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How to Start a Lawn Care Business With NO Money

Published on February 15, 2018

Many people want to know how to start a lawn care business, and then they wait for a big bundle of cash to fall into their lap.

... Or even worse, they hound their relatives for loans, max out credit cards, and find out no bank will loan them money.

Though, here’s the deal. Even though, money can help you to grow faster, it’s not the only way to start a lawn care business. In fact, money can actually kill your lawn care business.

In this article, you'll get all the insider tips and tools you need to know how to start a lawn care business that's wildly successful for many to come.

How Money Can Kill Your Lawn Care Business

You shouldn’t buy a 16-year-old kid an expensive car because they’re an inexperienced driver. Likewise, you shouldn’t blindly pour loads of cash into your new lawn care business without some experience.

Think of a brand new business owner like an acne-faced teenager, angling for his dad’s keys. That new influx of cash into your business is a big responsibility. 

You’re a new lawn care business owner with a lot to learn, and that’s fine. That’s where everybody starts.

Don’t give yourself too much to handle at once. Start out small and gradual, so you can take baby steps as you grow into a more experienced lawn care business owner.

Set aside a little money from your paycheck, buy an affordable lawn mower, and get started. You don’t need big money and fancy lawn care equipment to get started. Start out solo with a few 2-3 lawn care services you can get really great at, and then work from there.

How to Name Your New Lawn Care Business

What’s in a name? It’s the first thing every customer sees about you. Every dollar you spend on lawn care marketing will include your business name. It’s something you’re going to think about every day for the life of your business.

While knowing how to name your lawn care business is incredibly important, don’t overthink it.

Your business name should be simple. And so, if a client has to think about your clever pun to determine that you perform lawn maintenance service, your name is too complicated.

Names DO NOT need to be:

  • Cute
  • Overly Detailed
  • [Your Name]'s Lawn Service

You want to pick 2-3 words that you will own in your market. These should be words related to your service. When you have some words in mind, check to see if a domain name with those words and your city is available (e.g. “ClassyMowingDallas.com”).

As you grow your lawn care business, you’ll want to utilize the best “search engine optimization” (SEO) practices for your website.

In turn, SEO makes it much easier to get on the front page of Google search results. When your business name is connected to your industry and your local area, you'll likely rank higher in Google.

While, you don’t need a website to get started, it helps to plan for the right kind of growth upfront.

DON'T WAIT to Register Your Lawn Care Business

It’s inexpensive to register your business. In some states, it’s as simple as filing paperwork and going on your way.

You want to operate legitimately from the very beginning.

When you operate as just a person and not a registered business entity, you can run into legal issues or potential client disputes. Without an S Corp or LLC shielding you, your personal assets could be taken in a lawsuit.

It’s not worth the risk. Make your lawn care business legal and get registered ASAP.

Find out more by checking out our easy guide to making your lawn care business legal.

Get Lawn Care Business Insurance Before Working

Before you start working on jobs, get lawn care business insurance.

If there’s one place to spend a little money in your new business, it’s on insurance. This is a Day One necessity.

Sell your first job and get commercial liability insurance before you start performing it.

A small business, especially the kind with little startup capital, can’t afford to skip out on insurance. It protects you and your clients from financial repercussions if something goes wrong.

Protect yourself and the longevity of your new business with liability insurance.

The Best Lawn Care Vehicles

Look in your driveway. See that truck out there? Or that SUV? Or that Camry? That’s your new lawn care vehicle.

Here's the thing, you don’t need to buy a truck if you already have a vehicle. Get started with what you have, and worry about whether you need to upgrade later.

Options for people without a vehicle:

  • Buy a used truck off of Craigslist or a similar site
  • Finance a new truck (not in the spirit of this “no money” blog post)
  • Borrow a friend or family member’s truck while you save to buy your own

And if you have the budget for it, and you’re interested in buying the best lawn care truck for your business, check out our quick, free, and complete guide.

… And if you’re not interested in buying a truck for your lawn care business, then maybe you don’t need one right now.

Depending on your area, you may be able to pull your equipment in a bike trailer, which will save you on gas. Some large companies, particularly in Canada, do this on dense urban routes because it’s cheaper than driving a truck around. Plus, they can hire lawn care employees who don’t have a license.

Admittedly, this is an outlying case. I wouldn’t expect bike trailers to become a common occurrence, especially in places like Texas where things are very spread out.

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How to Price Your Lawn Care Services (When You Don’t Know How to Price)

To know how much to charge, you need to know how much it costs you to provide your lawn care services.

Lawn care pricing is where most start-up businesses fail. They set prices to be competitive or seemingly random, which is why many of them don’t make it off the ground.

