I started a lawn care company (The Lawn Squad ) in 2017 while a college student pursuing my degree IU in Bloomington, indiana. 2017 was slow and I didn’t take it very seriously but I had a website and a GMB (Google My Business) location and a lot of my competitors didn’t. I got a little bit more serious in 2018 but still stopped answering the phone and chasing new leads half way through the year because I got overloaded with school work.
2017: $11,638 in revenue and $4,629 in expenses for a profit of $7,009 on a commitment of only about 165 hours throughout the year ($42 per hour)
2018: $39,253 in revenue and $6,310 in expenses for $32,942 in profit on a commitment of about 800 hours ($41 per hour). I ended 2018 with 30 recurring customers.
Early on I used the family truck and mower to do some jobs. I put the majority of the profits back into the business in both 2017 and 2018 and grew slowly while purchasing used equipment. Here is the overview of what I acquired – all in cash with no debt.
- 2009 Ford F-150 – 7/1/18 – 95,000 miles – $8,000 + $3,000 transmission in July 2019 – $11,000 total
- 36″ 2016 Gravely Pro-Stance Mower – $5,000
- 60″ 2016 Gravely Pro-Turn 260 – $8,000
- 12′ open trailer – $2,000
- Toro Self Propelled Residential mower – $250
- Used 100 Gallon Dual Tank Sprayer – $400 + $100 in repairs
- Stihl Weed Eaters, Blowers, Misc – $1,000
Total Investment – $27,750
2019 customer numbers and financials
I ended 2019 with 55 lawn care clients and 20 weed control and fertilization clients in Bloomington for a total of 75 customers. I got the weed control applicators permit in March of this year and it was a great decision.
I sent out 320 job quotes and 36% accepted my proposals. I worked 1,940 hours over 32 weeks for 54 hours per week (5 admin, 2 quoting, 47 on the truck).
Total Revenue: $106,200
- Labor: $9,000 / 28% of total expenses (hired part time employee who worked 22 hours a week for most of the season)
- Landscaping supplies: $5,980 / 18%
- Repairs / Maintenance: $4,250 / 13%
- Weed Control Supplies: $3,860 / 12%
- Fuel: $2,990 / 9%
- Wear and Tear / Depreciation: $2,100 / 6%
- Jobber Software: $1,548 / 5%
- Insurance (WC, GL, Auto): $1,200 / 4%
- Equipment Rentals: $600 / 2%
- Dumping (leaves, brush): $377 / 1%
- Clothing: $450 / 1%
Total expenses: $32,355
Total Profit: $73,645
Hours worked by owner: 1,940 (54/wk for 32 weeks)
Profit per hour worked: $37.96
If I hired a competent crew leader for $16/hr the total payroll liability after workers compensation and payroll taxes would be about $20/hr.
Assuming the employee is 20% slower than me at doing the work the total hours worked by that employee would have been 2,328 (1,940 x 1.2). Multiply that by the $20 / hr liability and the expense would have been $46,560.
If you add that expense to the profit and loss statement my profit goes from $73,645 to $27,085.
But this is what I plan to do next year so I can focus on high value work like bidding jobs and doing larger landscaping projects and finding weed control customers. This is a good exercise to know if I’m charging enough to build a scalable business. I plan to raise my prices on most of my customers this next season.
Strategy and Marketing
From day 1 I haven’t paid for marketing and I’ve gotten the majority of this customers from my Google My Business location in Bloomington. Sales and marketing have been my weakest link since day 1 but I have never needed to do those things to grow my business.
I got a few early clients to leave 5 star reviews and that has helped me rank. Bloomington has a population of less than 100,000 so it wasn’t extremely competitive. My GMB location has brought me 90% of my customers and referrals and word of mouth have brought 10%.
My biggest advantage is that I turn quotes around quickly using Jobber and can look at Google Maps and measure the property so I don’t have to drive around looking at places to quote them. I’ve found that every hour I let pass before sending a quote the odds decrease drastically of securing the job.
Plans for the Future
FIRE THE BAD CUSTOMERS. 20% of my customers cause me all my headaches.
I have to recruit and hire a good employee. I also need to learn spanish.
I need to purchase another truck and trailer so I plan to shop in the 5-10 year old range and try to get a reliable truck under $10,000.
Marketing, sales and SEO will take a priority spot because right now I’m reliant on the Google My Business location too much. I plan to do some customer appreciation by sending thank you notes out to my clients before Christmas.