Here’s What 5 Lawn Care Experts Wish They Knew When They First Started…

Published on June 19, 2018

To win your lawn care market, you need to grow faster than your competitors.

You need to think like an Olympic runner getting ready for the 100 meter dash...

… but what if you could start 10 meters ahead of your competitors? What about 50 meters?

We asked 5 lawn care pros what they wish they knew when they started. Each of these guys has grown their business from a solo job, into a multi-truck, full-roster operation.

Keep reading because this will give your lawn care company a massive head start on your competitors.

Why Finding “Profit” in Your Work is Critical | Marvin Salcido from Salcido Lawn

We asked Marvin Salcido about the number one mistake he made when he first started. 

Here’s what he said: 

“It is more important to get profitable work, rather than just ‘work.’

It took me many years to realize that not all work is good work. I used to take any job that would pay, whether or not I made money on it!

I used to think that as long as I had money in my bank account, that I was making money. It was quite the awakening when I realized that a lot of the jobs that I thought I was making money on, I was really losing money on.”

What's the biggest mistake you made in your first year?

“I used to lower my prices, because I did not believe in myself or my abilities. Having low prices led to me to taking just any work, thus not being profitable in the work that I did do.”

Why Don’t You Have a Website Yet? | Bryan Ring from Ring Lawn Care

Bryan Ring’s answer was short and sweet.

When you are first starting your lawn care business, Bryan says: “Build a company website.” You have to look like a professional, right from the start. A website is a relatively simple way to do that… as a bonus, it’s one of the easiest ways to start marketing your lawn business.

What was your biggest mistake in your first year?

Bryan adds: “Quit my full time job too early and ended up receiving welfare benefits over that first winter.”

Talk about a rough start. Just goes to show that every lawn care expert has to face massive challenges. It takes a special kind of entrepreneur to overcome that kind of obstacle.

The 3 Things You Need to Figure Out | Garrett Matthews from Matthews Landscape


Here’s Garrett Matthews from Matthews Landscape:

“When I first got started, I wish someone would have stressed that…

  1. Attention
  2. Marketing
  3. Sales

… are all that matter.

Everything else has a way of taking care of itself. If you can figure out those 3 things you will win!

Be patient… everything takes longer than you think!”

What was your biggest mistake when you first started?

“Bought all the same equipment and tried to run my business like everyone else in town.”

Mike Callahan at SA4

How You Should Think About Your Business | Mike Callahan from Callahan’s Lawn Care

Here’s what Mike Callahan from Callahan’s Lawn Care figured out. Once he got this down, he took his lawn company from “just average” to one of the dominant players in all New York.

“I started out when I was 16 to pay for my car insurance. If someone back in the day had told me lawn care could be a real business… If someone had taught me basic accounting principles in high school, that would have been really helpful. Use QuickBooks and things like that.

Approach it and treat it as a business with actual overhead. Set it up as a business and run it as a business. It’s not side money to pay for your car insurance.

You want to create an executable business plan to follow and hold yourself accountable to, and hopefully get a few people - like a mastermind group - to help you.”

What was your biggest mistake early on?

“The biggest mistake I made my first year was not tracking my start and stop times, and not having an understanding of how long it took to produce a property and what I should actually charge based on my overheads.

Everything I learned in college through my accounting classes and budgeting classes were not real life examples, and I had a hard time connecting the two.

So if I spent some time or money to hire a consultant or an accountant at that point to show me how to do that stuff, that would have been a huge takeaway.

My biggest mistake was not hiring professional help to set the foundation of the business.”

Are You Thinking too SMALL? | Jacob Godar from Scooter’s Lawn Care

Jacob Godar from Scooter’s Lawn Care still feels like he has to force himself to think bigger:

“I wish someone would have told me I would always be thinking too small - even when I thought I was thinking “big.”

I constantly remind myself of this. It takes massive action and some risk from time to time to move the ball forward. It takes discomfort and healthy fear to push out of your comfort zone and really get the results you want.”

What was your biggest mistake in the early days?

“My biggest mistake was trying to do too much by myself because I thought I couldn’t afford employees.

Again, it was a small thinking trap, and pushing out of my comfort zone to make my first few hires was the best thing I did for our business in the beginning.”

Listen to Jacob talk about growing his lawn care business on the Profit Roadmap!

What’s the Worst Piece of Equipment You Ever Bought?

We asked the experts this last question. Here’s what they said:

Marvin: “More than once, I bought some used equipment (which in and of itself, is not bad), but I never used the equipment!

I went through all the effort to travel and buy it, only to have it sit around and collect dust. So it wasn’t bad equipment that was my worst piece of equipment, but wasted equipment that was my worst.

I would highly encourage new owners to purchase equipment as they need it, not because they want new and shiny equipment.”

Bryan Ring: “Worst piece of equipment? Walmart string trimmer.”

Garrett Matthews: “Perma Green Spreader/Sprayer.”

Mike Callahan: “I’m an early adopter of technology, so I bought a hydraulic weed whacker attachment that bolted on the side of the lawn mower. In theory it was amazing, but the thing fell apart in a few weeks.”

Jacob Godar: “The worst piece of equipment we ever bought was our used Exmark riding mower. Buying used equipment (trucks excluded) has been nothing but trouble for us. That may not be the case for everyone, but we stick to new equipment now.”

Speed Up Your Growth with This Advice

This advice will skip you ahead of your “small time” competitors, and get you into the big leagues faster.

You probably noticed a few common threads from these lawn care experts:

  • Know your numbers
  • Get the core pieces of your business into place
  • Start dreaming bigger now, so you aren’t trapped by “small thinking” later

Get these things down now, and you’ll have a much stronger year in lawn care. Happy growing.

Related: How to Hire the Best Employees for Your Lawn Care Business

Lisa Marino

Lisa Marino is the Sr. Marketing Director for Service Autopilot. She uses her 17+ years in direct marketing, sales, and product development to push entrepreneurs beyond their limits. She's passionate about helping others grow their businesses through time-tested marketing techniques. When not writing, you can find her belting out a mean Stevie Nicks at a local karaoke night.


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