A new member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum shared with us his experience with running a property management company and why he got out of it in order to focus on his landscaping business. This might help you gain some insight if you were thinking about expanding into property management in the future.
He wrote and gave us the low down. “Hi all, I am 37 years old and run a landscaping business with around 30 customers so far. I have two trucks with plows on them. They are both older models but they work great.
I only really use 1 for now and am saving the other for back up or if I get more snow plow clients. I focus more on residential customers than commercial. I keep my billing simple and charge by the minute .$1.00 per minute, per man and $.45 for each pound of salt spread.
I had gotten my start running a property management business. I was managing local rental properties for out of state owners. But the thing I didn’t consider when getting that business started was the amount of constant phone calls and pressure these customers put on me. It made me hate it.
So as I sat there, trying to find something else to do, I took stock in what I had. I had all these properties that I was managing and included in my management service was mowing their lawns and removing snow. I put two and two together and came up with a new business model. I quit the property management business and started landscaping. It has been more laid back and less stressful.”
That sounds like you made the right move for you. What kinds of things have you been doing to promote your business?
“To market my services I was initially going by word of mouth at first. Later I was using craigslist, door hangers, and flyers that I sent to real estate & property management companies. I also offered an incentive to all my existing customers. If they refer me a new lawn care account, they get a one time service for free. Either snow plowing or mowing.
I’ve noticed that word of mouth brings me the best results. I make sure I do the best job I can for the customer and that gets them talking to others they know. One of the big mistakes I made this year trying to attract new lawn care customers is when I actually took a $2,000 loss over the summer on a landscape job. I under bid it trying to impress a customer who had 45 other properties in the area, but it didn’t pan out. Oh well live and learn. I’ll never do that again. Always charge the price you need.”
What advice do you have for others considering to offer property management services?
“My advice to other lawn care business owners looking to expand into property management is to stay away from it. But if you really want to try and make a go of it, keep these thoughts in mind:
A)You will need a real estate license.
B) The phone calls are non stop and you HAVE to get them, no machines.
C) Owners with real run down houses will want top rent for them.
D) Tenants are hard to track down for the rent.
E) Going to court for evictions is such a headache.
Stay with lawn care and you will feel a lot less stressed.”