Building Your Lawn Care Business
22nd March 2022
Photo by Jared Muller on Unsplash
Creating a lawn care business can be extremely confusing, especially with the volume of sources all coming from different angles telling you to do different things. In this article, I will try my best to be as clear as possible and use information I've acquired and put it in an appealing and logical order.
1. Training and online courses
There are plenty of lawn care courses you can do online or in class, ranging from apprenticeships to traineeships. Depending on your age and qualifications, there are multiple routes you could go to begin your training. An online course is most likely the best route for most people. Look online for courses near you, check reviews and do some research before applying.
2. Lawn care a profitable business?
A 1 person business that is well run and organised, can be profitable. Depending on your efforts, area and a little bit of luck, you could make anywhere from £20,000 to over £50,000. As a lawn care business owner, you become your own boss and track your own income and payments. With low barriers for entry, initially starting your business is relatively easy. Put in some effort and you can get a few customers, begin your round and start to make profit.
3. Plan your business.
It is important to note that in the beginning your business is going to cost more than it will later. Buying equipment, maintaining said equipment, marketing, canvassing customers, all add up. So it’s best to plan your investments and see how much you are going to need to make to 1, cover the costs of your business and 2, pay yourself an above-average salary. Also something to realise is that you are now self employed. This means no sick-pay, paid holidays, automatic pensions. Even though everything is in your control, you still have to put in a lot of effort, time and money. A simple plan would evaluate the costs of tax, equipment, vehicle maintenance, fuel, any other things you would need to pay for and expected income. Pricing of your service also comes into play. Take a lot of time to research your plan, as it is crucial to the success of your business.
4. Essential equipment.
Equipment such as a mower, edger, strimmer, rake or leaf blower are essential for a lawn care business. Before you search for what is the best mower or strimmer, check your plan, what equipment will you need and what's the budget for the tools. You may need a vehicle too. A van can allow you to reach further out in your area, do more jobs, carry your equipment, promote your business and more. A van with your details on can do a lot more than other things in terms of gaining customers.
5. Efficient lawn care.
With a lawn care business you should know how to efficiently mow lawns. You’ll learn this through any course you take or class you take. However, I'll give a quick rundown here. First you want to unload, setup your equipment, and get everything ready to go. Then, start cutting with the strimmer, go around objects, fences, cut the edges, borders and patios. Step 3 is using the blower to get any extra debris onto the grass so that it can be cut up and turned into mulch for added nutrients for your lawn. Next, you should begin mowing. You should also decide whether you want to turn the cuttings into mulch or not. This is part of the waste management. Set your mower to the right height and begin mowing. Take some time to research how to effectively and efficiently mow lawns as knowing this is extremely beneficial for you. Lastly pack all your equipment away and clean the area. Ready for your next job.
6. Lawn mowing season.
Generally the lawn mowing season actually begins in Spring. During March, the weather gets warmer and dryer, so the best time to begin mowing is when there are a few dry days one after the other in March. This will lead to a longer lasting impactful cut leaving your grass much healthier towards the end of the year. After the first cut in March it's normal to cut bi-weekly throughout the rest of March, April and May. Then the peak hits, Summer. Cutting weekly throughout the summer months would not be irregular. The warmth helps the grass grow a lot early in the season but there can be negative effects later, depending on the treatment it receives like fertiliser or irrigation. Next during Autumn, (September, October, November) the temperatures begin to drop and growth slightly slows. Usually grass is cut weekly in September, bi-weekly in October and then just once in November. Due to the effects that Autumn has on plants, you may need to use your leaf blower twice as much as normal, so keep that in mind. Finally in Winter, you would most likely cut once in December and then not cut in January or February as the ground becomes particularly water-logged and the chance of snow is increased and obviously you wouldn’t cut over snow or close to chances of snow as this can damage your lawn. Of course these guidelines can change depending on where you live, for example it may still be optimal temperatures in late September/October in the south and sub optimal much earlier than expected. So weather also affects the UK’s lawn care season.
7. Calculating costs.
The main thing you’re looking for in your business is of course to pay yourself a good salary. However you must acknowledge that the salary will be essentially the ‘rest’ of your profits after reinvesting them into your business. So it’s a good idea to develop an early habit of working out the costs of your business and knowing how much you are going to put back into your business. Some essential costs are van, equipment and admin.
- A small van can cost about £4000/year
- A larger van can cost more, up to around £6000/year, of course depending on the deal you find costs may change.
- Mower (commercial and small + large roller), brushcutter, strimmer and blower. Costs generally go up to around £4000. If you’re expanding these costs can be justified as they are necessary for your business’s expansion/success. Make sure you take care of your gear as well as depreciation of tools increases every year.
- Advertising, online advertising, stamps/leaflets/posters, can run you anywhere from £500 to £700+
- Insurance and legal funds are normally within the range of about £600-£1000
A major thing to note is that before you make any purchases is to document, track and then add up the total. Remember that for things like equipment and your van, there are variable costs such as fuel. So after you have worked out the total costs of your business for the year, you need to make sure you are going to make enough to be able to pay yourself a wage and afford the equipment. This can be quite daunting as it is a very large sum of money. But if you track properly and organise your business well, it is doable and you can be well on your way to making a very good profit.
8. Marketing your business.
Marketing your business can be very hard initially, but having a strong local presence through van details, posters/drop-ins and leaflets really helps your local market and an online website with online advertising really influences your reach. Many businesses use their van to promote their business and this generally works very well for them. If you are just starting out, you will want to be canvassing customers personally. Door to door works well and is the simplest and most effective way to gain customers fast. Especially when you’re starting out. Make sure you choose properties that create an efficient route so you can do multiple jobs in a day. Other methods of gaining customers include leaflet drops, posters and similar items. Research different ways to advertise your business and see which works best for you. If you are following a certain method and find it’s not working, change to another method. Trial and error takes a big role in canvassing.
9. Pricing of services.
Pricing either by job or hour are the 2 options most used for lawn care services. When charging by the hour you can find yourself restricted on the amount of jobs you can take per day and may make much less money as being paid even £10/hr isn't going to cover your business costs for the year. Many businesses prefer to charge by the job as it can be much easier to fit in more jobs and you don’t have to spend a certain amount of time at the clients place. Sometimes you can finish a job early and squeeze another one in. The actual pricing of your services is up to you, just make sure you research your area, find out what prices other businesses are going for and scale around them. Most important thing is to be able to cover your business costs and then pay yourself a decent wage.