Tips For Running a Lawn Care Business
Dealing With Customers
Once you decide you are going to start a lawn care service, you then get the equipment, advertise, and then wait for the calls. Once you get the calls, the fun begins. One of the most challenging parts about having a lawn care business is dealing with the customers. This part of the business will determine your success.
There are many different types of people out there who are going to call you and inquire about your services. Not all of them are people you want to work for. The optimal caller is polite, clear, and wants you to simply come bid their lawn, so you can mow it once a week. The once a week customers are the premium ones that are like gems.
You will set a date with them to come over and bid the lawn. First of all, you want someone who is only having you come over to bid the lawn, not calling multiple services to bid the lawn at once. The type of customer who is having multiple people bid the lawn at once is selfish and not able to trust their own discernment. Personally, if I know the caller is having multiple people bid their lawn, I'm not interested.
A customer is going to be a friend most of the time. If they live in the residence, then you are going to be coming over to their home every week, or every two weeks -- for years even. So, if a customer is very impersonal and maybe doesn't even want to meet you, then this is not a good sign for a regular customer. For a one time customer, you can be more flexible, but when choosing your regulars, be discerning.
Bidding the Lawn
The bid is important, because you will have to mow the lawn for that amount of money for a long time potentially. The customer will meet you and show you around their yard, pointing out what they want you to do. At this point, you have to be a listener and ask the questions you need to understand exactly what they are expecting.
You have to get a feel for what they are wanting from you. Some people want only a basic maintenance job, and from what you can discern from their direction formulate your bid. Many times you'll also be able to tell how the customer feels about money during this time. If they are apprehensive and downplaying the amount of work it would take, this means they are cheap. If they are more interested in your opinion and you as a person, then these are the type of customers who will pay you well.
Personally, because I'm not an expert with lawns, just a journeyman -- I estimate my bids at $20/hr. So if I see a lawn that would take an hour to do, including me taking my equipment out and putting back in, then I'll say $20, and etc. Now, in order for you to tell how long a lawn wil take, you will have to learn from experience. My tendency is to think it's not going to take as long as I think, so I usually underbid myself, but because I've learned the hard way with this I have started bidding higher than I think I should.
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People Are Funny About Money
We can learn a lot about a person just paying attention with how they deal with money. Customers are no different, as most customers will be cheap and expect a lot of work for a little money. Don't let this unfair aspect of life get you down, just simply stick to what you need to make in order for you to be content doing the job without having to resent the customer for being cheap. If the customer doesn't want to pay the money you bid, then just leave it at that and be glad you escaped a tightwad.
It's usually not that people who call you don't have the money, it's that they don't want to pay very much for lawn care because of many reasons. One being, when they were younger, they used to do it, another is because they think it's easier than it is. Many customers who want their lawn maintained think that it is a job a child could do and so don't want to pay you anymore than they would pay the neighbor boy to come over and use their equipment.
The truth is though, the neighbor boy doesn't have to drive across town, pay bills, uses his own equipment, and doesn't do as good as job as you would. My advice is avoid using customers equipment, unless you really trust them and you have a dire need for something they have and you don't. Otherwise, things might get weird if you damage their equipment or hurt yourself or property with their equipment.
You really have to sift through the callers and customers to get to the ones you want to call your regulars. At first, when you are trying to get established, then you'll be more flexible on what jobs and who you work for, but after you get some good regulars, you can be more selective and save yourself some trouble.
Many more people will call or inquire about some work when you are out on a job, than those who actually follow through and have you work for them. If someone is serious about you working for them, they will leave a message, set a time for you to come and bid, and generally be clear and precise with how you will start working for them. Don't mess around with people who are wishy washy about you working for them, and cringe at the thought of paying you.
People are funny when it comes to money, you can bid a lawn at $25 every two weeks, and the person will get that cringe look and say I don't know I have a budget. Yet, if you say $20 every two weeks, they are light and full of sunshine, they have plenty of money for that amount. And really what are we talking about here? $10? I mean come on people, the point is they will spend $10 on some coffee and a muffin in one day, but when it comes to hard labor and making their lawns look great, they are very put off over $10 a month!
