Here is a great discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum that talks about business growth. Some entrepreneurs look for hyper growth, where each year their company grows by leaps and bounds. But as we will see from some veterans of the industry, slower growth can give you time to build a longer lasting company.
One lawn care business owner wrote “for my 3rd year of business I want to profit $100,000. The past two years have been decent but we are not even at $50,000. Call me crazy but with my drive and work ethic and my partners drive/work ethic, I know we can do it. We are both 20 but I would like to succeed with this business, if I can’t we are both moving on.
Here is what I have so far for equipment:
- Two commercial Honda walk behinds. (Most likely buying a third)
- 5×7 Trailer
- FS45, FS110, Straight Troy built
- Stihl 600 and handheld stihl blower
- Misc. tools: trimmers, rakes, etc.
- Ford Ranger (Which is current truck) but I am planning on buying a Ford F150 or 250 long bed for space, racks, etc. and to be main work truck
The past two years we have done residential lawn mowing with a few coffee shops. We have had some big projects (bark, rock, landscaping, sprinklers, weed whacking 2.5 miles of trail and new developments are some of the projects we took on this year.) We also work with a preservation company every 12-14 days during summer and take on whatever lawns they give us (anywhere from 15 to 30 per trip).
Advertising: We do lots of flyers when we can, use Craigslist, and I am currently working on a website and posting on online directories to get our name out on the web. Also focusing on building lots of word-of-mouth.
Now I know what I am shooting for is high. The past two years has been two workers, myself and someone else, sometimes a third when needed. Next year, the plan is for me to basically run the business and get business 24/7 while two guys are out doing weekly lawn care, clean ups, etc. I will work when we get packed or take on a landscaping project.
Are there any tips from you guys on what I can do to achieve my goal? What kind of things should I watch out for or try to focus on this year? Is this feasible? How are you guys doing with your profits?
Any advice or comments are appreciated. Good or bad.”
A second lawn care business owner shared “at your age I think you are getting way to ahead for yourself. It takes years to put together a money making machine and it takes years to learn how to do that. I applaud your drive because that is one of the most important aspects of being a business owner, but patience is also key.
If you are looking to build something up to turn it around and sell it to move on to something else, I’d suggest you do that something else now. Otherwise it’s a marathon not a horse race. All the effort you put into it now while your young will pay dividends when you are older and more established. All of what you go through now will educate you and make you better.
I have been doing this since for over 20 years and I always made a buck but it took until I was in my mid 30’s to figure out how to make real money. You should be happy that in this economy, in your 2nd year, you grossed $50,000. Right now I would suggest evaluate what you have equipment wise and determine how much more it can do. You also need to increase your work load and focus on specific area’s and promote yourself with flyers and talk to people. Walk into some property management companies and bring with you some literature, cards, and introduce yourself. Tell them about your business and let them know if they need a new contractor to not hesitate in giving you a try.
Also try to do what you have in the most efficient way possible with the least time and cost. If you can cut payroll and do it yourself as well as take care of business, then do that.
I had to work a night job as well as take on a winter job in the early years.
It may take longer than you plan but if you show progress each year and are further along then you were the year before, you are doing all right.
Don’t put too much into the experts and their 3 to 5 year make or break period because most of these experts never started a landscape business and have no clue how fierce the competition is. Another thing to keep in mind is that landscapers get paid today what they got 20 years ago for their work!
With that said, it is still a lucrative business but it takes time and a lot of effort and the only way to make money is by increasing volume. This usually results in needing more equipment which in the end all revolves around you marketing your business in the best and most efficient way.
Get the work and everything else will follow if you play it smart. When you are making money everything else is so much easier.”
A third added “when running a lawn care and snow removal business you need to grow slow not Fast. Growing too fast will put your business in the ground. I have seen 2 company’s in my area do so.
Some lawn care marketing tips I have are to use yard signs as they are cheap and people see them all the time. At first I did not like to this but it does help. I ask people where did you see my name and the first year I did the signs, 3 people said the yard signs in someone’s yard. They cost me $15.00 per sign. I put 4 up in my town and that’s it. It has made me $2,350.00 from just those 3 people I did work with. Now they have made me more customers but that was just the one year doing business with those 3 people.
Getting a website out there is a great thing. Make sure if you make it, you play around with the search engine optimization. It takes a lot of time to make. Make sure you find yourself on the big search engines Google.
A great thing that is helping me right now is networking. I network with other local business owners. We all get together and pass referrals around and talk about our business.
Make sure you put ads in the paper if you are in a smaller town. This will help. Most older folks will look at that paper and find your ad in it. If they need help, they will call you.
All in all I think if you want to be in the lawn care business you need to grow you business up slower.”
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