Starting a lawn care business is a great way to become an entrepreneur with low barriers to entry. For the most part, it means you need to get out in the community, make connections and start caring for lawns.
However, there's much more to having a successful business than day-to-day work. For long-term success, you need to create a lawn care business plan to help you think through daily operations and how you’re going to generate revenue.
Some business owners view a business plan as a bunch of paperwork that needs to be filled out quickly. But a business plan represents the work you need to do to achieve your financial goals.
How to create the ultimate lawn and garden services business plan
You can create the ultimate lawn service business plan if you take it one step at a time. So, where should you begin?
1. Decide what type of lawn care business you want
Will you specialize in commercial lawn care or residential homes? These choices will influence everything in your business plan. The type of lawn care services you'll provide and how big you think your business can grow will determine your potential to earn money.
According to Lawn & Landscaping Magazine's 2021 survey, 23% of lawn care businesses earned less than $50,000, and 19% earned between $50,000 and $199,999. And 28% of lawn care and landscaping businesses earned $1 million or more.
Chances are, you won't begin your lawn care company at the $1 million level. But you don't need to go in at the bottom, either.
Most business plans have a short executive summary, company summary or mission statement that gives people an overview of your business.
2. Study your customer market and opportunities
It doesn’t matter if you’re the best lawn care person in the world if no one in your area needs your services. Do you have enough potential customers to support the amount you want to earn? Time to perform a market analysis.
Finding out how many potential customers you could have is an essential step. You can find out how many homes are in your area by using online data tools provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Urban Institute also offers community maps and demographic information to show population trends and how many single-family homes are in your area.
Once you know how many homeowners or businesses you could potentially serve, you can narrow that number down to the number you think you could get as customers. This is your target market.
Be realistic. If you think you can start with 40 homes a month, this is your starting market segment. If you think you could potentially grow to 400 homes a month, this is your total market opportunity.
3. Look at your competition
Your market study should also include competitor analysis. Who are your competitors? How many homes do they typically serve? What are their services, and how much do they charge?
Studying your competitors could be the most important task you undertake while creating your business plan. You can get an idea of what prices customers are used to paying. Competing in lawn care isn't always about having the lowest price: sometimes reliability, responsiveness and quality can be competitive factors.
Until you learn your competitors' pricing, services, and quality, it's hard to know where your business will fit in your local market. Plus, knowing intel on your competitors helps you gain a competitive advantage.
4. Figure out your services and operations
The next step in your lawn care business plan is deciding on your business model and how much work you can do. Do you want to go it on your own as a sole proprietor? Or do you have help from family members, friends, or future hires?
If you plan to hire additional workers, you will need an organizational plan. Even if you're a sole proprietor, your organization chart shouldn't just say "Me."
You will have others helping you, including legal, bookkeeping or accounting services. Even if it's just one or two others you hire on a contract basis, they belong on an organizational chart.
You also need to decide which services you will offer, establish a schedule, and put a pricing structure together. The products and services part of your business plan will feature these elements.
The Lawn and Landscaping survey says that the following services were the top categories offered by lawn care businesses in 2021:
- Landscape and lawn maintenance: Mowing, edging/trimming, and pruning;
- Lawn care/chemical application: Seeding, fertilization, weed control and more;
- Landscape design/construction: Design/build services, retaining walls, other hardscapes and more;
- Tree and ornamental plant care: Tree installation/transplanting, tree trimming and removal, tree fertilization and more;
- Irrigation: Irrigation maintenance/service, irrigation installation
Other services include Spring/Fall cleanup, seasonal color installation, snow and ice management, vegetation management, holiday trimming, mosquito control, etc..
5. Make a financial plan including expenses and financing
Your business is not just sticking a lawnmower in the back of your truck, and mowing and blowing. Today, even basic lawn care businesses include sprinkler system repair and maintenance or pest control services. You'll need supplies and equipment, permits, licenses and more.
It’s crucial to set up projections for your income and expenses. The Small Business Administration offers guidance and tools to prepare financial projections and estimate your startup costs.
Most business plans have three years of projections. You can use spreadsheets to create best-case, worst-case, and average scenarios for how many customers you'll have and income you expect per month and year.
You can also project what your expenses will be. A start-up budget should include the equipment and supplies you'll need to begin your lawn care business. Any equipment you buy is an essential expense that you can use for your lawn care tax deductions.
Don't forget essentials like business insurance, accounting costs, tax deposits and storage. Where will you stow your mowers, trimmers and leafblowers? Will you be renting a shop or storefront? Or are you planning to run your lawn care business from home? Salaries and benefits need to go into your budget as well.
Once you've finished your projections, you can get a good idea of your profit margin.
6. Come up with a marketing plan
It would be wonderful if customers were bombarding you with offers when you launched your business, but that’s probably not the case. It takes time to build up a business and a name for yourself.
The good news is that creating a lawn care marketing strategy for new customers doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. In your first year, you may want to focus on getting recurring customers and building up a good reputation.
Referrals or word-of-mouth marketing is still extremely powerful. When you complete a job, you can give the client several business cards so they can pass them on to their network.
You can also advertise on social media so future clients can see your handiwork. You can create posts on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok that show you in action, your completed work or testimonials from happy customers.
7. Execute your lawn care business plan
The final step is following the steps you've put together.
For example, if you wrote in your plan that you intend to have 20 customers by the end of your first month of operation, you'll be more likely to get them than if you hadn't written anything down. Specifics give you a clear understanding of what 20 customers means for your business versus a vague "as many customers as possible."
Similarly, suppose you budgeted to spend $500 a month on fuel expenses, and you go over budget. In that case, you'll have an idea of cash flow, how many hours to work, or how many customers you'll need to make a profit.
Writing a lawn service business plan takes time, but it will be time well spent in establishing business success.
Protect your new lawn care business with NEXT
Lawn care and landscaping services are often required to have business insurance due to the risk of injury and property damage. You may need it before working with certain clients or when you hire employees.
NEXT is 100% dedicated to small businesses. You get affordable coverage because we tailor our insurance policies for more than 1,300 small business professions.
Running a small business can be a 24/7 job. That’s why NEXT gives you 24/7 DIY access to manage your coverage on your schedule. You can apply online, customize your insurance for your business, purchase and get a Certificate of Insurance in about 10 minutes.
Got questions? Our licensed, U.S.-based insurance professionals are ready with answers.