Raising prices as your mowing schedule fills.

Everyone landscaper dreams of hitting the big time as soon as possible. Of having so many lawn care customers, you don’t know what to do with them all. Of growing growing at leaps and bounds so fast that local competitors sit their scratching their heads wondering what you did to achieve that. Here is some great insight, from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, how one entrepreneur handled growth and was able to pay for it.

One lawn care business owner wrote “rainy season is back and the lawns are growing with a vengeance again. I’ve been working 9-10 hr days in the field and still can’t keep up! I have 3 landscape estimates / designs waiting to be done, 2 homes to do complete trimming / pruning clean ups, and about a day and a half worth of lawns to mow. I can’t believe it’s already friday. I am exhausted.

The phones are still ringing too with new lawn maintenance clients. I am at the point where I am pretty well booked up so I have raised my prices in the past month because I can’t and honestly don’t want to land ALL of these new people as customers. It’s insane. I am thankful to be busy. I must have something going right for me as they are still signing up!

As far as advice to the new guys, all I can say is that people are willing to pay a little more for quality and reliability so don’t sell yourself short.

I am up about 8-10% over pricing a few months ago. I do want some new customers to fill out my mowing schedule, which I am about at capacity and then a few more so I can decline to renew agreements with a few PITA customers and slow payers from last year.

I currently have 2 employees now and so we run a 3 man team. As far as employees go, in a lawn mowing operation here is what I have found….

  • A 1 man owner running solo is the best $$ per man hour.
  • 2 men is a good happy medium. Each man hour is fairly profitable and you can move faster.
  • 3 man teams can FLY all day long and keep that pace up for a 9-10 hour day if you rotate out the guy on the line trimmer to give them a break. Less fatigue thus a steadier pace all day long. Though, when you figure that because you got more done, you have used more fuel, miles on the trucks, and hours on the gear etc. The 3rd guy rarely (unless your day goes perfect… no mechanical delays or estimates with really talkative people..) covers much more than his labor costs in additional revenue.

I am at the point where without the 3rd team member I can’t keep up, but I’m not quite ready to roll out crew #2 yet. So that’s where I am at there. If you are running BIG properties, gated communities etc. then the story is a little different and 3 men are more profitable that way. Drive time is the supreme enemy with this configuration. You gotta keep blades on grass or the labor will eat you alive.

I am at the capacity of what 1 truck can feasibly do with up to 3 members on the team.
I blew past 1 man capacity over a 14 months ago. Then I hired a helper, and quickly blew past one mower capacity 12 months ago. Then I added a 2nd lawn mower. Even with 2 machines, 2 guys couldn’t keep up, so we added a 3rd guy 11 months ago.

Next step up is a 2nd truck, trailer, mowers, and at least 2 more employees. That’s a damn big step! So that is the threshold I’m trying to reach and why my prices are heading up.

This is strategy though is going to vary for everyone. Nobody and I mean nobody runs their business the exact same way as anyone else. Some are more cautious while others are more aggressive when it comes to growth. Some are priced to land the high end customer and can perform quality mows,while some are low ballers incapable of great quality due to their equipment and lack of experience.

As far as how many customers I have on annual contracts, I prefer a nice 50/50 split of contract clients versus pay per cuts. In the summer you do more work and thus have higher expenses, so it’s nice to have the extra cash flow from those per mow clients who spend more in the summer and less in the winter. In the winter you need those monthly agreements to survive the slow months, so it’s important to have some signed up.

As far getting a 2nd mowing truck going, I had really planned to do just that this spring. But to be honest I think I have been growing boarder line too damn fast this year so I held back. I decided to put big growth in neutral this season and let the bottom line catch up a bit. Growing fast is fine but when you do it, you are re-investing every dime and counting on the future profits way too much. I would rather sit back use this summer to filter out a few clients, get myself better organized, get an actual employee handbook together, and be ready to gear up bigger next year if I feel the timing is right and I have the proper funding to do it”

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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