That's why I say, stick to your bid, and make it $5 higher than you think you should. Someone hiring you isn't just getting their lawn mowed, but are getting someone who they can trust around their home and even talk to about their lives. You'll find out if you are running a lawn care business, people will talk to you about their lives, and you are almost a counselor. If a customer is a talker, keep that in mind, because although the lawn may only take an hour, you'll spend another 15 minutes listening to them talk about whatever.
Final Tips on Running a Lawn Care Business
Some days are better than others when running a lawn care business. There are some days that I can average $15/hour after all the expenses, and other days I average only $9/hr. Neither of these are that great, but compared to working for some company or someone else, they are. Working for myself is a great benefit, and I make more than I could working for someone else when it comes down to it.
The more experience and knowledge you have concerning the actual trade of lawn care, the more you can start to charge. I talked to a veteran lawn care guy who works for no less than $50/hr. That is the potential we can look forward to. As for me, I have to bid fairly low as my business is only in it's second season and my experience is only 4 seasons old. I am learning and gaining confidence in my ability though.
Once you have a certain amount of regular customers who you work for year after year, then you can be more selective for who you are willing to work for. Last year when I started this current lawn care business I am working, I had to take just about anyone who called and bid as low as I could to simply get some business. This year though, I have about 12 regular customers from last year, and about 6 random regular customers. This means I have a base foundation of customers which I am happy working with to build on. I know I have room for about 5 or 6 more customers to add to the business this year, so I'm going to bid higher and get the ones I want to work for.
Last year I had to shed about 5 customers who ended up being disagreeable. These types of customers who are too demanding, watch over you, or are simply disagreeable, are not worth working for. This is a business, but it's our businesses, and part of the benefit of working for ourselves is we don't have to work for anyone we don't want to. Remember that when gathering customers, remember your worth, that you do a good job for an affordable amount, are on time, and honest. These are priceless gifts to bring to a customer.
Remember, you are going to be a friend to many of your customers, so if you discern right away you aren't going to get along with someone just avoid working for them. Eventually something will happen and you will not work for them anyway, and the way people are now days, they could even sue you or try to run you out of business for no reason at all.
As I am a born again Christian I pray to Jesus to guide my business and bring me the customers he wants me to work for. This way I relieve myself of the burden of worrying about where my work will come from and who I should work for. If it is peaceful, then I go and work. I understand it's a spiritual war we are in, and so with some people, their demons are going to try to steal, kill, and destroy me. God has me where he wants me, and because I work for myself I can be myself and talk to people about Jesus all I want. If someone doesn't like that I am a Christian, then they won't hire me, and this is like a screening process the Lord does for me. It's not that I push Jesus on anyone, but being a born-again Christian, it's not something I can hide if they inquire about my personal life at all. If they are strictly business and fair to me, then I work for them without a problem.
Hopefully these tips have helped you if you are starting or running your own lawn care service. Look forward to more hubs I will write about Lawn Care later. Thanks for reading.
My Other Hubs About Having a Lawn Care Service
- The Cheap Lawn Care Clients
Inevitably the lawn care business owner will meet the cheap lawn care client. I want to share some tips on how to deal with them and make your job more profitable and easier.
- Gene: My Best Lawn Care Customer
Gene is a nice lady from England, she seems to want to be back there. She pays me way too much and thinks I'm a gardener. If she could hear better, we might be able to get something done.
- Best Lawn Trimmer To Buy: Echo SRM-225
The most important tool you will be using when doing yard work isn't the mower, it's the trimmer. Trimming is key to making a lawn look professionally done, and the Echo SRM-225 is the best.
- Owning a Lawn Care Service
What's it like having a lawn care business? How does a person go about doing this sort of venture? This article will give some insight on just these questions -- from my own experience.