How to Start a $133K/Month Lawn Care Business

  • Brandon Boushy by Brandon Boushy
  • 12 months ago
  • Blog
  • 6
Professional landscaper holding a mobile phone

Did you know starting a lawn care business could make you over $100K in your first year?

Mike Andes started Augusta Lawn Care when he was just a teenager, and today he has grown it into one of the top franchising companies in the U.S. In fact, his lawn care business model is so successful that the average Augusta Lawn Care business makes over $37K per month.

We’ll share marketing and business strategies that will help you build a successful lawn service company.

Get ready to learn how to start your own lawn care business.

Step 1. What to Know Before Starting a Lawn Mowing Business

lawn care business

It’s helpful to understand the lawn care industry before entering it. Get ready to learn about lawn mowing.

Learn About The Lawn Care Industry

According to IBIS World, lawn care is part of landscaping under NAIC code 56173. The industry makes over $176.5 billion in revenue and $15.4 billion in profit, or an 8.7% profit margin. In addition there are more than 648,000 businesses with more than one million combined employees. 

Is There Money In Lawn Care Business?

Yes. According to Augusta Lawn Care, 93% of their franchises make over $10K in the first 60 days. The average landscaping company also makes nearly $273,000 in revenue per year (but you’ll need some employees to make that much because revenue per employee tends to be around $130K). 

When calculating your lawn care business income potential in your business plan (which we’ll cover in detail in a moment), keep the assumptions under $130K per employee. Lenders will question how your lawn care operations make more than that. Be prepared to explain how you expect to make more than the typical business owner when you start a landscaping business.

Lawn care business infographic

How Much Do Lawn Mowers Make?

The median wage for a lawn care professional is around $16.55/ hour, or $34.5K per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, business owners typically make an additional $11,310 in profit per employee, based on an 8.7% profit. 

Mike told us there are really 3 revenue thresholds that are hard to cross:

I don’t care how hard you work. You can’t make more than about $500K by yourself.

Check out our interview with him below.

The other two levels are $250K and $1M in revenue. Find out more about how to exceed those levels later in the article.

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Lawn Care Business?

You can start a lawn mowing business for less than $1,000. Mike told us:

When we started, we started with $1,000 to buy a blower, a weed eater, and a lawn mower.

We also asked him about starting a lawn care business with no money. He had great advice:

If I had zero dollars, I would walk down the street and I would look for the people who need work done that doesn’t need tools. Picking up leaves, picking up debris, and other stuff that we can [do to] make the thousand [to buy] the tools.

Skills For A Lawn Care Business 

Starting a lawn care business doesn’t require a lot of skills. You need to understand how to use lawn care equipment like a lawn mower, edger, and weedwacker—but all of these products are fairly easy to use. The most important skills are understanding safety.

IMPORTANT: If you want an in-depth tutorial on how to start a lawn care business, check out Mike’s course. He’ll walk you through setting up everything you need for a new business, including the automations and marketing to get more customers and save money. 

In this video, Mike compares his course with buying an Augusta Lawn Care franchise. Watch the overview and learn which is right for you!

Lawn Care Education

Most lawn care businesses don’t require education, but if you’re starting a lawn care design business or offering arborist services, you’ll want to be educated on more than just offering landscaping services like lawn mowing, weed pulling, and tree trimming. You can learn more about plants by studying the native species in your area on sites like:

Not-So-Technical Skills

The key to Mike’s success is how he measures success. He told us:

I went to Africa for 6 weeks when I was younger and saw how happy they were. That taught me to measure success by how happy I am and how happy the people around me are.

He adds value to his lawn care services by:

  • Being personable
  • Learning customers’ names
  • Sharing lawn care tricks with customers

Just showing up and providing quality services is enough to get you further than most lawn care businesses.

Mike told us:

Customers prefer over-communication rather than under-communication.

Does starting a lawn care business sound like something you want to get into? Then keep reading because there are all types of lawn care companies.

Step 2. What Type Of Lawn Care Business Is Right For You?

man with a paper holder board with a list of lawn care business

Lawn care business owners have different options of what services they provide. You might want to consider some of these services as your core business:

  1. Landscape care and maintenance
  2. Lawn mowing
  3. Tree trimming
  4. Weed pulling
  5. Arborist services
  6. Fertilizing lawns
  7. Landscape installation
  8. Planting trees and shrubs
  9. Spraying lawns
  10. Landscape design
  11. Turf installation

Invoice Owl has a great blog about these lawn care services and more.

collage photo of task from invoice owl website

Step 3. Write a Lawn Care Business Plan

You can start a lawn care business from home and make great money, but a lawn care business plan is your roadmap to long-term success.

