Introduction

This page isn’t really meant to be read like a book, it’s a resource. It’s everything we think someone will need if they’re looking to start - or grow - a lawn care business. From the creativeness of “How to Create a Logo” to the seriousness of “How to Write a Contract” -  there’s something for everyone. That being said, not all businesses travel the same path. It’s likely you’ll be jumping around, referring to and reading through each section as your business is born. And at the end, we hope you’re left with - not just a better grasp of what a new business needs - but with an actual fully functional, revenue reaping business.

Table of Contents

  • How to Write a Lawn Care Business Plan
  • Naming Your Lawn Care Business
  • How to Create a Great Lawn Care Logo
  • How to Find Employees for Your Business
    • 5 Traits to Look For in Lawn Care Employees
  • Pricing Tips for Your Lawn Services
    • How to Write a Lawn Care Contract
    • How to Manage Your Contracts with Software
  • 4 Issues Startup Lawn Care Businesses Face & How to Avoid Them

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How to Write a Lawn Care Business Plan

 

A lot of people want to start a lawn care business, but very few understand the groundwork that’s actually needed to get fully operational. Of course, you don’t need to write out a business plan but doing so can help guide your business and uncover any inefficiencies or lapses in judgement before it’s too late.

 

 [Related: 7 Tips on Starting (and Growing) Your Lawn Maintenance Business]

 

icons8-business-128 (1)Executive Summary

Providing a snapshot of your business plan, your executive summary should highlight the strengths of your overall plan. And although it’s the first section people read, it should be last section you write since then you’ll have fully developed the plan and be able to properly and concisely sum it up.

You’ll also want to concentrate on your relevant experience and background in the industry. Some use this opportunity to layout the journey that led them to start a business.

Lastly, show you’ve done your homework by detailing your knowledge of the market you’ll occupy and how your business fills a particular need. In the end you’re trying to convince the reader you’ll succeed.

 

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Company Description

This section acts as an extended version of your elevator pitch, like if you got stuck on the 5th floor. It provides a high-level outline of the various elements of your business, including:

  • The intentions of your business and the marketplace needs you’re trying to fulfill
  • How your service (or products) meet these needs
  • The specific consumer or businesses you aim to serve
  • Outline your business’s competitive advantages that you believe will separate you from the crowd

 

icons8-binoculars-128Market Analysis

This is where you demonstrate - in detail - your industry expertise through the market research you’ve performed. The following are elements to include in your market analysis.

  • Industry description and outlook
  • Information about your target market
  • Target market characteristics
  • Pricing and gross margin targets
  • Competitive analysis
  • Regulatory Restrictions

 

icons8-tree-structure-128Organization & Management

From its organizational structure to its ownership, this section constructs the framework of your business. And essentially explains who does what, defining roles and responsibilities.

Organizational Structure: Simply, yet effectively lay out a diagram of your business's structure, inserting descriptions where needed. Readers should be able to visually understand who’s responsible for each function and the subsequent roles that fall under them. It should also reveal any organizational or operational redundancies.

Ownership Information: Explain the type of legal structure your business has (or will have). What type of corporation is it? Or is it a partnership? Or are you a sole proprietor? These are the questions you should be answering here.

 

icons8-tree-128Service

Here is where you explain your service. For a lawn care company this would be the service of maintaining a property. But breakdown each service you offer, if you offer fertilization, detail how you’ll be able to provide the service. You’ll also want to demonstrate the benefits to potential customers and how it’ll fill a need for your target customers.

 

icons8-graph-report-128Marketing & Sales

A business needs customers and this is where you show how you’ll go about doing just that.

Marketing Strategy: Here are the four parts that should make up your strategy.

  • Market penetrations strategy
  • Growth strategy
  • Channels of distribution strategy
  • Communication strategy
 

Sales Strategy: Your strategy should include two main elements

Sales Force Strategy: The number of salespeople you’ll need, how they will be trained and compensated.

Sales Activity: This is how you prioritize leads and identify the points of contact needed to win the business.

