Where’s the money in the lawn care industry?

Depending how many competitors you have in your area, making serious money in the lawn care business can be tough if you simply try to go out there and stand out on price. Sometimes a better way to go about things is to offer additional services that your competitors don’t. Such upsell services can really be profitable. Let’s see what members of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum are doing to maximize their profits. Some or all of these ideas may help you expand the services you offer and increase your profits.”

One lawn care business owner wrote “I’m just starting out with my lawn care business. I’ve been going at it now for about a month now. So far, I have grossed about $1,500 in one month. By all means I understand this is nothing to brag about but I’m just trying to give all the relevant information.

I’m willing to offer all kinds of services to my customers. My question though is, what are the top profit producing services? Can somebody give their opinion of the top money making lawn care services?”

A second lawn care business owner suggested “what I would say would be the best thing for you to do right now is focus on offering exceptional work in high end neighborhoods!

As far as the best profit producing services, for me they are new landscape installs, and mowing more efficiently!”

A third shared “landscape installs are awesome. I love installs, and full sod jobs from A-Z. Those are big money jobs. A 2 man crew can do 12K sq.ft. in a little under 12 hours total. BIG BIG MONEY.

The higher end neighborhoods do yield more in profit but, you also have about 80% more bitching, complaining, and call backs to ‘redo’ a job than any other. It can pay off though, and if you’re there ASAP, they tell EVERYONE about you and your services which will bring you even more work.

Clean-Out is another of my big money maker. I consider jobs to be clean-outs if they are large clearing jobs. Usually I can clear 2/3 of an acre in two days by myself.

If you are just starting out, MAKE SURE TO DO ABSOLUTELY AMAZING DETAIL WORK. I mean, lay that weed eater down and make a perfect circle around trees, mail boxes, EVERYTHING. Make sure your areas at the base of trees and out lying fences are CLEAN. Bury the weed eater line and make a nice perimeter around the yard at fence lines and away from plants. I am OCD about detail. It is my way of standing out from other yards with service. My lawns look like a million dollar bill when I leave.”

A fourth said “I think it would be mulch. It’s light to carry, easy to spread, and quick. Also doing dirtwork like putting it against foundations and grading it. I get it for $10 a yard and charge $50 a yard plus delivery to spreading it. I can do 3 yards in half a day and charge $200. Two of these jobs in a day and I gross profit $340 by myself.

If you are limited on equipment, weeding is a big money maker. All you basically need is your hands and trash bags.  Or… How about poop scooping? In my area you can charge $10-15 per lawn to do this. It’s easy and quick.”

A final lawn care business owner said “for me, the most profitable service changes from month to month depending on a host of factors. While excavation is the top profit maker, we have a host of services that require a small investment that yield a very good profit.

  • Pressure Washing - At the moment we have four commercial pressure washing units going four days a week. It’s perfect timing as it’s pretty hot here at the moment. Our city has a large amount of maple trees which cause a black fungus/mold to grow on vinyl siding. We also offer pressure washing Bio Bins and garbage cans while we are on site.
  • Organic Spraying - While we spray some lawns the entire season, April/May/September are the big months.
  • Wood Chipping / Tree Cutting - We do some of this from March to November however the prime months are March to May and September to November due to the cooler temps.
  • Yard Clean ups - Mainly fall, due to the hardwoods and the fact you can not put your leaves out with your garbage. We have two tow commercial leaf collectors that mulch the leaves into powder. We leave in a neat pile and spray with an organic product that is very high in nitrogen to break the leaves down quick into compost.
  • Mowing - This year I have shed the company of all lawn mowing contracts except for private communities and a few very large lots. As we all know, it’s hard to make a living mowing however these properties pay very well, and I do not have to move equipment very often.

We have a lot of other services we offer that make good money but those are the ones that are the core.

The lawns we mow make a profit or I drop them. Over the years I have found they do not make the profit margin other services do. If I do not net a 30% return after expenses but before depreciation and tax, then I do not continue with the service.

To put them in profit order, profit being a percentage of return then

  1. Excavation
  2. Organic Spraying
  3. Wood Cutting and Chipping
  4. Landscaping (sod/seed/top soil/mulch)
  5. Pressure Washing
  6. Clean Up’s
  7. Mowing

Organic spraying is a pretty cheap service to get into and can yield high profits. To start I would suggest getting a backpack sprayers. Backpack sprayers are fine to use for lawns up to 10,000 sq/ft, after that I’d suggest getting a battery operated pull cart unit. The one I use stays charged for about 10 hours.

Organic fertilizer sprayer

Organic fertilizer sprayer

When you get enough accounts, you can’t beat using a tractor with a 3 pt hitch unit. It holds 45 gallons and comes with a 20 foot wand. We can get into pretty much anywhere with them, although some gates pose an issue so we use a backpack or pull unit there.”

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