Why do most lawn care businesses fail? I see this question posted quite a bit on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. Sure there are many answers or reasons why, but I thought this response really nailed some key issues that are very important to keep focused on. As you read it, you may think, surely these aren’t the REAL reasons why, but you would be amazed to watch how quickly a business can implode upon itself when it doesn’t keep up with all the office issues.
One lawn care business owner wrote “I have been running my lawn care and landscaping company for over a decade now. Currently I have 80 residential properties, 25 commercial properties, and do all of the lawn care for the US Forest Service in this ranger district. Lawn care maintenance is what we are best know for, however we are getting more and more into the landscape maintenance and construction. We run three, two man crews. One landscape maintenance and 2 crews for lawn care maintenance.
Each year, I see many start up lawn care businesses fail. If I were able to sit down with them and offer 5 pieces of advice, I feel my suggestions would be able to help them get past the points where so many mess up and fail.
Here is a list of the top 5 reasons why I think so many fail.
1) Lack of commitment. At the start of every mowing season you see so many people with trailers, and mowers in the back of their truck. So many hopeful lawn care business especially young people. As the spring/summer goes on you see less and less of them. By the end of the mowing season only the committed are left standing, and even fewer make it to the start of the next season. If you are going to start it, then be committed and build it.
2) Lack of preparation. There is a lot of work that goes into running an effective business. I spend hours of work preparing every year. I prepare for the coming season months before the grass is even green and our mowers get started. You have to build your foundation and prepare. Develop a plan, know where your going, and at least have an idea on how you might get there.
3) No structure. Too many start up lawn care business owners don’t have structure, they don’t take the time to get an accounting system in place, they don’t get permits, don’t research laws and ordinances, they don’t set up accounts, they don’t schedule right, they don’t get the proper insurance/coverage, and most of all they work when they feel like it. If there are no lawns to mow today, they think, well I’ll take off. Instead of saying, no lawns to mow today, well I’ll go find one to mow. No structure not only means, setting up you business to have structure but you must have structure yourself as a business owner.
4) I want it all right now attitude. Too many new start up lawn care business owners want the big trailer, new truck, new ZTR mowers, the back pack blowers, the big walk behinds. They over spend, get huge loans, put themselves in a hole to start out with, and more often than not, fail because of it. Instead why not start out slow. Get used equipment, an older truck, older trailer, etc, etc. Get the jobs first. Do the jobs. Get paid for the jobs. Save from the jobs and buy as you can when you can to reinvest back into your company. You don’t have to have it all right now.
5) Professionalism. New equipment, uniforms, all the prep work, all the office management skills, and all they advertising dollars you want to spend will not help you be successful if you don’t conduct yourself and business in a professional manner. Be polite, be on time, be helpful, call people back, be clean/neat, and most of all conduct yourself in a professional manner.
Image and reputation is everything. A reputation takes years to build and 1 day to tear it down. If you always conduct yourself in a professional manner, you will do well in my opinion.
Why do so many businesses fail? Well I feel it’s due to internal issues mainly. Office management problems lead to many business failures. Lack of accounting and a paperwork system. Not taking care of your accounting and paperwork. Not keeping up with and paying your bills. Not keeping good records. Not keeping up with expenses.
Office management is a must. Some get so wrapped up in doing the jobs, but put off doing the paper work to keep up with everything. I can remember at first mowing all day till dark, coming home and doing the paper work till I went to bed. There was years of that. Even though now I don’t do as much mowing myself, it is still the paper work that keeps me up at night long after the mowing crews go home. Do YOUR paper work and keep up with your records. I know this was a long lesson but each point is very important.”
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