 

[Related: How to Make a Great Lawn Care Flyer]

 

icons8-economic-growth-128Financial Projections

These projections provide the insights needed to allocate resources efficiently. If you’re a brand new business you can’t provide any historical financial information, instead you’ll want to supply the reader with prospective financial data. Creditors will use this information to see what your company expects to do the next five years or so.

For each year, you should include forecasted income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, and capital expenditure budgets. Your first year projections should also include monthly or quarterly forecasts. Lastly, it’s smart to include a concise analysis of all this information, including graphs of your trend analysis, if they’re positive.

 

At first, writing up a business plan might feel like a waste of time but if you want your lawn care business to be taken seriously it’s something you’ll want to do. By going through each step, thinking about how your business will function and writing it out, you better understand the web of your business and how all the moving parts operate in unison.

 

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Naming Your Lawn Care Business

 

One of the hardest things you might ever have to do for your lawn care business is actually coming up with a great name. You would think coming up with a lawn care business name would be easy, until you start trying to come up with an original, catchy name. It can be maddening and you can spend hours, days, weeks even, throwing ideas around. You want something that will be catchy and you want a name that will stick in people’s minds, something lasting. Heck, there are agencies around whose sole purpose is to name other businesses.

Some folks might get lucky and they come across a name right off the bat. Other business owners will drive themselves crazy trying to come up with a name, throwing anything at the wall and hoping that it sticks. And we can’t all be as lucky as this company, I wish I had thought of that! Here are 5 steps to coming up with a memorable name for your lawn care business.

 

icons8-bright-mind-128Ideate

No name is off limits in this stage. Throw out as many ideas as you can. Write them down, work on variations. List out a few that are more conservative, like using the business owner’s last name or the city that you operate in. And list more obscure names, too. Chances are, you will wind up coming up with a few ideas that are already taken, that is ok for this exercise.

The hope for this stage is to come up with as many ideas as possible and eventually you will be able to whittle down the list and come up with a few ideas that you like.

And if you need some help thinking of name check out our Lawn Care Name Generator.

 

icons8-detective-128Look at Competitors

Compare your list with names in your competitive market. You don't want anything that could be confused with a competitor or a different company operating in a different industry.

Trademark law can be tricky. There are obvious rules that you need to abide by when picking a name for your lawn care business, but there is also a lot of gray area. What it really comes down to is whether or not the state that you’re operating in will allow you to use the name that you pick. As always, you’re better safe than sorry, so hire a lawyer to make sure your name is in the clear.

 

icons8-stopwatch-128Set a Time Limit

There is a saying that “out of limitations comes creativity”. When I worked as a copywriter at an ad agency one of the things I had to do was concept campaign ideas that were creative, engaging and informative all at the same time. One of the reasons it was my favorite part of the job was how the approaching deadline caused a rush that was half terrifying, half exciting. But in the end, it always seemed to bring out the best ideas.

So setting a time limit helps avoid going in circles and beating yourself up to think of the perfect name. If you don’t set a time limit for yourself to come up with a name, you’re going to just keep coming up more that you feel are better. It is a vicious cycle that seems to never end.

 

icons8-pass-fail-128Test 'em

Once you feel that you have one or two that you like, test them out. Not just with your close friends and family, but with other people in your network. If a name needs explaining or you need to apologize for it, it is going to weaken your overall brand.

 

icons8-trust-128 (1)Let it Grow

People often pick names that they know have potential, but they weren’t initially “in love” with. I heard a great analogy about letting a name grow on you.

Love at first sight only exists in the movies. You don’t get married to someone because you were so infatuated with that person right away that you NEEDED to be with that person forever. You likely dated a while, got to know one another and then decided! In other words, it took time. Sometimes you just have to let the name grow on you.


