Lawn mowing isn’t just for the kids any more. It has become a lucrative business opportunity in many communities. If you want to know how to start your own lawn mowing business, then the first thing you’ll need to do is find the equipment that you’re going to need. Having a full range of lawn mowing equipment, from riding mowers to push mowers to weed whackers, will help to give you a natural way to begin marketing your services.
After you’ve secured your equipment or have plans in place to purchase it, then here are the steps that you’ll want to follow to achieve your grand opening.
1. Know if your community is going to classify you as a contractor.
Not every lawn mowing business is considered a contractor, but sometimes they are. It depends on how lawn mowing is viewed. If it is seen as property maintenance, then generally you’ll just be classified as a maintenance professional. If lawn mowing is seen as property improvement, however, you’ll likely be considered a contractor. The difference is important because contracting licenses are typically more difficult to obtain then standard business licenses.
2. Secure the insurance that you’re going to need.
If your lawn mowing business is classified as maintenance, then a standard general liability policy will be enough to cover most of your needs. Make sure that you include riders for whatever vehicles that you have in your fleet. You may also want to have damage riders included in case you catch a sprinkler head with your equipment or your lawn mower flings a rock through a home owner’s window.
If you are a contractor, then you’ll need general liability insurance and the specific riders, but you’ll also need to have a surety bond. Bond amounts are typically $6-$12k, but could be as high as $50k in some areas. If you have enough cash on hand, then you can designate a bank account with that cash to indicate it’s a bond. If not, then you can pay an insurance agency to extend a line of credit that will cover the bond amount for 1 year.
3. Get your licenses in order.
A lawn mowing business may be required to have a surprising amount of licenses in order to conduct business. A general business license is almost always required for the business to be legal. If you are seen as providing property improvements, then you may be required to collect sales tax and that often requires a separate license. You may need to have a separate contractor’s license. Some communities also require service organizations that handle gasoline, oil, and lubricants to obtain a hazardous materials license. Check on your local laws and then apply for all of the licenses that are required.
Licenses can be required at multiple levels as well. In Washington State, for example, contractors are required to be licensed at the state level and the city level to do work. If a contractor wanted to accept work in 3 cities, then they would need to pay for 3 city licenses and 1 overall state license.
4. Get out and start marketing.
Radical marketing is the only way to go when you’re trying to get a lawn mowing business started. One of the best ways to get going is to offer customers a free mowing experience so they can see how good your work happens to be. All you’ve got to do is go up to someone who needs their lawn mowed and ask them if you could mow their lawn for free. Make sure to leave an attractive business card and flyer behind after you’re done that shows what your rates happen to be for future work.
5. Plan on working extra hours for Thursdays and Fridays.
Many people want to have their lawn mowed on Thursday or Friday because that will allow their lawn to look great for weekend use. Sometimes you can push people to Wednesday for this, but only if you’re fully booked on the other two days. Make sure to book extra slots near the weekend so that you can put in as many contract spots as possible. The extra slots will also help you out in case you have a bit of a rainy day that won’t allow you to get working right away.
6. Anyone with a lawn is a potential customer.
When a lawn mowing business first gets started, the primary prospects that are solicited are the residential customers. There’s nothing wrong with that, but lawn mowing companies can also approach home owner’s associations, businesses, schools, and non-profit organizations about providing services as well. Many businesses renew their lawn mowing contracts in the Fall at the end of the season, so don’t wait for Spring to get started. As about when contracts are bid out and get onto the bidding list for the next season as soon as possible.
7. Provide accurate estimates of work.
The problem with providing an estimate is that most people see it as a bid. This is especially true for residential customers. You’ll need to get into the practice of creating accurate estimates. Doing so will help you and your customers. You’ll be able to better plan your day and your customers will have a better idea of how much money they’ll need to budget every year.
8. Consider having different billing plans.
One of the best ways to get your lawn mowing business off the ground is to offer residential customers a seasonal plan. Give them a 10% discount on your honest estimate if they pay their entire contract in advance. You’ll get a surge of capital that you might need and your customer will get a discount on services that they want.
Starting a lawn mowing business is rather easy to do once you get beyond figuring out what licenses are required. Secure a storage space for your equipment, start marketing your business, and then enjoy having a business that allows you to work all Summer in the outdoors.
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