If you’ve been mulling over ideas to forge a successful career in the outdoors then you may have considered starting a lawn care business. There’s a huge demand for this type of work since so many homeowners lead busy lives that limit the amount of time they have to tend to their gardens. But knowing how to start a lawn care business involves quite a few things so here’s our handy guide that contains everything you need to know.
From getting the right equipment to setting prices and finding a client base; there’s a lot to think about when starting a lawn care business. But don’t let that put you off. Simply follow these steps and you’ll be on the road to success in no time.
Step 1: Decide what lawn care services to offer
One of the most obvious services that you’ll offer is naturally going to be mowing. Most homeowners are looking for at least this type of work when hiring a lawn care company. However, this is far from being the only type of work you’ll offer.
For example, during the autumn, you might offer scarifying or aerating services and when winter rolls around and lawn care is a little trickier, you could offer seasonal service such as snow removal. Here are some other things that you might wish to consider to expand your business.
- Mulching and fertlization
- Weeding and general tidying
- Installing turf
- Planting lawns, plants and other things
- Eco-friendly services
- Selling lawn care products
It is worth noting that the types of service you offer will impact how much you have to invest in the business. Someone that only offers mowing services will need to buy far less equipment than someone who offers a wider range of gardening services.
That said, it is worth looking at where the demand lies in your area. Some places may have a current boom in people wanting new lawns installed; make the most of this and add this service to your repertoire.
Step 2: Set up a legal lawn care business
Running a business comes with all kinds of responsibilities. One of these is ensuring that you are operating within the confines of the law. Perhaps one of the most obvious things in this area is looking at tax. If you are going to be employing other people then you will need a federal tax ID as well as creating a business entity such as an S Corp or LLC. However, if you’re going to operate as an individual then this isn’t necessary. Although, you can set up an LLC if you would like to keep your personal and business aspects separate.
In some areas, you may be required to obtain a licence for certain jobs like applying chemicals to the garden. It’s important to check with your local authority to see what is required of you.
Step 3: Buy lawn care equipment
We would recommend buying your equipment after you have set up your business and found out where the demand lies. If your business isn’t likely to be successful, there’s very little point in investing a lot of money. Try to obtain a client base first, get some bookings in your diary and then go out to buy your equipment.
Whatever you buy, it is essential to make sure that you are easily able to buy replacement parts or get servicing as you don’t want to be out of action. Moreover, it’s wise to look for equipment that comes with an extended warranty.
When it comes to buying equipment, there are a lot of different tools you might need but this will vary depending on the services you offer. However, for the most versatile business, you might consider buying the following:
- Lawn Mower – petrol lawn mowers are far preferable for commercial purposes than an electric or battery powered mower.
- Weed eater (check out my buying guide here)
- Lawn Edger (I suggest a gas powered model)
- Leaf blower (consider getting a trimmer blower combo)
- Safety glasses
- PPE such as goggles, gloves and ear defenders
- Lawn bags
- A large vehicle or trailer to take your equipment from job to job.
How much money do you need to start a lawn care business?
The great thing about starting a lawn care business is that you won’t need to invest quite as much money as you would when starting up other types of business. However, what you spend will largely depend on what you need to buy. The most expensive piece of equipment will be your truck, although some people may already have one so this cost doesn’t need to be included.
You will need to factor in the cost of your equipment, which has a low startup cost compared to a lot of other businesses. Ideally, you’ll want enough to buy:
- Commercial lawn mower: $4,000 – $8,000
- Weed eater: $200 – $400
- A Trailer: $1,000 – $2,000
- Additional equipment: $1,000
- Licensing, insurance etc: $100 – $200
Most lawn care businesses cost from $8,000 – $12,000 in order to get started.
Step 4: Price your lawn care services
Once you have made your initial investment, the next step is to figure out how you’re going to earn that money back. This involves coming up with a realistic price for your lawn care services which can be difficult if you’ve never done it before. But, it’s not as challenging as you might think when you break it down. You will need to think about the following things in order to come up with suitable prices.
- Look at what competitors are charging for similar services. You don’t want to charge much higher than this as people will go with the more affordable option. However, don’t be tempted to price your services too low in the hope that people will be attracted to the bank friendly cost. This could have the opposite effect and make people wonder what’s wrong with your service for the price to be so low.
