STARTING A LAWN CARE BUSINESS
I like to think of Lawn care as a “gateway business” because it leads to all kinds of other business opportunities. Its one of those “low barrier to entry” types of businesses that are just so easy to get in and out of.
Many people over look simple service businesses when thinking about starting up a business. While these may require meeting with clients and getting a tan with a little out door work, the start-up costs are minimal and the cash flow is immediate.
I started up and ran a lawn care business, 2 actually. The money is quick, steady and can be substantial depending on how much you want to grow the operation.
Lets start with the money since that is what everybody really cares about. Mowing normal quarter acre lots in my area go for about $30-$40 per mow and with the right gear, one person can cut, trim, edge and blow a yard this size in roughly 30 minutes. If you can get 2 lawns right next door then they can both be done in 40-50 minutes if moving quickly. I was doing about 14 or 15 lawns a day by myself, so that is about $420-$600. That’s like a weeks worth of full time employment in 1 day.
Many guys set about a $300 minimum for the day but that is not hard to beat. A 2 man crew can do much more.
MORE MONEY – ADD ON SERVICES
There is lots of money to be made in a myriad of ways as add-on services. Clients will literally ask you to do all kinds of things which you can choose to do or not do, and don’t be scared to charge what you want to charge. These will include: mulching (very popular), weeding, fertilization (good money), pest control, power washing, interior and exterior painting, deck and fence building and repair, leaf removal, irrigation, rotten wood replacement, carpentry, general handyman work, tree and bush trimming and removal.
Most of these are their own trade in themselves but as you can see, simply mowing a persons lawn opens up all kinds of opportunities. I would recommend mulching and weeding to start out. They are easy to do and good money can be made quickly. Plus its nice to see the work you did after mulching and weeding.
Fertilization is also profitable and very easy to do – although a license is needed before doing it legally. The test costs about $200 or so to obtain the license. Many companies (trugreen, scotts, weedman, etc) focus solely on fertilization and make a killing.
MARKETING – GET THE CLIENTS
Now how to get clients. The best way i’ve found to get clients is to make a website and learn how to get it on the 1st page of google. This will bring you more business then you know what to do with. In reality there is probably very little online competition for lawn care in your area, so I would highly recommend learning how to rank your website yourself in order to avoid all the scams out there … and they will be emailing and calling you. Create a facebook page and a google + page and get rolling. There are tons and tons of website online that can help you learn to do SEO yourself and how to use your social media pages.
After that, I would recommend yelp (hit or miss), facebook ads, google ads (a little pricey but works), angies list, direct mailers and good old door to door flyers or door knocking. I live in the north east so door knocking will be a fruitless labor but I hear that it works elsewhere. The good thing about lawn care is you only need to get that client once. If you take care of them, you may end up servicing that one client for years and years. Lets talk about what you’ll need to get started.
WHAT EQUIPMENT YOU NEED TO START
To get started you will need a small pick-up truck, small lawn mower, trimmer, handheld blower and a blade edger (not necessary but it will make life easier). All equipment can be had new at home depot or lowes for about $700, or use on craigslist for several hundred less. A self propelled mower will be a lot easier to use then a push mower. Kind of goes without saying but I should mention it. Pro grade gear (scag, stihl, snapper, and now toro) is worth the investment if you start doing more and more lawns. This gear is usually lighter, runs better and last longer.
If tanning is not your thing, wearing long sleeves, pants, gloves and a wide brimmed hat will protect your skin from the sun. Mowing equipment can be loud so ear protection is also a good idea – normally in the form of headphones. Lowes makes a cool set that has a built in radio.
LICENSE AND INSURANCE
A local business license will most likely be required to legally begin work. This is usually a quick trip to the local court house and paying a fee in the range of about $30-$50 and is usually valid for 1 year. Business insurance is not really necessary but it can be a good idea to have. I’m not sure what quotes are now but i’d bet they are under $100 per month.
Anyone looking to make quick easy money on the side, or full time should check out lawn care. Its nice to run your own operation and make all the decisions. This kind of business can easily grow into something very profitable.