Individuals generally want well-kept lawns to keep the exterior of their homes looking nice, but they don’t always have the time (or desire) to care for them themselves.
The desire for a beautiful lawn opens up the opportunity for people to maintain them. What does this imply for you? A profitable business opportunity!
Do you want to be your own boss, run your own business, and earn money while working outside? Owning a lawn care business could be your next step.
Why Start a Lawn Care Business?
Lawn care and yard work are either loved or despised by most people.
What’s even better is that those who despise it create a fantastic business opportunity for those who adore it!
People are motivated to start lawn care businesses for a variety of reasons. Some see a need for dependable lawn care providers and seize the opportunity. Others have spent years working in the lawn care or landscaping industries and are ready to start their own business. Some are motivated to open a business because they value a job that requires a little elbow grease.
Whatever your driving force is, what matters is that you are passionate about serving others in your community. Also, once you’ve built a loyal clientele, lawn care businesses can be extremely profitable, even in the first year.
What Types of Services Do Lawn Care Businesses Offer?
A lawn care business, like a landscaping business, can provide a wide range of services. These services are largely determined by your location and the types of clients you serve.
The following are the most common lawn care services that are offered:
- Lawn mowing
- Trimming hedges
- Edging sidewalks and driveways
- Weed killing
- Leaf removal
- Clearing brush
Lawn Care vs. Landscaping vs. Gardening
Lawn care, gardening, and landscaping businesses are three distinct types of businesses, but their services may overlap.
The property surrounding a home or commercial building is the common ground between these three types of businesses. Lawn care companies are concerned with keeping the lawn trimmed and looking nice. As previously stated, this will almost certainly entail cutting the grass with a lawnmower, clearing brush, and other similar tasks.
Landscaping refers to the design and layout of a landscape. It entails strategically planting plants throughout the property, laying down bark or dirt, constructing hardscapes (such as waterfalls), or otherwise determining the landscape’s appearance.
Gardening is essentially a type of small-scale landscaping. This frequently entails creating flower beds and small boxed gardens. It entails tending to the plants in order to keep everything looking good and healthy.
Steps to Starting a Lawn Care Business
Although there are numerous paths to entrepreneurship, having a structure for how to get started is always beneficial. Following the seven steps outlined below will help you avoid costly mistakes in your business and accelerate your path to success.
- Plan and Strategize
Almost any great business begins with a plan, but every successful business requires a strategy.
By establishing your business strategy from the start, you will stay focused on your end goal and know the exact steps you need to take to achieve success. Whenever it comes to setting up a lawn care business, your offering is fairly straightforward: provide lawn care.
However, you must first determine who and where you will serve in order to set competitive rates and effectively market your business.
Some questions to ask yourself when drafting up your business plan include:
- What types of clients do I want to work with?
- Do I want to work with homeowners or business owners?
- What geographic area(s) do I want to serve?
- Who are my competitors? How can I stand out?
- How much should I charge in order to be competitive?
- What services should I offer?
- What platforms will I use to market my business on?
Whereas you don’t want to get too far ahead since you’ll learn a lot as you go, having a strategy will make the process easier and make progress toward your end goal. The logistics can always be worked out later.
It is also at this point that you will develop your core brand and what distinguishes your small business from competitors. Inquire, “What is my target audience looking for when hiring a lawn care company?”
Create a profile for your ideal client and base your entire business on it. Your brand, including a business name, will be created to appeal to that specific audience, and all future marketing strategies will be created to connect with that specific audience.
- Choose Your Location
Many lawn care businesses serve their local area because it is convenient for them, while others are more strategic about where they serve.
It often comes down to where you can find the most viable (and high-paying) customers. Are you able to identify an underserved market for lawn care services? Is there a place where there are a lot of potential customers but little competition for jobs? When setting up your service area, keep this in mind.
Once you’ve decided on a region, look for a central location for your headquarters. You’ll need a small office as well as storage space for your equipment.
It’s a good idea to pick a location near a highway so you can get to your job sites quickly. Even a few minutes or miles saved on the way to and from work will add up.
What you want in the future is something to consider when choosing a location for your company’s headquarters. If you plan to grow, you may want to start by renting a space and then upgrade as your fleet of trucks and lawnmowers grows.
- Handle the Legalities
One of the most important steps in this process is registering your business so you can legally conduct business. While getting paid for your work under the table can be appealing, it can also open the door to legal and tax issues.
The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your lawn care business is sued.
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business. In order to register for taxes, you will need to apply for an EIN.
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
- Purchase Your Equipment
Let’s talk about what tools and equipment you’ll actually need to start your lawn care business. Keep in mind that this isn’t a definitive list; rather, it’s meant to help give you an idea of what you absolutely need right out the gate as a landscape contractor:
A mower and edger:
You’ll use your mower every day – so do yourself a favour and start with a self-propelled one instead of a basic push mower. You can get a well-made entry-level model for around $400.
