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NOTABLE! Starting a lawn care service business

Discussion in 'Business Models, Niches, Industries' started by Johnny boy, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. Ken Elshoff
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    Ken Elshoff Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Out of curiosity, are you renting the equipment and doing this on the side? Or, do you own the equipment and do this full time? (I ask because you referred to work during the coming weekend). Also, how are you getting clients (marketing)? Do you offer any additional services like dethatching? Thanks for the input!
     
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  2. NaPal
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    Someone I know very well has a 30" walk behind aerator w/ sulky. I went and picked it up about a month ago and it costs me a 6-pack every time I pay them a visit ;)

    Yes, I do it on the side. Weekends and evenings. If I could aerator 4 hours a day, every single day, I'd quite my job in a heart beat. This weekend I made the same amount in 8 hours, that I get paid to work 40 hours at my weekday job.

    How I get Clients:
    1. I had an explosion of clients when I posted on my house developments Facebook page. I got like 10 houses booked almost immediately after I posted. This is a new development so lawns are maybe max 2-3 years old. I attribute this do my neighborhood rapport and giving a neighborhood discount.
    2. Craigslist has brought me nothing but cheapskates wasting my time. Which makes sense to me because people on Craigslist are looking to get a deal, not pay a premium price. This is odd though because @Johnny boy says 90% of his customers come from Craigslist.
    3. I've gotten 1 client with Google Adwords. I'm going to start focusing on fine tuning my ads.
    4. I've gotten 1 client through a referral from my Google Adwords client. ($500 yard) :)
    5. I've tried several local Facebook groups for selling stuff with ZERO hits. I think this is the same thing as Craigslist. People are looking to get a deal.
    I can definitely tell you that the clients are out there! You just have to find them. The people who are actively looking for the service want to get a deal, so these are not the clients you want. The trick is somehow connecting with premium clients that are not actively looking for the service, but have the disposable income to write you the check, and care about their lawn.

    Also, if anyone's ever looking for an aerator check out www.stingerequipment.com - WSO 2.6
    They're hands down #1 right now with no chains and full hydro equipment.
     
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  3. NaPal
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    @Ken Elshoff I only offer Aeration and Overseed at this time. Several clients have asked if I can do more things. I've learned my HOA pays their current lawncare company $20k/year. I'm considering buying a zero turn mower and putting a bid in this spring.

    For a lot of established companies it is easier to get the Aeration sale because it is an add-on service. For me IT IS the service.
     
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  4. NaPal
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    After this weekend I'm staring to think about hiring someone part time. If I can pay someone $20 to do a $250 lawn; well you where I'm going. No amount of $$$ can put more time on your clock.
     
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  5. minivanman
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    minivanman Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Just remember, it's not always where you place an ad, it's the words in the ad. It only takes 1 misplaced or wrong word to make the ad go wrong, unfortunately most ads have several misplaced & wrong words in them.

    You say all that you got from Craigslist and Facebook groups were cheapskates yet you like the people in your neighborhood that you offered a discount to.....? What's the difference?
     
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  6. NaPal
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    Good point!

    The people in my neighborhood are all in a neighborhood facebook group. These are people that I'm labeling as 'not trying to get a deal'.
    The other facebook groups i posted in are local forsale/trade/marketplace groups. These are people that I'm labeling as 'trying to get a deal'.

    I'm stating that the clients you want are not on the forsale/trade/marketplace groups. If they want something they just go to the local Cabela's and buy it, instead of looking on marketplace groups to score a deal. These are the clients that value their time and will purchase the service at a premium price......as long as your man enough to take their money :hilarious:
     
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  7. minivanman
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    minivanman Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Some how I got lost......
     
  8. NaPal
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    Let me clarify....

    Neighborhood Facebook Group = homeowners interested in neighborhood events, updates, concerns, published holiday events, etc. These people are not actively looking for aeration services.

    Items for Sale Facebook Groups = people actively looking for items & services at a deep discount. These people are actively looking for aeration services and there's always the guy down the road that'll do your lawn for $50.

