing this?

It is better to do things right from the beginning and then know what your true costs are to operate your business. From there, you can properly bid your mowing jobs to make the appropriate profit level.

Beyond that, keep making your lawn care customers happy and they will pass your name around to their friends.”

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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