How To Start A Lawn Mowing Business

How To Start A Lawn Mowing Business

Tired of working inside?  Like working in your yard on weekends and after work?  Have you ever considered doing yard work for other people and getting paid to do it?  Well if you have, here’s how to start a lawn mowing business.  But before you run out and buy a new lawnmower, let’s think about this a bit.  Let’s face it, if you had a really good job, you wouldn’t even consider mowing lawns for a living, so we’ll say right off the bat, you want to quit your job, for whatever reason.  However, before you do quit, let’s make lawn care into a part-time-make-some-extra-money type of job that you can quit at any time, that takes the pressure off and will make it more enjoyable.  After work and weekends, you’ll have to go out and mow a few lawns, edge and clean up, (and get paid!), so if you think you’re up to that, let’s go a step further.

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You'll Need Something Better Than This!

Tools And Advertising

I’m going to say you all ready own a lawn mower, edger, rake, broom or blower,and a truck to haul them around in, otherwise why would you even think of this as a side business?  There are hundreds of other things you can do if you don’t have these tools all ready, so let’s say you do.  You can always upgrade your equipment once you start making money, but for now, if it’s good enough for your yard, it’s good enough.   Now you need some lawns to mow.  The easiest place to start is the Web.  The greatest thing about the internet is the free advertising you can do on it.  The first thing you’ll need is a catchy name for your new venture, so once you get that decided, head to Craigslist  and place your first ad, check out the other gardening ads and make one of your own that’s similar.  Save it in your computer’s Notebook and you can re-install it weekly in minutes, just copy and paste.  If you’re active on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin, put out a weekly ad on those sites too, eventually you’ll start getting some responses.  You shouldn’t forget the other free tried and true methods of advertising to get some customers, most grocery stores have bulletin boards that housewives love to check out, put up a flyer there or go door to door putting flyers under door mats(no mailboxes, Federal laws you know!).  If you aren’t concerned about letting people at work know what you’re up to, spread the word there as well.  Some cheap business cards are a must, hand them out everywhere you go, especially the hardware store.  Sam Walton was a shameless self-promoter and look where he ended up, in other words, don’t be shy!  Make sure you return all the calls you get and be extremely polite, customer service is where it’s at,  just look at what John Nordstrom accomplished if you don’t believe it.

While your new advertising campaign is starting up and before you get a couple lawns to mow, will you know how much to charge for your service?  Probably not, so here’s what you do, have your wife(or yourself) call a couple Lawn Service companies and ask for an estimate.  If they insist on coming over, let them, be polite, and pick the guys brain while you’re talking.  Find out his monthly rate, how many times a month he comes over, will he weed the beds, trim the bushes, etc.(I’m betting he charges extra for those last two items, make sure you take note of how much extra!) take his card and say thank you very much.  Now that  you know what the competition is charging, will you underbid them or charge the same rates?  Well the beauty of working for yourself is, you get to decide.

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This Would Still Do The Job!

License And Insurance

Eventually you are going to need a business license and some liability insurance.  Now don’t panic, it’s affordable, but if you start off mowing lawns for people you know, you can probably let it slide for awhile.  If business starts to pick up, you’ll need to act.  Apply to your town for a business license, it shouldn’t cost more then $50, good for a year, use your home for the address, and remember, no chemicals will be stored at your house!  For the insurance, a million dollar liability policy will run you approximately $100 per month.  The agent will tell you how much you need, maybe not that much, just follow his/her advice.  As soon as you get these two things, make sure you change your ad to include, “Licensed and Insured,” people love that!

Educate Yourself!

So you’re mowing this guys lawn and he asks how much to trim his rhododendron bush, or his roses.  What do you say?  If you have never trimmed a rhodie, you had better tell him that.  Those bushes can be very expensive to replace, so you don’t want to kill it by a bad prune job, and the same goes for roses.  Ask him if he knows how they should be trimmed and if he would show you, so you can do it for him next year or whenever.  Here’s a side note: a good resource to keep in your truck is Sunset’s Western Gardener’s book(there’s a Sunset book for every area, get whatever applies to where you live.)  The soft cover editions are pretty cheap and if you buy last year’s edition, really cheap.  So you’re a year behind, they don’t discover new plants every year anyway, and it covers over 8,000 different plants. so anything you come across in the average garden is going to be in this book.  Back to the prune job:  If you can go to your truck and pull out this book and look up Rhododendrons, just to show the customer how careful you are going to be with his plants, you’ll automatically get a gold star by your name in his eyes, and probably a referral to a new customer.

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What A Beauty!

And referrals are the main objective for your fledgling enterprise.  A good referral or reference means you’re doing a good job.  You show up when you say you will(on time), you return missed phone calls, you’re neat and clean and don’t smell bad, you don’t ask to use the customer’s restroom or pee in his yard, you get right to work, your clean up job is spotless(no leaves left behind), you don’t flirt with the wife or daughters(very important), in other words, you are the perfect yard man.  Eventually you’re going to be trimming hedges, pruning bushes and small trees, landscaping, repairing or installing sprinkler systems, aerating, etc., all these things are what good gardening services provide, so you need to do your homework.  The more you study that Sunset book, the more knowledgeable you will be about the plants you see when you go out for the initial estimates.  People trust people who know what they’re talking about, we can’t help it, so why not be the gardener who knows more then the other gardeners?  More knowledge means more business which means more money.

Following these steps should get you on your way, but eventually you’ll need more equipment.  Remember, start small and build slowly using your profits, you don’t want to get a loan(believe me, it adds too much additional stress!).  Find a good lawnmower shop and start giving them your business and ask them which lawnmowers they recommend, they usually have used ones for sale that they’ve fixed.  Just make sure they start easy, nothing is worse then getting to a job and the equipment doesn’t work, so test drive it before you buy it!  Doing physical work outside is the best, I’ve done it all my life.   It keeps you active and healthy and in great shape, so enjoy yourself and good luck with your new lawn service business.

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