There are many paths you can take your lawn care business when you want it to grow. You can focus on residential. Or maybe focus on commercial lawn care. Many newer lawn care business owners like to try and get their feet wet in commercial work as soon as they have a few residential customers. But how can you find them? Also how can you find mowing jobs for chuch properties? That is what a member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum wanted to know when he wrote “I am just starting my lawn care business started and am working with a limited budget. I got the essential lawn care equipment and made a few business cards. I will start making flyers in a few days as well. I have been pretty amazed as it is going better than I expected so far. I need some help from here though. I know how to get residential accounts but I am now interested in getting churches and shopping malls (people that actually have the money to pay the bills) as clients. How do I go about contacting these places? What kind of paperwork do I need when biding or estimating for commercial properties?”
One lawn care business owner said “Personally, I have always found churches tough to get strictly for grass cutting. It seems that every church has a congregation member who will do their lawn maintenance at crazy reduced rates. One angle I have found that works is to offer landscaping to the mix. Property beautification (instead of just grass cutting) is appealing to many churches.
I have a good amount of experience bidding larger jobs like what you are targeting. At the beginning of the year if you really want to get the larger scale and more profitable contracts in your area, that is the time to get cracking and contact property management agencies. Get your name on their bidder’s lists. Contact anyone you are seriously interested in having as a client and speak with their purchasing departments. This is normally your first action in getting your foot in the door.”
Another business owner shared about his experience getting churches as customers. “I just put in lawn care bid for a church for $700.00 a month. I will start the job in June once the current contract is up. It’s simple contract for total lawn care. Mowing, edging, weed eating and so on. This year I am focusing on commercial jobs. So far I have two shopping malls, one trucking company, and that church. From here on in I think I’m going to stay with commercial lawn care only.”
“How did you get that church job? Was this a cold call or did you already have a lead? Will your supervisor be a single person or a committee? I swear, I never want to have to get “committee approval” on any other job again. I like for it to be one person who gives me the okay and then signs the purchase order for payment.”
“With the church I dealt with a single person. As for the bid I had cut it in the past while working with another company but the last two times, the owner never payed me. So I went to the church myself and offered my services. I already knew who to contact and how much they were charging so it was a lot easier for me.”
A third lawn care business owner shared his advice when it came to getting into commercial property maintenance. He wrote “Start off small at first. This is very important to keep in mind. When I say small i mean look for smaller commercial sites initially. The fastest way to kill a business is to jump to fast into the large commercial property care end. There are a lot of expenses involved in this and the two biggies that come to mind is PAYROLL and PAYROLL TAXES.
You will also need the capital to carry you through a minimum of 60 days and this means not having any income for that period of time. It all comes straight out of your pocket. If you can’t cover the employee’s salaries while you wait for your invoices to be paid, you won’t have anyone to do the jobs. Don’t ever bank on what you think you will get in the mail, bank on what you have in hand. You never know what may happen between doing the work and getting paid for it.
Then there is the added equipment for the added crews, truck, trailer, Z’s, trimmers, etc.. You can finance all this but you don’t want to over exceed your income. When you finance and your a younger lawn care business operation, you don’t want bank loans for equipment. Instead you should be looking to lease the equipment and use the tax breaks that come along with leasing. You can write off 100% of your lease payments. If you buy, you can only write off a small % of that equipment per year.
Most smart lawn care business owners will lease equipment for 3 years no more than that and buy it out after the lease is up. Keep it for 2-3 more years and then trade it in on a new lease and complete the cycle again. When adding equipment you can put money down on the lease and start a new cycle. Now here is the kicker, if you lease for say 3 years do the 100% write off, buy it out when the lease is up. Keep it for 2 more years minimum before trading in. The depreciation value for tax purposes is a higher % than if you just paid cash or got a loan on it in the beginning.
Most lawn care business owners move equipment every 6-9 years based on the condition of the equipment, which brings up maintenance on equipment and how important it is. If your equipment is in poor condition then the trade in will be low and you will have to sit on it trying to sell it privately and you don’t want that headache.
Starting off small by adding equipment as you go is the best way. This could take realistically 3-5 years to accomplish after you have established a good track record in the residential area. There are exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking this is just how it is.”