Starting a lawn care service is a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit. With a little investment and a lot of hard work, anyone can start cutting grass and make money at it. But as with any startup, getting a lawn care business off the ground requires a lot of upfront research to ensure your company keeps on growing. We’ve distilled the process down to six simple steps to help you plant the seeds of success.
Every business needs goals in order to continuously improve, and running a landscaping business is no different. Decide what it is you want to accomplish with your new lawn care service by asking yourself these questions:
Owning a lawn care and landscaping business means owning a variety of lawn care tools and equipment that fit the services you offer. You can significantly reduce your startup costs by buying used tools from auctions and sites like Craigslist or eBay. Don’t make the mistake of buying every kind of tool at once; this is a quick way to dig yourself into debt before you even have a solid customer base. Instead, focus on purchasing the essentials below:
Starting a lawn service from scratch requires figuring out who your customers are and what they are looking for. Some questions to ask yourself include:
A lot of companies and marketing agencies use buyer personas, essentially generalized representations of their customers, to help them answer these kinds of questions. Wordstream, an online marketing company, has a great introductory guide for creating buyer personas - it even includes an example aimed specifically at landscapers. The Digital Marketing Institute also does a great job of showing how market research should inform your personas and provides some humorous templates for inspiration. This process may seem tedious initially but it will give you a huge advatange once you get to the next step.
The best way to market your business online is through a mix of social media and review sites. But before you dive into the marketing game, invest in a decent looking website. There are several hosting services out there that offer a simple, all-in-one website building platform, such as Squarespace and Wix. You should also make sure your site follows best practices for SEO (search engine optimization) so it will show up in Google and other search engines.
Once you have an online presence, Facebook and Twitter are a great way to connect with existing customers and potentially generate new leads, but they shouldn’t be your sole source of new business. Instead, spend some of your marketing dollars on review sites such as Yelp or Angie’s List. Both sites receive millions of homeowners and business owners every day, a sizable proportion of which are looking for professional landscapers and lawn care specialists.
While getting your lawn care business up and running online, make sure you are also getting out there and meeting your target audience. Whether it’s walking from door to door or meeting potential clients in person, you’ll gain a lot of insight into the types of services and qualities your customers desire in a lawn care service. If you’re having trouble getting customers, offer to do some work for discounted prices, or even for free, in order to build your reputation and referrals.
As your company grows, so too must your team. The process of running your landscaping business will eventually become too big for you alone. You should seriously consider hiring an office worker first to move some of the day-to-day planning off your plate. With a little more wiggle room in your schedule, you can start hiring and training field technicians to work jobs for you.
As you hire more help, you can use them to find more workers. A referral system is a great way to incentivize your employees to find hardworking and reliable people to work for you. Start by asking a member of your team if they have any friends looking for work. If you end up hiring one of them, give your employee a nice cash bonus. You’ll soon be inundated with referrals.
Apart from online and traditional marketing, good old-fashioned word-of-mouth is a powerful way to expand your customer base. Ask your best customers for testimonials you can post on your site and incorporate into your promotional materials. You can also ask them to mention your company on social media or leave a review on Yelp or Angie’s List after wrapping up your work. Discounts are also a great way to get your customers to leave a review, but some sites may prohibit compensation - make sure you double-check!
In the end, starting a lawn service is all about persistence. If you follow these six steps, put in the hours to stay on top of your workload and work constantly to improve your service, you’ll put your company on the path to success.