The landscaping business is something you can start off with just yourself and one mower. If you work smart and are a good marketer you can grow a landscape company just about as big as you would ever want to. Every time a new home is built that is one more person who needs their lawn taken care of. Every time a new business is built they will need someone to maintain the property. If you will market smart and work hard there’s no reason at all, after the first season of running your business, you would not be turning away work. I’ve seen time after time where people literally have more work than they can get to. Will this be you? I have no way of knowing this because I don’t know you. You may not want to work that hard. You may only want to work part-time. Either way, the possibilities are endless in this industry. It’s all up to you!
The first is population. Obviously if you live where there are a million people in a given area, you’ll have more opportunity to have more customers. This still doesn’t mean you can’t make a great living in a smaller market. Being in a smaller market has its advantages, too. Smaller markets may not have the competition you face in a large city. Each area is going to have its advantages and disadvantages. Be sure to check out your market, competition, etc. and make it work for you. The second is your mowing season. Depending on the area of the country you are in, you may have a shorter mowing season than in other areas. For example, the mowing season up north is several weeks shorter than in the south. If you live in an area where winters are longer and your loss of income from mowing is unbearable, check out other ways to make money in the off-season. I would definitely suggest that you look into snow plowing during the winter. This more than makes up for the shorter growing season for most companies!
Getting Your First Landscape Customers
Getting that first customer is the best feeling in the world! How are you going to do it? Think about your existing resources. Have you asked family and friends? How about any older relatives you have? Are they are paying someone to do their lawn? What about where you work? Who does the lawn there? How about the owner (if you work for a small business)—who does his or her lawn? Have you handed out business cards to people you meet and the people you already know? Are you bringing them to your kids’ soccer games or dance recitals? Are you leaving business cards at restaurants when you go out to eat? Are you marketing online? Set yourself a goal to talk to 5 new potential customers each day. If you will do this day-in and day-out you will get work—probably more than you can take on. It is simply a numbers game. Talk to enough people and you are guaranteed to find people who need their lawns maintained. Once you have a few residential accounts, it may be time to look at getting some commercial accounts. Don’t get overwhelmed by this. It’s easy to do if you take it in small steps. Start with one small commercial customer. One is all it takes… Banks, restaurants and small retail sites are usually the easiest to get.
Family-owned businesses also seem to be easier than big, corporate-owned businesses. When starting out, try to find a property that is less than one acre. This will be an easy adjustment and will help make
You look like a seasoned professional. It won’t be much different than the residential customers you are already servicing. One quick note: you will need to know how or partner with people who can do sprinklers, fertilization, etc. Larger commercial customers will want a full-service company. They like for one company to take care of all of their lawn care and landscape management needs. Be sure you have these resources or can contract them out prior to approaching larger jobs. There are some people that just don’t understand this concept. Time is money, no matter what you are doing. Say you can pay someone to paint a room for $100 (and you know they do good work). The same room might take you half a day to do yourself. Would you save $100 if you did it yourself? NO! You would lose money because you could have been doing what you do best (taking care of lawns) and making $60+ an hour! If it took you 4 hours, you lost $140 ($240 you could have made minus the $100 you would have paid them). It is my opinion that everyone should have a minimum charge. You shouldn’t unload your equipment for less than this minimum. Set this amount based around the principle that if you work for less than your minimum charge, you’re losing money. It costs a certain amount to block off time, drive to a site, load and unload equipment, etc. This costs you time, gas, and wear-and-tear on your equipment among other things. There is also opportunity costs associated with accepting a job. You could be making more money somewhere else! You could also be working yourself to death for no substantial profit. If you’re working 80 hours a week but aren’t charging enough, you won’t make any money. It’s that simple. You’ll just end up worn out, frustrated, unsuccessful, and unhappy.
Competition is everywhere
You shouldn’t worry about it, but instead let it be a motivator. If you didn’t have competition, that would worry me. Competition can be a good thing. There are a lot of times I pick up new customers because the competition has done a bad job! If nothing else, the fact that there is competition means that there is money to be made. What services you offer can have a huge impact on your earnings. When you start out you may just want to mow. That’s fine, but you can certainly grow your business by offering additional services to your customers. Among other services, you can offer fertilization, aeration, overseeding, fall leaf clean up, landscaping, installation of low voltage lighting, and many more. When it comes down to the wire, the more services you offer, the more money you can earn. I suggest you charge approximately $1 per minute for every minute you are working in your lawn service or landscaping business.