How To Start A Lawn Care Business That Succeeds

So you’re thinking about getting into the lawn care business?  Perhaps you’re making the right choice!

According to industry statistics, landscaping is now a $93 billion business annually.  And it’s not just grandma and grandpa who are looking to hire.  Some professionals are noticing a growing trend of younger, dual-income customers who lead busy lives and are looking to hire out for services like lawn care.

If you’re looking to get started, then here’s what you need to know about how to start a lawn care business.

lawn care business

How To Start A Lawn Care Business: Decide Your Niche 

The first thing that anyone starting a business needs to consider is what type of work they would like to do.  Or to ask the question a different way: Which type of work they DON’T want to do.

Are you going to focus solely on lawn care? Or are you interested in doing all the aspects of landscaping? What other services will you provide? For example, many lawn care businesses also provide related services such as spraying for weeds or pests.  However, if that’s not something you’d like to get involved with, then don’t.  It’s your business and so you should decide how you’d like to conduct it.

At the same time, you should also choose which types of customers you’d like to market towards.  Residential customers such as single-family homes are generally smaller and can be done relatively quickly.  However, the pay might be lower, and so you’d have to do a lot of jobs to make it worth your while.  Commercial clients, such as local businesses, will probably pay higher per job but may have a larger footprint and require additional help to support.  You’ll want to think about the pros and cons of both sides.

starting a business

Research The Market

The next thing you’ll want to look into is how many other lawn care businesses are there in your area. If the market is saturated with other people just like you, then you might want to strongly consider if this is really a business venture that you’d like to pursue.

One way to get a leg up on your competition is to research their rating through Google Reviews or Yelp.  Find out what they’re doing wrong so that you can do it right!

The other thing you’ll want to do is gather as much information about pricing as you can.  For example, if you were planning to charge $50 to mow a yard but the other guys are doing it for $40, then you’re probably not going to get too many takers.

Create A Business Plan For Your Lawn Care Business

Now its time to get down to the numbers.  Here’s how to do this:  

  1. Start by making a list of all the costs you’re going to have to get your new lawn care business up and running.  This should include all planned wages (including yours), any equipment you’ll need, insurance, fees, taxes, etc.  
  2. Next, make some reasonable estimations about how much revenue you could potentially generate.  Error on the side of being as conservative or realistic as possible; you don’t want to fool yourself into thinking your new business is a sure-thing.
  3. Calculate your return on investment (ROI) by dividing your net profit by the total expenses and multiplying it by 100.  For example, if you plan to generate $50,000 in revenue but require $40,000 of expenses, then this would be [($50,000 – $40,000) / $50,000)] x 100 = 20%.

The thing we’re looking for is a decent, positive ROI of approximately 15 to 30% according to the site Small Business Rising.  If your ROI isn’t in this range, then you’re going to want to re-examine your assumptions and possibly look for ways to cut costs.

making a business plan

Make Your Business Official

If your business plan shows that your lawn care venture has some potential financially, then its time to make it official.

First things first, think of a catchy name!  Make sure its something that is recognizable, unique, and easy to remember.

Also, even if your business is just you, you’re going to want to strongly consider forming an LLC (limited liability corporation).  This just protects you and your personal assets legally in case you run into any trouble at all.  LLCs can be set up easily through services such as Legal Zoom.  Afterward, you can then file for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS.

Don’t forget that you’re also going to want to check with your state’s requirements for any licenses or insurance that you’re required to carry.

Purchase Equipment For Your Lawn Care Business

Do you have everything you’re going to service your first customers?

  • A truck; possibly with a trailer
  • A mower (zero-turn, rider, push mower)
  • Power tools such as weed wacker, hedge trimmer, chain saw, etc.
  • Hand tools such as shovels, rakes, etc.
  • Gas cans (one for regular gas and one for mixing with oil)
  • A dedicated cell phone number for your business

If you don’t have all of these things, then you may want to look into applying for a small business loan so that you can purchase them.  (Hopefully, this was already considered in your business plan.)

Pro-Tip: If any of these things were purchased primarily as part of your business, then they may be considered as deductible business expenses and could be used to lower your tax bill at the end of the year.  Keep detailed records of all of your purchases and work with a tax professional to properly deduct them.

Advertise Your Business

Now that you have an official business, its time to get the word out that you’re open for business.  Here are a few good ways to do that:

  • Word of mouth.  Tell your friends and family that you’re ready for clients.  Encourage them to spread the news to other people they know who could use your service. You could also consider making business cards to help spread the word.
  • Join your local Chamber of Commerce.  This is a great way to get recognition as well as free promotion.
  • Social media.  Start posting on sites like Facebook or Instagram.  Consider buying advertisements so that your posts will boost to the top of the page.
Advertising Your Lawn Care Business

Build Your Customer Base

Once the calls start coming in, do everything you can to treat each and every one of them with respect.  Even if they don’t buy from you today, they could still contact you for work in the future.

When you do perform work, be sure to ask:

  • Do you need me to come back next week to take care of the lawn again?  (Remember: You want regularly, reoccurring work.)
  • Can I take pictures of your lawn?  These will be good for your social media posts.
  • If the client is exceptionally pleased with your work, you could even ask for a positive rating on Google Reviews or Yelp.

Be sure to keep detailed records of all your jobs.  Not only is this important for legal reasons when you file your taxes with the IRS, but it can also be handy if work slows down and you decide to follow-up with past clients to drum up more business.

Hire Help If Needed

Depending on how the work is going, don’t be afraid to hire help if you need it (and can afford it).  

Just remember: When you hire someone, they are a legitimate employee, and that means you’ll have to file the proper paperwork as well as send them W2 statements at the end of the year.

Don’t Forget To File Your Taxes

At the end of the year, be sure to file your taxes.  If you fail to do so, it can result in a 25% penalty.  That could possibly destroy any profits you’ve made all year!

The only good way to deal with taxes is to embrace the fact that you will eventually have to pay them.  Keep your bookkeeping up to date all around, and put some of your monthly profits aside so that you’ll be able to pay your tax bill when it comes. 

While many people try to save a buck or two by filing their taxes themselves, I can’t stress enough that you should always work with a true tax professional.  They’re going to understand the tax laws better and help you find as many eligible deductions as possible.  Believe me, it will be money well spent.

Wrapping Up: How To Start A Lawn Care Business

If you’re thinking of starting a lawn care business, now you know how. It’ll definitely take a lot of work, but if you put in the time and effort you can do it! Use this guide on how to start a lawn care business and make yours a success. Now go out, build your lawn care business, and make those lawns look beautiful!

DJ Whiteside

DJ Whiteside is a financial enthusiast who believes in helping other people to achieve financial independence. He’s constantly looking for practical ways to optimize savings, reduce spending, and create a lifetime of passive income. DJ holds an MBA from the University of Michigan, which allows him to take an analytical approach to financial topics. He has been a financial writer since 2011 and has self-published 5 personal finance eBooks relating to saving, retirement, and financial independence.

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