I don’t want you to fail.
But so many small businesses fail.
I want you in that 20%.
By the end of this article, you’ll know the 11 deadly mistakes that 80% of owners fall prey to (right before their business goes under).
Your competitors don’t know what they’re doing.
They have no idea. Zilch. Nada. There’s nothing worth copying over there.
Let’s say there are five lawn care companies in your town.
80% of them are going to fail.
One company in your town is still going to be around two years from now.
When you copy a competitor, you’re saying one of two things:
- They know their stuff and they’re the company that’s going to make it (and you’re not)
- They’re going to fail but you want to steal their practices anyway … ?
Don’t copy your competitors. Don’t copy their look, their marketing, their services, or their prices.
Mistake #2: Low-Ball Pricing (It’s like Copying, but Worse)
You’ve heard the expression: “You get what you pay for.”
But I’ve got an addendum: “You can provide the service you charge for… and you get the client that wants to pay that way.”
When you try to undercut your competition, you’re copying their worst instinct (the lowest price they can offer) but you’re making it EVEN worse.
When you’re providing the lowest price, you:
- Provide the lowest quality service
- Pay the worst wages (a.k.a. hire the worst employees)
- Attract the most god-awful customers you’ve ever encountered.
Rock bottom pricing is the kind of stuff you offer as your company dies. It’s never going to lead to health. It leads to, well, rock bottom.
Mistake #3: Drink Straight from the High-Ball
Some lawn care owners read the mistake above and have the opposite response.
I won’t be a low-baller; I’ll charge more than anyone in my market.
I think there’s generally a cigar and some whiskey involved in a statement like that.
You can charge more than anyone else in your market.
But that means you have to provide better service than anyone else in your market. You have to be the luxurious private jetliner of lawn care services in Cleveland, Ohio.
Or you’re toast.
An overcharger is just as dangerous as a low-baller.
Mistake #4: Punish All Your Clients Because of One Bad Apple
You’re going to have clients that are awful.
Clients so bad they make you angry.
And angry business owners make bad decisions.
They decide that because one crappy client perpetually sends the crew away from their scheduled mow that all clients will be charged a trip fee if they cancel on-site.
This can alienate good clients, ones that pay on time and love your business.
Don’t punish good clients because another client takes advantage of you. Drop that terrible client and extend your best customer service to good clients who make a bad choice every once in a while.
Mistake #5: Being Unreliable
You can’t be counted on.
So you lose another client.
This is a simple concept that my dad taught me, “When you say you’re gonna do something, do it.”
If you tell Ms. Smith that you’ll take care of her lawn every Tuesday, take care of her lawn every Tuesday. Meet the expectations you agree to, or you can bet that the next lawn care company that knocks on Ms. Smith’s door with have her attention.
Mistake #6: The ‘Meh’ Factor
You finish Ms. Smith’s lawn, get your equipment back on your trailer and leave while her dog barks at you.
She sips her coffee, grabs the paper and surveys your work. She yawns.
Your service needs to “WOW” her. Blow her mind.
The newspaper that you tossed out of the way three times while mowing, should’ve been hand-delivered (you see her reading it every Tuesday).
You should know that her dog’s name is Rowdy. You could’ve waved. Anything that made her feel a positive connection with you.
You don’t want “meh,” or, worse, hate, you want “whoa.” Amaze your customers with great customer service or they might find someone else who will.
Mistake #7: Your Unnecessary Rent
Do you have someone in your office full time?
Do you need to store your equipment somewhere that’s not your home?
If the answer to both of these questions is no, you don’t need to rent space.
It might make you feel like a “real business owner.” That feeling, while a victory, doesn’t pay the rent on that building, storage space, or office. It doesn’t pay to keep the lights on or the air conditioner running.
If you don’t need an office, don’t rent one. Feelings aren’t worth sacrificing reality.
Mistake #8: No Paycheck for the Boss (You!)
You work for your company. You deserve to be paid for that work. Figure what hourly wage your company can afford for your time and start paying yourself that.
Start with this question: What would I pay someone else to do this job?
Now pay yourself that amount. If your business can’t afford that, it’s not going to be scalable (able to grow).
Paying yourself “all the profits” is not a safe way to run your business. A healthy business pays all of its employees, including the owner, and then stashes away some of its profits as a safety net.
Mistake #9: “I’m worth my weight in gold.”
Many businesses have been killed by the hubris of their founder.
Know your worth. It starts with the question above: “What would I pay someone else to do this job?”
Your business card may say “CEO” but if you’re still in the field, you need to pay yourself for being in the field. Treat your labor like any other employee’s labor.
Don’t bankrupt your company trying to pay yourself more than you’re worth.
Mistake #10: Scrap Paper and Hand-Scrawled Estimates
An estimate is a sales letter with pricing information on it.
It’s not an info-dump that you sell alongside. You need to put thought and care into your estimates. Have your estimates close sales for you. Type them up and print them out.
You are a professional, make sure your estimates look like they were made by a pro.
Mistake #11: Running Your Business in the Stone Age
Pen + Paper = Last Century.
Paper is flammable, susceptible to water, air, the grease from a slice of pizza, getting torn up, and just about every other danger to which an item can fall prey.
Don’t trust it.
You might be able to run your business for a short while on pen and paper and keep track of everything.
To grow the most successful lawn care business you can, you need the right software behind you.
Cody is a copywriter with Service Autopilot. He was writing before he could read, dictating stories to his mom. Of late, he distills business principles and practices learned from his ever-increasing trove of books and his year with SA Support into digestible blog posts designed to provide maximum value to service industry business owners.