A lot of one-man operations are happy to be to make $15-20 per hour.

“That’s more than I made when I worked for someone else,” they think. Assuming your company's hourly income is equal to profit is a bad idea. That's how you own a job, and not a business.

The second you hire a lawn care employee, you’re not making money anymore.

Why?

Because you'll assume the same thing when you hire an employee. And then you won't be making money anymore. When you scale your business, you’ll increase all the costs of running it.

You want to build long-lasting profit margins into your business. Set expectations early for your customers to pay you like a real business… because you are a real business.

The Basic Rules of Lawn Care Pricing

When you first start your business, it can feel like you’re guessing, pulling prices out of thin air. You don’t have to guess, you can KNOW how to price your services, but only if you consider the following:

1. Labor

Set an hourly rate for your labor, even if you’re the only employee. Build your pricing around how much you're paying lawn care employees; it’s going to be your single greatest expense in the future.

Start considering your labor burden on day one.

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2. Fuel

You have to drive to get to jobs. Your equipment runs on fuel.

You need to have an average cost per mile for your vehicle and per hour for your equipment.

Track these costs long enough to get your averages, so you can include them in your costs.

3. Equipment Maintenance

Your vehicle serves around X number of lawns before you need an oil change.

Your blades need to be sharpened regularly, etc.

Divide those maintenance costs over the number of services provided to get a cost per customer breakdown.

4. Drive Time

We don’t traditionally think of drive time as “work” time.

But you pay your employees for drive time. Every minute you spend driving to some out of the way property is a minute you could’ve spent with a closer customer.

This is why tight, dense routes are so important. Track this time and incorporate it into your costs.

raise your lawn care prices

Remember:

  1. Track your time on each job
  2. Increase the price on losing clients
  3. Test your pricing, adjust, and test again

Done for you Estimate Template with built-in Pricing Calculator

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How to Get Your First Lawn Care Clients

People you know and already trust you are your best bet for getting your first lawn care clients.

Lawn care businesses pop up every day, and clients want proof that you’re not going to vanish into the wind next week.

No one wants to switch lawn care businesses, only to have to go crawling back to their old provider when the new business folds.

Family and friends know that you’re not fly-by-night. This is a big decision you’ve made, many of them have probably been part of that decision. You’ll be surprised how many of them want to see you succeed and will put their money down to see it happen.

Once you’ve worked with family and friends for a while, ask them for referrals, distribute lawn care flyers to the houses around them. Leverage your customer base that loves you and your work to find new clients. Do the same great work for those new clients, and they’ll love you as well.

Get 7 of our best performing flyers (tested over 8+ years), put into print-ready templates.

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Should You Put Your Lawn Care Business on Facebook?

Only put your lawn care business on Facebook if you want a lot of clients…

… and I mean, A LOT of clients.

Just to give you an idea, Facebook is used by 69% of Americans.

Start by creating a business page for your Facebook. Not a personal profile.

Ask your initial clients to write a review, get some pictures posted. Carve out a small digital presence for yourself, add posts a few times a week (add a reminder in your phone so you don’t forget to post) so that potential clients who look you up to know that you’re active.

You can even schedule out your social media posts using a free tool like HubSpot or Hootsuite.

Facebook is one of the best ways to get some word-of-mouth going for your business.

When you’re ready to start advertising for new clients, Facebook is an amazing place to get your feet wet in digital advertising.

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Post Ideas!

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Put Your Everyday Lawn Care Business Operations on Autopilot

You DESERVE the best lawn care software that’s going to work as hard as you do for your business.

You need software that’s going to do things like:

  • Rapid invoicing
  • Automatic routing
  • Same-day payments
  • Automated everyday tasks
  • Instant professional estimates from anywhere

AND so much MORE!

With Service Autopilot, you can automate your everyday tasks with this all-in-one software solution, so you can simultaneously save time and money.

No more...

  • Sticky notes
  • Wasted time
  • Spreadsheets
  • Late payments
  • Forgotten estimate followups

Now, THAT is the power of Service Autopilot.

Grow Your Lawn Care Business... Faster 
(and with Less Stress)​

Instant invoicing

Better scheduling

Manage your clients and employees all in one system

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Start a Lawn Care Business that You’ll Be Proud Of

It doesn’t matter what kind of truck (or car!) you drive or how much money you have, and it certainly doesn’t matter where you are in life.

You can STILL grow a successful lawn care business for you and your family.

If you follow the tips in this article, I promise you can start growing your own successful lawn care business today!


Related: How to Get Lawn Care Customers FAST


Originally published Feb 15, 2018 7:00 AM, updated May 25, 2021 11:13 AM

Cody Owen

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.
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