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Owning a Lawn Care Business

Updated on July 12, 2020
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I've owned and operated a small lawn care business for over 4 years. While I'm not a gardener, I did learn how to work the business well.

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Business and Brawn

Having a lawn care business is a good way to work for yourself and challenge your abilities in many ways. You have to be business minded to organize clients, think of strategies to advertise, and keep clients. Also, you have to be able to know what jobs your able to do or not, and how much to charge for them.

There are many factors involved in such a seemingly simple enterprise, the limits to your success are up to your effort. In this article I want to give an insiders look at the business, what it's really like to have a small lawn care business. I want to show the difficulties you'll face and also the benefits you'll have if you choose to try such an enterprise.

Experience and Motivation

My experience is having started three different (successful) lawn care businesses, the third I'm still working.

Depending on where you are, this is a seasonal job, which can be a difficulty. This can be positive, if you save a winter fund -- then spending the Winter doing other things you like, or you can provide a different service. Really, it's nice to have some time off if can, but not too much time otherwise end up broke. The challenge here is, you can't get a permanent job in the Winter because you'll have to quit in the Spring when the lawns start growing.

There are ideas, like washing windows, putting up decorations for Holidays, shoveling snow, and other seasonal work. The seasonal factor draws many people out of the business after their first season. I live in Eugene, Oregon where the winters are mild, yet I loose business for about four months.

The day to day life of work is set at the pace you want (or need) to make money. After you get the equipment, advertise, and build up your clients -- you can get into a routine. This allows you to not have to think as much, and you can estimate how much you'll make from week to week.

Some days are harder than others, and at times you'll wonder why you don't just get a “real” job. Then other times you think this is the life, I barely even work and get paid $30/hr. You'll have to be committed to the effort in order to make it through the jobs that you underbid, making $5/hr after expenses.

Just don't think you are going to be like Forest Gump, able to peacefully mow a big field all day. You may get some cushy jobs; mostly you are doing clean ups, cleaning gutters, and working odd jobs you couldn't of guessed you'd be doing.

You may decide to only mow lawns and not do odd jobs, but you'll loose clients and not make as much money. Best way to be is open and adventurous, to challenge yourself to do the jobs where your in over your head. This way you'll learn and make more money.

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Learn From This Wise Fella

What Does it Take Having a Lawn Care Business?

When I began I had little knowledge of grass, flowers, tress, shrubs, and how to work on power equipment. Even so, I was able to gather about 15 customers and do a basic maintenance job on their lawns, in which they were satisfied.

So you can do this even if you know very little about lawns and gardens. You won't be able to charge as much, and won't get hired by people who want experience, but some people appreciate your basic simple job ( maybe cause they don't feel intimidated by your expertise).

Not until starting my last business did I start to really learn about the craft, and there is much to learn. To learn about the craft, research online, on YouTube, and get some books at a second hand shop. Learning about the process of growing and renewing a lawn is definitely helpful in retaining customers and getting referrals.

If this is a career choice, then study and learn all you can, cause it will make your business more successful and easier. On the other hand don't let a lack of knowledge stop you from starting up; you won't know if it's for you -- unless you try.

When you do start a business you may question your decision when factors come against you, but then you have clients depending on you so feels like your trapped. This is why you should commit to a season if you start this, you don't want to burn your clients. Even if you decide it's not a career for you, I would suggest to finish the season.

Working for yourself has many benefits such as: you set your schedule, you decide how much money you'll work for, and you are your own boss. For some people (like me) this is the benefit that makes me work hard.

I don't do well being an employee to some corporation where they want to cookie-cut me into conformity. Also, co-workers can be a difficulty I'd rather avoid. Also, making $10/hr isn't enough for a good monthly income, especially with the time it takes from my life.

As an owner you can choose witch clients to work for. So if someone is disagreeable you can tell them politely you can't work for them. There have been times when I've lost many clients at once because of difficulties, but the good part was -- the business was still going, and it built back up soon enough. So your business can be resilient enough to make it through transitions; still being a viable income.

Lawn Care can be hard labor, it can mean taking out blackberries, pruning trees over a roof, digging holes, weeding large garden beds, raking large piles, dumping heavy buckets, and all the while enduring the elements of outside. There may be rain, wind, or hot sun to contend with.

You don't have to be a body builder, but you do have to be tough and strong enough to do the work. For example: I'm only 150 pounds and 5'10” tall, but I get the job done. If you are a woman who likes to work hard, you can do this.

Keep it in mind when you mess with nature, it will fight back. You'll have scrapes, pokes, nicks, bangs, poison oak, hurt muscles, bruised limbs, and even a hand that falls asleep. Don't let this stop you, but don't think it's a cake walk either.

Conclusive Matters Contained

The last part I want to expound on is the customer relations. This is the business part of the job, and takes a good effort to be successful. Key is to be honest and friendly and the rest will work itself out.

You will face many different types of people, but mostly you'll work for older people. Some will think you did a wonderful job and are a good worker, when others think you're cheating them and slacking off. The whole while you are putting in the same uniform effort for everyone. That's the key: do the job you're proud to do, uphold your standards- no matter what.

Those who don't appreciate your work will eventually be replaced by clients that do. Once you get your client base established, those customers will be yours for years to come.

Really it's the start-up of the business that is the most difficult; dealing with clients. You have to be ready and patient to endure some bumps in the road, to get a smooth working business making twice what you could working for someone else.

To sum up the article: having a lawn care business is well worth the effort and can be a career choice to the right person. You can keep it small with just yourself, or grow it to be licensed and have employees. Either way, you'll have a viable income with job security as long as lawns need to be mowed.

Maybe when you start out you notice many people doing the same, and wonder if there is enough business for you? My experience is there is plenty of lawns to go around, and if you are committed, honest, and do good work- you'll be a success. May God bless your enterprise.

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© 2013 Robbie Newport


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