    Moral = find the people not actively looking but will pay.
     
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  9. Real Deal Denver
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    Real Deal Denver Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Oooooooooooooo. Wow!

    As someone that is implementing a facebook campaign right now, your post was spot on.

    Solid. Thanks for taking the time to share this.
     
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  10. minivanman
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    minivanman Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Like I said.... it's all about what you say. I use those groups for all kinds of advertising targeted to those people who are actively looking and make a lot of money. That's how I grew 3 lawncare businesses so fast and sold them. Right now I advertise for a cleaning business that is growing so fast I had to stop advertising because she can't find enough worker. By the way, she charges $75 per man hour, way over what most people charge. I will say, I have not used Craigslist in years just because I have so much luck with Facebook. I do think Craigslist has changed a lot for the worse in the last few years. I can guarantee that if I was you, I could make $100,000 profit next year doing your business..... but that is me, not you. Just continue to plug away and learn and you will be able to do the same. Change up what you do. I've changed several things over the years. It takes time to learn what words to use and what words to not use. It's not going to happen over night.

    When I advertise my main goal is to get people to pay me the highest price possible for that service. Some are looking and some are not. I've made lots of money in the last 25 years making the same basic types of ads.
     
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  11. NaPal
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    @minivanman thank you for the solid words! Now that I read back, you summed up what I was trying to describe; it's all about what you say.

    couple questions;
    1. Do you use Facebook Advertising, or are you posting ads direct to Facebook groups?
    2. How do you handle customers that you quote, and then they say "thank you but I'll pass". I've had a few of these and they're hot leads but they're passing solely because they think the price is too much.
    3. I'd be interested in seeing some of your ads that could I adapt for my service :)

    $100,000 profit next year is doable. It would take a lot of hustling, a lot risks, a lot of the unknown, forging the path laying the tracks down as you go. But isn't all business?

    @minivanman would you recommend staying in the quick in-and-out services for lawn care? I'm not sure I want to get involved with the more detail work like landscaping, mulching, shrub trimming, etc. I like the business of hitting 10 properties in a day (mow and go, aerate and go, fertilize and go) It's like jumping from piggy bank to piggy bank. What have you found to be most successful for your lawn care ventures?

    I've been thinking about adding on mowing in the spring. But I'm fighting with the $. With aeration I can make $200/hr, with mowing I think it'll be closer to $60-80/hour. Then again mowing is weekly and aeration is bi-annually. I'm thinking about getting a 54"-60" zero turn mower in the spring.
     
  12. NaPal
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    Also using yardbook based on your recommendation and may be selling the truck soon to get a van based on your recommendation. With a van the deck is lower and it's enclosed! Also will hire future employees on commission
     
  13. minivanman
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    minivanman Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    I like FREE!! I'd use the buy/sell/trade groups if I was building a lawncare business. But, the thing about using those groups is that Bob will always jump in to under-cut your price if you give a price in the open. So do what not many others do... Tell people what you do and how you can help them, then ask them to send you a private message.... then CUT OFF NOTIFICATIONS. That way, Bob can't stick his nose in your business. If Bob wants a customer he will need to make his own dang ad.

    I handle customers who pass like this >>>>> quickly move on trying to get another customer BUT write their name down exactly like it is on Facebook. In 60 days check back with them. Note for this: I never delete a private message or a text. I have private messages from 10 years ago. I have emails from about 15 years ago.... I would have emails from longer but Yahoo! used to have a limit on how many you could have. I have every text that anyone has ever sent me.

