If you love working outdoors and enjoy being your own boss, starting your own lawn care business could be a great way to mow and rake in money. If you hate being at the mercy of Mother Nature or dread stepping in dog doo, lawn care may not be a good choice for you.
Starting a lawn care business has its pros and cons.
- You can start small
- Repeat customers
- You can be your own boss
- Chance for high income
- Easy to add and cross-sell services
- Lots of competition
- Seasonal business
- Upfront costs
- Storms and rain delays
- Management of people and business accounts
- Dog doo
We’ll help you sort through the advantages and disadvantages below so you can go into your lawn care business with your eyes wide open. Along the way, we will show you some of the ways LawnStarter can make it easy to run — and grow — your lawn care business.
Let’s get started with the pros of starting a lawn care business:
Pros of Starting a Lawn Care Business
You Can Start Small
All you need is a push mower — or a couple of goats — to get started, and then you can add equipment as you increase your customer base. When you grow even bigger, you can hire team members to care for all the lawns in your part of the city.
You can start very small. For example, providing lawn care services may not even be your full-time job. Instead, mowing lawns might be a side business to add extra income.
No matter how small or large, or whether lawn care is your sole paycheck or a side job, LawnStarter can help you add customers in the area where you live.
If you make a great first impression and deliver a great mow, that customer likely will stick with you week to week and season to season. As you expand your customer base, your lawn care business will grow.
Happy, satisfied customers lead to even more customers. That’s the power of word-of-mouth advertising. It doesn’t cost anything — just make a customer’s yard look terrific, and he or she will tell neighbors and friends.
Pretty soon, you could have more lawns to mow than you can handle yourself. The “mower” customers you have, the merrier. You can always hire someone to help you deliver lawn care that’s a cut above the competition for your ballooning customer base.
You Can Be Your Own Boss
Starting a lawn care business is an excellent choice if you like being your own boss. Out on your mower, you can pretend to be the Lawn Ranger riding off — or pushing off — into the sunset.
Other decisions you can make as boss of your lawn care business:
- Do you want to work weekends?
- Gas, electric, or battery-powered equipment? Or a mix of both?
- Truck or truck and trailer? And open or covered trailer?
- What time do you want to start work? And when will you call it a day?
- Chemical or eco-friendly fertilizers?
- How can you wow your customers so they stay with you?
- Where can you get gas cheap if you have gas mowers and tools?
- Who will do your books? You? Your other half? You and business software?
- Can you afford new equipment, or should you get a loan?
- At what number of jobs will you need to hire an assistant?
- What services can/should you add to grow your business?
This freedom to be your own boss comes with responsibility. You will be accountable for any mishaps, mistakes, unpaid taxes, or business losses.
What if a fire destroys the shed or storage unit where you keep your mowers, string trimmers, and leaf blowers? You have to plan ahead as the business owner.
Being the captain of your lawn mower sounds easy, but being the captain of your business takes more work and planning.
Chance for High Income
As you grow your customer base and offer additional services, the money will keep rolling in and piling up. Yes, there is a chance of generating a high income from a lawn care business, but it takes time, effort, and the ability to manage others well.
While first-year income typically ranges from $5,000 – $50,000, that’s just when you’re starting your lawn care business. In three, five or 10 years, as you grow from a mom-and-pop shop to the trusted lawn care services provider in your area or region, you could be making a lot more.
How can you get from starting out to growing fast a bit sooner? LawnStarter can help your lawn care business to leap years ahead in its growth.
Here’s how: LawnStarter’s platform connects you to homeowners and property owners wanting lawn care and other outdoor services near you. The pro app’s map shows nearby jobs. Just click for details, claim the jobs, show up and make a great first impression. You’ll likely have added a new customer for life — or until they move.
LawnStarter also handles all the billing, the insurance, and the rest of the business operations of your lawn care company. This means you can do more of what you want to do and like to do — mow more yards and make more money.
Easy to Add and Cross-Sell Services
Once you have a customer base for your mowing services, it’s easy to add and cross-sell services. Add an edger to edge lawns. Add a string trimmer (aka weed eater) to cut the grass in those hard-to-reach places. Buy a leaf blower to keep yards you mow looking tidy.
Soon you will graduate from hauling your mower in the back of your truck to adding a trailer to haul your lawn care gear from yard to yard. We don’t blame you if you start to think of your trailer as your mobile tool shed.
With customers happy with your lawn care service, you might want to add one or more of these services:
- Tree care
- Bush trimming
- Spring/fall yard cleanups
- Leaf removal
- Gutter cleaning
- Holiday light installation
- Snow removal
- Sprinkler repairs and winterization
Offering additional services brings new business but it also is a way to offer more to your established customers.
Do the math: If your lawn mowing customers are satisfied, they likely will stay with you for years. And if you offer more outdoor services your customers need, they will turn to you for tree trimming, flower bed weeding, and more.
That customer, whose weekly mows provide you with steady income, becomes more valuable as she or he relies on you for other outdoor services. That customer’s lifetime value to you can increase dramatically. Tree trimming, for example, brings in far more revenue for you than a weekly lawn mowing job. Cross-selling and upselling your services pays.
Cons of Starting a Lawn Care Business
Lots of Competition
To get started in the lawn care business, all you need is a lawn mower, which means that there’s potentially lots of competition to mow and trim lawns in your neighborhood and city.
Your rivals range from kids in high school mowing lawns for a few bucks as a side business to small mom-and-pop-and-mowers lawn care providers to local lawn care companies with sometimes dozens of crews operating around town.
