Are you interested in starting a lawn care company? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a lawn care business from home with NO money and no experience; plus a sample lawn care business plan template and lawn care marketing plan.
Beyond owning a property that is well designed and built; the hallmark of any property is the beauty of the lawn and garden.
Lawn care services might not be considered as one of the essential services when it comes to the real estate related businesses, but the fact remains that it has a role to play when it comes to beautifying our environment; gardeners are in the business of keeping our lawn clean and in good shape.
It is not enough to plant flowers or grasses in your compound and just watch them grow; you need to hire a professional lawn care and landscaping company to help you bring out the beauty in your environment.
Lawn care and landscape architecture is all about the art, planning, designing, management, preservation and rehabilitation of the land and the design of a large man – made construct; it beautifies our environment. Lawn care business just like Landscaping business is not one of those businesses that someone can start and make huge profit from without truly working pretty hard and smart.
As a matter of fact, people who have the time and tools that can handle their lawn care make it a bit challenging to make a fortune from this business.
Any entrepreneur who intends starting his or her own lawn care business and making huge profits from it must be very creative and must be ready to go the extra mile to convince clients that he or she can deliver an excellent job and he or she must prove beyond every reasonable doubt that they are competent, honest and trustworthy.
What is the Demand Level for Lawn Care Services?
Just like landscaping and maintenance business, lawn care business also falls in the category of seasonal businesses; the industry experience downtime during the winter period and in most states in the US.
In general, the demand for lawn care services is usually at its peak in the spring and generally between April and October. Which is why lawn care companies are always everywhere sourcing for business deals within this period of the year.
What Opportunities Exist in the Lawn Care Industry?
If you are familiar with the lawn care industry, you will notice that most lawn care companies do not restrict their services to only taking care of lawns et al; they ensure that they add additional services such as landscaping services, snow plowing services, snow melting services (during winter season), fumigation services and any other similar services just to ensure that they maintain steady in – flow of income during peak and off peak periods.
Any entrepreneur who wants to start a lawn care business in the U.S. should be aware that the landscaping and lawn care industry is a closely regulated industry that requires practitioners to earn certifications that permit them to handle hazardous compounds; most especially when they also offer fumigation services and other chemical handling related services.
Steps to Starting a Lawn Care Business With No Money
1. Understand the Industry
In a recent publication released by a Professional Land-care Network (PLANET), an international association serving landscaping professionals, lawn care professionals, exterior maintenance contractors, installation/design/building professionals, and interior scapers, there are an estimated 10,000 individual lawn care service providers and approximately 12,000 landscapers in the united states of America.
This statistics covers independent operators, franchises and large corporate chains. They also stated that the number of professional gardeners could actually be considerably higher because there are so many people doing lawn and landscape maintenance on part – time and on a pay as you go basis.
Lastly, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published in 2006-2007 (U.S. Department of Labor), is that almost 1 out of every 4 landscaping, grounds – keeping, nursery, greenhouse and lawn service workers is self-employed and provides maintenance services directly to customers on a contract basis. Of these, about 1 out of every 6 works part time.
Even though lawn care business might not be amongst the money spinning businesses in the US, but they have a very large market that is readily available for them. All they need to do is to convince property owners, corporate organizations and the government to patronize their services.
Interesting Statistics About the Industry
As a matter of fact, statistics has it that the United States green industry (landscape and lawn maintenance, landscape contractors, landscape architects, irrigation contractors, and lawn and landscape product suppliers) generates roughly $67 billion to $69 billion annually.
PLANET estimates that the lawn care services sector alone generates about 704,000 jobs and $35.6 million in value-added services annually in the US; it is indeed a growing industry. In spite of the fact that the lawn care / landscaping industry is considered to be at the matured stage, in some location the business is still pretty much green.
Entrepreneurs who are interested in venturing into the business still have the opportunity to come into the industry. Even if you decided to start on a small scale / sole proprietorship, you will still make headway in the industry. It is a fact that 72 percent of the lawn care / landscaping industry are driven by small business owners.
At least the industry is noted to be growing approximately 10 percent annually. Statistics has it that the industry had already hit the 61 billion dollars annual revenue mark by July 2012 and during the same year, landscaping / lawn care supervisors earned about $20 per hour, while workers (gardeners) earned about $12.44 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
On the average, it is noted that commercial landscaping and lawn care services account for about 50 percent and residential lawn care services accounts for about 30 percent of industry revenues. The lawn care services industry in the United States is highly fragmented and the top 50 lawn care services companies generate about 15 percent of the total revenue in the industry.
