The Lawn Service Step-by-Step Manual...

Mar 30, 2009
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Not to long ago I got fired from my job at Subway for a couple bullshit reasons which included not being paid for the hours I worked and confronting the boss about it... Anyways over and over again it crossed my head that I was tired of working for the man making minimum wage and working my ass off. I was willing to work my ass off but I want more profit and revenue. So within the past 2 weeks I had been thinking about starting a lawn service business. This is not a kids dream to buy a brand new bicycle but an adults dream to buy new vehicles, pay bills on time, and live the good life.

So with this dream I have decided to share with the BHW community an exact step-by-step manual on how I am going to do it so others can do it on their own within their community to make a decent amount monthly... Here is what I have so far in equipment and business (I just started promoting myself today).

(1) 4.5 Horsepower Push Mower (Couple Years Old)
(1) Electric Weed Eater (2-3 Extension Cords LOL)
(2) Hedge Trimmers

I know this is not much to start with but at least its a start... I do not own any of the equipment but as long as I maintain the equipment its free to use so that is what I am going to do.

As far as business I have been looking around my area for homes that have other lawn service providers come out frequently to care for their lawns. For example my next door neighbor has a guy who comes out every 2 weeks that mows and trims their grass. Today I went over and asked if she was interested in me cutting her grass every 2 weeks instead of the guy who does it regularly and asked the price she pays for him to come out due to the fact that I wanted to shoot below his price to save her money. She eventually told me she pays him $40 a mow / trim which is $80 a month. This is where I came in and told her I would do it for $35 a mow / trim and she told me she would give me a chance next time it needs to be cut (next Wednesday).

When she told me this it uplifted my spirits of success and I decided to drive around a little bit and see if there where anymore potential clients needing their lawns serviced soon. As I drove down the road less than 1/8 mile from my home I spotted a lawn which had the start of dandelions growing in their grass. I pulled into their driveway and walked up to the door and knocked just to see if they needed the job done. Once again I went threw the same process of finding out what they paid and shooting below it... This time they said they where sure I didn't want to shoot below $25 for the lawn since it was decent sized and told me to give them a number so I told them $35 and I got the job... We then scheduled a time for later today (10:30AM) for me to come cut the grass so they could see my work. If they like it then I have another $70 a month coming in for 4-5 hours worth of work.

So since I gave you the basic lay out of my plans and how I am finding business now I am going to update this thread daily on how my business is growing. I plan for this to be a very long thread within the next couple months but hopefully it will help others get off the ground with their own lawn service companies.

The Goal

For the rest of July I am going to do 5 random stops a day at peoples homes who I have never met that their lawns look like they need work done to them and see if they will hire me for the job. I am hoping to at least get 1 client a day from random stops in my area so that the number of lawns a month increases by 2. Once I have 15-20 clients who want their lawns maintained twice a month I will buy business cards / flyers and post them around the area. From there I will ether bust my ass even harder and do 2-3 yards a day and buy better equipment such as a riding lawn mower and then outsource to start a fleet.

That is it for this post since it seems to have extended quite a bit within the last 30-60 minutes. I will post my results for today's promotion etc by dark.

TIP OF THE DAY

When finding clientele dress casual but business like... Show up in a nice pair of cargo shorts and a polo shirt that are earthy colors. Today I showed up in brown cargo shorts and a darker brown polo shirt and made a sale... You never know what catches the clients eye ;)
 
Congratulations on your new found way.

But.. remember, price cutting is onwe of the easiest and also one of the most damaging one.

Next week the same guy may come to your neighbourg and offer them 30$ rate, and so on and on until neither of you will make any buck.
Also people get used to this type of marteking and the ask for "lower" price around.

It is better to offer, for instance, a free gift, like free car washing or trees trimming or "a free addinitional service" like once per 2 months free mowing.

It eventually comes to the 35$ price per month, but it is packed differently.
 
Yesterday went very well but was a bit longer than I had expected. I underestimated the size of the clients lawn and was mowing for a total of 3 1/2 hours. The client let me use their riding lawn mower for their backyard which was very nice. Most of the 3 1/2 hours was spent mowing a ditch that was about 15 ft. deep... In the end I made my $35 and they gave me a $5 tip and some refreshments. This comes out to about $11.42 per hour which isn't bad on my first day.