How can you stand out from the crowd of lawn care services? How can your mowing, trimming, and other outdoor services be better than the competition?
Find what makes your lawn care business unique, like offering more affordable work than your peers or researching and then offering lawn care services that other pros.
Pro Tip: Make a great first impression. Show up on time, meet the homeowner or property manager and learn the lay of the land (or the lay of the lawn). Just listening goes a long way to building a lasting relationship and longtime lawn care customer.
The lawn mowing season lasts from springtime through fall across much of the United States, which promises a steady income from around March until November.
What will you do during the remaining months of the year to keep the lights on and pay the heating bills at home? Some lawn care pros trade their mowers for snow blowers during winter.
Other pros offer additional seasonal services, such as leaf removal, fertilization, aeration, weed control, bush trimming, and gutter cleaning.
Once your lawn care business has really taken off and you have hundreds of clients, winter might be when you and your family take a real honest-to-goodness vacation. Maybe you’ll stay at a resort with manicured lawns cared for by someone else.
In warmer states like Florida, lawn care is more of a year-round career as the grass keeps growing, flowers blooming, and weeds sprouting. If anything, lawn mowing slows a bit during summer when the intense heat slows grass growth.
In any case, if you live in an area where lawn care slows during winter, you’ll need to rake in your income to cover those less-busy months.
Yes, you can get in the lawn care business with a push mower, but you’ll most likely soon add a string trimmer, leaf blower, and you’ll eventually want some form of riding mower to save you time mowing those larger yards.
Starting your own business and buying lawn care equipment can add up fast.
Although there is an opportunity for high income in lawn care, you’ll have to spend more than you gain during your business’s beginning stage. For example, according to Gorilla Desk, it can cost between $15,000 – $30,000 in set-up costs for your lawn care company.
You can lessen these costs by:
- Buy used or on sale: Don’t buy new and expensive equipment right away.
- Have a plan: Having a business plan already in place.
- Grow your business: Reinvest any profits back into your business.
- Do the math: Have a business plan that includes expenses before you open.
Storms and Rain Delays
Pouring rain, lightning strikes, flash flooding, strong winds, extreme heat — as a lawn care professional, you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Some days you won’t be able to mow due to heavy all-day rain — or you will need to stop whatever lawn care service you are performing to take cover in a storm or when tornado sirens sound.
On hot days, you need to bring plenty of water to keep your crews and yourself hydrated.
Rain delays can hit you in the wallet, so it’s best to have some flexibility in your schedule to pick up jobs you missed when the grass is dry again.
Pro Tip: The Weather Channel and the National Weather Service are your friends. Stay on top of what Mother Nature may have planned and you are less likely to be caught swamped in a deluge and more able to bob and weave to adjust your mowing schedule.
Management of People and Business Accounts
Hiring lawn care crew members can help you to expand your customer base, but you’re also the one firing your help if they are late or don’t deliver the quality of lawn care you expect.
As a lawn care business owner, you are the manager of any employees and also responsible for business accounts. You are the one doing the hiring and firing and ensuring that your crew members get paid.
Other management tasks that can easily overfill your plate:
- Billing and late payments: You are the one chasing down customers who didn’t pay or who are late in paying for their lawn care.
- Purchasing lawn care equipment: You also are the one choosing and purchasing lawn mowers and other equipment for your business and insuring your work.
- Customer relations and communications: You must try to keep your lawn care customers happy and informed of any rain delays or schedule changes.
These management tasks can be challenging, confusing, and definitely time consuming. You got into this business because you like to mow grass, not hire and fire people, after all. It’s a lot of added responsibility.
Pro Tip: LawnStarter can take many of these management tasks (scheduling, billing, some customer communications) off your plate. For a small cut of what you earn, you get access to more jobs in your area and a business partner to handle scheduling and billing.
As a lawn care pro, you’ll boost the curb appeal of your customer’s homes or properties, but you may have to sacrifice something — your shoes.
Mowing lawns often means stepping in dog doo — or worse, weed-whacking a pile of that into your face.
Fido’s business can make for a crappy day for you.
Dog doo is one of the hazards of the business, but when LawnStarter surveyed its pros for The Crappiest Lawns in America study, about 60% said they have considered dropping a customer because Man’s Best Friend had turned that lawn into a minefield.
Pro Tip: If you need another reason to wear safety goggles when you mow a lawn or use a string trimmer to get at hard-to-reach places, dog doo is it. Also, pack an extra shirt or two, a pair of paints, and a pair of work boots in your vehicle.
How to Start Your Lawn Care Business
So, you’ve weighed the pros and cons above of starting a lawn care business and you’re ready to get started.
Here are some tips to help you get mowing:
- Start small: Most lawn care professionals have only 25 customers they see regularly.
- Grow as you mow: Build your customer base through neighbors, friends, shoe leather.
- Build your reputation: With your first mow, leave a great impression.
- Find your niche: What separates you from the competition? That is your calling card.
- Wow your customers: Make your customers’ lawn look great every mow, every time.
And don’t forget that LawnStarter can help you to grow your lawn care business. Our technology sends more jobs to you where you live — growing your business and cutting your fuel costs and driving time. We also can handle much of your business operations so you can do what you love most — mowing and providing other lawn care and outdoor services.
If you have questions about LawnStarter’s platform and ways you can better use the services, call or text LawnStarter Pro Support at 855-800-4872 Monday through Saturday.
Main Photo Credit: Max Pixel