Lastly, put a cherry on top of your name with a snappy slogan, check out - Funny to Effective: The Best Lawn Care Slogans

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How to Create a Great Lawn Care Logo

 

Logos are everywhere you look. They’re on your shirts, your shoes, your car, your mower, they’re even on this web page you’re reading right now. We see them so often we rarely take the time to think about why that brand made that logo that way. So what makes a good lawn care logo? There’s more to it than you probably think.

If you’re looking for inspiration before you get going check out: The Best Lawn Care Logos we’ve ever seen.

 

 

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Being unique and original is never an easy path - it takes time and a conscious effort to create something that stands out. And that’s exactly what you’re trying to do with a logo, although most small businesses struggle to do so. Instead most, “borrow” a design element they found in some logo online. Occasionally a small business will even mimic a competitor’s logo but we probably don’t need to go into how backwards that is.

But avoiding imitating - or worse - plagiarizing another logo will only get you so far. Instead - as we’ll talk about in the next point - you should try to steer clear of any lawn care tropes. Your goal should be creating something that makes people think “Huh, I’ve never seen a lawn care logo like that.”

 

 

Pillar Page_ Logo Section Paragraph Headers (1)

There are two types of cliches. The first type are all the design fads and trends that come and go. Right now it’s the minimalistic logo that’s puts most of its style on that ‘x’. Think breweries, wineries, hip brunch eateries or check out the example below). The second type of cliches are all the tropes and imagery that an industry wears out. For lawn care that’s grass, naturally. I’m not saying any logo that includes some element of grass is bad.  If you’re going to use it, use it in some original way, so it doesn’t look like every lawn care logo in your area.

 

 

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The color palette can be the deciding factor whether a logo works or not. And that doesn’t just mean blue or green. Choosing the hue is one thing but finding the right intensity and value (shade and tint) can be challenging. As you choose your color always remember that each one offers a certain set of characteristics and ideas to the viewer. Below is a brief summary and breakdown of colors and their attached meaning.

Meaning of Color

 

 

Pillar Page_ Logo Section Paragraph Headers (4)

This is one of the most important things to keep in mind for small business owners. Most people who aren’t familiar with logos will have a million ideas. Initially this is great - the more ideas the better - but this list of ideas should be whittled down throughout the process and not smushed into one logo.

Always remember that when it comes to logos - simple is powerful. From Apple to Nike the most influential brand (and logos) we see on a daily basis are usually the most simple, as well.

 

 

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Think about where the logo will be used.  For a new business it can be hard to realize all the possible ways your logo will be used. From business cards to billboards to digital ads to truck graphics - you should take the time to think about all the locations your logo will find itself.

There should be a harmony between simplicity and originality. You want your logo to grab people’s attention but not so long that by the time they comprehend it the billboard’s flying past their driving side window.

 

 

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The worst part about having a great logo is that it won’t last forever. At some point even the best logo must be updated and refreshed. If you do have an effective logo - that’s somewhat timeless - change doesn’t have to be heavy-handed. It usually only takes a tweak here and there to bring a solid logo up-to-date and timely.

 

 

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There is a ton of stuff online, from tools and resources to inspiration and ready-to-go logo designs. If your budget is tight there are places like 99design’s Logo Store where you can buy original, curated, ready-to-go logos. If you’re willing to spend a some more money there are sites - like 99designs - that offer a crowdsourcing service where designers submit personalized logos. And if you can fork over some serious cheese, you can always freelance it out to a designer and work with them to create just what you want. For the creative-DIY types there are sites like Logomaker and LogoYes where you can design it on your own.

 

Lawn Care Business Cards 101

 

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How to Find Lawn Care Employees

 

You have your business plan, you’ve thought of a name and even have a great logo - so what’s next? It’s time to find reliable and hardworking employees. And currently, it is one of the biggest issues many lawn care business owners struggle with.

I have heard it time and time again from our current customers. They hire a great fit for the company, the guy shows up for the first couple days or weeks, and then he disappears. This is a stress on the company for a number of reasons. First, it was a waste of your time and money to invest anything in this employee. Secondly, your company feels the strain of picking up the extra slack that was originally supposed to be covered.