Business plan sections are pretty standard. Make sure to include:

  • Lawn care insurance
  • Competitive analysis of lawn care companies in your area
  • Lawn care equipment
  • Financial projections
  • Your serviceable location
  • Lawn care business licenses and permits
  • Marketing plan
  • Strategies to make money

And the best part is that UpFlip’s guide steers you through writing a business plan, including a free template to download. It’s worth your time to check it out. We even discussed business plans with Mike.

Writing the business plan, you’ll do lots of research on how to start lawn care business operations.

Perform Market Research

You can’t talk about how to start a lawn mowing business idea without talking about identifying ideal customers and creating a customer persona. 

Mike made it really easy for people to know the target market when you start lawn care business operations. It’s really simple. You need to target:

  • Homeowners and commercial clients (Mike sticks to residential.)
  • People who make over $100,000 per year
  • People who live within a 5 mile radius

You can use the census.gov website to narrow down what areas can afford your standard and specialized services.

Step 4. Consider Lawn Care Names

Choosing a business name is an exciting part of starting a lawn care business. Enjoy being creative, but consider the following points:

  • Include  “lawn care”: You want people to know what you do. Augusta Lawn Care has it right in the name.
  • Easy and clear: Potential customers may be put off by a name they struggle to spell or pronounce. Keep it simple.
  • Location: Consider including your location to attract customers in your area and establish yourself within the local region.
  • Branding: Mike explained how important branding is to a business name. “Augusta” is named after the golf tournament because he wants to allude to the high quality greens where the tournament occurs. He warned about being too particular about that because he used white uniforms like the golf caddies, and that was a big mistake. Check out our interview about branding below.

Make Sure The Business Name Is Available

Run your name through our business name generator, then click on the name to buy it directly from NameCheap. While you’re doing that, check out our guide on creating a website.

Step 5. How To Start A Lawn Care Business Legally

Lawn care services will need to comply with local, state, and federal laws. You’ll need the following:

  • Limited Liability Company (or Other Business Structure)
  • Business License
  • Business Bank Account
  • Business Insurance

Keep reading to find out more.

Business Structure 

hand arranging wooden blocks and a tablet on the table

There are several types of business structures you may want to use. You can file for most of them on the Secretary of State website for your state.

  1. S-Corporation: Best for high-earning companies that want to lower business owner taxes. Limited number of stockholders, provides personal liability protection, requires business owners to receive salary (and optional dividends), no double taxation.
  2. C-Corporation: Best for companies trying to change the world. Unlimited stockholders, provides personal liability protection, high compliance costs, and double taxation. Business owners can earn money through multiple income streams with different tax codes.
  3. Limited Liability Company (LLC): Best for companies that want to separate business entities from personal assets. A Limited Liability Company provides limited liability, pass-through income, and no double taxation.
  4. Sole Proprietorship: Best to just get started. Doesn’t provide liability protection or create a separate business entity, and is considered personal income. Don’t use a sole proprietorship if you hire employees.

To learn more about business formats, check out our blog on 11 business structures

Get a Lawn Care Business License

You’ll also want to get your business licensed. Some states let you do it all at once. 

Lastly, don’t forget to grab an employer identification number from the IRS. It’s like a social security number for your business.

Open A Business Bank Account

Every lawn care business needs to open a business bank account to separate your business and personal finances. Business bank accounts can be either online or from physical banks and credit unions.

Online banks tend to have better offers, but they might not offer the range of business credit card accounts you can open in the legacy banking system. If credit accounts or making cash deposits are important to you, go with the legacy banks. Learn more.

Lawn Care Professionals Need Business Insurance

screenshot of lawn care business insurance from simplybusiness website

You’ll want to get lawn care business insurance including:

  • General liability insurance
  • Property damage insurance
  • Workers compensation insurance
  • Cyber Security Insurance (since you have people’s credit cards, names, and addresses)

Consider Simply Business to get the most competitive business insurance quotes.

Step 6. Set Up Your Lawn Care Business Finances

Let’s talk numbers. You already have a budget from your business plan, and know what the industry profit margins are. How are you going to get the money for starting lawn care business operations?

Funding

As a new business owner, you’ll need to cover your startup costs.  Landscaping businesses have a low barrier to entry with less than $1,000 to get started, but funding is an important step. Try business financing through one of our partners. Other landscaping businesses have started small businesses with:

  • Credit cards
  • Angel investors
  • Crowdfunding
  • Business partner(s)
  • Grants for starting a lawn care business (Yes, there are some!)
  • Home equity loan
  • Friends or family
  • Personal finance through savings or wages
  • Rollover for business startups (ROBS)

For those wondering how to start a lawn care business with no money, Mike offers a work-to-franchise opportunity. Work for an Augusta Lawn Care franchise for 2 years, and you can open your own landscaping business without paying a franchise fee.

