Some of us naturally have a green thumb. We know how to make things grow, and how to nurture plants. Sometimes we have a keen eye for design, and know just what plants to put where to make anyones property look incredible. However, having those qualities doesn’t alway equal having a profitable lawn care business. Unfortunately, being good in the garden and good in the boardroom aren’t exactly the same skill set. But you love being outdoors, working with plants and helping things grow. And there is an old saying: “Find what you love, then find how to make money at it.”
If money did grow on trees, you’d be set for life, but since it doesn’t, here are some tips for how to have a profitable lawn care business.
Choose the Right Staff
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make in business is choosing the wrong staff. It is tempting to just get someone cheap, and to think that you can train them. But the truth is you will be to busy to train people. The best bet is to spend a little extra and get someone who is competent. Paying someone $10 an hour isn’t a good deal if it takes them twice as long to do a job as someone that you are paying $15 an hour. Of course, don’t expect someone to be better just because you are paying them more. Pay for quality, and weed out the problems.
Get The Right Equipment
Some people make the mistake of getting the biggest, newest, and most expensive gear right away. Now sometimes, that might be the best option, but other times, it is not. Are the majority of your clients residential in neighborhoods where the homes are under lots under a quarter acre? Then that tractor sized mower might be overkill.
Of course I am not saying you should shop for gear at garage sales either. Maybe getting the all new electric mowers, weed walkers, trimmers and blowers will not only help you save money on fuel costs, but also help you land the contract in the subdivision that is concerned about “eco-friendly” lawn care, or noise issues. There is no silver bullet here. You need to examine your market and make a decision based on your businesses needs.
Cultivate Good Clients
In a way, making a business grow is similar to making a garden grow. You have to nourish the good, and weed out the bad. We have all had those “bad” clients. They alway complain, they are never happy. They zap your staff’s motivation, and you spend so much extra time trying to satisfy their unreasonable expectations that it just isn’t profitable anymore to help them. Some people say that any paying customer is a good customer. I say that if you can fill their spot in your schedule with a better customer, then let someone else deal with them.
Farm Out Work That Isn’t Your Specialty
To many small business owners these days try to do everything because they think it will save them money. It doesn’t. People hire you to take care of their lawn because you are good at it. When you try doing something that you are not good at, look at the time you spend doing it (and how much per hour you think your time is worth). Then look at the cost you would pay to farm it out. Lastly, think of how much better of a job you will get from someone who specializes in that. Need a website? How many hours do you need to spend to learn how to build one, then learn about optimization, and analytics and all that other mumbo jumbo? Add up your hours at your rate. I bet it is cheaper to hire someone. Need billing taken care of? How many hours per night is your spouse willing to put up with you sitting in the other room going over the books? Getting a billing service like Obex Billing would be better for you, and cheaper then hiring a full time book keeper.
Having a profitable lawn care business really boils down to do what you are good at, and not wasting time doing what you are not good at, or doing it for people who don’t appreciate it. It also means having the right staff and equipment on hand to do the job, and not getting tied down with things you don’t know about.
So get out there and enjoy the smell of fresh cut grass. Life is to short to not spend it doing what you love.