    Why can't you aerate and fertilize and add a helper on to mow? Your goal is to be out of the field in a very short time. Hire a very flexible person. He might help you with 1 yard on Tuesday and 2 yards on Thursday to start. But just a warning.... keep 3 other people on deck because lots of times they don't show up so have 3 people you can call in a pinch. You can easily add on enough lawns fast enough to have him mow himself. Then add on more lawns to have him a helper. I wouldn't put more than 2 guys on a crew though. At that point you could add on a helper to help you with your work and quickly get OUT of the field. This should not take all summer.... 60 days max but hopefully 30 days. Personally, I like the quick in and out jobs. If it gets too technical you can't hire just anyone to do the job. Anyone can mow but not anyone can do the landscaping jobs. The next 20 businesses that you see/go in to, notice the IQ/laziness of the workers these days..... do you think they can handle much? The 3 lawncare businesses that I sold were mow/trim/edge/blow/go. We did nothing else. Need a hedge trimmed? Sorry, gotta head to the next mowing job. Big lawn mower = big maintenance costs so just use the calculator to tell you if it will be worth it or not. Where I am at, there is no lawn that you could use that big of a mower. All the residential companies here use 22" mowers for our postage stamp lawns.

    Hopefully Yardbook is treating you well. The guy that started it is really nice. I love vans for about everything. Even LCM has some vans his company uses for residential lawns. I see them when I travel to the northern part of the metroplex.

    Everything I tell you is how I would do it. I go about a lot of things different than a lot of people but it works for ME. What works for ME, might not work for YOU. So be cautious and make your own good decisions that fit YOUR business model.
     
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  14. Johnny boy
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    Johnny boy Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Update:

    I've created an automated sales process and will be relying on it from now on. Here is how it works.

    New phone number, when you call or text the number, it gives a greeting and sends you an automated text message to visit our website for a "quicker quote that saves time". That's the number I advertise with. No random calls catching me off-guard at random times.

    On the website, it has a simple page that uses social proof and good design to entice the visitor to click a button labeled "get started".

    The button opens a popup quiz that segments the visitor based on what they are looking for and then sends them to a form to fill out their information for a "fast and easy quote". The information adds them as a contact in my CRM and sends them to a sales page based on their answers to the quiz, so each customer gets a sales pitch that sells to them differently.

    They then get an automated email welcoming them and sending them a link allowing them to schedule a convenient time to schedule a phone call that has their quote and pricing information based on their square footage.

    I get an alert that I have a sales call scheduled for a certain time and I take a look at their property on google maps to see what price I'll quote them. The customer is sold to in an efficient manner and I never have to waste time visiting them, remembering to save their info, selling our services to them. Only a 10 minute call on a customer that understands our services and is usually ready to buy. I can do this remotely. And since each customer signs up for a year long contract, I'm generating about $3,000 in revenue to come in over the next year in a quick phone call.

    I use automated systems such as "survey slam" for my survey, "Active campaign" for my emailing, and "calend.ly" for my scheduling.

    And since we only sell one service, I don't have to listen to their bs about how they want us to only come every other week, or that they just want us to mow and nothing else, or how they want us to clean their gutters too. Nope. We are a professional company and this is what we offer. When it is advertised that way, it seems the customer forgets all about the custom work they wanted and just says "okay, that's worth it".

    The entire process is smooth, professional, and makes the customer think "this must be a very high quality company". It follows a similar process as large companies like Trugreen, Lawnstarter, Lawn Love, etc...

    I can pay for ads, sit back and focus my energy on better things while automated leads are brought in and sold for me.
     
    greenr, TheCj, MJ DeMarco and 5 others like this.
  15. CPisHere
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    CPisHere Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    This is awesome. Keep up the good work!
     
  16. Gidoza45
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    holy crap man awesome, fast progress. what does your contract include as far as services and how many services do you do per contract per year? Also what is your website I'm interested in your sales funnel, sounds really interesting
     
  17. Ken Elshoff
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    There is a dude in my town who has a mowing side business that is getting big through word of mouth (literally no marketing at all).

    He wants to sell it because it was just a side hustle that’s now eating up too much time.

    2 zero-turn mowers, two push mowers, two blowers, two weed eaters, the trailer, and 32 existing customers on annual contracts (worth roughly $31k gross)....all for $20k.

    I’m considering buying his gear because of this thread.

    But the price per lawn seems to be about 1/3 Of the prices discussed in this thread. I think because it’s the Midwest (Iowa).