If you want to get a little (okay, a lot) fancier, look into a zero-turn deck mower, starting at around $3,000. That’s a major purchase, so unless you’re doing big lawns right off the bat, you might want to hold off.
And don’t forget an edger to make your lawns look really sharp. Expect to spend around $160 for a high-quality model.
With string trimmers, you tend to get what you pay for. So, while you could spend as little as $40 for a new trimmer, it probably won’t stand up to commercial use – and you’ll just end up buying another one later. Top models cost around $400, but you can get a very good gas trimmer for around $175-$200.
As with string trimmers, leaf blowers can be bought very cheaply – but those won’t stand up to commercial use. A gas-powered backpack leaf blower from a reputable company will cost around $190 or so.
Truck and trailer:
Now, how will you get to the job site? Lawn care involves a lot of driving, so you’ll need a dependable truck and a trailer for your equipment. While a brand-new truck can cost $30,000, one that’s only three or four years old should still be in great shape, but more affordable – say, $20,000. Shop thoughtfully, take your time, and your wallet will thank you.
You might be able to find a trailer on Craigslist or eBay for a reasonable price, too. A new 5-by-8 landscaping trailer will cost around $1,000, but a used version will be quite a bit less.
Safety gear and other equipment:
Don’t forget to budget for eye and ear protection, gloves, rain gear, and two gas cans (one for gas, one for gas-oil mix, depending on your equipment). Overall, set aside maybe $200 for these items.
Think of the above equipment as your “starter pack” when learning how to start a lawn care business. Everything else can be picked up along the way, especially once you start raking in money.
- Hire and Train Employees
Quality is key when building a business. Since lawn care is built on manual labour, your first few employees will be the ones who help you perfect your service and model for training going forward.
While there isn’t a ton of experience required for lawn care, there are a few qualities to look for when hiring for your business:
- Hard worker: You need to build a team of hard workers that are willing to get their hands dirty and break a sweat.
- Reliable: Punctuality is key since the team will likely meet at your designated headquarters and ride to the job site together.
- Trustworthy: Since your employees will be at your customers’ homes, you need to make sure they are very respectful and trustworthy. They represent your brand, so it is important that every interaction they have with customers is a pleasant one.
Unless you plan on driving the truck with the equipment yourself, you will need to hire at least one person who has a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record. Having the best, most reliable people on your team will help set up your business for success.
- Invest in software to track your time.
When talking to lawn care experts, one of the first things they advise new lawn care professionals is to invest in software to track time on the job.
Here’s why: Lawn care specialists spend a lot of time on the road, driving around to different customer properties. All that time on the road can really add up – and unless you’re tracking the time it takes to get to and from your customers’ homes, you could end up losing out on money.
Time-tracking software can help you accurately scope out your projects for the day, so you can plan the most optimal route to each job site.
Additionally, time-tracking software can come in handy if you have any employees who might be at other properties.
Finally, time-tracking software can help you accurately invoice your customers for time spent on their properties, especially if you charge an hourly rate.
- Learn how to price your services.
There’s no magic formula for how to price lawn care jobs. Bigger lawns cost more than small ones, of course – but in general, aim for $30 to $80 per visit, including edging and blowing grass cuttings off sidewalks and driveways.
You can also charge a flat $50 per hour for other projects, like raking leaves in the fall. This is in line with national averages, so be ready to adjust up or down, depending on your area.
- Work on building your customer base.
Once you start your lawn care business, it’s important to find new avenues for building up your clientele base. Whether you create a referral program for existing customers or invest in paid social ads to reach more people in your community, finding new ways to get more customers should always be an important part of your marketing activities.
How Much Money Do You Need To Start A Lawn Care Business?
One of the main advantages of gardening, lawn care or landscaping company is the relatively low startup costs. Ideally, you will be able to afford a commercial-grade lawn mower (approximately $8,000), a truck ($5,000 or more), a trailer ($1,000) and a few other, smaller costs for additional equipment ($1,000). Total equipment costs to get started would be the $15,000 range. However, you could get started with less capital with used equipment, but that savings will be paid back with ongoing repairs down the road.
Additional startup costs would be insurance and initial marketing such as flyers and other marketing strategies.
The Bottom Line On Running A Lawn Care Business
Running a lawn care business can be a rewarding job. People love sitting in their gardens in the summer, kids outside, BBQ’s friends and family. When your customers sit outside and their lawn is freshly cut and their plants look healthy, they enjoy their outside space and that’s because of you. Lawn care is an important job and can change the way people feel about their homes.
Now that you understand all the pros and cons of running your own lawn care business and some do’s and don’ts once it’s up and running, you are able to go into this venture with both eyes open. Remember that there is a huge opportunity for growth in this industry so you have the power to really customize its ins and outs so that it reflects your desires and needs.