6 Steps to Start a Lawn Care Business From Scratch
When starting a lawn care and landscaping business everyone always thinks about buying trucks and equipment however there are some things you might not have considered. These 6 steps will put you on the right path to build a professional and profitable company.
- How to Register My Business
- How to Open a Business Bank Account
- How to Insure a Business
- How to Brand a Business
- Buying a Truck
How to Market your Company
As of 2021 there are about 604,163 landscaping companies currently in operation so it can be hard to stand out amongst the crowd. Starting with these 6 steps is crucial to making the right impression on your customer and setting yourself up for growth in the future. Building a successful business can ensure generational wealth for your family and can be one of your biggest assets. However 20% of small businesses fail within the first year so taking the time to set up your business correctly can save you from turmoil down the road.
1. How to Register My Business
Getting set up right away with the DOL (Department or Licensing) is a crucial step in getting started and one that many people overlook. This first step gives you all the information you’ll need to get employees, trucks and equipment. You have 2 options when it comes to registering your business, you can register as a LLC (Limited Liability Company) or a Sole Proprietorship.
Should I get an LLC or Sole Proprietorship
We highly recommend you set up an LLC especially if you want to grow your business. A Limited Liability Company or LLC allows you to have separation between your personal assets and those of the company. This means if your company gets sued then it only affects the business assets and not your own personal assets.
A business registered under a Sole Proprietorship is connected directly to an individual. This option is popular with freelance writers, graphic designers, and local retail stores. However when applied to register a lawn care business it is a less secure way of operating because of the increased liability issues of operating on other people's property.
How much does an LLC Cost
The cost of registering an LLC varies by state however on average filling costs about $100 while recurring fees vary drastically. They can range from $0 a month in states such as Arizona, to $500 a month in Massachusetts. The average recurring fee tends to be about $60 a month and many require your business to file annual reports to keep in good standing.
How to Register an EIN
You’ll need to set up an EIN or Employer Identification Number as well. You do this through a simple application with the IRS. This acts as a “social security number” for your business and allows you to open a business bank account, apply for business licenses and file your tax returns. This number is attached to the “responsible party” who is an individual that has control over the company. Filing for an EIN costs nothing to your business and the number never expires. However if your business moves locations or the possession of the business changes hands you will need to update the IRS with Form 8822-B. Keeping up-to-date with the IRS is essential for filing taxes and keeping accurate banking records.
2. How to Open a Business Bank Account
Opening a bank account under your LLC allows you to keep your personal and business finances separate. A simple checking and credit card line are all you’d need to start charging customers and buying equipment. Opening the business account protects your personal funds from being at risk during any lawsuit your company may face. Keeping separate accounts also simplifies taxes by keeping track of earnings and expenditures. This could serve you well in the future as your business is permitted to have different tax deductions than an individual would be allotted. This also allows you to give others secure access to company funds, such as business partners or managers. Lastly this adds to your level of professionalism by giving you the option to write checks and send invoices as your company and not as an individual.
3. How to Insure My Business
Before you even pick up a trimmer or push a mower it is important to set up your insurance. Most landscaping businesses are adequately covered with General Liability Insurance. This typically covers claims involving bodily injuries and property damage for you and your customers. The average cost based on policy limits and the size of operation is about $40 per month. This will increase as the size of your business increases as well as the differing insurance types you may need to consider. Lawn Care and Landscaping businesses may face a premium based on the nature of the services provided. Most providers pay around $530 a year, which puts the industry as the third highest paying insured company. This is a direct result of doing the majority of their work with or on other people's property. The most common limits for small business owners in this field are a $1 Million per-occurrence limit and a $2 Million aggregate limit. The first pays out up to $1 Million to cover a single claim while the second covers $2 Million in overall claims.
4. What is Branding
Looking the part is half the battle, getting a color scheme and logo design is typically overlooked but can make a big difference when it comes to gaining customers. Building your company around a logo and colors that are identifiable is a great way to organically gain new customers. When they always see your trucks on a property that is stronger than any paid for advertising out there. Studies have shown that a customer's needs to see your brand between 3 and 7 times before they will contact you for services. Strong visual branding is one of the easiest and most effective forms of advertising.
What Colors Should I Use
The colors of your company add a sense of cohesion to your business and a visual anchor for your customers to remember. Sites like Adobe Color and ColorMind have thousands of color schemes for you to choose from. Once you have your color scheme you can paint your truck, design your logo and get marketing material like door hangers. Picking your colors can be as easy as picking one you like, however the colors you choose have a heavier subconscious effect than you may realize. For example blue is associated with intelligence, communication and trust, while a more obvious example of this might be green. Known for invoking thoughts of tranquility, power and nature. Blending complementary colors that have a strong psychological pull can be one powerful way of narrowing down your options and picking the perfect color pallet for your company.
What is a Good Logo
Getting your logo designed by a professional is easier than it’s ever been and cheaper than you might think. Sites like Fiverr and UpWork are home to freelancers that will walk you through the entire design process for anywhere between $5 - $4,500. With a huge pool of driven professionals to choose from, your logo design is sure to stand out. While designing a logo can be a daunting task there are a few ideas that can help you create a simple, yet effective, logo. One such rule is the K.I.S.S rule, Keep It Simple Stupid, it is easy to over design your logo while trying to fit in all the asspects of your business into such a small space. The idea of simplification and portraying the general idea of what you provide is much more effective than the adverse, a complicated design that is hard to remember and too cluttered to understand. Another extremely important design principle to keep in mind is cohesion in your marketplace. As much as every lawn care provider has grass in their logo it may be tempting to break the mold and make an out of the ballpark logo. While this can be effective it is more likely to confuse your customers, it is a thin line to walk between uniqueness and conformity. Finally one of the most often forsaken design aspects is the idea of size in your design. You want to make sure that if your logo is crammed onto a business card that it will be just as recognizable as if it was blown up to the size of your trailer wall. Keeping these in mind when designing or commissioning your logo. It will save you heartache in the long run when you have to rebrand your business down the road.