- Also think about who your target customer will be. If you’re going to offer commercial services, you’ll likely be able to get away with charging a little more whereas domestic clients will be after a better deal.
- It can be easy to set your initial prices based on how much you’ll invest in the business to start with. However, you have to consider that you’ll constantly be having to put money into the business and these costs will need to be factored into your fees.
- Think about how you will charge for your services. Some people charge an hourly rate whereas others offer a particular service for a set price. The latter is more common within lawn care but it’s totally up to you how you operate.
- Don’t forget to allow yourself a profit; that’s the whole point of running a business. You cannot simply charge based on what it costs you to do the job. Make sure that you add on enough of a profit to pay your wages and those of any employees as well as leaving some to further invest down the line.
How much do lawn care businesses make?
The amount of money you make when starting a lawn care business will depend on how many clients you get and how much effort you put into your business. However, according to UpFlip, most lawn care businesses will earn up to $50,000 in their first year.
After this, the same research shows that, when successful, a lawn care business could earn in excess of $250,000 annually.
However, this number will vary depending on a number of factors including:
- How many clients you have
- How often you work
- The services you offer
- The area you live in
The best profit margin is gained by those who offer additional services such as landscaping, tree trimming, lawn aeration etc. 20-30% is the ideal good profit margin as this will give you flexibility when negotiating with new clients.
Step 5: Find clients and grow your client base
The final step is to find clients and grow your business. There are a few ways you can find potential customers:
Print flyers and business cards – One of the easiest and most successfully proven ways of advertising a business is to use flyers. But it’s no use just handing out a few; you’ve got to think big. The more you hand out, the more return you will see but do think about where you’ll post flyers. You don’t want to distribute them too sparsely and have to spend most of your working day travelling. Choose a locality and stick within this.
Start posting on social media – Modern businesses know the power of social media so running ad campaigns on things like Facebook and Instagram is a great way to attract new clients. TikTok is a brilliant tool especially for businesses like this as you can make short films of your work and include a link to book a job. Through the use of hashtags, you can reach your target audience more easily.
Design a logo – People interact with businesses that they are familiar with which is why it’s really important to have good brand awareness. The simplest way to do this is to create a logo; you’ll include this everywhere – your website, your business cards, your invoices, your flyers and on other promotional materials. Before long, this will become a recognisable symbol within the local area and when someone wants lawn care services, your brand will pop into their mind.
Build a website – A website is a great way to promote your business and attract new customers. Be sure to include your contact information, as well as a list of services you offer.
Network through word of mouth – Do make sure that you also use your existing customers to attract new clientele. By ensuring excellent customer service and a high quality standard of work, your clients will likely refer you to their friends and family. Moreover, if you ask clients to leave reviews on Google, your website and social media, this is an amazing way to boost your reputation.
Get involved in your community – Getting involved in your community is a great way to promote your business and attract new customers
Advertise online or in local newspapers/magazines – You can reach a wider audience by advertising online or in local newspapers and magazines.
Ask for reviews – Reviews can help you attract new customers and grow your business. Be sure to ask your satisfied customers to leave a review on your website, social media pages or Google My Business profile.
Business and Client Location
As we have already mentioned, choosing the right location for your business is important if you don’t want to spend half your time travelling. When you’re travelling, you’re not earning. A lot of people will run their lawn care business from home but you might decide to hire out a premises purely for business.
It really doesn’t matter which you choose as long as the business base is within easy reach of your clients. Having your business close to transport links such as an Interstate is ideal if you do need to travel further.
Advantages of running a lawn care business
If you’ve dreamed of starting a lawn care business then you’ve probably already cooked up a ton of reasons why it is a good idea. And it’s true, there are a whole range of advantages to setting up this type of business.
Repeat Business – You’ll always have repeat business. It’s highly unlikely that a client will want a single lawn mow; it’s more likely that they’ll want you to return regularly through the season to maintain the lawn so you’ll never run out of work.
Upselling Other Services – As well as requiring mowing, clients are going to need a whole host of other services to maintain their lawn. This again ensures ongoing business especially if you are able to offer a wider range of services such as fertilising, mulching and weeding.
Flexible Schedule – You’ll have the ability to set your own hours and schedule, which can be a great advantage if you have other commitments.
Outdoor Work – If you enjoy being outdoors, a lawn care business can be a great way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.