Check out his explanation below.

Lawn Care Pricing Chart 2023

Lawn care professionals can charge based on a variety of factors:

  • Lawn mowing prices per hour: $25-$65
  • Lawn mowing prices per square foot: $.01-$.05

Jobber created a table that has the average cost of lawn care services. Some of the specialty services can run into the thousands.

screenshot of pricing chart from getjobber website

Create a basic lawn care price sheet after you’ve decided how much to charge. Download our template.

Step 7. Establish Safety Protocols For Lawn Care Services

person using a hedge trimmer with ear protection

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created a safety manual for lawn care business owners. It’s a great resource, and it would be wise to use it as a model for your lawn care service.

Step 8. Get Equipment and Software

Equipment and supplies for lawn care businesses vary in price and utility. Let’s look at some of the tools you might need.

Necessary Equipment 

The right lawn care equipment will vary based on the services you offer. Most businesses will need:

  • Work Vehicle: Mike recommends buying used trucks because lawn care business owners can lose a lot of money on lawn care company vehicles if they buy new. We’ll show you why in the costs section below.
  • Small Lawn Care Trailer Setup: Make sure you have a truck or trailer large enough to carry all your equipment. Mike uses Ramprack.
  • Lawn Mower: You can choose either a riding lawn mower or a push mower. A riding mower is easier to operate, but a push lawn mower is less expensive. Mike uses Greenworks.
  • Blower: You’ll need something for blowing leaves.
  • Trash bags: To collect the debris from your push mower.
  • Trimming equipment: You’ll need trimmers if you trim bushes.
  • Weed eater: Weed eaters and edgers are helpful for those hard to cut areas around fences and curbs.
  • Specialty Equipment: Depending on the services you offer, you might need other equipment. As a seasonal business, you might supplement your income by performing jobs like snow removal or Christmas light hanging that require other tools.

For those of you who have never mowed lawns, please learn how to start a lawn mower before taking on jobs. It would be really embarrassing to get to jobs and then your customers review your business online with a review like this:

google reviews of horrible lawn mowing company

In addition to the tools to do the job, you’ll also need software to run the business.

For more advice on equipment and setting up a lawncare business, watch this interview with Mike: 

Software for Starting a Lawn Care Business

A lawn business will need some software to manage potential and existing customers. You might want to check into some of the providers that Mike uses.

  • Service Autopilot: This is customer relationship management (CRM) software specifically for lawn care businesses.
  • Clearent: You’ll need a payment processor, and since Clearent is built by the same company as Service Autopilot, they’ll work together seamlessly.
  • Quickbooks: You’ll want accounting software. Most business owners go with Quickbooks because almost every software company integrates with them. 

Costs

When you start your own lawn care business, you should expect the following costs. These numbers were calculated by using the industry and sector numbers from IBIS World as benchmarks. I assumed there was 1 employee, the business owner.

Potential Costs For Lawn Care Using Benchmarks From IBIS WORLD
Low High
Revenue $ 130,000.00 $ 130,000.00
Wages: 20-56% of revenue $ 26,000.00 $ 72,800.00
Purchases: 17-38% of revenue $ 22,100.00 $ 49,400.00
Marketing (1.2% to 1.9%) $ 1,560.00  $ 2,470.00
Depreciation (1.2% to 3.7%) $ 1,560.00 $ 4,030.00
Rent (1.5 to 2.3%) $ 1,950.00 $ 4,030.00
Utilities (.3% to .4%) $ 390.00 $ 520.00
Other Costs (16% to 24.9%) $ 20,800.00 $ 32,370.00
Profit (Loss) $ 55,640.00 $ (36,400.00)

As you can see, a lawn business can either have high profit margins or fail to become a profitable business if they fail to control three main expenses:

  1. Labor: Notice in the example above, the business owner is giving themselves a nearly $73K salary and not leaving any money for the business.
  2. Purchases: Looks like the business owner in the high model was spending on some extravagant tools, while the low cost model was managing business expenses.
  3. Other Costs: The other costs could include taxes, interest payments, and more. That’s why many business owners discourage loans.

Step 9. Develop a Sales and Marketing Strategy

You’ll want a sales and marketing strategy when you are pursuing residential or commercial customers for your lawn care company. You’ll want to implement some or all of the following tactics when starting a lawn mower business.