The fact that the start – up cost for starting a lawn care industry is pretty low, the amount required to run the business is low, as well as gives room for entrepreneurs to come into the industry. So also, the available market for lawn care services are part of the factors that encourages entrepreneurs to come into the lawn care / landscaping industry.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
When it comes to the demographic and psychographics composition of those who need the services of a gardener, it is obvious home owners, baby boomers, facility managers, corporate organizations, golf course and pitches / fields managers, the government and religious centers et al need the services offered by the landscaping industry.
Young adults who are working class and own their homes, retired people who are financially stable and living in their own homes, and of course middle aged people who own their homes and have taste for excellence.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
As regards the niches within the lawn care industry, it is obvious that there are no clear cut factors that differentiate a lawn care company from another, they tend to offer uniformed services and some go all the way to offer additional but related services.
In essence, some of the areas of specialization in the lawn care and landscape industry are;
- Landscape architecture services
- Landscape construction
- Lawn care services
- Irrigation systems
- Tree trimming services
- Chemical lawn care and pest control
- Line-clearing, or branch removal around utility lines
One thing about all these areas of specialization mentioned above is that it is easier for smaller entrepreneurs to choose from them and then specialize on it but it is common to find bigger lawn care and landscaping companies offering all the services listed above.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
Starting a lawn care services business is not a difficult and expensive business venture. As a matter of fact, the amount required to purchase the basic equipment is within the reach of any serious minded entrepreneur; the equipment costs is relatively the same everywhere and it is low and affordable.
With that, it is easier for small and local gardeners to compete for some jobs with lager lawn care and landscaping companies.
Smaller lawn care services companies who operate basically in communities and neighborhoods have leverage over lager lawn care and landscape companies; they get jobs based on their relationship with residence in the community and also via referrals.
But when it comes to competing for government contracts, or bidding for businesses from corporate organization, larger lawn care and landscape companies have monopoly.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
It is no longer new to have some brands do better than others over the years in various industries. This is so because there are several things that have made them stood out overtime. These are some of the well – known brand in the lawn care and landscape industry both in the United States and perhaps the world;
- Asplundh Tree Expert (United States of America)
- Brickman (United States of America)
- ValleyCrest (United States of America)
- The Davey Tree Expert Company (United States of America)
- TruGreen (United States of America)
- Active Tree Services (Australia)
- Idverde (France)
Before setting up a lawn care and landscaping business, entrepreneurs should thoroughly investigate the industry and be certain that the location they intend starting their lawn care business is ready for their service offerings. In recent times, lawn care business owners and gardeners have no option other than to cope with the slumping demand from the available market; no thanks to economic downturn.
Conversely, in the next five years, the demand for lawn care and landscaping services is projected to experience appreciable and steady growth. This is so because steady per capita disposable income growth is projected to encourage homeowners to engage the services of gardeners as against handling their lawn care services themselves.
Besides, the economic growth will definitely boost commercial expansion, and hopefully drive the need for industry operators that can maintain large corporate and resort campuses. It is important to note that the demand for landscape and lawn care services is driven somewhat by construction of new commercial properties and residences and also partly by the growth of the economy.
Landscaping and lawn care services depends on demand volume and of course operations’ efficiency to be able to generate enough income and profits. The overhead cost can be kept as low as possible and the required equipment cost is fixed which is why it is an industry that is open to all and sundry.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
The fact that the required start – up capital for starting a lawn care business is within the reach of any serious minded entrepreneur makes it easier to start the business from the scratch.
The equipment cost and the overhead cost is affordable and of course the nature of the business especially if you want to operate a small – neighborhood lawn care business makes it ideal to start the business from the scratch and just by yourself.
Well for now, there is hardly any lawn care / landscaping company that is into franchising. So the only option for now will be starting your own lawn care services business from the scratch if you are interested investing in the landscaping and lawn care industry. Starting the lawn care business from the start does guarantee that one learns on the trade to become bigger and better.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
Some of the threats and challenges that you are likely going to face when you start your own lawn care and landscaping company are global economic downturn that can impact negatively on household spending, bad weather cum natural disasters and the arrival of a competitor (a company that offer same service as you do) within the same location.
There is hardly anything you can do as regards this threats and challenges other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for your good and to maximize every opportunity that you lay your hands on.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
The nature of lawn care services business and the nature of the market make it easier for people to start the business on a small scale just to take care of the market available in their neighborhood and immediate communities.
The percentage of people who start lawn care services business on a larger scale is less than 15 percent of the total numbers of registered lawn care and landscaping companies in the United States; most people prefer starting the business small and also as a sole proprietor.