Low start-up cost – Getting started with a lawn care business is relatively simple and you don’t need a lot to begin. Yes, you will need to make some sort of investment but compared to other businesses, it’s minimal.
Disadvantages of running a lawn care business
Seasonal work – Garden work in general can really only be carried out when the weather is good. This means that, during the winter, you won’t have as much work. This could be a plus point because, if your business does very well, you could save up and take the winter off. However, for most people, this will require additional services like snow removal to keep things flowing over winter.
Considered non-essential – While there are a lot of calls for lawn care services, they’re also considered non essential. So when clients are struggling financially, your service will likely be one of the first they cut out so there is more of a risk of losing clients.
Physical labor – Lawn care can be physically demanding, and you’ll need to be able to lift heavy equipment.
Irregular hours – You may have to work long hours during the busy season.
Competition – Because there is such a high demand for lawn and garden work, you will be up against a lot of competition. Setting good prices and offering the best service will set you apart from the rest and help you bag those clients. It’s also worth looking at your competitors to see what they offer and whether you can offer something extra that gives you the upper hand.
Tips to get started with a lawn care business
All of the things that we have discussed above will allow you to get started with a lawn care business and likely be successful. However, if you really want to stand out from the crowd you’ve got to go the extra mile. Here are some additional tips to be the best.
Learn how to mow lawns and do basic yard work
Nobody is going to pay good money for a service that isn’t up to scratch. Sometimes, people will employ a lawn care specialist to do the job better than they could do it themselves so your standard needs to be high.
This means working on your skills and learning how to properly mow a lawn and perform basic yard tasks. The better the standard of your work, the more likely people will be to refer you. You want to make sure that you go above and beyond.
Check out these resources to get advice from other professionals in the industry:
Get the right equipment in order to provide professional lawn care services, you need to have the right equipment. This includes a lawn mower, edger, trimmer, blower, and other landscaping tools. You can find used equipment for a fraction of the cost.
Create a Google My Business profile
SEO is incredibly important when doing anything online. This helps to ensure that when searching for local services like yours, clients find your business and using Google My Business will give you an instant SEO boost.
Moreover, this allows you to claim your business and create a profile with photos, information and much more. Clients will have everything in one place and be able to contact you directly. Your business will appear on Google Maps and there will be a space for clients to provide reviews which will instantly boost your reputation.
When you are working on someone else’s property, it is vital that you are covered by insurance. Oftentimes, clients won’t work with companies that aren’t properly ensured so you’re setting yourself up for failure by not having it.
But you might wonder why you’d even need something like liability insurance when running a lawn care business. There are many things that might happen at a client’s property. For example, a pet might ingest some chemicals you applied or you may accidentally damage something with one of your tools. These things could get incredibly expensive to put right so having insurance takes away that worry and gives your clients peace of mind.
Make sure that, if you employ anybody else, you also have workers’ compensation policy which will cover your staff in the event of accidents or injuries. Your liability insurance will not cover this.
While not entirely necessary, you may wish to take out Business Equipment Protection which will cover the cost of your vehicle and equipment in the event of damage. Since some of the tools you will buy cost a lot of money, this is definitely a worthwhile add on.
FAQ about your lawn care business
How many hours do I need to put into my lawn care business each week?
This will depend on a few factors, such as the size of your business and the number of clients you have. However, most lawn care businesses require at least 30 hours per week.
Can I run my lawn care business part-time?
Yes, you can run your lawn care business part-time. However, you will need to factor in the amount of time you have available to dedicate to your business.
Do I need any experience?
No, you don't need any experience to start a lawn care business. However, it is helpful if you have some knowledge about landscaping and lawn care.
What profit margins should I expect?
This will depend on a number of factors, such as your overhead costs and the price you charge for your services. However, most lawn care businesses have a profit margin of 20-30%.
What are some common mistakes people make when starting a lawn care business?
Some common mistakes include: not knowing their target market, not pricing their services correctly, and not having a plan for marketing their business.
What are some things I can do to stand out from other lawn care businesses in my area?
There are a few things you can do to stand out from the competition: offer unique services, have a professional website, and offer discounts or promotions.
Starting a lawn care business can be a great way to earn extra income or even start a new career. However, it’s important to do your research and plan ahead before getting started. Use the tips in this article to help you get started on the right foot. Thanks for reading!