    Anyway, this is a motivating thread. Please share as much as you are willing.

    Appreciated.
     
  18. Real Deal Denver
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    Real Deal Denver Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I think this sounds like a great biz to buy. You could hire it out.

    Except for the snow blowing.

    32 customers all want their snow blown out by 7 am. Hmmmmm. Ain't gonna happen.

    I lived in Minnesota for over 40 years, so I am very familiar with how the plows come through and create a mountain range of snow at the end of everyone's driveway.

    The mowing part could easily be done in, say 4 a day. That's 8 days work for 1 guy. Push it and do it in 5. If they're in town small lots, could probably do 5 a day.

    Being from the midwest, I understand what the ceiling is for these services. The other thread would not apply to over 80% of the country. I think your prices are much more in line, although I'd raise them up 40-50%.
     
  19. sparechange
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    You would have to be a moron to buy a lawn care business for 20k.

    Go cold call or knock on doors with your own equipment. (I've done it myself) Not hard
     
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  20. minivanman
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    minivanman Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    2 zero-turn mowers, two push mowers, two blowers, two weed eaters, the trailer

    Right now, today, used, NOT NEW..... how much are these worth?
     
  21. Real Deal Denver
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    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Good point!

    I guess I'm in the buy the biz today, start making money tomorrow phase. A 5 year loan at 8% interest for 20K has payments of $406 a month. That's the way I looked at it. Not how much I'm spending, but how much I'm making. The net is the nut. And I'm not planning on mowing either, by the way... I want a biz, not a job.

    I don't know how a marketing blitz might go with, say, postcards for something like this.

    Might be able to sign up 100 people in a month, or a week? I don't think I'd be going door knocking. I don't know if I'm getting lazy or smart? Probably lazy. I know I'm getting old, so I think much more about how to do things easier.

    Be interesting to see if anyone has done something like that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
  22. sparechange
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    You could buy up a much better buisness than landscaping, just a thought. Very over saturated market and your not gonna be making fast lane money , not worth the headache
     
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  23. minivanman
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    minivanman Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Realistically, if you sign up 1000 people a day, in 2 days you would have 100% of your town signed up.
     
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  24. Johnny boy
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    We do mowing, edging, blowing, aeration, dethatching, fertilizing, maintaining flower beds, hedge trimming, weed maintenance as well as pre-emergent spray, a soil test at the beginning of our services, and an optional watering plan if customers would like it.

    The mowing, edging and blowing is done weekly from March to October and a cleanup day once in the months of February, November and December.

    The customers pay a monthly price throughout the whole year based on the square footage of their lawn determined from a formula (square footage)^.3 (x20) so for a 1500 sq ft lawn they pay $180 a month. A 6000 sq ft lawn pays $280 a month.

    I could handle about 25+ contracts personally, and I expect a crew of two mediocre guys to handle 30+ of them together.

    The average customer is signed up on about $240 a month, so that’s at least $86,000 per crew and I’m paying these guys to work 40 hour weeks for about 40 weeks (worst case scenario) at $15 an hour (17 with taxes and insurance) so that comes out to around $50,000 in labor to get that $86,000. The more crews, the margin stays the same.

    I’ve got 3 acres of property where I keep the truck and dump the yard waste. I’m thinking of just staying here and renovating it to accommodate more trucks and an office space. My city allows me to do business from my home since it’s not retail or has customers coming here.

    And since each customer that signs up is on a contract, I can confidently hire and get more trucks without worrying in the middle of the night that customers will wake up tomorrow and cancel their plans.

    The automated sales process will allow me to sign someone up doing very little work, and the management of the customers is set up the same way too. So I could personally manage hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue or I could pay less money to hire someone that doesn’t need a ton of skills to do it.

    And if you want I can walk you through the sales funnel and how I set it up and what it looks like but I won’t be sharing the business name.
     
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  25. Ken Elshoff
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    Ken Elshoff Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER

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    He doesnt do snow removal.
    That was my mistake -- I should have been more specific. The blowers I mentioned are leaf blowers.
     
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