I am going to do some promotion later today and see how it works to get some business. Will explain about this tonight.
 
You can cover a lot more ground a couple of different ways. One would be to cruise the neighborhoods writing down addresses and putting a price down that you would charge for each house. When you get home, send out individual postcards with your proposal to service their lawn care needs and the estimate.

The other way would be to set up at your local flea market with your truck, some signage and hand out your business cards. You would be surprised who actually goes to flea markets.
 
Don't give up. I have a friend who started just like you about 10 years ago and is now the largest service in his city. A fleet of trucks and mowers. He now does full landscaping and has a landscape engineer. He own a large warehouse and is doing very, very well.

You can do it to.
 
I admire your drive to succeed. One of my favorite clients is a local lawn care company. The owner started when he was young and has earned a really nice living for himself.

No reason you can't do the same.

I highly recommend checking out LawnChat, GopherHaul, and GopherForum for some tips on running a profitable lawn care biz -

cheers
 
Here is an idea I had a long time ago, which you might be able to use.. it will cost some $$$ but get you tons of exposure. Ok so here is the idea you know the lawn signs people put in their yard when children graduate. Make these for your lawn service. Put something like "Want your Lawn cut FREE? call 555-5555" now here is the insane part. Pull out your phone book & start calling numbers or go door to door. Explain that you are in the neighboorhood & are promoting your company telling potential customers you will cut their grass for free twice. The only catch is they must put your companies sign in their yard. I have never tried this but who would turn this down. When a customer agrees cut their grass free like you said put the sign in then explain you will be back after 30 days to give the customer their second free cut. If you have enough $$$ to spend on signs/will to work temporarily for free your signs will be all over town. Try to get a sign on every road you can. People will take notice quick because your sign/logo will be everywhere. You should defenitely get calls plus I bet some of your free cuts will turn into paid customers after noticing the good work you did & building a relationship with them. Hope this helps you, never got the chance to do it.

edit: when leads call you do not offer the same service, offer something where after so many months service whatever they get 1 free cut. They will think this is the same offer everyone else has been buying, when you were really doing the work for free.
 
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Also tell the people who do avail of your services that they ought to recomend them to their friends and if they do their friends will receive a discount or some shit like that.

Everybody wants to look good in front of their friends ;)
 
Here is an idea I had a long time ago, which you might be able to use.. it will cost some $$$ but get you tons of exposure. Ok so here is the idea you know the lawn signs people put in their yard when children graduate. Make these for your lawn service. Put something like "Want your Lawn cut FREE? call 555-5555" now here is the insane part. Pull out your phone book & start calling numbers or go door to door. Explain that you are in the neighboorhood & are promoting your company telling potential customers you will cut their grass for free twice. The only catch is they must put your companies sign in their yard. I have never tried this but who would turn this down. When a customer agrees cut their grass free like you said put the sign in then explain you will be back after 30 days to give the customer their second free cut. If you have enough $$$ to spend on signs/will to work temporarily for free your signs will be all over town. Try to get a sign on every road you can. People will take notice quick because your sign/logo will be everywhere. You should defenitely get calls plus I bet some of your free cuts will turn into paid customers after noticing the good work you did & building a relationship with them. Hope this helps you, never got the chance to do it.

edit: when leads call you do not offer the same service, offer something where after so many months service whatever they get 1 free cut. They will think this is the same offer everyone else has been buying, when you were really doing the work for free.

Fantastic idea. This can apply to more services... but fits perfectly with lawn cutting.

OP: wish you tones of success man... lawn cutting is something I don't enjoy doing personally, but if you don't mind it, and like the money, then all the power!