So how do you find employees? Here are a few options:

 

Ask current Employees Ask Current Employees

One of the best ways to get reliable employees is through referrals. For one, it is easier than putting an ad out there. You simply ask your guys to let any of their friends looking for work know you are hiring. Secondly, your employees rarely like looking bad. They will not recommend someone who would make them look like a fool for suggesting them for a job. A friend’s reference is much more likely to stay with the company and be loyal then someone you grab off the street.

Some companies even incentivize their employees to recommend their friends. I’ve heard of lawn care businesses that pay their employees as much as $200 if their referral becomes a productive new employee.

 

icons8-iphone-80 (1) Social Media

Another option is to reach out via your social media pages. My suggestion would be to stick with sites like LinkedIn, as this is where more professional options can be found. You can post your listing in certain groups that relate to your industry, city, etc. And don’t forget to ask your employees to do the same – the more people that share your message, the more likely you are to find a great new hire.

 

icons8-search-80 (1) Look Within The Company

If you are looking to take on a special service, and don't need another guy in the field, try reevaluating your own team. You may have someone in your company that is suited to take on the new service.

While the employee may need some additional training, certification, and time to learn the service, this could be a better fit than bringing in a new person. With a new person, you never know what you will get, whereas with your employees, you already know what you will get.

 

The important thing to remember when looking for a new employee is not to rush it. At times, this can be hard. Especially if you have an influx of appointments or have an employee leave the company unexpectedly. Rushing in and grabbing the first guy you interview, however, will usually not work out for the best. You don’t have the time to commit to finding a good fit for your company and could end up wasting more resources on a bad employee than on being without one.

 

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5 Traits to Look for in Lawn Care Employees

 

As previously stated, finding employees is hard and finding quality employees is even harder. So to help you sift through the duds here are five traits that you should look for during your hiring process.

 

icons8-confetti-512Enthusiasm

One trait that is important to look for in employees is enthusiasm. As you’re interviewing people for your open positions, you should be able to tell whether or not the person is enthusiastic right away. It is hard to fake enthusiasm. It is a trait that will help make your employees coach-able and you know that they are willing to take on challenges.

 

icons8-planner-512Self Managing

You want employees that can make decisions for the good of the business on their own. If you aren’t around or your crew leaders aren’t there for guidance, you want an employee that can make decisions on their own.

While this might be a tougher trait to spot during an interview, ask questions that allow your job candidates to respond in a way that exhibits how well they can manage their time. What other roles have they held that allowed them to exhibit responsibility? If you’re hiring students, ask them what clubs, groups or teams they have been a part of.

 

icons8-chat-room-512Communicator

You want your lawn maintenance employees to be strong communicators. Communication is one of the most important soft skills that anyone can have. Being able to communicate effectively will enable your employees to deal with any customer issues, it will help them sell your services better and it will make working with them much easier.

 

icons8-bright-mind-512Curiosity

Curiosity is a desirable trait that you should look for in employees because it shows they are interested in the work they are doing. One question that we always ask when interviewing job candidates is “what are you currently obsessed with?” It throws people off, but often times it is something they are so interested in, they want to learn everything they can about that topic. You want people who are inquisitive and want to be able to improve their skills.

 

icons8-square-clock-512Reliability

This might be another trait that will be tough to tell whether or not a job candidate possesses just by interviewing them. You want to make sure your lawn maintenance employees are going to do what they say they are going to do. If you’re able to, see if you can get a few references before hiring an employee. It might be tough to do if the person has limited work experience, however, you can ask if they are willing to put down personal references.

 

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Pricing Tips for Your Lawn Services

 

It’s competitive out there so knowing the exact price to charge isn’t an advantage, but merely a must. It’s a starting point, not a differentiating point.

What we’re covering here are just the basics, for mostly new businesses or businesses offering a new service. If you’re looking for tips on flat-rate pricing, raising prices or more advanced material, check out the links.

