You don’t need $20,000 to start a lawn care business! If you are thrifty (we show you how here) and can minimize labor costs (we also show you how here), then you can start with less than a couple thousand dollars. Just like any business, the hardest part to starting a lawn care business is getting started.
Your challenges will be launching and getting your first group of clientele, but once that falls into place, you will have a cash-flowing business for decades to come.
Why a lawn care business is great for someone with a day job
Most home owners do not care when there lawn gets taken care of, as long as it is not in the evening when they are sleeping (I would say past 9 PM). Other than that, you have complete flexibility of when you can go to your clients houses.
Work Monday to Friday, 9:00-5:30 PM? No problem. You have weekends and evenings to be flexible with a lawn care side hustle.
Developing a business plan for your lawn care business
You can approach the lawn care industry in many different ways. Some companies offer a full-service lawn and landscape offering, which can include more than just mowing lawns and trimming trees. You will want to break down what services you want to offer so you can start your business plan.
Here are some services that lawn care businesses may provide:
- Grass cutting
- Tree trimming
- Tree planting/removal
- Lawn Aeration
- Weed control
- Hardscaping and softscaping
- Poison ivy removal
- Pest control sprays
- Tick control
- and yes… lots even offer Christmas light installation!
The services you offer are going to be dependent on the equipment you have and what your starting budget is.
For starters with not a lot of money to start, should focus just on grass cutting and tree trimming, Most lawn mowers will fit in mid-size SUVs and it would not require you to go out and buy a new truck or trailer.
Deciding On a Company Name
Do not overthink this step. It is very easy to get caught up on wanting to find the “perfect” name, which by the way, doesn’t exist.
A few potential options of different words you can play on are:
- Using your city/town name
- Using anything to do with trees, plants, flowers, landscapes, green, soil, grass, etc.
When you are picking a name, there are two incredibly important points you don’t want to miss:
- Make it something easy to spell and type
- Make it something memorable
A lot of people may go with their complicated last name, with silent letters that are foreign. When you do this, you limit the amount of drive by traffic trying to remember your name for when they get home to Google you.
Permits, Licenses and Insurance When Starting a Lawn Care Business
In most towns, you do not need any permits to operate a lawn care business. If you get into heavier construction projects, such as building retaining walls, you will need more certifications and permits then. Please consult your local municipality first!
The only license you will need is a business license to do business in your area. This will also give you a tax number for tax purposes, which is something you have to do no matter what business you are planning on starting.
Lastly, I am not an insurance professional, but I would advise getting liability insurance for your company. This can protect you and your family in case an accident were to happen. Insurance will not only protect you or your employees in case anyone got hurt on the job, but it would also protect you in case you or your employees were to accidentally damage something on the client’s property.
Building a Lawn Care Website
Building a website for your lawn care business does not have to be a difficult or complex task, and it can be done very simply with the tools that are out right now. For example, if you are on a budget, you could easily build a drag-and-drop lawn care website in 4 hours or less!
Having a website is important because it is where customers will go to find more information about you.
They should be able to:
- Look at your about page to understand your business history
- Read about your service offering and locations that you operate in
- Understand what past clients have to say about your business and your professionalism
- Inquire to book a sales call or get an estimate on their job!
Here is what you will need for your website:
- Domain & Hosting (I recommend BlueHost)
- Content (which you can create or you can hire a freelancer on Fiverr/Upwork)
If you’re completely unfamiliar with website building and need some help, join our community and ask for help, we’ve got tons of web developers who can help build you one.
Marketing Your Home Service Business
You can already start to see that running a business will require you to wear many different hats, especially as a side hustler. Not only are you responsible for the name, insurance, website, but you are also going to need to market your business and get it in front of your ideal client.
The first step is to figure out who you want to work with. Are they residential homes in your area? Are they property managers that manage large commercial/retail buildings? Depending on who you want to work with and what level of service they are expecting, you will have to alter your go-to-market strategy.
There are a few ways to get in front of your ideal client:
Organic or unpaid marketing efforts will start from the grassroots level (no pun intended). Door knocking is one of the most efficient ways to get your name out there and let people know you are offering this service. When you start to door knock, there is no doubt that you will get the door slammed in your face a few times, but over time, you will refine your pitch and get a few “yes'” along the way.
Paid advertising works great for home service-based businesses like lawn care. The reason is that people are actively searching for it and need the service. You will be selling people a service that is common and requires no educating.