  1. Create a Lawn Care Business Website
  2. Use Social Media
  3. Create Lawn Care Business Ads
  4. Sign Up With Registries for Local Businesses
  5. Create a Lawn Mowing Business Card
  6. Print Lawn Mowing Door Hangers and Mailers
  7. Ask for Reviews and Referrals

Your sales and marketing strategy will be the foundation for your automation. As Mike told us:

To get to $1 million in sales, you’ll have to automate processes.

Create a Lawn Care Website

two person building a lawn care website

We already mentioned creating a website, but make sure to implement search engine optimization to get better results. At UpFlip, we use SurferSEO and Ahrefs. You can also perform a quick test to check how your website is performing.

Use Social Media

Instead of spending time scrolling through social media, make it work for your business! Create social media accounts and share your lawn care service prices, useful information, and information about how to care for lawns. Facebook and Instagram provide free insights for business accounts, plus you can create paid ads. 

Use Paid Ads

Mike told us he loves using paid ads on Google and social media platforms. Small business owners should definitely use them. He told us:

Paid ads are amazing because you can turn them on and off to control the flow of leads. When you have a period that looks like it will be low cash flow, turn [the ads] on and you’re making money again.

Register With Local Business Directories

screenshot of local business directories from hubspot website

When you’re wondering how to start a mowing business, you might not think about the sites you can register to get reputable backlinks and referrals to your business. You’ll want to list your services on:

  • Google Business Profile
  • Thumbtack
  • NextDoor
  • And More!

Check out Hubspot’s list of over 50 business directories.

Get Lawn Mower Business Cards

You’ll want to market your lawn care business and one of the easiest ways to do it is to give a couple business cards to clients so they can give them to their friends. Check out our blog about the best low-cost business cards.

Print Door Hangers and Mailers

Consider creating mailers, brochures, car magnets, flyers, t-shirts, and other promotional swag as a way of getting your name out there. Use an application like Canva to help. 

Several business owners we have talked to suggest leaving one on each of your client’s neighbors’ doorknobs or mailing them an offer to do their lawn next time you’re in the neighborhood.

Get Reviews to Feed the Crews

mobile phone with customers reviews

Don’t forget reviews! They’re a cost-effective way to appeal to customers online. Many companies like Housecall Pro automate asking for reviews to make it easy for customers to let people know they loved your service.

Mike emphasized that everything you do has the ability to bring in new customers. Make sure that you’re always doing everything you can to make the experience of working with you a positive one for customers.

Step 10. Hire Employees

Many lawn care entrepreneurs hire lawn care employees for their lawn care company to grow. Mike told us you will run yourself ragged by the time you make $250K if you don’t hire additional lawn care pros. He also explained:

To get to $500K, you need a second crew and admin team. The business owner needs to be full time sales.

Hiring is such a huge subject that I suggest checking out our blog about how to hire employees.

At this point you know how to start a lawn mowing business, but if you want really amazing results, then you’ll need to pay attention to the next step.

Step 11. A Successful Lawn Care Business Documents Processes

Establish good processes that scale easily and that others can follow. You’ll need them to scale your successful lawn care business. Use Lucidchart to document a process map. Mike told us:

At this stage the majority of my time is spent increasing awareness of the business. My team has to run everything so I had to create workflows that would make it easy for them.

Here are the basic steps for documenting a process:

  1. Decide what process to map.
  2. Document who performs each task.
  3. List all steps.
  4. Identify where you can save time.
  5. Determine the triggers, inputs, and outputs.
  6. Create the main path, then map out alternative flows.
  7. Implement the process.

Are You Ready to Start Your Own Lawn Care Business?

landscaper holding a grass cutter shears

Now you know answers to questions like:

  • How to start lawn care business operations
  • How much does lawn care cost?
  • Do I need a business license for lawn care?

Best of all, you’ve got insights from someone who knows how to do it and is recognized as one of the fastest-growing businesses in the U.S.

How can we help you succeed at your goal to start a successful lawn care company? Let us know in the comments below!

Join The Discussion

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6 thoughts on “How to Start a $133K/Month Lawn Care Business”

  • gary

    Who published this?

    Reply
    • Brandon Boushy

      This was published by UpFlip and written by me.

      Reply
  • Jackson

    Great Blog! Thanks for sharing this awesome knowledge with us. Field Promax is also one of the Best Landscape Service Management Software. To know more please visit – *link retracted*

    Reply
    • Brandon Boushy

      Hi Jackson, We’re glad you enjoy our content! Unfortunately, we try to keep the comments clear of links that have not been approved. If you would like to share what you do, you can fill out a more extensive member profile or fill out our interview form: https://www.upflip.com/youtube-questionnaire

      Reply
  • Arthur Colby

    good

    Reply
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