The Green industry is growing and profitable, as written in The Dirty Details Of Ownership-Pt1. Although, like with any business, you will experience up and downs. Being aware of the challenges ahead will better prepare you to face them and come out prosperous.
You can devote as much or as little time to the business as you want. Obviously, the more time you invest the more you will reap. Staying in your home community will mean a short commute to work and you will play a part in your community’s growth. You can work at your own pace and at virtually any time during regular daylight hours. You also can enjoy the fresh air, get a good cardiovascular workout, and bulk up your muscles.
Overall, the price of the freedom of becoming your own boss is relatively low. Often times, new lawn service owners and landscapers use their personal credit cards or small personal loans to fund their new businesses. There are always lawns to mow and yards to landscape. The first investments are the biggest. Once you invest in the tools you need to complete all the lawn-care tasks your company will preform, you’re generally set for years. Compared to other businesses, the need for office equipment is quite limited. Make space in your home verses renting a space, to save money and resources.
Owning your own lawn-care service sounds like all sunshine and smiles. But, just like anything, there are some road blocks that will arise. To begin, you have to be a lot more adept at mowing, trimming and pruning than the average person. That means you’ll have to invest some time in learning gardening basics and techniques. You should be a master in your field. The more you know, the better you’ll get and the more business you’ll develop.
With the freedom of developing your own schedule means discipline. Rather than spending nice spring and summer days at the golf course you’ll have to be a disciplined self-starter diligently serving your clients. Nice days are when you make the most progress.
In addition, you have to be physically fit and able to handle the rigors of the job. In this line, as many of you already know, you have to be able to lift heavy equipment off and onto trailers and wield bulky handheld implements for hours at a time. You could also be handling potentially dangerous machinery and hazardous chemicals.
Just like any business owner, you’ll have to manage two faces of the business. You may have the labor side down, but you need to be able to administer cash flow, create advertising and marketing campaigns, and implement a survival plan that will take you through the lean winter months.
What to Expect
As you know, lawn maintenance is a seasonal business, with downtime during the winter in about two-thirds of the country. Depending on your area and climate, the prime growing months run from April to early October. You’ll need to market your services aggressively in the spring so you’ll have enough clients to carry you through the summer. Then, in the fall, you should be winterizing lawns, raking leaves and collecting past-due accounts. Some business owners also choose to expand their services in to the winter months. During the winter, you can offer services like snow plowing. For others that choose to take the winter off, make sure you have thought through your finances ahead of time. Budgeting wisely throughout the year will make your time off more enjoyable and the next season a better success.
Typically, a new lawn care business services 20 to 30 residential clients a week and offers up to three types of services. Services could include mowing, fertilizing and chemical application. Mowing and fertilizing are more popular due to the regulations and requirement with chemical applications.
The Challenge with Lawn Maintenance
Basic lawn maintenance consists of mowing, edging and trimming. Often, bush and hedge trimming is offered as an extra service because it’s more time-consuming and requires more manual dexterity than mowing. Create a system for your jobs. Lawn businesses sometimes send out two people to a job site so one person can do the mowing while the other edges and trims the areas the mower can’t reach. Although, if you only have one person per job, expect to allot extra time on each site.
Your equipment is what lets you get a job done. If you don’t have equipment, you don’t have the means to complete a job. Keep your tools in great working condition. This means cleaning the mower blades at the end of each day and using a grinding wheel regularly to keep them sharp. You should also use a balancing weight to prolong engine life and to help prevent white finger, a form of Raynaud’s disease caused by exposure to constant vibration from equipment like lawn mowers. Clean oil and air filters regularly to keep engine wear to a minimum and improve performance. The oil should also be changed often-as often as once a week, since the high heat of the mower causes lubricants to break down fast.
It goes without saying that you should take every precaution possible to protect yourself while working. Always wear safety goggles and ear protection, and always remember to let your mower cool down completely before you gas it up. Because the cutting blade can rotate at up to 200 miles per hour, never put your hand into the discharge chute or turn the mower over while the blade is spinning. In addition to the obvious injuries it can inflict, that razor-sharp blade can catapult projectiles like rocks, metal or even compacted grass that can do a body some serious damage.
The Challenge with Weather
There will always be days that the weather gets in your way. Not much can be completed outside when landscapes and lawns are wet. These seemingly unproductive days are perfect for catching up on paperwork, lusting over equipment catalogs, and reading e-mail. Many green industry providers choose to keep Saturdays or Sundays open in case of bad weather during the work week. You can work longer hours on a regular maintenance day to catch up from the off days.
One weather storm you may look forward to is snow. Snow plowing can be a very lucrative addition to your landscaping business. Snow removal is overall pretty inexpensive. Simply purchase a snow blade for your mower or truck and some extra advertising efforts. Best of all, offering such a service means you’ll have a regular income stream even during the slowest part of the year. Some also put up Christmas lights and by shovel sidewalks for a number of elderly people. Developing this off season relationship with clients can prove profitable come spring when they also choose you for their landscaping.
There are many factors to consider in ownership. There are many pros and cons to ownership just as in any industry as any business owner. In the end, what you invest in your company is what you will reap from it. With the freedoms that come with ownership there comes many responsibilities.
Managing time, money, homeowners, equipment and eventually employees is a lot to take on. Because this is a growing and competitive industry it is important to properly identify your demographic and price your services in accordance to the competition. Consider reaching out to many sources for advice, information and reference in order to develop a successful business.
Read on next week!