Also, we’re not going to tell you an exact price to charge. Different markets affect pricing in different ways. We want to be a guide, helping you determine the price best for your business. And like most things in business, perfecting your price takes some time, a bit of calculating, and a lot of patience.  

Which makes me think of The Office episode where Michael starts his own paper company and low-balls the whole competition before finding he can’t run a business that charges such a low price. So, he ends up calling people who were already promised a low price, asking them to pay more. In the end, Dunder-Mifflin buys him out and everything is back to normal. Classic Michael.

raise the roof MS

icons8-receipt-128What you charge starts with what you spend

Whether your price is based on time (mins/hrs per property), size (property’s square-feet) or a combination of both - there are two main costs (on your end) to consider when determining a price.

Direct Cost: These are the costs that go directly towards completing the job at hand.

Examples: Labor, materials, equipment

Overhead cost: These costs are necessary for your business to operate. They indirectly allow you to perform and complete each job (i.e. project) you have.

Examples: Phone bill, Internet bill, rent, mortgage, taxes, regulatory fees

 

icons8-money-box-128Revenue Goal

Having a revenue goal is the first step towards making a profit. Taking into consideration the number of team members you have and the available equipment to perform jobs simultaneously, you can figure out the number of clients you can take on. And knowing this, allows you to calculate what you need to charge to meet your revenue goal. Below is a basic Revenue Goal formula:

        Number of clients + Pricing = Revenue Goal

 

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Research Your Market

The main thing you’ll want to figure out while researching competition pricing, is what you can’t charge. Meaning what price would be overcharging. Remember, for the most part, the market sets the price, not you.

HomeAdvisor and Homewyse both have a tool to help understand your local market. They basically offer the same functions, like price averages based on zip-code and square-footage.

As you try to understand the climate of your market you’ll likely come to realize certain customer values and expectations. This is where your pricing comes from. Don’t think about how you value your service. It’s not about what you would pay it’s about what your customer would pay. It’s important to understand that you’re not the customer, you wouldn’t pay someone to mow your lawn. So, whatever you would pay for lawn service is most likely lower than what your customer would pay.

 

icons8-engine-oil-128 (1)Equipment ROI

We’ve heard owners say “to the customer (especially residential), it doesn’t really matter the mower I have. If I have a $7,000 Toro Titan, I’ll have to charge roughly the same rate as the guy with a 10-year-old push mower.” Of course, if you charge by the hour or minute, a bigger, faster mower will result in a lower price.

But when it comes to some smaller residential properties, the range of time doesn’t vary all that much. So when determining the equipment your business buys or uses it’s important to understand how this will and won't affect how much you charge. Essentially, what ROI comes with each equipment? Here’s a tool from our library that helps calculate the production rate of each equipment you have.

 

Knowing what to charge is merely the beginning - your quality of work, customer service and the overall efficiency of your business is what ultimately sets you apart from the competition. If you're still wondering how to pin down your price check out our Lawn Mowing Calculator.

 

 

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How to Write a Lawn Maintenance Contract

 

You started your lawn care business, you got your name out there and now you have your first customer. So what’s next? You need to write up a lawn care contract. At its core, the relationship between a customer and a lawn care business is relatively simple. But it becomes much more complex and nuanced when you toss in all the possible services and how often they’re done. A contract helps clarify any discrepancies that may arise in a relationship. You’ll be able to refer back to it and say “as you’ll see here, we agreed to [blank] every [blank].”

Creating a lawn care contract shouldn’t take a ton of time but it can save you (and your business) from a great deal of trouble in the end.

What you’ll find in the sections below is everything a lawn care company could possibly want (or need) to include in their contract. I thought it would be better to be thorough, than to skim over the topic, leaving something out and getting a business sued. It’s likely you won’t want or need to include all of it - it’s quite exhaustive. And because of that, I included both a basic and an advanced contract template at the end of this section.

QUICK DISCLAIMER: I’m not a lawyer, below reflects basic advice on lawn care contracts. If you have further questions or concerns it’s always best to reach out to a real-life attorney.

