Pushing your lawn care business through that initial dip.

To get your lawn care business started, it really doesn’t take much. In fact if you just one day decided to tell your friends that you started your lawn care business, then in a sense you are started. That easy, that simple. However, to actually turn it into a profitable business that you and your family can survive off of, takes a lot more work than that.

I think quite a few new business owners take some initial simple steps and consider themselves in business but they quickly come upon their first dip. What is that? It’s where things slow and don’t seem to be running as fast as their expectations are. It’s where they hand out 1,000 door hangers and get no responses. It’s where they see their bills start to stack up and their income not catch up. Then most every new business owner sits there alone, scratches their head and wonder what the heck am I doing.

This is a topic that was brought up on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum along with some great advice on how to push forwards. A lawn care business owner wrote “I know costs are up & everything is expensive as hell.
but I am going insane. Business is so good I’m now turning them away unless they are ideal clients & looking for annual lawn care service. I’m getting ready to start dropping many of my pay per mow clients. I’ve gained 40 new lawn care customers in the last 60 days. One of which is a new development with 15 homes & all common areas. The entrance, around the gates, sidewalks, & around the lake.

I’ll do more gross business this week than I did in all of January & almost as much as I did in December & January combined! My business is just over a year old and the snowball has just recently gained momentum. I can’t seem to slow it down! I charge fair prices. I do NOT LOWBALL! I am realizing you need to offer the best damn service you can provide. That is the way to go.

I will be adding a 3rd guy to the crew starting tommorrow. I’m currently running 18-22 lawns a day with 2 of us (and doing a nice job, no mow & go service here). Each day we have at least some trimming to do at each stop. I can’t wait to see what we are capable of as a 3 man team! Up until two and a half months ago it was just me last Summer & Fall. I was busy,then it slowed down during the winter. I was getting a bit concerned then but man has it just exploded going into this season.”

Another lawn care business owner shared in his struggle to find such success when he wrote “congrats on all your success. Man it must be nice. I am trying to get my lawn care business going but there just seems to be so many low-ballers out there. I have not broken down and lowered my prices yet, but man, it seems like there are so many guys out there who are mowing for beer money. These outfits out there makes it tough on the guy starting out who pays for the proper licenses, insurance, taxes and does a real good job. Every lawn care customers I have seem to be cutting back to bi-weekly mowings. Sorry for blabbing but I guess I am just frustrated. I have only been at it for two months now. I have 12 bi-weekly’s mowing customers, two small commercial customers, and a property management company. Still with all that I am starving, ugg. What am I missing?”

In response, the original lawn care business owner shared his advice. “I know it’s tough starting out. In the beginning I accepted the bi-weekly lawn customers too. Working harder for some money was better than sitting home for no money. Some of those bi-weeklys from last year eventually went weekly & then became annual customers of mine this year. Some I dropped when they declined to at least go to a weekly per cut. There are a few biweeklys I kept if they were next to or across the street from another customer of mine but I charge 1.5x normal rate for bi-weekly service.

When customers ask me to only service bi-weekly I would say ‘ma’am $30 is our weekly rate during the growing season, the grass grows too fast to service bi-weekly. If you insist on that service frequency I charge it as a cut & a half. After all it will take me nearly twice as long since I am cutting & mulching twice the grass growth, However it does save me a trip here so I do not charge double. I understand your need to save money, but I’ve got to cover my additional expenses for the amount of time & fuel it will take & for the additional wear & tear on belts, blades, & pullies.’ After I say this, I stick to it and it has worked for me.

I’ve had customers say ‘but you’ve got that huge machine that can plow thru anything! why do you need to charge me more?’ I answered ‘yes my machine can make it through about anything because I spend $8 grand per machine to buy professional quality gear that has a long life expectancy under normal use. Mowing high grass all the time is not normal use & will cause breakage & a shortened service life.’ People tend to cringe at the thought of $8,000 for a mower & he did, so I continued. ‘If you think that’s bad yo should see the repair bills for it, or the bills for the fuel such a monster consumes.’

I won’t back down. Business is business, personal is personal. Befriend your customers & build repoir personally. Then help them understand & respect you as a professional. Everything is as expensive for you as it is for them. Your fuels, electric, water, tv, phones, are just as ridiculous as theirs. You need to turn a profit to surive, or the great price for them will only last until you run yourself out of business because you tried to be too nice. Your in business to make money, not to cut grass. That just happens to be how you make money. I’ve told potential clients ‘listen I don’t need the practice here. I’m not providing a service to break even at the end of the day.’

Consider this advice when you are finding yourself stuck in a dip and looking for a way to push forwards.

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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