What Does it Take to Start a Lawn Care Business?
In almost every business niche there is fierce competition and that is certainly true for the lawn care industry as well. But where there is a will there is a way. What it takes to be successful in today’s business environment (in any industry) is to be willing to go above and beyond the competition in terms of both service and quality.
In the U.S., just about everyone who can afford a lawn care service has one. While some people do enjoy caring for their own lawns, most do not or they simply do not have the time to do it. In the UK however, things are different. Most people do not understand the lawn care sector yet and still clip their own grass.
Things are beginning to change. Craig Daniel of Acer Lawncare tells us that in some of the UK’s wealthier areas like Manchester and Warrington, lawn care companies are springing up out quickly. With that, he says, “the competition is becoming quite stiff rather quickly.”
If you are thinking of starting your own lawn care business, it is important to know that most consumers expect it to be an expensive service. This is both good and bad. Good if someone is ready to hire you and knows the service will cost a little. Bad if they are not hiring a service because they feel it will be too expensive for them to even check out.
How Much should you charge?
There are a few things to consider when you are setting your pricing.
You will want to focus on having a large amount of customers within a small travel area. If you try to take accounts all over the place, you will spend a lot more on gas and wasted travel time and hence your business will be less profitable. So the first key to success is having a concentration of customers in a small area. When you are staring out make sure you spend your down time marketing your business in a small radius you would like to work in. Have flyers made, door hangers, business cards and so on and canvas an area.
If someone across town wants to hire you that could be good too. Just make sure you are charging enough to make up for the time travel to that area.
If you have employees, trucks, gas, insurance and so on, make sure you figure all those expenses into your quotes and make sure you are giving yourself an adequate profit margin.
How many customers do you need to make a profit?
That all depends upon how big you want your business to be. Do you want to keep it small, be home based, do the work yourself and have one truck? Or, is your vision to have 20 trucks, 40 employees and several cities you work in? As a part of your early business planning, make sure you think abou that. That way, each decision you make will further you toward your end goal.
In either scenario, figure out what your total overhead will be. Then figure out how much money you want to make per month. Add the two numbers together, divide it by the number of accounts you believe you can handle, and that will tell you where your pricing needs to be. Of course that is a very over-simplified model but it is a good way do a quick and dirty business plan to see if your concept works for you. If the pricing is too low, is there some other service you can offer to set yourself apart from the competition? Can you offer fertilizing, tree trimming, pet clean up or total organic products? Be creative and unique and your customers will see why you charge a bit more.
How do you get your business off the ground?
We chatted with Craig Daniel of Acer Lawn Care, about how he managed to get his lawn care business off the ground. He told us, “Starting this lawn care business from scratch was very difficult to be honest. Before I began I researched my local area to ensure there were enough potential customers to satisfy my business goals and I also analyzed the competition. My initial outlay was quite heavy as I needed to buy a van, create marketing paraphernalia, build a website, embroider uniforms and do an endless amount of canvassing.”
Mr. Daniel went on to say that it was a lot of work for one person to do so you should know that going in. We followed up by asking him if he felt starting a new business was worth it. He replied “Without a doubt it has been very challenging, much more than I anticipated. I probably would think twice about it nowadays. However, he assured us that if a person has enough grit and determination, they can break through the difficulties and create a very successful business that will repay them over time.”
Most business owners agree that starting a new business in any field can be an extremely difficult accomplishment. It almost always takes more time, money and effort than anyone ever imagines it will. However, if you have a great passion and drive for your business, and are willing to work at it 110% until you get it off the ground, it will all be worth it in the end.