Do it right and you can be ahead of your competitors on your first day
So you're thinking about starting a mowing business but you don't really know where to start. You have probably heard that it's easy, and you're right....sort of. It's easy to get going, but it's just as easy to fail. When it comes to cutting grass, there's a lot of competition. The problem is that there's a very low barrier to entry. Any guy can throw a mower in his truck and voila, he's got a property maintenance company overnight! There however are some things that you can do when starting a mowing business that will put you miles ahead of the pack.
1. Used truck/equipment/home stuff
Make a humble start. You don't need the $1600 commercial behemoth mower with all of the bells and whistles. Your money would be far better spent on a used commercial mower or a high quality homeowner unit. The same can be said for you trimmer, edger and leaf blowers. You don't need the best of the best to get a business off the ground. A person with an eye for quality can do a far better job with old equipment than a sloppy person who has the shiniest new stuff. You don't need to blow your savings to get into this business.
I hate to say it, but this also applies to your truck. If you are just starting a mowing business, you will not need a new truck, nor should you really need a large truck. Just something older with a big enough box to fit your mower with some tools and a few buckets or bags for grass. If the goal of your new venture is to make money, you will do far better by starting out with used stuff and moving on to better equipment once you're established and have some good clients.
2. DON'T be the cheapest guy in town
Nobody wins when you're the cheapest guy around. You won't be paid enough to make it worth your while to do a good job. That will make it hard to keep clients in the long run. When learning how to price your work, I suggest calling a few local companies and seeing what they charge to mow lawns in your area.
Start with your rates around the middle point of the estimates you received. You can move them up from there, it's best to be in the top 25%. That way you will earn a good profit without being the most expensive around and you can invest the time to do outstanding work. There will always be business for people who do outstanding work. The goal is get clients as soon as you can when you begin in your lawn cutting business, prove to them that you're great at what you do, and then you can raise your rates slowly from there if you want.
Now it's time to find some business.
4. Start in your neighbourhood
We all know gas is expensive, so the most logical place to start looking for business is right in your neighbourhood. You can knock on doors and let people know you're in business now and leave them your card. Print some cheap flyers with the services you offer, your companies name and number and leave them on parked cars, mailboxes and any community boards you can find. Put your new business out to all of your friends on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. When your friends know you're in business, they will want to help you out by recommending you to their friends and family.
5. Approach condos/stratas before you start to see what they are unhappy with
When you are set on starting a mowing business, you can get good leads even before buying equipment. Go around to condos and townhouse complexes in your area and get in touch with the strata manager. Let him know that you're thinking about starting a mowing business and you would like to know what they look for in a landscaper. Ask them if they're happy with the company they use now and if not, find out why. Write this information down and you will have some good, warm leads before you have spent a penny. Doing this before you actually get your company off the ground will make it easier and less threatening for people to talk to you.
When you do get going, visit them again and let them know that you have decided to start your company and you would like to offer your services to them. Let the manager know that you want to give them far better value then what they have had previously (use the term "value" and not "price" so they don't expect that you will necessarily be cheaper). You just got yourself your first commercial contract!
6. Offer to cut grass for free
If you can't find enough work in your area or surrounding areas, hit the streets with your gear and find some houses that need a trim. Approach the owner and let them know that you would like to cut their grass for free and all you would like in return is for them to take your card and keep you in mind if they want any services in the future or know anybody who does.
Now cutting grass for free doesn't sound great, and it's not. It takes what it takes to get to sustainability with a new business though and as long as you're willing to do what others will not, you are going to do great in your new business.
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