Wrap up and go for launch
Congratulations! You’ve made it through the entire blueprint… well, except for this chapter… you survived the living hell of having to slog through this thing!
But I promise it will be worth it
I’ve given you the benefit of my experience – my successes and my failures truly make up the meat of this lawn care blueprint sandwich. Now it’s up to you to go forward and make it happen for you.
I know it sounds hokey, but this is actually a pretty powerful thing.
Take out a pen, maybe even a Sharpie so it’s nice and bold, and write down, “I am going to start my own lawn care company because…”
It could be 1 reason or 10, it doesn’t matter. Maybe you want to get out of a dead end job, or make more money, or be your own boss or create something strong that will not only support you and your family but give you the opportunity to truly succeed.
Whatever is in your heart, write it down. Then I want you to pin that baby up over the desk or work space that you’ll use when you’re doing the bookkeeping and inside work for your business. I want you to be able to see that reason list every day… every time you feel frustrated or wonder if it’s going to work or are tired from a hard day of mowing.
Just look at your reasons and remember the feeling you had when you wrote them down. Because, my friend, there will be bumps in the road. It’s not going to be a cake walk, at least not all the time.
I mean if it was so easy to start a $5,000 per month or more business, wouldn’t everybody?
If you’ve made it this far then you’ve got what it takes. So I want to give you one last little kick in the ass with a couple of things to help you get off the ground. Strap in, bucko!
As I’m writing this thing, I’m constantly waging this internal war about what to tell you.
In other words, I do not want to make this sound too easy, nor give you the worst case scenarios… Because like anything, your business will have its ups and downs.
Mostly this has to do with how many hours per week you work and your customer retention rate.
These are things that are going to fluctuate all the time and change with the seasons. That’s just how it goes.
You already know that you’re more likely than not going to have to work more in the warm months as opposed to the cold. Makes sense, right? I mean the grass grows faster in the summer than when it’s covered in snow.
So what can you really expect?
How can I set you up for success with a reasonable picture of your average work week.
Let’s look at what you need to do to make that $5K every month…
We’ve kind of already done this, but what I want to do here is to talk about the beginning of your business.
So many guys start out and go balls to the walls. They work 60, 70 or even 90 hours a week doing the marketing, bookkeeping and actual cutting. While this is a great attitude at first, and the topic of this section, it’s probably also the #3 reason why so many lawn businesses fail in their first year.
3 months with no work, assuming you’re not doing additional services.
2 months of ½ the work at the beginning and end of the season
7 months of full time mowing.
So if we go back to the money chapter, we talked about how..
Your average lawn is $35 per cut and..
You need 68 customers to meet your financial goals that means..
You're cutting 68 lawns every week during the summer.
If each lawn takes you a half hour, then it's 34 hours of mowing and maybe another 6 of driving…
But let’s get a little more conservative. Let’s suppose that you spend 2 hours driving every day and that it takes a bit more than ½ hour for every lawn. So maybe you’re cutting for 45 hours a week and driving for 10. So really, in the summer, you might be putting in 11 hour days Monday through Friday.
And what happens if it rains all day on Tuesday? Well, you’ve got to make up those cuts. Maybe you can do a few on the other days and maybe you'll have to work a half or full day on a Saturday once in a while.
Then of course there’s the marketing and the bookkeeping part of your job. So yeah, theoretically, it’s possible that when you lump it all together, you might be putting in 60 hours or a little more each week during the busy season.
Of course, that’s why it’s a good idea to add additional services during the off season so you can balance out your workload.
There will come a point, and we’ll get to that in a minute, where it’s going to be time to hire a helper. A second pair of hands to accelerate your productivity and make those summer months a bit easier on your body
But in the beginning, in those first 90 days, I want you to really hit it hard. You really need to get to those first 25 or 30 customers. That way you can service any debt you have and bring in a paycheck too.
You shouldn’t even have to kill yourself here. After all, you don’t start with 70 or 100 clients… so a lot of your time will be spent in marketing – online and running door hangers. The key word in these first 90 days is persistent and consistent effort. If you hit it hard, 5 or 6 days a week, you will get customers. You will build up a client base and you will have a successful lawn care company.
And you’ll figure out your own rhythm as you go, too. As long as you run your business like a business, keep good books, get hyper-accurate in your bidding and treat people professionally, I can pretty much guarantee your success!
Ooh, bad words!
Sorry, but the truth is that you’re not going to keep every customer forever. You should expect that over the course of every year, you’re going to lose 10% of your clients. Does that sound alarming? It’s really not that bad, if you think about it.
That’s like 1 customer every 5 weeks… and with even a modest marketing program, you should be able to replace every lost customer with 2, 3 or even 5 in that time!
The good news is that in most cases I’d say, losing these people is a blessing in disguise. Why? Well, here are some common reasons they drop off:
You can’t make them happy – some people are just so picky that no matter what you do, they’ll never be pleased. Who needs that in the long run?
They do it themselves – they want to save money and cut the grass on their own. It happens.
They move – they move away and obviously don’t need you anymore.
They’re late – maybe you fire a customer because he or she is always late paying you or doesn’t pay you at all.
You get out bid – You think that $30 for the lawn is a fair price but they go with a guy who says $20… don’t fret this, you don’t want this customer anyway.
First is losing a bid. It’s going to happen. Honestly, if you’re closing 20% or 30% of the yards you quote, consider yourself in great shape. There are literally hundreds of millions of lawns in this country and you don’t want them all. I’d much rather see you with 70 solid customers that deliver a gross income of $80,000 to your business each year then see you with 100 customers that only bring in $60,000 and work your fingers to the bone.
The other thing to consider is when you lose a customer, especially when it’s because they’re dissatisfied. I know it’s easy to get frustrated, but the important thing for you to do is learn from the experience.
