I started with a push mower too! I started with a Murray push mower from Walmart and used it to mow a cemetery that I could walk to down the road from my parents. I used this push mower for a couple of season and the handle broke at the base. Next purchase was a snapper rear engine rider with a 28-inch cut and an 8 hp Briggs and Stratton engine. Used this mower for a season and then got my first commercial account. This was large nursing home with apartment buildings. The rear engine rider had a rubber disk that slid to increase the speed of the mower and I was burning through several a season, then the spacer for the rear axle started to wear and needed to be replaced. This is when I stepped up to a 36 commercial belt drive walk behind. The large acreage commercial account was wearing me out walking the entire place so I bought a
Some rule of thumbs that may help:
1-5 lawns per week- residential equipment
10-15 lawns per week- used commercial
25-35 lawn per week – low hour or new commercial equipment
40-60 lawns per week – New equipment every 2-3 years
You don’t know what you don’t know:
The only way to realize that you don’t know what you don’t know is to learn. Books, mentor, youtube,…etc. can help. https://lawncrack.com/best-books-for-lawn-care-and-landscape-business-owners Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity, don’t be insane! This is where you should consider getting a business coach (https://lawncrack.com/lawn-care-business-coaching/) because it is cheaper than trying to learn everything the hard way. Time is money, and nothing is free in this world. The time that it takes to learn and apply self-taught knowledge takes longer. When you get a business coach they can shorten the time it takes thereby increasing your revenue and making you money faster. This is a prime example of you don’t know what you don’t know.
Did you know that you are losing out on potential sales? When you have a professionally built website that is a 24 hour a day 7 days a week salesman creating leads to funnel into potential clients working for you, the price is ridiculously cheap to have someone build it for you. https://lawncrack.com/websites-lawn-care-companies/ You can build the website yourself, but it needs to rank well in organic search results, have great copy (words on the page) and have a strong call to action for the potential customer to call, email, fill out form to ask for an estimate or even better sign up on the spot with a credit card and start a relationship with your company.
This is when time is money….time spent in learning how to build a great website or spend the money to make a lot more money. Being a business owner one must think in terms of ROI (Return on Investment) If I spend $1250 on a website that generates $50,000 to $200,000 in new leads each year, well that would have been nice to know, but you don’t know what you don’t know.
Don’t subsidize customers
When I say don’t subsidize customers, what I am really saying is price correctly and track job times. What happens when you don’t track job times, you can’t do job costing. Every single account costs you money to perform the work.
When you track each and every job you can see if you bid incorrectly, are under-performing or made a profit. What happens when you do a guesstimate is that you make money on some, lose money on others and break even on some. The break-even and lose money cancel out most of the profitable jobs. In essence, you are working harder for less money because you are not job costing.
Drive down any non-billable time or expenses
What activity do you perform to generate revenue? Cutting grass is the example of lawn mowing. What function do you do that does not create revenue?
The list is long: Fuel: How can you reduce trips to the gas station?
Sharpen Blades: How can you sharpen blades faster https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zcf-qiqGd8o
Paperwork: How can you reduce office administration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3JJ1V2Mrn4
Grease mowers: Some mowers have non-greaseable spindles, casters, etc.
Mowing Route: How can you reduce drive time?
Vehicle Maintenance: How can you reduce equipment maintenance?
Trimmer String: Cut and wind string for a fast refill and keep it in your pocket.
Customers: How can you eliminate callbacks, complaints, or phone calls?
Automate Invoicing, Automate Marketing with Referrals
How do you automate invoicing? This is a solution I come up with after having 6 customers not paying in one season and dealing with slow payers. Pre-pay or pay at the time of service. No Money, No Mow Policy!
Customers can leave payment at their residence if you are a solo operator. If you are a larger company having a credit card on file is the way to go from the start. Automating marketing for a solo operation by incentivize customers friends or family by doing quality work at a fair price and also to reward referrals with a cash or gift card. Set a policy in place to have at least 4 mows or a month of service for the reward to keep from gaming the system.
Focus on profitability instead of customer count
Focusing on customer count is not the best indicator of making a profit. You can have a million dollar business with 1000 customers that only produces a 5% profit margin and make $50,000. Or you can have a $90,000 business with 60 customers with a 60% profit margin and make $54,000. Totally doable as a solo operator.
Solo or Multiple Crews
Do you want to make more than $54,000 a year? Then multiple crews should be an option. This is where it gets tricky. Multiple crews increase income, but only if done correctly. https://lawncrack.com/percentage-pay-lawn-care-industry/ is a great article about paying employees.
Many companies try to save money when paying employees. This is a mistake that will come back to bite you. There is a cost associated with, retaining, recruiting, firing, etc. What you need to know about growing a larger company it can burn you out if you don’t put systems in place to take the load off the owner’s plate. https://youtu.be/qEwzZsPr710
When growing a larger company much has to be reinvested back into the company to grow it and the process of creating a larger company that runs itself is fully explained in Ryan’s book: Cracking the Code to Profit. Once you read it you will want to read it again! https://lawncrack.com/shopping/
Don’t reinvent the wheel, get a mentor!
Don’t beat yourself up, it takes time to get to where you want in life and business. Have someone that has done it before you to show you the ropes. I also like to give back what I have learned to someone that could use the help. One above and one below. https://youtu.be/IqZP1c1UMto
Big thanks to Josh Hall for writing this up for us!