Google Ads are great for businesses like this because they are able to capture high search intent queries like “lawn cutting near me” or “tree removal [my town]”. Usually, when someone is searching for high intent phrases, they are in the consideration phase, not the research phase. Because of that, they will most likely be making a decision of which company to go with.
If you are not technical and prefer to spend your marketing dollars on something else, then you can also look at doing print flyers or door hangers. Door hangers are a great alternative because when you knock on doors, many people won’t answer the door, and a nice thing to do is place a door hanger.
The door hanger should say something to the effect of “We’re sorry we missed you! We were here earlier and wanted to provide you with a free, no obligation quote on your lawn care needs. We are doing a few houses in the area and because of that, we thought we could see if you could use our services as well. Please give us a call at (XXX) 123-1234 if you are interested in receiving the free, no obligation quote!”.
Building a Referral System For Your Side Hustle
Homeowners know homeowners, which is amazing for you! When you continue to provide excellent work, you will naturally receive phone calls from new customers because they heard something about your company that was great!
There are a few different things you can do to increase your inbound referrals:
- Pay cash for referrals! Offer to give your clients a free service (other % off) their next month when they refer a new client.
- Promote yourself where possible! When you are working at a client’s house, ask them if you can put a lawn sign till you complete the job. Most clients would be happy to support you!
- Talk to the neighbors: When you’re working at a client’s house, knock on the neighbor’s door. Let them know since your crew is in the area, you are doing no-obligation quotes and complete the work by the end of the week. This is a fantastic hack!
- Do great work! You can read online all you want about referrals, but at the end of the day, if you can’t retain your clients, you are not going to continuously get those leads coming in. Do great work, the rest will follow!
Invoicing is a crucial step to your growth! How do you grow if you are not getting paid!
If you do some research, you will see see that there is tons of different invoicing software out there, all with unique bells and whistles.
QuickBooks in my opinion is the easiest to learn and is the most popular. They are reasonably priced and start at $12.50/month. If you are planning on hiring employees, they even have a payroll option for you.
Hiring Employees For Your Lawn Care Business
You may not want to hire employees right away, however, you will want to utilize employees to scale down the road.
When you run a home serviced-base business, your scaling factor typically comes down to employees.
I personally love Indeed.com for hiring! Indeed is great because of the huge candidate pool they have for you to choose from.
Here are a few traits that I look for in employees:
- Goals! A candidate who has goals and aspirations, who also have a rough plan or idea on how to get there.
- Attitude! The most important quality I look for. I want someone who is happy, who is upbeat, and who people want to be around. There is no sense in hiring someone with a bad attitude.
- Reliability! Reliability is hard to know from the interview phase because you need to see how they do on the job. However, if someone has a family or mortgage payments, they typically are more reliable than people with no bills or payments.
Keep a Continuous Feedback Loop With Your Clients
In any service-based business, clients can often forget about you if they are not seeing you or talking to you. Sometimes, if they remember you and realize they haven’t spoke or seen you, they will be frustrated because they feel they are paying for less than the value they are receiving.
My advice would be to communicate with your clients after every visit, whether or not a service was complete. This can be managed in a simple WhatsApp group or email thread.
If they receive communications from you weekly, you will stay top of mind for them, which will even help with referrals!
Always stay top of mind and find every excuse to contact your client!
My lawn care company that manages our house provides us a free lawn care cut the morning of my birthday! How brilliant is that! They know that most likely people will come over, and if they do a nice job with the lawn, they may mention something along the lines of “Oh, they were here today for my free birthday cut”! This has actually happened on multiple occasions.
Make Sure Your Lawn Care Business Is Organized
The last thing you want to do is forget to perform a service because a lack of planning.
In all my businesses, I plan for tomorrow, the night before. Prior to that, I already have a brief overview of what needs to be done for the week.
Consider using project management apps like Trello, Asana, or Basecamp to help manage.
And that is a wrap!
Starting a service-based business is fun! Make sure you find ways to have fun and enjoy the time working with your team.
Have high expectations for yourself, but don’t be too hard on yourself. If you can manage to make progress every single day, then you are doing the right thing.
If you need help, request free access to our private community here.
Interested in other home service businesses? Check out episode 65 of The Hobby Hustler Show where I talk to Chris Stoness about starting his Window Cleaning Empire!