For one thing, if you made a mistake or are actually the cause of the problem and can't fix it, you've learned to be more careful in the future. It's not the end of the world. We're only human and all make mistakes… the trick is not to dwell on them, only to make an effort not to repeat them.
On the other hand, if the customer is just a jerk– then don’t beat yourself up over it. Nothing you can do would please them… except maybe working so cheap you wished you’d never met them in the first place!
No matter what the reason is that you break off service with any customer, please keep something in mind…
Like it or not, we live in a digital world where people can go on Facebook, Pinterest, and Yelp and write a bad review about you. A bad review will hang over your head pretty much forever. The only thing you can do is to bury it with good ones, and not to get the bad review in the first place.
These online communities are great resources for finding work, so always remember that you want to preserve your reputation.
You simply handle it like this:
Just remember that you’re always going to lose customers for one reason or another, so make it a habit to keep adding new ones to your roster. In the beginning, it’s going to be a big job, because you’re trying to get to that 60 or 70 that you need to really hit your $5,000 take home pay each month. As time goes on, though, your marketing efforts will probably amount to an hour a week – just adding 1 or 2 new clients each week or month to make up for 1 you lost.
And that’s something I’d always do – if you lose 1, add 2 or 3. Believe me, there are plenty of customers out there in the world. Many of them have never used a lawn care specialist, many have one now and don’t like them… so don’t ever feel like there’s too much competition!
Before we say goodbye, I want to touch on this subject. When I first sat down to create this blueprint, my idea was to write it to help you hit this goal. However, for many guys and girls out there looking to shift from a dead end job or who want to carve out their own piece of the American dream, $100K might seem kind of out of reach.
So I backed it down to $60K per year, which is still a solid and respectable income.
The truth, though, is that it’s entirely possible to get your lawn care business up to a point where it’s paying you $100K after expenses each year and do it all by yourself! I know – I’ve done it, and I did it the hard way, too.
This section certainly can’t really do this idea justice. That’s why we have a second blueprint to come after this one. A blueprint that takes you from a solo operator making $60,000 per year to the coveted $100,000 per year and then on to a point where you expand your operation to include multiple crews. To a point where you, at least partially, take yourself off the lawn and into the executive command chair, in a way.
You’ll learn how to hire a helper, train that person to run their own crew your way and how to hire more people to do the work for you. You’ll learn what it takes to go from a 1 man show to a real “business” where your job is to manage the production rather than run the machinery. That, my friend, is where the real money is made!
Yet is it possible to hit $100K just with what you’ve learned so far? Absolutely! It’s just a numbers game.
Let’s take a look:
If, in order to hit your $5K monthly income, you need to
Acquire 68 customers and bill for about $76,000 in man hours.
Or about 1,500 man hours at $52…
Then what do you need for a $8,300 per month take home, or about $100K?
Well, based on our numbers where your expenses and company taxes equal about 25% of your annual take home, that would mean you need to gross $125,000 in your business. That’s about 2,500 man hours at $52.
Or to look at it another way…
If we use the average price of a lawn cut at $35,
And our numbers from before where we said that you’d mow 4 times per week for 7 months and twice
per week for 2...,
Which means that each customer is worth $1,120,
Here’s what we get:
That means 112 mows during those busy months and 56 during those light months.
Remember how we said that we figured that each lawn took an average of 30 minutes.
So that means you’d be mowing for 56 hours each week during those busy months.
We’ll factor in 14 hours of driving and you get 70 hours per week.
Phew! That’s a pretty hefty load, right?
On the other hand, though, during those 2 light months, you’re only mowing and driving 42 hours each week, which isn't so bad. And that also means that for 3 months, you don't have to work at all.
Of course, if you supplemented your income during those 3 off months with additional services, you could get to your $100K income with less customers. Maybe 100 or even 90. You’ll still probably be working 60 hours a week during the summer, but that’s not so crazy.
When you get to this point, though, it’s time to start thinking about some extra man power. Hiring a helper is always a tricky thing for a new lawn care professional because you often have to do this before you get to the big money. It’s sometimes a bit of a leap of faith.
You may hire a guy at $15 per hour when you’ve only got 75 customers.
Theoretically, this guy even working part-time is going to cost you maybe $25,000 per year.
Well, if with 75 customers your business is grossing about $80,000 – then that means you’re only left with $55,000 and maybe about $45,000 or even $43,000 of take home pay.
Remember that you’ve now doubled your production capability.
So instead of those 75 customers taking you 45 or 50 hours a week to cut, they might take you 30.
So what you’ve done is cut down your work time so that you can focus on marketing.
You can add more customers to your roster quickly and easily all the while knowing that you’ve got the capability to handle 130 or even 150 with your helper, if need be.
This is just to give you an idea. I’d recommend that you not worry about hiring anyone until you reach the point where you’re at your own limit of how long you want to work.
If you’re putting in 60 or more hours every week just mowing, not counting bookkeeping, marketing and bidding, then you’re probably set up well to hire even a part-time guy.
That’s what the next guide is for. It’s for after you’ve gotten yourself rolling. It’s for the guy who’s reading this and is already at or near the point where he wants to grow his business.
That’s it, grasshopper!
You’ve reached the end of the beginner blueprint.
You’re now armed with everything you’ll need to start, grow, manage and enjoy a thriving lawn care company.
Follow this blueprint carefully. Don’t leave anything out. I want you to have this so that you avoid the stupid mistakes and blunders I made.
Believe me, I made them all. I was the guy who floundered for years working his butt off, hiring helpers and then crews and at the end of the day, not making much money.
I couldn’t figure out why until I really started analyzing my business. Once I did, and once I got some help from successful business people who knew how to manage what I was trying to achieve… things took off.