In essence, choosing a legal entity for this type of business is influenced by the nature of the business. Majority of those in the business prefer sole proprietorship; that is perhaps the most suitable legal entity for lawn care services business.
On the other hand, if you have a big picture of the business and your aim is to bid for contracts from the government and from corporate organizations, then you should consider Limited Liability Company, an LCC. Limited Liability Company will definitely protect you from personal liability in case things go wrong in the business.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
- Posh Lawn Care and Landscape Company
- Save The Planet Lawn Care and Landscaping Company
- Perfect Lawn and Snow Remover Company
- A+ Lawn Care Services and Landscaping, Inc.
- Florida Lawn Care and Tree Cutting Company
- Keep it Clean and Natural, Inc.
- George Bernard and Sons Lawn Care Company
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
The fact that you can operate your lawn care and landscaping company as a sole proprietorship business does not meant that you will not have need for basic insurance policy that is expected for a business owner or company.
You can talk to your insurance broker and he or she will be able to guide you on the best and most suitable insurance cover that you should buy for your lawn care and landscaping business especially as it relates to the additional services that you offer.
Well, these are some of the basic insurance cover that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own lawn care and landscaping business in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- hazard Insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting a landscaping and lawn care business, you will not have need to apply for intellectual property protection. But if you just want to secure an intellectual property protection for your company’s logo and brand statement, then you should go all the way.
But the truth is that most landscaping and lawn care business owners do not consider it a priority hence they don’t have any intellectual property protection.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
Ordinarily, if you decide to start a landscape and lawn care business in the United States, you would not have a need for a professional certificate except in situation when you have to handle chemicals.
Be that as it may, it is important to note that any entrepreneur who wants to start a landscaping or lawn care business in the United States of America should be aware that the landscaping and lawn care industry is a closely regulated industry that requires practitioners to earn certifications that permit them to handle hazardous compounds; most especially when they also offer fumigation services and other chemical handling related services.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
These are some of the basic legal documents that you would need to successfully run a landscape and lawn care business in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement
- Insurance Policy
- Employees Handbook
- Contract Document
- Trademark registration for your logo (optional)
- Tax Payer’s ID number.
13. Write a Business Plan
As a matter of fact, there is hardly business that does not require a business plan. If you are severe about starting a business with the aim of competing and making profits, then you should ensure that you prepare a lawn care business plan document before investing your hard earned money and time into the business.
You might not need a comprehensive business plan for a landscape and lawn care company, but it is important to at least have a business document; a business plan that will guide you and give you a clearer picture of what you intend achieving by starting the business.
A Business plan is like a blueprint that is needed to successfully run a business; it is the document that will influence all your business decisions and actions.
The whole idea of writing a business plan is not just for the sake of having a business document in place; but to draft strategies that will help you effectively administer and manage your landscape and lawn care business. Your business plan should cover strategies on how you intend to generate your start – up capital, attract clients and also to expand the scope of your business.
These are some of the key components that must not be missing in your business plan. Other key components that should be included in your business plan are as follow;
- Executive summary and your company’s descriptions: This is the section where you are expected to clearly state what your landscaping and lawn care business is all about, your company’s corporate culture, your sales and marketing strategies, your marketing goals, your target market and perhaps what stands you out from your competitors, You are also expected to state your company’s vision statement, mission statement and the areas where you want to cover.
- Lastly, other key components that should not be missing in your business plan are your products or service offering, SWOT analysis, marketing and sales analysis / strategies, pricing, costing and financial projection, publicity and advertising strategy, budget and start – up capital generation et al.
You may not have to engage the services of a business consultant to help you write a business plan for your landscaping and lawn care business, you can go online to source for business plan template. With the aid of a business plan template, you can come up with a good business plan document for your landscape and lawn care business.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Lawn Care Business?
Research and statistics shows that the cost of starting a lawn care and landscaping business is almost fixed simply because the prices of the basic equipment needed for the business is almost same and fixed no matter the part of the world that you want to buy it from.
The start – up capital for landscape and lawn care business can be as low as the owner of the business wants it to be. This is so because the average owner of a neighborhood landscape and lawn care business operates from home thereby eliminating the cost of paying rent for an office space.
Basically, you would need to tick most of the items listed below if you want to launch your own landscape and lawn care business in the United States of America and most likely in other parts of the world;
- The Total Fee for incorporating the Business in the United States of America: $750.
- The budget for Liability insurance, permits and license: $1,500
- The Amount needed to acquire a small Office facility with space for storage of working tools and equipment for 6 months (Re – Construction of the facility inclusive): $30,000.