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icons8-contract-512Include the Basics

Hopefully this is a no-brainer but your contract should include what it is (lawn service agreement), the name of your business, the name of the owner (you), the date, the customer’s name and address. If it’s a commercial contract you’ll want to include the properties address, the business’s name and the name of the person that’ll be signing the agreement for the business. The way this is formatted varies but it’s always included in all legally sound contracts.

The next three outlining sections are Term, Scope, and General Requirements - or some semantic variation of those three. These three make up the snapshot portion of your contract. The Term simply covers the agreement’s time period.

The Scope is a summarized statement of the agreed upon work. For example it could be “To provide for complete lawn maintenance including: mowing, tree and shrub care, fertilization, chemical control or any services made applicable and outlined in this agreement for [customer’s name].”

In the General Requirement section you lay-out what you’re generally responsible. This doesn’t mean services but rather it’s everything you’re responsible for providing to complete the agreement. Legal contractual jargon might phrase it like, “The Lawn Care Contractor (i.e. you and your business) shall furnish all labor, materials and equipment to perform the maintenance operations in accordance with the requirements herein specified.”

 

icons8-tree-planting-128 (1)What will you be doing for the customer?

This is where you include all the lawn services - from mowing to mulching - you’ll be providing the customer. It’s super important to be clear during this portion of a lawn care contract. If the service is going to be done in a specific area of the property, then that detail should be noted. For example, your contract might include something like “edging front sidewalk.”

Grouping your services by their frequency is one way to help the customer better understand what’s going to be done and when. That means the services that are involved in the weekly (or bi-weekly) maintenance of their lawn should be in the same section. It’s also a good idea to state what’s not included in this regular visit when appropriate.

Next, you’ll want to go over any service that has its own frequency. For example you might offer a “Turf Fertilization Program” that’s administered three times during the term of the agreement. If you’re not into the whole brevity thing, you can even include services that aren’t.

Lastly, even though it might be included more towards the end of the contract, it’s a good idea to explain how any missed - agreed upon - service will be communicated to the customer and not billed.

 

icons8-bill-128What’s the customer’s cost?

As you’re well aware of, lawn services can be priced in many ways. So how your contract presents its price(s) might be drastically different to that of another lawn care business. I’ve seen contracts that list all of the services then have the grand total at the end. The downside of this approach is the customer doesn’t know what makes up this price - they’re completely oblivious to the cost breakdown.

Conversely, I’ve seen contracts that attach a dollar amount to every little service, leaving the customer's head spinning and uncertain of what they’ll actually be charged. Basically, instead of telling you to do it one way or another, I’m telling you the two extremes and leaving how to present your pricing, up to you.

 

icons8-card-payment-128How do they pay? What if they don’t?

Somewhere in your contract you’ll want to include invoice-related details. You should clearly state how they can pay (e.g. check, cash, credit card, direct debit), what their pay period is (e.g. 30 days of the date of invoice) and what happens if they fail to make a payment (e.g. lawn service will cease until payment is made or all balances 15 days or more past due are subject to a certain service charge).  Vice-versa, it’s a good idea - especially if you offer auto-billing and auto-payments - to state how you’ll return any payments made on mistaken charges.

 

icons8-request-service-128What else do they need to know?

Like any legally-binding documents, it’s vital to clarify any ambiguities in your lawn care contract. This varies, but can be anything from special provisions to modifications or amendments to who’s responsible for certain damages to causes of termination to insurance coverage.

 

Looking for more resources? Check out the Lawn Care Contract Template we put together.

 

 

 

 

How to Manage Your Contracts with Software

 

[DISCLAIMER: The following details the benefits of using software, like our's, for your lawn contracts. You don't need to have software to run a business but we think it makes life easier and your business more money. Don't believe us? Here's what our customers have to say.]

We all appreciate little life hacks that make our lives easier.  Things like drive-thrus so we don’t have to get out of the car, online banking so we can transfer money with the tap of a few buttons, and maps on our smartphone to eliminate the dreaded folding of the road maps.

