If you want to start a business that’s affordable and you have a passion for working outdoors, then a lawn care maintenance business may be just the ticket. The landscaping industry – which includes lawn care and other grounds keeping services – has seen success in recent years, with a $2 billion market in the U.S. divided among 1,800+ businesses. If you’re looking for advice on how to get your foot in the door in this industry, reviews our guide on how to start a lawn care business.
Step 1: Know What You’ll Need
Before you start any business, it’s a good idea to know what you’ll need to get started and how much it will cost. While some businesses can costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to start, a lawn care business can be started for much less. The biggest expenses will be a commercial grade mower, a truck, and a trailer. Additional equipment, such as weed trimmers, hand tools, etc., should also be factored in.
Starting any business requires the proper permits and licensing. Most municipalities and states don’t require any special licenses to start a lawn care business, although if you plan to offer herbicide spraying services, some states require a special herbicide permit. A general business license may range between $25-$50, depending on your location.
Step 2: Know Your Clientele
An important part of starting a lawn care business is to know who your target customers are. Starting out, you may begin with residential clients as your primary customers. This can be a comfortable position if you want to keep your operation small. However, if you intend to grow your business, keep in mind that larger operations mean more expenses, and your profit margin is likely to tighten up.
As you grow, you should plan to expand your client base beyond single-family residential customers. Multi-family housing, like apartment complexes and subdivisions, hotels and resorts, malls, restaurants, service centers, and commercial office buildings often employ lawn care and landscaping services. These professional customers value professionalism, punctuality, reliability, and variety of services. Some commercial properties are managed through a commercial landlord, who will be the client to whom you should market.
Step 3: Get the Word Out
A big part of how to start a lawn care business is letting people know you’re open, available, and looking for customers. There’s a variety of ways to try and garner attention, but one thing you should keep in mind is distance between yourself and your clients. Lawn care businesses are best marketed as local services, so local advertising methods can be just as viable as digital ones. Posting flyers and business cards, advertising in local publications, sandwich board signs, and customer referral programs are all good ways to get the word to potential clients. You can minimize the expenses of getting physical media printed by bundling jobs together, like ordering flyers and business cards from the same printing shop. Finally, there’s good old word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations from satisfied customers.
Of course, online/digital marketing is important no matter what size the business. Many people search online for goods and services. Having a good company website is important to give customers information on your business, as well as provide contact information and offer digital services like online payments. It’s also worthwhile to create a Google business profile; this will allow your physical location to show up on Google searches with Google Maps when people search for lawn care businesses in their area. Digital ads, such as with local publication websites or on local, noncompeting business websites, are also effective and can help you develop connections within the local business community.
Finally, social media marketing is a subset of online marketing significant enough to warrant its own subcategory. Using social media ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be effective, especially if you plan to expand your service area over time. Email marketing programs are good ways to keep in touch with existing customers once you have their emails, as well as sending them out to mailing lists. If you have a website, it’s not unreasonable to encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on your website, or other websites where lawn care services are discussed. It’s worthwhile to thank customers who leave positive reviews and to address concerns brought up by those who leave negative reviews. In the event of a negative review, always respond with courtesy and respect for the concerns voiced.
Step 4: Spread Your Roots
Sometime after starting your lawn care business, you’ll need to decide how large you want to grow your business. If you plan to grow, you’ll eventually need to plan and budget for additional employees. New employees are one of the biggest impacts to a lawn care service’s profit margin, so it’s advisable to start looking for new people as you’re ready to grow, but before you become overbooked.
To find new employees, it’s a good idea to advertise your position online; even though lawn care is a physical job, not a digital one, online job listings have become a prevalent way many people look for a job. Referrals from local vendors are another option. Hiring family and friends isn’t advisable, since it may affect your personal relationships. You should also think twice about hiring inexperienced employees; they will require additional training as they learn an entirely new skillset.
Once you’ve started receiving applications, make sure to schedule and conduct applicant interviews. You want to evaluate your applicants for punctuality, courtesy, and professionalism. You should also get an idea of the applicant’s passion for lawn care and their experience with it.
How to Start a Lawn Care Business: Franchise with GrassRoots Turf
Starting a lawn care business, or any business for that matter, can be daunting for someone trying to go it alone. If you’d like to have guidance and support, GrassRoots Turf is ready to be your teacher and partner. We’re a family-owned lawn care franchise that helps franchisees achieve strong returns on investments. We provide operational support, marketing and sales services, management tools, purchasing power, accounting and legal support, and research and development services. To learn more about our company, request franchise info today!