- The Cost for equipping the office (computers, printers, fax machines, furniture, telephones, filing cabins, safety gadgets and electronics et al): $3,000
- The cost for acquiring the required working tools and equipment (walk-behind mower, a back pack blower, an edger, a weed eater and hand tools): 10,000
- The Cost of Launching an official Website: $600
- Additional Expenditure (Business cards, Signage, Adverts and Promotions et al): $1,000
Going by the report from detailed research and feasibility studies, you will need an average of $50,000 to start a small scale landscape and lawn care business in the United States of America.
- If you want to start a medium scale landscape and lawn care business in the United States, you would need nothing less than $100,000
- And if your intention is to start a large scale landscape and lawn care business in the United States of America, then you should look towards raising well over $200,000 as your start – up capital.
14. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
No matter how fantastic your business idea might be, if you don’t have the required money to finance the business, the business might not become a reality. Finance is a very important factor when it comes to starting a business. No doubt raising start – up capital for a business might not come cheap, but it is a task that an entrepreneur must go through.
The first thing to put in place before sourcing for start – up capital for your business is to draft a detailed business plan. With a good business plan, you can easily convince investors to invest in your business.
The truth is that no bank can give you a loan if you don’t have a good and workable business plan. Besides, investors will not take you seriously if you don’t have a business plan on ground before launching out to source for start – up capital to finance your business idea.
There are several options when it comes to raising money to finance a start – up business. Some of the options are;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Applying for loan from bank
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Sourcing for soft loans from family members and friends.
15. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
When it comes to choosing a location for a lawn care and landscaping business, it is important to first and foremost look for a location where the average houses in the community has a garden or lawn. It will be out of place to locate your lawn care and landscape business in an area where you can hardly find houses with lawn or a location where there are no sport fields or golf course et al.
Another key factor that you should look for before choosing a location for your lawn care and landscaping business is the financial status of the residence in the location you want to start your lawn care and landscape business.
The truth is that, you will struggle to grow your landscape and lawn care business if you locate the business in an area filled with low income earners or in a ghetto or a place where people take it upon themselves to handle their lawn care services themselves.
If you localize your landscape and lawn care business close to a highbrow area or an area with loads of retirees, baby boomers and sporting facilities, you are likely going to make good returns from the business.
When it comes to the facility to use for this type of business, you don’t need to break the bank to source for money to rent or lease an office facility. As a matter of fact, you can start your lawn care and landscape business from your home.
All you need is a small space for administrative work and a space to store your tools and equipment; you can as well use your garage for that purpose. The only reason why you would need an office facility would be if you want to start the business on a large scale or medium scale and with handful of employees working for you.
16. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
Most of the equipment and tools needed to launch a landscape and lawn care business can be bought as fairly used and they will serve you for a long period of time if well managed and utilized. It is safer and economical to purchase fairly used tools and equipment for a landscaping business especially if you just want to start the business on a small scale.
As a matter of fact, you can get some of these fairly used lawn care and landscaping tools / equipment at a cheaper price from online stores. These are some of the equipment that you would need to fully launch your lawn care and landscaping business;
- String Trimmer
- Edging Shears
- Turfing Iron
- Half Moon Cutter
- Leveling Rake
- Spring – tined Rake
- Wheel Barrow
Basically, the nature of lawn care and landscape business permits people to run the business from their home. So, if you must get an office facility, then ensure that it is a short term rent facility. The only reason why you must lease a property for your lawn care and landscaping business is if you want to start a large scale and to bid for big contracts from government and corporate organizations.
Therefore, regarding the numbers of employees needed to run a landscape and lawn care business, it varies. One person can effectively run the business.
But if you want to build a structure for your landscape and lawn care business, you would need to employ Manager, Sales and Marketing Executive, Gardeners, Landscape Architect / Landscapist, Field Staff, Front Desk Officer. That is about 5 to 10 employees.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
The process involved in the delivery of landscaping and lawn care services depends on what your customers want.
- The processes could range from providing arborist services to fertilizing lawns, from landscape care and maintenance to landscape installation, from lawn mowing, planting trees, shrubs and other plants to spraying lawns.
- Other processes involves Basic landscape design, pruning, turf installation (except artificial turf), maintenance and general services-commercial, maintenance and general services-residential, and design-build-installation services
17. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
If you want to generate income for your business, then you must market your products and services. In order to market your lawn care and landscape business, you must create a lawn care marketing plan and ensure that you leverage on all available network to source for business deals.
You should source for local real estate clubs and home owners / landlords associations within the area you want to locate your business and connect and network with them.
