Tips for success: what every lawn care business should know

Co-Founder of LawnStarter Lawn Care: Ryan Farley

We recently connected with Ryan Farley, one of the Co-Founders of LawnStarter Lawn Care, for a Q&A about the state of the landscaping industry today, as well as tips on what entrepreneurs in the landscaping business can do to be successful.

LawnStarter Lawn Care is an online lawn care platform that allows consumers to easily schedule and manage lawn service for their home, while helping lawn care companies succeed. Additionally LawnStarter Lawn Care creates informative lawn care-related content for consumers and provides free lawn care software to help lawn care businesses run more smoothly.

KIVA: What are the main challenges that landscaping businesses face today and how can they be overcome?

RYAN: There are a number of challenges. For one, getting the word out about your business is very difficult. Most lawn care operators (LCOs) grow primarily via word of mouth, but that takes a long time. Not to mention, it's important to get jobs that are close together. LawnStarter Lawn Care helps solve both of those problems.

Another major challenge one is hiring quality labor. Turnover in the industry is high, so finding loyal employees is tough, but it can be done. Believe it or not, joining pickup basketball or soccer leagues and meeting people that way seems to be one of the most successful hiring tactics.

KIVA: What are some common characteristics of successful landscaping ventures?

RYAN: The most successful landscapers do three things well:

  1. They keep tight routes. Drive time is one of the biggest expenses of an LCO, given the cost of gas and employee time. Some companies starting out will take any job they can get, because why not? But fast forward a couple months and they're having to drive all over town. It's important for LCOs to stay disciplined on which areas they'll service. In fact, one of the biggest advantages of the LawnStarter Lawn Care platform is that our algorithms automatically distribute jobs to nearby existing customers.

  2. They price to make a profit. It's easy to get in a bidding war, especially on bigger jobs. However, it's also easy to underbid and lose money on the whole thing. Ultimately, if an LCO owner doesn't know how to bid a certain project, it's often best to simply pass on the opportunity.

  3. They go the extra mile. Wrapping up the hose, moving yard toys back to where they were, and spraying weeds in the cracks are subtle, inexpensive practices that go a long way in a homeowner's mind. These little touches may cost an extra buck in labor, but they allow an LCO to charge a premium, because they are perceived as more "white glove" and less commoditized. Our data show that these small things result in a huge increase in customer satisfaction and referrals.

KIVA: What early investments should landscaping entrepreneurs consider making?

RYAN: Aside from the necessary equipment, it's very important to invest in a website and online presence in general. If an LCO owner does this, they're already ahead of half their competition.

KIVA: If you could say one thing to new landscaping business owners, what would it be?

RYAN: Communicate with your customers. We've done numerous polls at LawnStarter Lawn Care, and the single biggest thing - even above service quality - that consumers want is clear communication. It's tough, but being diligent about returning emails, texts and phone calls will keep customers for life.

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To find out more about LawnStarter Lawn Care, visit lawnstarter.com or find them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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Posted by Adam Kirk, Marketing, Kiva U.S.

Oct 4, 2016

Adam leads marketing for Kiva's U.S. program, focusing on reaching entrepreneurs who could benefit from Kiva's 0% interest loans and supportive community of 1.5 million lenders. With a background in product management, marketing and international development, Adam brings a unique skill-set that blends empathy, design and analytics to the team. When he's not in the Kiva office, Adam can be found roasting coffee, on his bike or at a nearby brewpub. Adam has an MBA from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and a BA from the University of British Columbia.

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