How to start a lawn care business in 9 steps
- A limited liability company (LLC) is the most logical business entity for a lawn care business
- Offer a limited number of services when launching your company to keep costs down and maintain quality
- Your website, social media channels, and a referral program will help you find your first clients and grow your business
If you’re wondering how to start a lawn care business and turn it into a full-time job, you’ll be glad to learn it’s an easy industry to break into with fairly low startup costs. The industry produced $99 billion in revenue in 2019 with the average household spending more than $500 per year on lawn services. If you play your cards right, you can get a piece of the action and launch your own small business.
To have a successful lawn care business, you’ll need to do some planning. This guide walks you through nine stages of planning and launching your landscaping business.
9 steps to start a lawn care business and make money
Starting a lawn care business requires upfront planning, investment in lawn care equipment, and some basic marketing tactics. You’ll start by coming up with a sound business plan, registering your business as a legal entity, and then purchasing the necessary equipment. You can then focus on marketing efforts like building a website and finding your first clients.
1. Choose a business name
A business name should be memorable, unique, and professional. It needs to stand out from your competitors and stick in the minds of potential customers.
People should quickly know the types of services you offer just by seeing your business name. Don’t be vague and leave it open for interpretation. It’s a good idea to include the term “lawn care” in your business name to make it completely obvious.
You also want to research the availability of your name across the web. Do a quick search to see if you can find a website domain name that aligns with your business. You can also search social media platforms to check if you can create social media accounts with your business name.
2. Register your business
There are three different business entities that make sense for a new lawn care business—a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC). However, a limited liability company is the smartest option for a new lawn care company.
A limited liability company protects your personal assets if any legal action were to arise. For example, your personal finances are protected if a third party takes legal action in the event that one of your employees accidentally damages their property.
Limited liability companies also allow for pass-through taxation. You’re able to pass business earnings directly to your personal tax return and avoid double taxation on earnings.
Each state has specific requirements and fees for registering your small business. The easiest way to file for an LLC is to simply visit the Small Business Administration website. From there you can go through your state’s portal and file all the necessary paperwork.
3. Get business licenses and certifications
It’s essential to do things by the book and ensure your lawn maintenance business doesn’t violate any local laws. There are lawn care licenses and certifications, but they vary from state to state.
Most states don’t require licenses or certifications if you’re looking to start a basic lawn care service. Check your state’s lawn care licensing requirements before launching your business.
There are also specific licenses and certifications needed if you want to expand your business and offer additional services. For instance, each state has different requirements regarding the use of fertilizers and pesticides. You can check with the Department of Agriculture to find out your state’s specific requirements.
4. Decide on which services you’ll offer
You can offer a long list of services beyond lawn mowing. Here’s a list of services to consider for your lawn care company:
- Lawn aeration
- Fall cleanup
It’s wise to start small and only offer services you’re capable of doing. You don’t want to say you’re an expert in a skill like landscape architecture if you can’t deliver on that promise. It’s better to hone your skills and offer the best lawn care services that will lead to fully satisfied customers. Limit your services at first and expand your offerings as your business grows.
5. Purchase equipment
You’ll need some essential mowing equipment when starting your lawn care company. It’s best to avoid high startup costs and purchase equipment that is gently used rather than buying brand-new items. Many equipment centers and dealerships will offer authorized pre-owned equipment, so you can be sure you’re purchasing quality gear.
Consider investing in the following equipment when launching your lawn care business:
- Service truck
- Leaf blower
- Safety equipment
- Miscellaneous lawn tools (rakes, shovels, brooms, etc.)
Brand-new equipment can be a financial burden for your company, especially when first starting out. Gently used equipment limits how much you’re spending at the start yet allows you to do the job just as effectively. You can invest in newer and more expensive equipment once your business takes off and you have a solid customer base.
6. Build a website
A small business website is the face of your company online. Nearly 90% of consumers research online before making a purchase. Your website is one of the first places a potential customer will look when deciding if you’re the right business to service their lawn.
Your website not only needs to look professional, but it also must be easy to navigate. Break up your site in sections like services, service areas, pricing, information about your company, and contact details such as your phone number and email address. Visitors must easily find any information needed to make their decision.
To stand out from your competitors, create a unique value proposition on your landing page that sets your company apart from the rest. For example, write a tagline like: “Professional lawn care services at cut-rate prices.” Include a call to action directly after this statement encouraging visitors to reach out for a quote.
There are platforms like Wix and Squarespace that allow you to create a website on your own. You can also outsource website development to a web developer, but this will come at a cost.
7. Claim your Yelp Business Page
Customer reviews play a significant role when consumers are deciding which lawn care business to choose. Over 70% of consumers won’t make a final decision until they’ve read customer reviews.
That’s where a Yelp Business Page comes in handy. A Yelp Business Page is an excellent place for consumers to research your business before becoming a paying customer. They can read through reviews from previous customers and find information like a business description, photos, and other contact information.
It’s also an opportunity for you to interact with customers who leave reviews—both positive and negative. You’re able to respond to reviewers and thank them for their kind words or solve any issues from customers who weren’t as satisfied. Doing so shows potential customers that you’re invested in customer service and will go to great lengths to ensure all customers are happy.
Claiming your Yelp Business Page only takes a few moments and will put your business on the map with locals.
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8. Price your services
Figuring out how much to charge customers is one of the main struggles of new lawn care business owners. How do you know how much to charge if you’ve never run your own lawn care business before?
Luckily, there is a simple pricing strategy you can follow. It’s called cost-plus pricing—or markup pricing. You simply add up your overhead costs and daily operating costs and then mark up your pricing by a certain percentage.
Consider how much it costs to deliver your service to customers. This can include factors such as:
- Employee salaries
- Drive time
- Equipment maintenance
- Vehicle maintenance
- Marketing costs (website hosting, business cards, flyers, etc.)
Once you have this number tallied, increase it by a certain percentage. For example, the cost of mowing a lawn may add up to $10. Increase this amount by 50% and you’ll have $15. Using the cost-plus pricing model, $15 is what to charge a customer for mowing their lawn.
9. Find new clients
The final component of launching your lawn care business is finding paying customers. There are many ways to get lawn care customers, but one of the most effective methods is referrals or word of mouth.
There’s a range of ways you can find your first customers. This can include canvassing your neighborhood and handing out flyers, door hangers, and business cards; offering discounts to homeowners through social media channels; or asking family and friends for their business. Once you have your first paying customers, you can move onto creating a referral program.
A referral program can help your company take off. It puts marketing efforts in the hands of your existing customers and lets you focus on providing excellent service.
Offer current customers a discount on their next mow if they refer another customer. You should also provide a discounted service for the new customers they refer. For example, give your current customers a free mow if they refer a friend or family member. You can also give the new customer 25% off their first two services.
Grow your lawn care business and watch it thrive
Building a successful landscaping business requires hard work, determination, and perseverance. There will be some ups and downs during your first year, but if you stick with it and implement some creative marketing tactics, it can succeed.
Follow the tips above—like building a website, claiming your Yelp Business Page, and starting a referral program—and you’re sure to get your new business off the ground and turning a profit.
The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.