If you are running a medium or large scale landscape and lawn care business, then you should make it a point of duty to always bid for contracts at the appropriate time whenever there is the opportunity to handle government contracts both at the community and state level.
It is also to your advantage to enter business partnership with local contractors and property managers since they also interface with property owners regularly; through them you can secure business deals. Here are some tips that you can adopt to market your landscape and lawn care business;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to stake holders in the real estate industry, government institution and also property owners.
- Promptness in bidding for contracts
- Advertise your business in real estate / properties magazines and websites
- List your business on local directories and yellow pages ads
- Attend related real estate expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
- Create different packages for different category of clients in order to work with their budgets and still deliver quality job for them.
- Leverage on the internet to promote your business
- Direct marketing
- Attend landlords associations meetings and real estate stake holders meetings to market your services
- Word of mouth marketing (referrals)
18. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
The factors that will enable you get the right price quotation for your services; prices that will be pocket friendly to household is to ensure that you cut your operational cost to the barest minimum.
You can achieve it by operating the business from your home especially if you choose to start the business on a small scale and also purchasing fairly used tools and equipment will help you cut cost and get the right pricing that will be a win – win for both you and your customers.
19. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
In some areas, you are likely going to find several landscape and lawn care businesses and of course if you need their services, you would go for the one that is cheaper or the one that can deliver excellent job. If you run a landscape and lawn care business where there are other lawn care and landscape businesses, then you must package your business in such a way that will give you advantage over your competitors.
Part of the competitive strategy you need to adopt in order to favorable compete in the industry is to designed your business in such a way that you can comfortably work with both the highly placed clients and the lowly placed clients; your prices should be designed to fit into the budget of the lower class, the middle class and the upper class.
Another competitive strategy that you need to employ is to ensure that you offer several related landscaping and lawn care services.
20. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
One of the surest ways of increasing customer retention in your business is to ensure that you deliver excellent services at all time. If you continue to meet or surpass your customers’ expectations whenever they engage your services, then you will not have to struggle to generate repeated business from them. The number one reason why people look for alternatives is when their needs are not met or when they aren’t getting value for their money.
As part of your plans to increase your customer retention, you must also ensure that you give out incentives on a regular basis to your loyal customers and also those hiring your services for the first time. Also ensure that you effectively manage your clientele base by maximizing your CRM software applications.
21. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
It is important to create strategies that will help you boost your brand awareness and to create a corporate identity for your business. If you are running a large scale landscape and lawn Care Company, then you should look for ways to promote your brand and if possible, hire brand experts to help you handle that aspect of your business.
Below are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your company’s brand and to promote and advertise your business;
- Encourage your loyal customers to help with Word of Mouth mode of advertisement (referrals)
- Advertise your landscaping and lawn care business in relevant magazines (real estate magazines), local newspaper, local TV stations and local radio station
- Promote your landscaping business online via your official website
- List your landscaping business on local directories (yellow pages ads)
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Badoo, Facebook , twitter, et al to promote your landscaping and lawn care business
- Employ direct coupon mailing approach to introduce your landscaping business to residence and property managers
- Engage in road show from time to time to create awareness of your landscaping business.
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- Attend landlord and residence association meetings with the aim of networking and introducing your landscaping and lawn care business.
22. Create a Suppliers/Distribution Network
If you run a standard landscape and lawn care business, then you should source for supply networks where you can get the needed chemicals for fumigation, fertilizers, grass, flowers and flower pots et al. If you are in a good business relationship with the suppliers of all the needed raw materials and chemicals that you need for your business, it will help you to execute your jobs without delays.
You have the options of either getting your raw materials and chemicals from vendors or you go to the market to buy them yourself. The bottom line is to ensure that you have good business relationships with suppliers and distributors of all you would need to carry out your job.
23. Tips for Running a Lawn Care Service Business Successfully
Lawn care and landscaping companies are known to provide landscape care, lawn maintenance services and other related services. Their services also include planting trees, shrubs, flowers, lawns or gardens. Some of them may also offer services such as construction of walkways, retaining walls, decks, fences, ponds and similar structures.
These services can be carried out daily, weekly or at a defined regular interval. In order to successfully run this type of business, you must create workable schedules; it is important to work with your clients to design a schedule. Finally, it does pay to start a lawn care business in a locality where there are folks who cherish the idea of growing flowers and other plants for beautification purposes.
This is so that you can attract a good number of people who may be in need of your services. Furthermore, you have to be sure to update your skills from time to time. This is so important because you will need to be really creative to stand out in all.