In today’s world of high-tech services, there are still a few businesses that require nothing more than elbow grease and some positive word of mouth to take off. These businesses are generally low-tech, so many people overlook them. However, when customers have a need for these services, they’re usually willing to pay what it takes, ensuring that entrepreneurs who enter these fields can do very well.
One such business is landscaping or lawn care. According to Ibisworld.com, the U.S. landscaping business is a $99 billion industry with around 500,000+ businesses involved, and a million people engaged in it. Even though the business stats show that this business category is worth big bucks now, entry is still relatively simple. If you love the outdoors and aren’t afraid to spend some time doing manual labor, you can enter this business for a marginal cost.
Know the types of services a landscaper may provide to their clients:
- Lawn mowing and care
- Grass laying and seeding
- Fertilizer application/weed control/anti-pest application
- Landscape maintenance
- Landscape architecture
- Addressing drainage
- Weeding and planting
- Tree and bush trimming
- Mulch and other decorative maintenance
For a basic lawn mowing business, all you’ll need are a lawnmower and a trimmer, and likely a vehicle that can transport them from customer to customer. You can rent them or invest in new ones if you believe your business can grow. Mowers can be anything from handheld manual push machines to really high-powered, high-output mechanized rideable ones. Always keep your equipment in good condition, with maintenance occurring after every day of work, as this is your primary bread and butter source.
The machines need to be oiled, the blades must be sharpened and engine oil needs to be changed periodically if it is mechanized. Trimmers and edgers are additional tools that will make your end result look professional and neat. In the end, personal protective equipment is a must while working outside in the elements. Mowers can be fairly harmless if you use them correctly, but lawns and grounds can contain any possibilities; a small pebble or rock thrown out of a moving mower blade will travel at a considerable speed. Therefore, safety goggles, gloves, steel-toe boots and the like are mandatory. In addition, protective clothing if you are handling any kind of chemical while fertilizing or during weeding.
Over time, as your business grows, you might require additional equipment like leaf blowers, mulch spreading devices, digging tools, tarps, ladders and tree-trimming tools. You can buy these as your business expands.
A very integral part of the landscaping business is knowing what to charge for the work that you have done or will do. An estimate is usually the way it works, which you provide free of cost before starting work. Then if both parties agree on the cost, the work will begin. There are usually two or three ways to determine your worth for the work you’ll do.
One way can be determining the usage of your equipment cost, plus an hourly charge for the labor, and then a cost for the services that you have rendered. Second is fixing a price on the size of property that you will work on. This gives the land owner a fair idea of how much they’ll be liable for once the work is done. Prices can be charged based on square footage or acres.
The third way involves asking yourself how much money you would want to make at the end of the season. As landscaping is usually a summer or fall job, winters are considered lean months. If you strive to attain $50,000 at the end of, say, eight months, then you would need to calculate how much per month you need to earn. Then you should divide that sum by the number of days you want to work in a month, and then finally divide it by the number of hours per day that you hope to work. This gives you an hourly rate that you should strive to receive from each job, and you can target projects accordingly, that will help you meet that goal.
Advertise and Market
Once you have established your rate, you can ask what rate other companies in your area are charging for similar services. Always strive for a middle rate, as this keeps you in the medium bracket and will likely attract more customers. Advertise through leaflets, cold calls, SMS services, social media forums and mailers. Remember, not every call you make has to get you business, but it is vital to first introduce yourself to the community to get future work. Once your advertising takes place, then you can go ahead and market yourself when necessary.
As your landscaping business starts to grow, plan ahead for the lean months. Most businesses in this category tend to have a fallback plan for the winter (such as pursuing snow removal or making mulch), while others simply take a break.
With careful planning and strong word-of-mouth recommendations, your landscaping business is likely to grow swiftly and efficiently.