5. Getting a Truck
This is the most exciting part about starting your own lawn care business - however, without the previous four steps, getting here is a lot more difficult. Once you have your business accounts set up and your branding established, you can fund and customize your truck. Painting your truck with the main color of your business or even sticking a decal of your logo can add a sense of professionalism to your company. As well as functioning as a moving billboard, advertising your work everywhere you go. One new idea floating around the lawn care and landscaping industry is the trailerless setup. While not always applicable for large landscaping jobs or huge properties this option is a must for dense suburbian routes. Loading all of your essentials into an organized truck bed saves on time, gas and the wear and tear on the truck. Also, most individuals have experience driving, while it takes a lot of training and skill to operate a trailered setup in tight conditions.
On the note of efficiency it is important to initially set up your truck and trailer to be as efficient as possible. Simple things like making sure the back of your trailer is accessible and placing your trimming line by the trimmer can save you time that adds up quickly as the days and weeks go on.
6. How to Advertise
The last and most important part of starting a business is marketing. Nowadays, it is impossible to have a successful business without an online presence. Most customers will google your name and look over your reviews and your website before you even get a call. That’s why it is imperative to establish a professional website, google my business and social media accounts.
Where to Get a Website
Building a website doesn’t have to be difficult thanks to sites like SquareSpace and Wix who provide drag and drop templates to get you started. However, if you are starting a lawn care and landscaping business there is no better place to get your site designed than with the professionals at Lawn Care Web Design. Instead of a steep initial investment of thousands of dollars for a site that’s out of your control, Lawn Care Web Design is a simple monthly fee that can be canceled at any time. The reason you would even invest in your site monthly is clear when you think about adding uptodate images and letting the team update your SEO to make sure you’re the top rank on google. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the backbone of the internet and optimizing your website is an ongoing process. Beyond SEO it is important to include a few key features on your website for your customers as well.
- Add a “Call to Action” this typically is a button that says Call Now or Free Estimate. This props the customer to reach out to request service from you.
- Clearly list your services this sets your customers expectations right off the bat and can weed out customers that are looking for more than you can provide.
- Your Contact Information make sure that your customers know exactly how to contact you whether through email, phone call or text
What is Google My Business
This serves as a play to share your hours as well as reviews and pictures from your business. By having good reviews on your page you are able to rank very high on Google incredibly fast. When people search on google for landscapers in the area, the very first result is Google My Business listings - even over the best websites and ads. It is a great way to get your business to the top search results without spending any money or waiting 3-6 months for your website to start ranking well.
How to Use Social Media
Building a Facebook page and Instagram account for your business is another great way to get new customers and promote your business. These accounts are free and can be linked together to take the headache out of running social media accounts with sites like OneUp. These platforms allow you to advertise and push posts which can be a great low cost way of growing your customer base. The common debate around social media is “How much should I post on social media?” or “What should I post on social media?” and to this we suggest you post daily photos of yourself or your crew working. This can sound like a headache but it can be much easier than expected. Simply taking 1 photo per job could even be enough for you to never run out of content. Sights like Facebook, Instagram, and OneUp let you schedule months in advance so you can work in more manageable batches and in the case of third parties like OneUp you can even link your google my business so customers will see a showcase of your work.
Lawn Care Marketing Material
The most effective way of marketing to your local clientele is through physical marketing material such as door hangers, postcards, and flyers. Building a dense mow route can be as easy as introducing yourself to the neighbors of your existing customers with professional business cards or door hangers. Sites like Lawn Care Media offer generic templates to get you started and sites like VistaPrint can print batches of them for very cheap. Using services like EDDM, Every Door Direct Mail, allows you to mail flyers and postcards to specific demographics in your local area and paired with yard signs and door hangers you can grow brand awareness and gain new leads. There are even new physical advertising methods emerging in the lawn care field that are picking up in popularity, one such method is the Instant Quote. This takes the form of a door hanger where you can quickly write out a real estimate for a lawn and hang it on the customers door prompting them to call you already knowing the rate and ready to set up an appointment. It’s the fastest way to get new customers and cuts the tricky sales process allowing you to target your optimum customer base.
Can I Start A Lawn Care Business
If this is the last question you have on your mind, you’re in luck! Mowing lawns is a great way for anyone to make a living or fill in gaps in their income. It is an effective way to make a tangible difference in the lives of the people around you and grow skills that are applicable to all forms of business. The lawn care and landscaping field notably has the lowest barrier to entry out of all the service based industries and after reading this you are already a step ahead of your competition. The best part is you’re not alone. There is a thriving community of professionals online that can teach you all you need to know. Leaders in the industry like Copper Creek Cuts and Lawn Care Juggernaut have built communities of like minded individuals to learn from and grow with. Business entrepreneurs like Mike Andes have built courses and material to give anyone the building blocks it takes to run a successful business. Your future may be closer than you think. Lawn care might just be your ticket to building generational wealth and a legacy for you and your family.