Opening up your own lawn business this year? Before you buy the trailer and mower, commit to a customer schedule, and mow the first lawn, make sure your business is set up properly.
Here’s what you need to know before you get started.
What Services You’ll Offer
Lawn care and landscaping is much more than just mowing the lawn, as you well know. Knowing what services you want to offer and are qualified for will help you focus your efforts on how to set up your business and what equipment and credentials you’ll need. If you’ve never thought beyond mowing a homeowners lawn, you have more options than you realize:
- Lawn mowing and maintenance
- Edging and trimming
- Spring and fall lawn maintenance
- Fertilizing and mulching, as needed
- Landscape design and architecture
- Irrigation services
How to Finance and Structure Your Business
When you start a business, you have a lot to do and plenty of decisions to make.
- Buy or lease equipment
- Open an office or work from home
- Choose your business structure: sole proprietorship, partnership, or LLC
- Open a business bank account
- Self-finance all purchases or take out a business loan
- Hire an accountant or do your own business taxes
When and how you’ll do these things is crucial to setting up your lawn care business.
What Equipment You Need
The equipment you’ll need depends on the services you’ll provide and who your customers will be. If you’re designing landscape ideas and plans, you’ll need less equipment than someone physically working with lawns and landscaping.
Some of the equipment you may need includes:
- Pick-up truck and trailer
- Commercial mowers – riding and/or push
- Edgers, trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaw
- Specialized tools
- Irrigation line supplies
Who Your Customers Will Be
Before you start your landscape and lawn business you don’t know exactly who your customers will be, unless you’ve been doing lawn work on the side for friends and neighbors. This is more about deciding what kind of customers you want.
- Commercial accounts tend to be more lucrative and keep you working year-round. They also require you to hire employees and purchase more equipment so your overhead costs will be higher.
- Residential accounts for homeowners or renters often mean you can start smaller, with a few pieces of equipment, and add people and equipment as you grow. It also tends to be more seasonal work that slows down a lot in winter.
You can also combine commercial and residential by working with property management companies to maintain rental property lawns. Another option is to work with a mix of both commercial and residential customers – especially if you like variety in your work.
What Licenses and Certifications You Need
At the very least, you’ll need a state business license to operate your lawn care or landscaping business. You’ll also need to check with your county and city to make sure they don’t require separate business licenses, as well.
As for certifications, working as a landscape designer or architect typically requires a college degree. There are also certification programs to help you learn skills, like irrigation, for your landscape business.
What Insurance You Need
Whether you’re classified as a contractor or an architect, working with landscaping in any capacity means you face liability and other risks in your business. Business insurance may not be required, but it’s always a good idea. (And in some cases, insurance coverage will be required.)
Here are some of the insurance coverages you’ll likely need:
- General liability
- Commercial property insurance
- Commercial auto insurance
- Workers’ compensation – required if you hire employees
- Surety bonds – required if you want to put in a bid for some contracts
- Lost income coverage
- Errors & omissions (E&O) insurance
- And more!
What Price to Charge
There’s no standard price for you to charge when you mow a lawn or landscape a commercial property. You need to factor in the costs for your equipment, supplies, insurance, overhead, and time and labor. And the price you charge will depend on exactly what service you’re offering. Mowing a residential lawn on a quarter-acre will cost less than maintaining the landscaping at a Fortune 500 company.
But part of planning your lawn business is figuring out your prices. You need to create a system for pricing so you can write up agreements and contracts for new clients and give accurate estimates when someone wants to hire you.
How You’ll Handle the Off-Season
Lawn work is inherently seasonal. Even if a customer wants you to maintain their landscaping during the winter months, your work will slow down. It’s important to think about how you’ll handle that. How will you pay yourself, your employees, and for your equipment when business slows down? Will you downsize during slow times? Should your insurance coverage change at all during these times?
Before You Start…
Contact Charlotte Insurance. We can help you understand what insurance is best for your specific lawn care business. We’ll answer all your questions and provide free estimates so you can find the best coverage your new lawn business can afford. And if you wonder whether your insurance should change when business slows down, we can help you figure that out, too.