The point is, having things more “automatic” makes running our lives a lot easier.  This is also true in a business sense. When things are electronic and data is sent in “real time”, our jobs become a lot simpler and more stress-free.

Contracts are a little “hack” in themselves in that the customer does not need to call in every time they need a service performed.  You simply present them with a contract on when and what you will provide them with, they sign, and you do the work. And if you have irrigation business software, this entire process can be one of the simplest within your business.  Here’s how:

 

icons8-planner-128Mass Scheduling

Once the customer signs the dotted line, you want to get them on the schedule quick so you don’t let the information slip through the cracks.  Scheduling software is perfect for this because it helps you schedule an entire contract at once. You simply state the services that need to be done, select how far apart they need to be performed, and hit schedule.

The great thing about contracts, is that most are pretty flexible.  If an appointment needs to be change, you can simply reschedule it for a different day or week and any remaining appointments for that contract will be pushed forward as well.  This eliminates any services being “lost” or not getting rescheduled due to a conflict or a sick employee.

 

icons8-route-128Routing

Another awesome feature to help you manage the contracts, is routing. Routing can be done to have the most efficient path for your trucks to follow.  You can have them start from the farthest point and work their way back to eliminate driving all over town and wasting gas.

Again the flexibility of contracts comes into play when routing for a day or a week.  You can check to see if any jobs are in the same area as a contracted customer and simply add the service to the techs day.  If they are in the area and the contracted work can be done at any time, why not add it in when your tech is already in their area so that a second special trip does not need to be made?

 

icons8-contact-details-128Contact Information

Do you have a lot of information being brought to you each and every day?  Is it hard to keep track of every detail that goes along with each customer?  Contact information and history may just be your sanity keeper.

With the customer’s complete history, you and your techs can see what was last done at the customer’s property.  This way you know if they are in need of mowing, blowing, trimming, etc. It helps to eliminate anyone doing the same work twice and gives you one more place to check to ensure the customer’s contract is being fulfilled.

 

icons8-documents-128Contract Management

With the contract management feature many irrigation software solutions have today, you can see how many more jobs are needed for the customer and if you are going to complete your end of the deal on the contract.

It is always nice to have a place to check in and see where your business stands.  Having contract management allows you to eliminate any paper shuffling or technician calling and simply pull up the contract in your software and look.  You can see how many and which services are still needed and also use it as a selling point. You will be able to offer additional services the customer is not taking advantage of by seeing what they typically purchase from you.

Life hacks are the simple things that make our lives a little easier.  Make your business life a little easier by managing your contracts with your irrigation software.  You already have the software installed, and so using it to its full potential is one more way you can help your business grow, without causing your stress to grow with it.

 

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4 Issues Startup Lawn Care Businesses Face & How to Avoid Them

 

So you’ve decided to start a lawn maintenance business. You’re excited. You’re optimistic. You’re looking forward to growing it to be a staple in your community.

Owning a business is fun, but it’s also a challenge. I’ve talked to a number of lawn care business owners, and the following four items are what they most frequently admit caused the most heartburn  in the early stages of their business:

 

icons8-home-512 (2)Customers

You can’t have a business without customers, yet those customers can sometimes be your biggest pain in the ass. You’ll get customers that, no matter what you do, won’t be satisfied. Or, you’ll have customers that you’ll underbid because you’re new and you still haven’t figured out the nuances of bidding. Or, customers that expect you to do everything, but don’t want to pay for it.

Everyone says they love their customers, but no one admits that, at times, they can be a giant pain in the ass.

So how do you ensure your customers don’t overwhelm your business? One of our customers acts uniquely at the end of the year - they fire 10 customers every year. Each employee gets to pick one customer to fire - with a valid reason. Then, they review the profitability of each account to see which customers lose money. They fire the least profitable customers, or send them new pricing that builds in acceptable profit.

