There is this desire early in your business path to try and offer as many services as you can to experiment with and see what catches. The down side to this is different services require different skill sets and different equipment. Try taking on some jobs that you don’t know how to perform with the wrong equipment can make you want to give up on your business way too soon. As we will see in this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, it’s best to start small and slow at first and scale up as needed.
One lawn care business owner wrote “I got my cart in front of the horse a bit. I ran an ad on craigslist and got my first yard! I got some other responses and realized that there is more to this than just mowing, edging, and blowing. Are¬† there any general maintenance guidelines that I need to be following? A lot of yards that I am looking at really just look horrid. I know it’s the beginning of the season but I really don’t know what to tell these people. I am hoping to find more customers with currently maintained yards that just want continued maintenance but know I really need to become more well rounded. I need advice on planning maintenance schedules and how and when to do over seed etc. I have experience in tree trimming and removals but I really want to expand out into full landscaping.
There seems to be an art to posting on craigslist. You also need to have low expectations. Everyone on there is cheap cheap cheap so at the very least I try and make myself seem cheap and I seem to be getting leads. I will try to up sell when I get in front of the potential customer to make up for my cheap mowing price. Right now, this is one of the few ways I am getting customers at the moment so I am making the best of it.
I have a pretty low budget. I bought a few rakes for dethatching and am trying to get yards around 1/3 acre. I am hoping I can up sell some dethatching byt I will have to do them by hand until I save up enough to upgrade my equipment.”
A second lawn care business owner said “I would suggest you NOT hand rake. I did that once, when I just started out, and it was a huge pain in the butt!
I’ve only done 2 dethatching jobs. The first one I hand raked with a dethatching rake, and it was just back breaking work. It wasn’t that big of a yard either, probably around 1,500 sq-ft. Just a large front yard really, and it was just painful, and took hours.
I stopped offering that service after that, because I didn’t know how to use the gas powered one, and was a little intimidated by it.
The people at the rental store were very helpful. But I would never do it by hand again. And if you are looking at 1/3 acre? You are already going to be looking at hours of work with a machine.
Aside from that, I would say that if you are just starting out, just start simple and small. Offering basic lawn service. Mow, blow, edge (if you have an edger). That kind of stuff. As you start learning more, and getting more clients, you can expand what you offer. You could (if your area allows) offer to fertilize, overseed, or trim some bushes.
You are going to find a lot of people who just want their yard cut once. But you will also start meeting people who like the idea of just not dealing with mowing, and hire you full time (at least during the high growth season).
Some starting suggestions, since you are asking. Get business cards. Even if they just say ‘John Smith’s Lawn Service.’ While you might not get many people asking, those who do would like to see something professional.
Set up an account at your yard disposal place. At mine, I save $1 from every drop off. Doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up over time. I also get discounts on purchases (of, say, bark).
There is certainly a lot more advice out there, but these are just a couple of the basics. Hope it helps!”
A third shared “if you are going to offer dethatching, see how many of those jobs you can get. If you get several, rent a gas powered dethatcher. Do them all in a day. Divide the cost of rental between the jobs, add labor, and overhead etc…. Don’t kill yourself trying to do this manually, get a machine, it’s easier and does a much better job.”
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.