10 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting a Mowing Business

So, you’ve quit your job and have decided to start a lawn mowing business. You love the idea of being your boss, choosing your hours, working outside in the sun, and making an immediate difference to a customer’s lawn (and life).

But your budget is low—you can’t afford to buy a Jim’s Mowing or VIP franchise—so you have to figure out on your own how to build your business in the lawn mowing services industry. You’re hungry for success tips and desperately want to avoid typical lawn care business mistakes.

Well, congratulations, you’re in the right place. Here are ten mistakes to avoid when starting a lawn mowing business on a budget:

Breaking the bank to buy a lawn mower, car, and trailer

Your lawn mower, car, and trailer will probably be your three biggest starting expenses. Don’t let them break the bank. Customers will not ask you how old your equipment is, so don’t let your ego cloud your purchasing decisions. Consider buying these big, three essential mowing business items second-hand and upgrading once cash flow allows. It will give you more breathing space at the beginning and ensure you don’t lose sleep over your credit card payments at night.

Not answering the phone.

Yes, it is tricky to mow, drive, and answer the phone at the same time. However, lawn business expert Andrew Pototschnik says that not answering the phone is the number one reason that lawn business companies don’t get big. If you’re not answering your phone, you’re probably losing customers faster than you’re gaining customers, plus you’re wasting money that you’ve spent on marketing to get those customers. If you don’t know how to answer the phone while mowing the lawn, try these three ideas to improve your lawn care business.

Mowing outside of Council hours

Each State in Australia has official noise restriction times that must be adhered to to avoid an on-the-spot Council fine. On weekdays, you can start mowing in some States at 7 a.m. (except in one state, where you can only start at 8 a.m.). On weekends, you can mow from 8 a.m. in some States but 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. in others.

Therefore, unless you want to face an abusive neighbor or get slapped with a $1000* on-the-spot Council noise fine (an example from the Gympie Regional Council in Queensland), it is important to know your State’s noise restriction times.

Believing everyone will pay you.

We’ve talked to hundreds of lawn-mowing guys, and every single one of them is chasing past-due invoices. It’s their biggest headache, and they hate it. The professional mowing franchise owners are not immune either – we’ve talked to Jim’s Mowing guys, who said they, too, are always running behind because some customers refuse to pay on time and some refuse to pay completely.

GreenSocks jobs are guaranteed to be paid. Sign up to mow lawns.

Like any small business, it’s important to be smart about who you take business from, develop a system or checklist to keep an accurate track of who owes you money, and be quick to consider cutting ties with customers who don’t pay.

Example: One mowing provider we talked to recently complained about a customer who has not paid for three months but whose lawn he keeps servicing. If you were that customer, would you be motivated to pay if the mowing guy just kept showing up and mowing anyway?

Offering cheap lawn mowing

While it might be tempting to try to undercut all of your lawn care competitors, think twice before delivering 10,000 flyers that promote cheap lawn mowing services. You may think that cheap lawn mowing is the best way to get started in the lawn care business, but do your sums and remember to consider your personal labor time (and lost opportunities with higher-paid jobs), business reputation, equipment fees, longer-term ability to raise your prices with those same customers, and the quality of customer you might attract by offering the lowest lawn mowing price. Is it really in your best interests to provide cheap lawn mowing from day one?

Not maintaining your lawn mower.

If your livelihood depends on your lawn mowing equipment, it’s a no-brainer that you need to look after your equipment. Lawn mower maintenance typically costs less than repairs, both because nothing has ‘broken’ yet and because you’re not desperate when you visit the repair store, so you have time to shop around for the best price.

The added beauty of maintenance over repairs is that you can schedule maintenance when it suits you (so you’re not losing business) rather than needing unexpected repairs when you least expect it (so you usually do lose business).

Lawn mower repairs can take one week or more for lawn mowing pros (or 2-6 weeks for residential customers). So, keep a maintenance chart for each piece of your equipment and be sure to DIY the simple maintenance (see 6 Best Ways To Maintain Your Lawn Mower), then book your equipment into the lawn mower shop regularly for the more complicated maintenance that’s better for a mower repair expert to do.

Waiting for customers to come to you

When you’re just starting, sitting at home and waiting by the phone is a lonely game. Successful lawn mowing professionals – when they’re not out mowing lawns – are always actively finding ways to spruik their services. Whether via the Internet, the phone, advertising, in-person visits, or more, the pros know that even the best service in the world won’t succeed if no one knows about it.

Ignoring lawn mower safety

You might be Superman to your kids, but when it comes to lawn mower safety, you’re fully mortal. A lawn mower is a powerful piece of equipment, and it needs to be treated with care and respect to prevent (as much as possible) injury to yourself and/or bystanders when you are mowing a lawn. Be careful and consider taking our public liability and personal accident/sickness insurance.

Not knowing legal requirements.

Legal red tape may be a nightmare, but do you really want to tempt fate with the even worse nightmare of being in trouble with the law and attracting harsh government penalties because you did not follow legal requirements?

That’s why when you start a lawn mowing business in Australia, you need to be aware of important legal requirements before you begin so they don’t bite you in the butt when you finish. Here’s a list of government websites by State that can help point you in the right direction early on.

Trying to do it alone

Like any small business, the key to success might be to build relationships not only with your customers but also with your allies. In this case, your allies might be your peers in other home services businesses.

For example, could you become friends with complementary business owners (such as house cleaners, carpet cleaners, pool maintenance crews, rubbish removalists, landscape pros, and specialist lawn sprayers) and agree to cross-refer between your business and theirs? This would help customers who might need more than one type of service, plus it would help you and your new friend’s business as well.

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