It’s certainly not an easy thing to do. When you’re trying to get a business off the ground, the last thing you think you want to do is lose revenue. But if it makes your life less stressful - and your business ultimately more profitable, it’s worth doing.

 

icons8-workers-512Employees

Most people who start lawn care businesses do so because they like the work - and they don’t want to be beholden to a manager. They don’t want to join the corporate rat race.

For many, they enjoy the freedom that comes with owning a small business. Once they start adding employees, it becomes less enjoyable. Managing employees isn’t really why they started the business. But they can’t grow without help.

Managing employees isn’t easy. It’s why many small businesses start by hiring people they know - relatives, friends, spouses.  But once you have to hire people outside your network, it can be difficult - and cause headaches.

Some tips:

1) The old adage hire slow, fire fast is apt. If you hire for the sake of hiring, you may be firing quickly.

2) Think about human resources issues before you hire. Define your processes - how are you going to compensate employees, what about raises and bonuses, what disciplinary actions will you take, what about rewards and bonuses. Have a plan so that you’re proactive,  not reactive, when it comes to managing employees. Documenting everything makes it easier to communicate and consistently manage employees.

3) Think about your culture. What kind of business culture do you want? Culture is one of the most important aspects of a business. Making a place enjoyable to work can help you overcome things like few benefits and low pay. Studies continue to show that the two biggest factors in retaining employees is autonomy and the people they work with. People don’t like to be micromanaged and they want to work with great employees. If you have a bad apple in your business, it can bring the entire team down.

 

icons8-chat-room-512Poor Communication

Once you’ve hired multiple employees, poor communication can grind your business to a halt. For example, your sales rep may fail to communicate what was sold to your production team, causing tension. Or your office and field staff may fail to communicate important job details, angering a customer. Or, as the owner, you may not adequately communicate your company vision, which leaves your employees working toward different goals.

But communicating with your team isn’t the only problem. Poor communication with your customers also leads to issues. The key to delivering great customer service is communication. Without it, you’ll fail.

How do you communicate better? At its core, our field service software solution improves communication. Instead of phone calls from the office to the field about the work that needs to be performed, you enter it into our electronic database and send it to your crews’ smartphones and tablets. They can see a complete work history, office notes, security notes, etc.

Our service business marketing add-on, HindSite Connect, helps you communicate with customers. We highly recommend that maintenance businesses send post-service emails, what we call completion emails, to their customers informing them that they completed the job and when. With HindSite Connect Pro, you can even include a post-service survey, so your customers can rate your work, giving you important data that helps you improve your service.

 

icons8-business-report-128Paperwork

Once your business gets big enough - usually once you’ve hired multiple crews - paperwork suddenly becomes a burden. Manual timesheets, paper contracts, estimating paperwork, field notes, invoices and customer service notes begin to pile up everywhere. Managing the paper suddenly eats away at your nights, weekends and family time.

Luckily, you don’t need to be burdened by paperwork. There’s a glut of solutions on the market that can help you eliminate paperwork. You want to be selective when choosing a field service software, because if you’re not, you may select a solution that ends up wasting more time than it saved. You need a solution that helps you track your sales opportunities with a field service sales CRM, makes it easy to schedule lawn maintenance work, that can deliver smart routing, that enables you to capture information and mark jobs as complete in the field, that integrates to QuickBooks and that helps you determine your profitability by job using budgeted vs. actual reporting.

 

You need a solution that helps you track your sales opportunities with a field service sales CRM, makes it easy to schedule lawn maintenance work, that can deliver smart routing, that enables you to capture information and mark jobs as complete in the field, that integrates to QuickBooks and that helps you determine your profitability by job using budgeted vs. actual reporting.

 

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Build a Better Lawn Care Business

We've got a number of resources for lawn care business professionals designed to help you grow and improve.
Lawn Maintenance Buyers Guide
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Lawn Maintenance Marketing

Lawn Maintenance Software Buyer's Guide

2018 Green Industry Benchmark Report

Lawn Maintenance Marketing Guide

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