It’s tough enough making it through your first year with your lawn care business during the mowing season, but when winter rolls around, the lack of income can wipe you out. There are steps you can take to improve your odds of getting through your first season or two as we see here in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. Once you are past your first few winters, your ability to survive financially through your slow season should improve dramatically.
One lawn care business owner wrote “well things just keep taking strange twists around here. My wife got laid off last week. This really sucks especially right now where I’m going into my slow season (Winter).
I sat here last night crunching the numbers and it is not looking good. I think I may have to take on a part time or temporary full time job for the winter. But I will need something with flexible hours so that I can do snow removal when it snows as I already have 7 snow plow customers signed up. I knew when I started this whole venture that it would be a difficult start but this year has really seemed to have given me a few hard hits. But I’m not down yet.
After some thought I decided to sign up for a winter job I have had in the past. I start with November doing holiday lighting installs. I worked with them before for three years and really liked the work. I skipped last year as I was concerned with their safety record but they have changed all that and upgraded the safety training and gear. I will be going on as a supervisor so not as much roof work for me. It should be mostly layout and paper work stuff. This should get me through until the end of January with take down and then I can relax for February and then back at in the lawn care game come March doing cleanups etc.”
A second lawn care business owner said “I think it is pretty common for small lawn care company owners to have to take on a part time or full time job during the down season during the first couple of years.
I would never rely on snow removal to keep myselfÂ going in the winter as you just never know for sure what is going to happen. I have seen many winters that I never plowed my driveway, last winter I only dropped my plow three or four times.
Hang in there, keep at it, and it will get better.”
A third shared “I’m just like most others in this industry as well. I started my company in the summer and now the season is coming to an end pretty quickly. I am in the middle of job hunting but at the same time I am starting my October promotion in hoping that with enough success from this promotion, I might not have to work another job and completely focus on my company.
People have been asking me how the business is going and I optimistically say ‘great’ but really I don’t know what ‘great’ is because I have nothing to compare it with. Back when I started the company, I set goals every month to meet them. In June, I wanted to pick up 5 lawn care customers and I got 4. In July I set my sights on 5 more and I ended with 13. August was aimed at 10 and ended with 10 and September was set for 7 and ended with 12. So since the company opened I have about 39 or 40 customers. Around 14 of those customers came through a local Real Estate company and they all signed up for snow removal. Even if I get a few more customers, I would still need more to live through the winter.
What I am doing now is promoting myself through word of mouth, contacts, and social networks. If customers sign up for next year contracts now, more than likely I can sell them on my medium package which include snow removal. The contract starts Nov to Nov and payment for the contracts will be broken down to 12 monthly payments. If I can get 10 of those contracts signed up for next seasons, in next 30-45 days, I will have income coming in through the winter to help me make it through.
The moral of the message is to start reaching out and selling next year’s contracts now. Sell packages that have snow removal service in it, if you can depending on where you live. With that package you can start collecting payments in the winter if you live in a northern climate. Also breaking down the contract payments to 12 months increments is better than only getting paid 6 months out of the year.”
A fourth responded “this is how I get through the winter months here in a warmer climate. I am a fifth year business owner and have about 65-70 lawn care customers now. This year I put my clients on a twelve month agreement where they pay me every month for the work I’ve done all year. This works great for me because some months I don’t do anything but in the summer I don’t get paid all up front either. The extra income from the contracted clients helps a lot.
I service about 10 - 15 clients who hire me to over seed with rye grass. This keeps me and my equipment in shape and requires mowing each week thru the year. I also install Christmas lights October through December. It’s very lucrative work for the 6-8 weeks and beats the hell out of snow plowing. We never get snow so I would have starved if I waited for any snow. Many new companies are hanging lights now, but I tend to keep all my clients because my work is reasonably priced and with my electrical experience it is done right. Not everyone can hang lights with out issues.
Warranty work will kill your profit if you don’t know what you are doing and it could burn the house down which I think keeps a lot of people away from the high end clients. Offering such services has saved me a lot of stress through the winter months. Hopefully this year I will double my client base and convert half of them to regular lawn customers next spring.
Good luck to all the newbies after the first two years it should get easier.”
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.