Just make sure you don't work IN your business too long. Once you get a solid set of clients, be sure to systematize it all, get people working for you, and watch the easy bucks roll in.
 
a few tips:

buy your own equipment ASAP. start with a gas trimmer. the strings on electric trimmers break often, the trimmers themselves are difficult to fix, and they generally do a shitty job. get a decent gas trimmer yesterday. you can find awesome deals on lawn equipment at pawn shops.

get some business cards printed ASAP. get a hole puncher and a bag of rubberbands. punch a hole in the card then stick the rubberband through the hole and loop it through itself. now you have an attention grabbing door hanger that is difficult to remove.

stopping at 5 houses a day isn't enough especially if you're trying to get to 20 yards before the summer is over.

this business is about referrals. do a great job every time and you'll have more business than you can handle.

get out there and hustle your butt off, there's money to me made!

lawnsite.com - the best resource for lawn service operators
 
I like the fact that you took the bull by the horns to change your situation.

When you get more clients, you'll be able to pick and choose the more profitable properties.

I have a good friend who has a lawn service business. We're in a small town, and he simply has a magnetic sign on the side of his truck advertising his service, and he says he has to turn away business. He's built it to the point that now he has to review his customer mix every few months to make sure he's maximizing profitability and doesn't have work just to "have work".

I like the free lawn mowing signs.

Instead of lowballing, you might also try this:

Knock the doors, and tell them you'll mow their yard first time for free. Tell them here's the deal....If they're completely satisfied, all you ask is that they let you mow it in the future for $XX. Raise your price to something that is reasonable/profitable for you, so you don't have to lowball.

With this method, you could still incorporate the signs....

This yard was mowed for FREE
Call and ask me how!
555-555-5555

Just a thought...
 
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I saw a news show before about how the city fined people huge a mounts to go cut the grass once it gets too long as a way of discouraging it from happening, and they pass those huge f ees onto the service providers, so you might be able to get on your local cities list. With the market the way it is, there are also a lot of vacant houses for s ale, you could try to contact real estate agents, and especially the agents for any of the ones you see with long grass, and tell them how it would be better to hire you to cut it regurally, than to get fines from the city.
 
I'd say get yourself a used commercial mower as soon as possible. There's just no comparison between one of those and the personal lawn mower.

I've bought a 3' and a 4' for $100 and $110 at an auction once. You might not find one that cheap, but even at $300, you'd be thanking yourself after doing a couple yards with it.

Maybe hit the local graveyards, letting them know that if they get in a bind, you could help them out. Maybe that would get a foot in the door for you to where eventually you'd have the opportunity to take over the whole maintenance contract.

My cousin has a couple graveyards he maintains and that is most of his income, other than doing some lawn treating for residential.
 
eventually you could hire hard working college students that will work for minimum wage and that method with the 2 free cuts seems really good
 
How to triple your income with very little work:
Find a number of businesses who do non-competing work - Fencing, Landscaping design, painting, sheds, roofing, building, plumbing, drainage, driveways etc
Tell each business you get leads for their type of business & will they pay you 5% or 10% for any business they get from your leads.
Put together an A5 sized card listing your grass cutting service & your details, along with the business services that your associates can offer, but not their business names or contact details. All contact initially goes through you.
After every couple of cuts you now ask various questions:
are there any problems with the house & garden that your associates can help with?
Keep your eyes open for any defects that need attention and offer your services (your associates services).
Ask occasionally if their neighbors are considering any work etc etc.
Ask if any of their family/ work colleagues are wanting work done.
The occasional $50 commission here and occasional $500 on bigger building works soon add up.
Find reliable quality associates to protect your reputation.

Wishing you well.
 
Hey, nice idea!

A lawn care business is very low overhead, and very profitable at a small-scale.

I would tell you to be VERY careful though.
1. You do not have business insurance, nor are you licensed by the state in which you live (If you live in the USA). This means if anyone gets hurt from something that you service, or WHEN you are servicing (IE You break someone's window), you'll have to pay for it out of pocket and they can sue YOU for damages (That is, unless you have an LLC).

Low-balling works, but unfortunately it ruins business for everyone else. I'd suggest doing something like "If you sign up for the rest of the season, I'll powerwash your brick pavers free!", or something that which is an incentive, but doesnt ruin someone else's business by pricepoint.

I'd also suggest you play the card "I'm a small 1-man operation, ma-am. I can tailer your service to fit anything that you'd like. Whether it's cross-cutting your lawn, or cutting at a certain height; just let me know and i'll do everything I can for you!"
 
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