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Anyone who has a garden knows that maintaining it is hard work. So it’s no surprise that there are plenty of landscaping companies out there that help eliminate the need to mow, weed, treat, and maintain your lawn yourself.
What Do You Need To Start A Lawn Care Business
If you’re someone who enjoys working in the garden and loves the smell of freshly cut grass or a freshly mowed garden, you’ve probably wondered how to start your own landscaping business.
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The landscaping business is booming; and if you live in a warm climate, you can work almost all year round. According to the National Association of Landscape Professionals, the landscape services industry generates $93 billion in revenue annually and employs over a million people.
If this is the right move for you, read on to learn how to start your own landscaping business.
Given the scope and depth of landscaping – from residential to commercial, from maintenance to tree removal and care – the economics of starting your own landscaping business is quite simple. It can be as simple as renting a lawn mower and knocking on the door.
“My previous business was a lawn care business that I grew myself and ran with a walk-behind mower for over 125 employees,” says Brian Clayton, founder of GreenPal, an online lawn care ordering service that is a bit like Uber in terms of landscaping.
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“Most customers are dealing with substandard and unprofessional competitors,” says Clayton. “It’s almost easy to build a successful landscaping business if you answer the phone when a client calls, respond to voicemails quickly, and do what you’ve agreed with your clients.”
Sounds simple, right? But what else can a landscaping business owner do to go beyond the basics? Here are some trade tricks when starting a landscaping business.
The first step to starting a landscaping business is to acquire an arsenal of landscaping equipment. Once you have decided what services your landscaping company will offer, you will know what equipment you will need. Then it’s time to decide if you want to buy it right away or go for the cheaper rental option.
Starting off, you have the option of renting equipment or purchasing low-end equipment. But as your landscaping business grows, so do your needs and equipment costs – and you can spend as much money maintaining low-cost equipment as it would cost to buy high-end machinery.
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“Most landscaping contractors spend 5 to 10 hours a week fixing their equipment, first sharpening blades or changing oils, spark plugs, air filters, fuel filters and more,” says Clayton.
So what are the basics of good landscaping equipment when starting a landscaping business?
There are several hand tools every good landscaper should have: shovels (such as square jaw, spade and trencher), wheelbarrows, tillers (such as backhoes or cultivators), and stronger items such as chains and drills. But there are no real costs here. The cost of larger equipment may surprise you.
“Most people don’t know this, but mowers used by commercial landscapers cost over $12,000,” says Clayton.
Lawn Mower Won’t Start
“Landscaping contractors should also buy or finance a decent truck costing at least $10,000 and a trailer costing over $5,000,” says Clayton. “Also, for landscaping, you’ll need a front loader in most cases, which can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000.”
According to Clayton, landscape construction and maintenance companies must bring $40,000 to $50,000 worth of equipment to a client’s property. That’s why you might want to start with rentals – which Clayton says come at $3,000 in installation costs – but don’t rely on them forever.
There are several necessary forms of business insurance that are needed to run a business. The most important thing is general liability insurance, which covers everything from repair costs to legal fees if you or an employee accidentally cause damage. Accidents – like running over a mower and sprinkler – happen, and when they do, you want to hide it.
You may also need worker’s insurance, depending on which state you work in, but as Clayton says, “Many states require both insurance, whether you have employees or not, in order to run a legitimate business.” Workers’ comp covers everything from medical costs to legal costs if an employee is injured on the job.
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Other types of insurance that are not required but may be useful include inland waterway insurance (to cover cargo damaged in transit), commercial car insurance (own vehicle is not allowed). Your personal policy does not cover commercial vehicles) and commercial umbrella insurance (which extends your coverage in case you are hit with a large settlement).
Also, if you want to use pesticides as part of your services, most states have laws on pesticides that you must purchase. Clayton calls it “a very involved process” and does not recommend it until you are well established in your field.
Before you start a business, make sure you have the necessary business licenses in the state where you do business, are registered as a payer of taxes, and have an employer identification number, also known as a company tax identification number.
The business licenses you need and the rules for obtaining them vary by state, so check the specifics of the state your business will operate in before starting your landscaping business.
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Another type of insurance you will need when starting a landscaping business is employment law liability insurance, which covers your company in the event of overtime calculation errors and wage and hour violations.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the future of extra pay, and the fact that many small business owners get by on their own at first without the help of a lawyer or accountant, this insurance could be a lifesaver, or rather a business saver.
“In 2009, the Department of Labor audited my company and found that we couldn’t pay our crew leaders – they had to be paid on an hourly basis,” he says. “This in turn resulted in additional overtime payments for 80 employees and resulted in a $450,000 fine that my company had to pay.”
Insurance nearly killed Clayton’s company. Take his experience as a lesson that having insurance – especially before scaling – is critical to your landscaping business.
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When it comes to marketing your landscaping business, you know where to start: Facebook and other social media as well as SEO tactics can increase your visibility on Google and other search engines.
Of course, word of mouth is always best, especially in hyperlocal markets, but it involves overdoing it in doing a good job. So, while waiting for glowing reviews in town, consider setting up social accounts before starting your landscaping business.
According to Clayton, the best way to get started is to master all the common marketing channels and set an initial budget of $500 to $2,000 to get your first 10 to 100 customers. After expanding your landscaping business, you may need a digital marketing expert to take your game to the next level.
When you first start your landscaping business, you will also need to decide on the price of your services to include in your marketing efforts. Every potential client wants to know what the fees for the various landscaping services offered by your company will be.
My Lawn Mower Keeps Turning Off When Mowing Certain Areas Of My Yard. Seems Like The Motor Drowns And Shuts Off When Cutting Areas Where Grass Is A Bit Longer. This Started
When deciding on your rates, check the competition to see what similar companies are offering, then go from there. However, remember that you can change your bids at any time.
When you start a landscaping business, it’s important to get your finances in order. And we’ve probably left the days of pencil and paper behind to keep track of all your business expenses, schedules, and accounts. Even spreadsheets that can handle large amounts of data are a bit dated.
Fortunately, there are many business apps that can help your landscaping business run more smoothly. From inventory management and payroll to employee timesheets, there are apps and software available to help you focus on what matters – truly greening
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